I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Refined Reader (3) Commonplace Books

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today.  It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times.  I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know!  This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!

So today happens to be my blogoversary!  I've been officially blogging for two years!  And it's still the best!  So for today's Refined Reader I wanted to talk about what blogs, and computers and the internet in general have replaced for us - the need for a commonplace book.

17th Century Commonplace book w/ a Shakespeare sonnet
Commonplace books historically were used to keep track of odd bits of knowledge and things that a person wanted to remember.  From quotes, poems, recipes and ideas - it was used by many famous authors, scientists, philosophers and regular people to remember every little thing.  This was not a diary or a journal, it was not always even an important item - sometimes it could just be a book of scrap paper for notes that you might need in the course of your daily life.  

Commonplace books are now seen as a valuable insight into what people in the past were interested in and what they found important.  But keeping a commonplace book (and a well-organized one) was also an important tool for scholars and students, and it was sometimes taught how to keep one at universities.  In 1706, John Locke wrote a book on the topic called A New Method of Making Common-place Books.  (I skimmed some of the book to get more perspective on how important commonplace books were back then, but Old English is rather difficult to read so I didn't get much out of it!)

Even though I have my blog, pinterest, and my computer for word documents, I was taken by the idea of keeping a commonplace book that would provide a snapshot of my personality and interests.  I've kept one since 2008, but I did change to a new notebook rather recently (it has words from Jane Eyre embossed on the cover!) so I had to copy all my quotes and poems to the new book.  I also like to have celebrities/authors autograph the book whenever I get the chance.  Just to make it more special to me.  Here are some pictures of my commonplace book:

This is my favorite autograph inscription by Joel McHale (from Community!).  I got his autograph before Community though, because I was a fan of his from The Soup.  The inscription made me laugh so much!  I didn't tell him it wasn't a diary though. :D

A few more pages from my book - one with Doctor Who quotes and the other with "The Mouse's Tale" from Alice in Wonderland.  I had to try to write it like a tail!  It's nice to decorate the pages with little drawings I think - again to make it more personal!  I also like to keep mementos in my book - like a sprig of heather from my trip to England, and a piece of confetti from a concert I went to a few years ago.

Do you keep something like a commonplace book - a physical way to note down favorite poems, lyrics, quotes, or anything special to you?  Or do you mostly keep track of these things electronically?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Suspense Sundays (90) An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
Air date: July 9, 1959
Starring Vincent Price
>>Episodes here<<

Based on the short story by Ambrose Bierce, the story begins with a Confederate sympathizer about to be hanged from a bridge by 'them Yankees'.  As he is dropped the rope of the noose snaps and the episode is mostly about his thoughts as he makes his escape.  Things turn nightmarish as things aren't as they seem, and the brilliant twist in the end is a huge dose of sobering reality.

This is a classic short story and really stellar storytelling, which I think doesn't quite come across in this episode.  I think it would have helped to have heard more of a distinction between the man's memories and what he was experiencing.  Perhaps this story is just better suited to a visual adaptation so the twist in the end will have more impact.  (The Twilight Zone did a fantastic version of this story.)  Vincent Price did a great job narrating it though.  If you have never experienced this story, I highly suggest looking it up for a quick read, or watching the episode of The Twilight Zone.  But Suspense did adapt this story two more times, so maybe the other episodes will capture this intimate, tragic story better.
Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: Attachments

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
by Rainbow Rowell
Contemporary Romance
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?


I would say that this story is pure adorable, but I don't want to sell short the depth of it.  While the cuteness of the romance and the characters are undeniable, it is also very poignant and thought-provoking.  And I think that's mostly because all of the characters are so intensely genuine.  Their lives have drama but they don't devolve into dramatics - the writing knows when to dwell on a moment and when to allude to it in passing to make it even more effective.  I feel like it's cliche to say that the characters are so real they feel like my friends, but it's so true!

The format of the story was very clever as well.  We get to know Beth and her friend Jennifer just as Lincoln does through their emails, and we get to feel the same sense of suspense and furtive interest in their lives.  With those moments when the reader realizes Beth notices Lincoln around the office, I feel like I felt the same glee as Lincoln must have as he read it.  These characters just live in your head!  And the secondary characters are just as fully formed - and they are so important in developing the main characters further for the reader.  It was so easy to understand each characters actions and decisions.

The ending did let me down just a little bit though.  Generally it was just what I wanted and almost perfect, but I think that because for the most part we are reading all the thoughts in these characters heads, when it came to Lincoln and Beth resolving their stories face to face, I felt the lack of having that same access to their thoughts.  It was resolved too quickly too in some ways which detracted a bit from the wonderful credibleness of this story, but then again it was a very difficult situation to resolve.

This story is a beautiful combination of spare, effective writing and down-to-earth, rich characterization, with the added treat of an intensely sweet romance.  I think it must be hard sometimes to find an ending for a novel, and while I don't want to over-hype it, I was very taken by the last lines of this book and how it captured their relationship so well in a moment of humor.  This book is just pure loveliness.
Thursday, March 27, 2014

My (other) New Feature!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
I was in a photoshopping mood so I made this alternate banner for the feature!
"Time isn't a straight line. It's all... bumpy-wumpy. There's loads of boring stuff. Like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons."

- Doctor Who "The Impossible Astronaut"

Over on The Duchesses, I am debuting my new sporadic Thursday feature - Timey Whimsy!  I would love it if you would go over there and check it out!  It's a feature that centers on time travel related conversations - from fangirling over the time travel trope in my favorite films, books and television to discussions on theoretical time travel (which I find so fascinating.)  With some fun and silliness to be had by all I hope!

Today's post is titled "Time Travel: Blessing or Curse?"
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taking A Look At Book Ratings

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

When I first started blogging I didn't add star ratings to my reviews, mostly because I found it difficult to narrow down my thoughts to numbers.  It's all pretty subjective anyway.  But since most websites that look at reviews force you to give star ratings and I did find that I liked getting an immediate visual on other blogs for how the blogger felt about the book, I thought I should just add it to my reviews.  But it's still hard sometimes to decide on a rating!  For me, the overall deciding factor (especially when there are small issues I had with the book)  is how much did I enjoy it?  And such a subjective measure does bother me a little because I do like to think my ratings are fair and generally accurate and true across the board.  But they can't be if my number one measure is personal enjoyment/preference.  Oh well.  It is the same for every blogger.  Sometimes I like to kick around the idea of a rating that analyzes specific factors and takes away personal preferences - a way to logically argue a viewpoint of things like characters, plot and pace and takes off points for a character doing something stupid and unbelievable for instance.  But that's ridiculous really, and way too difficult!

I wanted to break down my feelings on what each rating I give means to me in this post - as a way for me to fully understand why I give what I give to keep me consistent, and also to see what others think when it comes to how to rate books.
Five star books for me, almost always excel in the storytelling.  The writing, characters and plot doesn't have to be perfect, but my enjoyment of the book was perfect.  Sometimes everything about the book was perfect to me - and I like to highlight that in my actual review - but there are times when I was disappointed here or there but I felt like the book held my interest and captivated me enough to give it all the stars.  If I couldn't put the book down even if there are flaws I think it deserves a rating that reflects that I was totally involved with the story.  Also I would recommend this book to others and if it's a series I am definitely planning to continue on with it.

Probably this is the rating I give most of the books I read.  I did enjoy it and I connected with the story and/or characters, but there were little issues that meant I felt it wasn't the perfect read for me.  Oftentimes I give this to a story that has a great plot and characters but the writing or execution of it somehow was disappointing.  Or even if a book has a big disappointment for me, but also something rather brilliant about it, I will rate it more for that brilliant part.  Basically there are flaws, but I still thought the book was an excellent read.  If this is a series though, I may not put continuing with the series on my priority list, but there is a big chance I will continue with it eventually.

I always feel bad giving this rating because these books almost were great for me.  They had a lot going for it, but in the end I couldn't get into it as much as I wanted to.  These books could even be generally thought of as excellent, but my own personal enjoyment was middling to bored and I can't say I would recommend the book.  I might even forget the book the minute I finish writing the review.  So probably the best thing I can say is that it's not bad, it's just not worth the time I put into it.  

This is a book I could not connect to.  My enjoyment level was near the basement, and I forced myself to continue either with the hope that it would get better or because I felt like I had to finish it for some reason.  But really I didn't care for it, and I was disappointed by it most of the time.  There may be some merit - in the writing, characters or plot but it wasn't enough for me to feel warm happy thoughts about the story.  

I've never actually given out this rating on my blog.  There are definitely books that deserve it but they also belong to another category that gives me less stress and allows me to enjoy reading.  And I don't review these on my blog.  What are these?  The DNF.  To hit this category I have to dislike the writing, the characters, the plot, maybe even shudder at the title of the book.  To my mind, the worst book I ever had to finish (the one that made me hate life as I turned pages) was Moby Dick.  I know it has merit.  I just couldn't find it.  And it didn't help that it's so bloody long.

In the end, I still don't really like to give star ratings to my reviews.  Mostly because I feel bad about docking stars from a book.  I want to love you Book!!  But it is necessary when readers are faced with so many books in the market, and on average star ratings on websites (like Amazon and Goodreads) are pretty accurate when gauging the quality of the book.  When first you factor in what genres you like to read of course.  It helps readers make a difficult choice - What book should I read next?

If you are a reviewer reading this, how do you feel about giving ratings?  How much do you rely on them when scoping out your next read?
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Timeless

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Timeless (Timeless #1)
by Alexandra Monir
YA Science Fiction/Time Travel
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.


This one was hard to rate for me, because while I enjoyed the story, and found it very readable, I also thought the writing was average and the story not very unique.  But it was a breeze to read this, and I might pick up the next book in the series to get some more answers and find out how it all ends.

The time travel element was perfunctory and just a device to get Michele to the past. I was disappointed by how not much is revealed about the mechanics of the time traveling.  Michele meets Philip and has an insta-connection forged in dreams she's had since she was very young.  It's romantic, but happens way too fast.  Even though they can't really know each other, I was still rooting for them so I guess that helped my interest in their story.  Another pet peeve is how quickly Michele abandons her close bestest friends as soon as she moves to New York.  I seems with the focus being so much on Michele and Philip's love, all the other characters and relationships Michele has are not very well developed or even important.

What I did love about this book are the different settings.  The author really captured the time and feel of all the different eras of New York City (and even of California in the beginning) with her prose, and I felt transported to each time.  I really envied Michele's travels in that respect, it must be amazing to be able to see all of these things.  Yet the mechanics of being a time traveler was strange - that only certain people could see and hear her, and then after a certain amount of time they couldn't see her anymore.  All of this was unexplained in this book.

This is an enjoyable, light read for a quiet day, but very predictable.  The vividness of the setting makes it stand out though, so if this sounds interesting I say give it a try!
Monday, March 24, 2014

The Refined Reader (2) The History of the Bookmark

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today.  It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times.  I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know!  This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!

Bookmarks came about in the time when books were very expensive works of art so it was necessary to mark one's place in it without damaging the book.  Heaven forbid dog-earing or placing something in the book that could damage the spine!   This site postulates that bookmarks may have been used in ancient Egyptian times to mark the place on long papyrus scrolls.  But the earliest known bookmarks are from Medieval times and were often scraps from materials used to make the books.  The circular bookmark pictured is from ~1500 and was made of vellum.  You could slide the bookmark up and down the string, and the numbers would mark what column you were on.

Later, bookmarks were often silk ribbons sewn into the book until the 1850s, when detachable bookmarks started to become popular. They also became fancier and were made of a larger variety of materials.  There was a well known pictorial bookmark from this time called the Stevengraph.  They were created by Thomas Stevens in England and were pictures woven in silk.  Many bookmarks were also made as advertisements for a wide variety of things which isn't really the case today.  Bookmark advertisements now are most often for books or bookish related things which makes much more sense to me.  But it seems good marketing to me to have let's say a food brand on a bookmark so that every time you open a book to read you might want to also get something to eat!  (Like chocolate! *points below*)

Today, bookmarks can be very inventive, and of course it is nice to get a bookmark from an author or bookstore as a keepsake.  I wouldn't say that I collect them, but I do have more than I need, and if I find one I really like, I often will just buy it.  I have these leather souvenir bookmarks I bought in 9 different cities in England framed in my room, so I would recommend framing beautiful bookmarks as a perfect bookish gift!

My current favored bookmark is the Bookjig which has a metal clip with a ribbon attached.  The clip slides onto the book cover so it's like the ribbon is a part of the book and I don't have to worry about laying my bookmark down somewhere.  I thought it was a really cool idea!  The back of the metal clip does have a curve to it though, so when I'm using it the front cover of the book doesn't lay completely flat.  Otherwise though, I love it!

How do you mark your place in your books? (Please tell me you don't dog-ear!)
Do you have favorite bookmarks?

The Ephemera Society of America
Mirage Bookmark / Flickr

And speaking of bookmarks, I would love it if you would bookmark this site - The Duchesses!  Paola from A Novel Idea, Charlotte from Gypsy Reviews, Tory from The Sleeping Latte and I are teaming up to provide more blogging adventures on that site!  Bookish Whimsy is still my main blog, but The Duchesses will be a way to spend more blogging time with these great gals!  So please check it out (enter the giveaway!) and let us know what you think!
Sunday, March 23, 2014

Suspense Sundays (89) The Dead Sleep Lightly

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"The Dead Sleep Lightly"
Air date: March 30, 1943
Starring Lee Bowman & Susan Hayward
>>Episodes here<<

Mr. Templeton, an ambitious businessman, and his secretary must attend a funeral but wind up in the wrong place.  Where Mr. Templeton notices the gravestone of his late, estranged wife whom he perhaps treated wrongly.  He's shocked, but quickly recovers and later receives a phone call purporting to be from his dead wife.  She tells him to watch for her as she will be dropping by to visit him soon.  Of course later his housekeeper assures him that the phone has been disconnected because Templeton is soon to move house.  Templeton goes to a friend who debunks supernatural occurrences, and tries to get him to come by his house.  The friend promises to drop by as soon as he can.  When he does he finds Templeton has just had a stroke from apparently seeing a vision of his dead wife.

I love when there is a rational explanation behind the sinister ghost stories.  Which is the case here, though I totally pegged the wrong person as the culprit.  It was easy to see how it was all done after the fact though, and towards the end the episode got really over the top emotional for some reason, and I thought that after such a wonderful buildup (especially when the friend has to go into the house and see what happened to Templeton) that that change in tone kind of marred a pretty great episode. 
Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
(James Bond novel #11)
by Ian Fleming
Spy Thriller
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

A Lancia Spyder with its hood down tore past him, cut in cheekily across his bonnet and pulled away, the sexy boom of its twin exhausts echoing back at him. It was a girl driving, a girl with a shocking pink scarf tied round her hair. And if there was one thing that set James Bond really moving, it was being passed at speed by a pretty girl.

When Bond rescues a beautiful, reckless girl from self-destruction, he finds himself with a lead on one of the most dangerous men in the world—Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. In the snow-bound fastness of his Alpine base, Blofeld is conducting research that could threaten the safety of the world. To thwart the evil genius, Bond must get himself and the vital information he has gathered out of the base and keep away from SPECTRE's agents.
I normally like to read series books in order, but I saw this particular Bond book was narrated by David Tennant... well I had to listen to that one first.  This is the first time I've ever read a James Bond novel, so I wasn't sure how I would like it.  I liked it!  And now I can listen to the other audiobooks in this series - there was a project that had different well-known British actors each read a Bond novel.  Unfortunately the one read by Tom Hiddleston is the last one!


This book does have a specific allure that is very of it's time.  James Bond is not really the most likable character - he is charming and endlessly resourceful, but his treatment of women leaves much to be desired and he can be rather judgmental.  But the adventures he gets up to, and the thrill of the suspense is really addicting, so even if I was shaking my head at various points,  I really enjoyed the gripping story.

The piecemeal way in which Bond tries to get at the sinister and equally resourceful Blofeld made for an interesting plot structure.  Pure luck and basic detective works helps him infiltrate Blofeld's home base, and Bond's undercover work as Sir Hilary was pretty ingeniously done.  The cleverness of the story and the way Bond handles the dangers that comes his way is the highlight of this book.  Although his easy manipulation of women is really a bit depressing!

This book features Teresa di Vicenzo or Tracy (and later Tracy Bond).  As this is the only book where Bond gets married, I was expecting Tracy to be much more of a stand out character.  Although after Bond's seemingly impetuous proposal, he does think over why he would like to marry her, it seemed pretty flimsy reasoning to me and I was hoping for a stronger female character in Tracy.  Her only redeeming point it seems is that her driving skills are excellent.  Which must be very important to Bond according to the many descriptive passages about cars (and alcohol, and card playing) in this book.

I'm definitely planning to read more Bond stories as this is the first one I've ever read, and it was really enjoyable despite my grousing over characters.  The fun is in the suspense and the danger and in Bond's wry commentary.  This particular book had a very heartbreaking ending as well which was surprisingly emotional given how much I was not taken with the romance.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Star Trek Season 3 - My Top 5 Favorite Episodes

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
I am both happy and desperately sad that I have made it to the end of the Original Series.  I really love this crew - so at least I have the films to look forward to now!*  Looking back, I think the first season was the best overall, but while the episodes this season don't stand out for me as strongly as the first, there are some fantastic moments in my top 5 picks that meant I fell in love with the episode as a whole.  On the fangirl front - yes I have bought a pair of Star Trek pajamas (in "Spock blue") and a necklace with the TOS emblem from Etsy.  Yup, I'm that nerd. :)   I would like a true TOS uniform, but those dresses are ridiculously short!!  Now to the episodes!

5. Plato's Stepchildren

I wavered on putting this in my top 5 because honestly it made me feel so uncomfortable but it definitely stands out in this season and because it made me so empathetic for the Enterprise crew, I really couldn't leave it out.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy respond to a distress call on a planet inhabited by beings who model their society on Greek principles.  And can mind control and are completely sadistic.  They take pleasure in making Kirk and Spock do many undignified things to make McCoy stay with them.  Because they are so indolent that their immune system is crap and even a little cut could mean their death.  Seeing Kirk, Spock, and later Nurse Chapel and Lt. Uhura made to do such humiliating things was very distressing!  So that moment when Kirk wields a little of his own power is incredibly satisfying.  I wouldn't have minded if all the crew indulged in a little revenge, but of course that would be beneath the integrity and honor of the Starfleet.  But wow, is this episode disturbing!

4. All Our Yesterdays

On a planet that is soon to be destroyed by a star going nova, Kirk, Spock and McCoy (they really focused on these three in this season) land to try to warn the inhabitants.  Yet they find that almost all of them have been evacuated except for the librarian who is willing to send them wherever they want to go.  Turns out the librarian can send them into the past, and Kirk accidentally goes to one past while Spock and McCoy go to another.  There's a point in the beginning where I just couldn't understand why the crew stayed on the planet when the librarian told them everyone was safe.  Ok, time to leave Kirk!  But of course they didn't and had to have a look around, resulting in some very disturbing emotions for Spock.  I have to say the biggest shocker moment of the whole series for me was when Spock got mad at McCoy!  I was like WHAT IS HAPPENING???  And then it just got even more outrageous - Spock falling in love what?? There's an explanation of course, and even though I kinda wanted Spock to just stay with Zarabeth, I thought it was a great episode.  Bonus that Zarabeth was played by Mariette Hartley who I know from some episodes of Bonanza and who I think is so talented and pretty.  She actually kinda reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence.

3. The Paradise Syndrome

Here's another episode with a hopeless romance!  When (say it with me) Kirk, Spock and McCoy investigate a planet that will be hit by an asteroid, they find a primitive American Indian type culture.  The people seem to worship an obelisk that is highly advanced.  Kirk accidentally opens it and falls into a machine that gives him amnesia.  Spock and McCoy must leave to deflect the asteroid and return for Kirk later, so that Kirk is found by the locals who think him a great Shaman, and for the two months Spock and McCoy are away Kirk falls in love, gets married and is expecting a child.  I kept thinking their relationship wouldn't escalate as far as it did, because when Kirk eventually regains his memories, what was he going to do with his wife?  I'm sure you can guess what happens to the wife.  It was interesting to see Kirk happier and more carefree and in some ways very tragic that the life he's chosen with the Enterprise can't give him that same kind of joy.  I think this episode tugged on my heartstrings more than Spock's relationship in "All Our Yesterdays" because with Kirk it was more of an attainable life, while with Spock he's so disturbed and unhappy by feeling love, rage, and jealousy.

2.  The Empath

I'm going to abbreviate - K, S and M are on a mission to rescue some research personnel discovering them already gone.  It turns out they were used for an experiment that resulted in their death.  And somehow a mute empath is important to the whole project.  The whole mystery surrounding the empath was surprising, and I think the journey to the answer was better than the answer itself, but the reason I am so fond of this episode is one scene actually.  The scene where the Enterprise crew show how selfless they are.  Especially that McCoy would sacrifice himself for Spock!  It's an absolutely heart-warming moment, even though it was definitely logical that Spock be the one to be experimented on.  But how noble of McCoy to take his place.  I loved this moment so much!  

1. The Enterprise Incident

This episode was a whole lotta fun!  It appears that Kirk and Spock are completely out of character - but there's a plan and it's a good one.  For the longest time I was just in shock as this episode progressed because they really wait a while before tipping that there is a plan.  Even though I knew there must be, I wasn't sure who was in on it and who was really surprised by Kirk's actions.  The Enterprise crew rarely engage in espionage missions so this was another fun aspect of the episode - that Kirk and Spock have to take on a persona and engage in a little trickery.  The story is just full of twists and surprises and I absolutely enjoyed this episode the most out of the whole season!

*Just so you know - I finished the first six movies and Season 1 of TNG!
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


This is a strange, magical story.  The setting and the mythology made it intensely atmospheric and I was completely drawn in by the vividness of the characters and their stories.  I feel like this book stands out from other YA fantasy books in the writing and the tone because there's such a maturity to the fantasy elements that made it feel unique and powerful.  This is a very intense and beautiful story.

I think I liked the world-building and what it was trying to accomplish more than I liked the main characters and their individual dilemmas.  That's probably a strange distinction.  It's just that by the time I found out what secrets lay in Karou and Akiva's past, I felt more concerned by what they were going to do to solve their problems against such overwhelming odds.  And of course this isn't solved in this book.  I understand why Karou and Akiva had such an instant connection, but their love story was a little overdone for me, and not as believable.  The book flips back and forth between their viewpoints (but it is mostly Karou's story) but it also flips in time through flashbacks which gave important backstories, but also felt a little long when I already knew the outcome of them.  The pacing slowed down for me for that reason near the end, just when I was eager to move forward.

But the world-building is glorious.  There are two magical creatures and an Elsewhere that I loved learning more about.  The dynamics of these two races of beings and their conflict felt very authentically constructed and gave this story it's intensity and beauty.  Humanity is completely overshadowed by the other world in a way that makes me think this series should be high fantasy instead of YA.  Definitely Karou is revealed to have a past that makes her feel more mature.

The supporting characters in this book also helped to make it a wonderful read.  I loved Karou's eccentric family and her closest friend.  Brimstone had so many layers to his character and gradually getting to know him was delightful.  I thought this story had many moving moments when certain character reveals were made, and that made me love them even more.  This is a unique, complex fantasy that I ultimately really enjoyed.
Monday, March 17, 2014

The Refined Reader (1) Circulating Libraries

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Welcome to the first post of my new feature!  The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today.  It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times.  I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know!  This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!

In my post last week on creating new features, I mentioned what this post would be about - the Circulating Library of the Victorian era.  Although it seems to have started in the early 1700s but gained more popularity in the 1800s.  Since books were expensive at the time it was necessary and lucrative for publishers and enterprising individuals to offer subscriptions to readers to borrow books.  Through this the three-volume novel became popular (for reasons I'll get into later) so that meant a novel - Jane Eyre for instance - was printed up as three books about 200-300 pages each and the reader would have to go to the library to get the next part.  According to this site a three-volume novel would have cost the equivalent of $100 in our time!  I should stop complaining about the price of books now... although at current hardcover rates our equivalent of a three volume novel - a trilogy - would be about $60 for the set.  Maybe not a lot has changed.

Click on image to read the (funny?) text of this comic from 1877 
Charles Edward Mudie was a successful businessman of the Victorian era whose lending library was so successful that he started making demands of publishers, impacting the publishing industry.  Mudie wanted the novel split into three so he could lend one book to more people.  He could get more mileage out of it basically.  And for the publishers, that priced the book much higher and meant less people could actually buy it.  So that the publishers depended more on Mudie and other lending libraries to buy large quantities of their books to add to a library's stock, thus giving the circulating libraries more power.  At the time, novels in America were published as one volume and were considerably cheaper, but the English public became used to the new format and did not want to pick up a whole book as one volume (this is crazy to me) however much the publishers wanted to later change the system.

This format also affected the way novels were written by English authors at the time.  The pace and structure had to adapt to being broken up into three parts, and the story needed to be spun out for a prescribed amount of chapters.   The three-volume novel isn't exactly the same as a trilogy but to my mind there are a lot of similarities especially when it comes to goals for marketing and maximizing profit.  In fact The Lord of the Rings was intended by Tolkien to be a three-volume novel and not a trilogy but his publishers wanted to release it as three books and give each book a name.

It seems the consensus that the popularity of the circulating library came to an end when affordable public libraries came into existence.  And thank goodness for that.  It makes me want to go out and visit my local library right now in appreciation!

How often do you visit your local library?  How do you feel about trilogies?  

British Circulating Libraries
Jane Austen's World
Wikipedia / Wikipedia
The Victorian Web
Sunday, March 16, 2014

Suspense Sundays (88) The Customers Like Murder

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"The Customers Like Murder"
Air date: March 23, 1943
Starring Roland Young
>>Episodes here<<

A murder mystery writer, Mr. Hopstone, is getting into a heated debate with his secretary who is taking dictation.  She affirms a certain poison has no odor, but Mr. Hopstone is "noted for the correctness of his medical knowledge" according to him and superciliously asks her if they should go next door and check with Dr. Robert.  Mr. Hopstone does go next door and finds some criminals in need of a doctor to look after a man they just kidnapped.  Although Mr. Hopstone tries to convince them he's not the Doctor, the secretary walks in and jokingly calls him Dr. Hopstone before she notices the other men.  It looks like Mr. Hopstone's only way out of this dangerous situation is to use a scheme from one of his mystery stories.

This was a really fun episode, as I'm sure that synopsis already hints at.  The idea of a writer needing to get out of a bind by using his creativity is always appealing, as Mr. Hopstone's odd ideas finally pay off for him.  He doesn't take the situation as seriously as he should and his flippant attitude is kinda hilarious.  I also liked the antagonistic nature of Hopstone and his secretary's relationship - there is a definite undercurrent that they do like working together despite the harsh words.  It's too bad that the audio quality of this particular episode is worse than usual (I'm not even sure if the name is Hopstone or Hawkstone?? Or something.)  But I really enjoyed this one anyway!
Friday, March 14, 2014

The Difficulty in Creating New Features

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
As a book blogger, I wish it was feasible to have only book reviews on my blog.  It would be fantastic to read enough books to have at least 3- 5 reviews on my blog a week.  My TBR pile would be gone!  (Well my current one at least.)  So other features are very important.  Since starting book blogging almost two years ago, I've seen other bloggers create regular features that were unique to them, which made them stand out and that is so important for a blog. Having great content unique to each blogger is the usual recommendation for how to improve your blog, but it is really hard.  Especially the unique part.  I do a feature on my blog every Sunday where I recap and review an episode of an old radio show called Suspense.  This is pretty unique for a book blogger I think, but it is also a very specific topic, and I would love for my blog to have a more widely engaging feature. The main problems I think that comes up when trying to think of a new feature for your blog are:
  • Is the feature unique or can you give it a unique viewpoint?
  • Will people be interested enough in the content to continue to read every post?
  • Can you maintain new content for the feature indefinitely?
  • Is the feature true to your interests and abilities?
  • Does the feature fit in with the tone or brand of your blog?
It's certainly not easy to come up with these things.  Of course book reviews are important to a book blogger, but not all reviews will engage all readers, and it's wonderful if all readers can be engaged on something that is personal or informative to themselves.  And that's why discussion posts do so well in connecting the blogger to their readers.  And while I considered trying to create more discussion posts on my blog, I really don't think I could keep it up indefinitely, especially when I see so many other bloggers thinking of interesting, thought-provoking topics.  (Like Gypsy Reviews, Angela's Anxious Life, and Paper Cuts for instance.)  I usually can't think of anything.

For almost the whole of the last two years I participated weekly in Awesome Adaptations which was so much fun because it enabled me to talk all about the bookish films and television shows I love, but I don't watch enough new shows and movies to have kept up with that.  You may notice that I have a banner for this post - Whimsical Notions - which doesn't mean this is a true feature - the banner is more a catch-all visual to add to a post that is mostly thoughts into words.  But a week ago I had an idea for a feature that I think fits in with the tone of my blog and is also very true to my interests which I'm planning to debut as my weekly Monday feature.  

I'm calling it The Refined Reader.  I hope I can maintain this feature for awhile because I am really excited about making it a part of my blog.  My idea came from thinking about the circulating libraries in the Victorian era.  This led to the three volume novel which isn't popular today - or rather it kinda is as the trilogy format.  I hope to go more into it next week as that will be my first topic for The Refined Reader.  I envision that for this feature I will take a look at many different aspects of books and reading culture from the past and compare it to how different or similar it is to how we read, see and use books today.  It's sort of history and commentary and hopefully some fun explorations of what it means to be a reader today.  Bookish history basically.  I love history, especially 19th century history, but I hope to explore and learn how books were seen and used in other times and cultures.

It's pretty much taken me two years to think of something cool and different for my blog. (I don't know if that is encouraging news or not to anyone reading this post and running into dilemmas similar to the ones I had!)  So I hope I can really make this new feature informative and interesting for all potential readers!  
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Fairy-tale Survey

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Mel at The Daily Prophecy created this fun fairy-tale themed bookish survey which of course I just had to participate in!  I love how these surveys are a quick way to highlight great books (and sometimes not-great books) which lets me put some book recommendations out there for other bloggers! (If you get anything  from this survey it's Go ahead and pick up some Melina Marchetta!)


Pinocchio – The boy whose nose grows when he lies.

Is there a book you lie about, because you feel ashamed for liking it?

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.  I know, it's a crazy book.  My jaw dropped so many times reading that book.  But I liked it!  Everybody got their happy ending, it made sense to me, and it was a satisfying read.  Full circle and happy.  I'm a sucker for happy endings.  Although I don't really lie about liking it, I just don't say anything about it. :)

Beauty and the Beast – The girl who fell in love with personality.

Which book do you love that has a hideous cover?

Well I wouldn't say "hideous" but The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.  Actually the more I see it, the more I'm upset that such a wonderful, beautiful book has such a mediocre cover.  The cover blending looks a bit amateurish (especially for the last book - Quintana of Charyn) and the books are just so much more than the cover indicates.  In fact if I was more talented at photoshop I would try to do a re-cover for the whole series.

Snow White – Hunted down for her beauty.

Do you ever buy a book based on the cover alone and if so, what is the last one?

Not really - I mean I pick up books based on the cover and then evaluate from the synopsis if I would like to read it.  The last book I bought because of it's eye-catching cover was Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.  Mostly because the publishers changed the cover and I don't like the new one, so I wanted to own the original cover before they stopped selling it.

Sleeping beauty – Cursed to sleep, awakened by true loves kiss.

Who is your favorite book couple?

Oh well of course my number one favorite would have to be Jane and Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.  My perfect romance, and it's a wonderful love story based on mutual respect and the characters getting to know each other through conversations.

Little Mermaid – Gave up on her old life for love.

Do you ever branch out to new genres or do you like to stick with the ones you know and love? If you try new things out, what is the latest book?

Sadly I don't really branch out, mostly because I know what I like and I'm usually disappointed if I try something new.  But I think the last book I read in a genre I don't normally read is Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta which was... well disappointing.  But I think it's mostly because contemporary is really not my thing.

Cinderella – Who lost her shoe after midnight.

What is the last book that made you stay up all night?

Cress by Marissa Meyer.  I just had to finish it!  (And it's a fitting book for this survey!)  Towards the end everything just started getting more and more nerve-wracking, I could hardly take the stress of the suspense!  But it was such a good book!

Rapunzel – Locked up in a tower.

What is the worst book you’ve read last month?

Although it wasn't that bad, my lowest rated book from last month was The Vanishing by Wendy Webb.  It was very atmospheric and creepy but ultimately I was disappointed by the characters and the resolution.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Cress

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
by Marissa Meyer
YA Fairy Tale/ Science Fiction
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.


What can I say really?  This is another fantastic installment of the series - I liked it more than the second book, because the action, plot and characters just came together so well.  With an ever growing cast of main characters, this story became even more urgent and suspenseful as they all had to deal with different complications.  And the characters are one reason this series is so strong.  They all have such different, vivid personalities, ones that are true to their fairy tale counterparts, but so much more expressive and dimensional in Marissa Meyer's hands.  I couldn't believe how well each character stood on their own (actually except for Wolf, I feel like he's not as well developed as everyone else).  The credibleness and the bravery of these characters is inspiring in many ways - in how inspiring it is to read such fantastic storytelling and in how they take on their challenges despite impossible odds.  There's really a sense of consequence in this book that keeps the story authentic I think.  Because the decisions made by Cinder and others are devastating, but necessary.  And that just kept me completely invested in the story.

With so many amazing characters, it would make this review way longer than it should to point out what was great about each one, but let me just focus on Cress who is the new addition to the group and who is so engaging and adorable - with a few flaws, but still desperate to live up to expectations and overcome her past.  She's so quirky and enthusiastic about many things, and I think the author should be applauded for creating such a memorable, spirited third female heroine to add to this world.

In this book I think we got to learn more about every character - they all took on more definition and shade, and I was just so impressed by how believable they are.  Kai, who was a little insipid in the second book for me, became a much stronger character in this, in a very understated way I think.  He's so selfless, and yet hopeful that reading how he was forcing himself to do what he thought was right was so heartbreaking for me.  And talk about heartbreaking - I was not expecting my emotions over Dr. Erland.  Who seemed like he would not be very significant after the first book, but I was completely wrong.  This book is just filled with fantastic, realistic characters.

But don't forget the storytelling is amazing too!  With stakes being raised higher and higher as Cinder tries to find a way to take power from Queen Levana, the suspense of the story built excruciatingly til the end.  I so wish I could read faster, because my nerves were shot with all the twists and turns, the betrayals and revelations that are made in this book.  But this book and the whole series are an amazing read.  With just one more book to go, the story has taken on such epic proportions.  The last line was chilling, satisfying and aggravating because I can't wait to know what happens next!
Sunday, March 9, 2014

Suspense Sundays (87) The White Rose Murders

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"The White Rose Murders"
Air date: July 6, 1943
Starring Maureen O'Hara
>>Episodes here<<

A serial killer has been murdering young girls and leaving a white rose in their hand as his signature.  The police believe he's reliving some traumatic relationship from his past and are keen to catch him.  A regular detective, Terry, tells his girlfriend all about it, bemoaning that if they don't catch the killer a demotion is in store for him.  And he would like to marry his rich debutante girlfriend.  His girl, Ginny, has an idea though!  She can use herself as bait to try to catch the killer.  Mistake much?

I believe this is a great classic Suspense episode, with a surprising twist in the end that even though it should have been obvious, it totally was not.  It was a glaringly obvious mistake for Ginny to attempt to attract potential murderers, but her plucky resolve and determination is very endearing.  It would have been nice if she could have handled the situation totally in the end - I think she was a strong enough character.  But I suppose it wouldn't have been ladylike enough for a 40s audience.  And it is interesting that a song is also a trigger for the murderer in the story - the beer barrel polka. It's such an obvious thing now to juxtapose something so happy and innocuous with something so sinister, but I wonder if it was more of a jolt in the 1940s.  Anyways, great episode!
Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: Scarlet

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
by Marissa Meyer

YA Fairy Tale / Science Fiction
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.


I was a little nervous going into the second book because I loved Cinder so much and I was not expecting it to have such an open ending when I knew the second book would introduce new main characters.  It seemed overly ambitious to build on the story by creating even more important characters.  But of course I should have relaxed because Marissa Meyer has it all in control and Scarlet is a wonderful book!

Scarlet is a fantastic update on Little Red Riding Hood.  Her feistiness and independence endeared me to her immediately and to have a mystery surrounding the disappearance of her grandmother was a great way to draw the reader immediately into her story.  I also loved how Cinder was still an important presence in the book, and her story was weaved into Scarlet's perfectly.  The romance between Wolf and Scarlet was a little over the top however.  It bordered on instalove as I didn't quite see why they had such a strong connection, and while Wolf is a great character he was very much overshadowed by Cinder's partner in crime, Thorne, as a memorable male lead.  I can't help feeling meh about Wolf when Thorne is so entertaining!

The wolf aspect of the story though is very clever - especially because I didn't immediately realize the tie to the first book in their history.  That shows really strong world-building which is another great feature of this series.  Everything feels very believable because this series perfectly balances the plot, characters and setting.  With the stakes so high, fantastic characters who really work well together and drama that is incredibly engaging, I can't imagine why anyone would not love this series!
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Dangerous

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
by Shannon Hale
YA Science Fiction
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

When Maisie Danger Brown nabbed a spot at a NASA-like summer boot camp, she never expected to uncover a conspiracy that would change her life forever.

And she definitely didn't plan to fall in love.

But now there's no going back—Maisie's the only thing standing between the Earth and annihilation. She must become the hero the world needs. The only problem is: how does a regular girl from Salt Lake City do that, exactly? It's not as though there's a handbook for this sort of thing. It's up to Maisie to come up with a plan—and find the courage to carry it out—before she loses her heart . . . and her life.

Equal parts romance and action-adventure, this explosive story is sure to leave both longtime Shannon Hale fans and avid science fiction readers completely breathless.


I love Shannon Hale's writing.  I've read some of her fairy tale retellings, and her contemporary works and I think she spins story and character beautifully.  Somehow in this new science fiction adventure though, the characters and the story fell a little flat for me.  Mostly in the beginning though - I think the story comes together much better as it moves on.  But the way we are introduced to Maisie and the summer camp felt rushed and I didn't feel much of a connection with these characters.  I was also a bit disappointed by the romance which wasn't as well developed.  It's so strange because the plot is really great - full of action and really clever ideas and twists.  I was also pleasantly surprised by how much solid scientific information explains all the technology and inventions.  There were many witty one-liners and fun puns too, which made for lots of humor.

I did like the main character Maisie alot - she has a great sense of humor, especially about her disability which she never lets stop her.  But she felt closed off sometimes which made it hard to really understand her as a character.  And that also meant I wasn't as invested in the romance, which has it's own twists which made me very confused about who I was rooting for near the end.  Wilder especially was so ambiguous, and smarmy and handsome and manipulative, and I wasn't very interested in seeing whether or not he could win Masie over. And that was a significant part of the book.

The found family with the fire team was also disappointing.  The character development felt rushed and while there were times when I liked how one or the other worked in the story, I never really felt invested in them or their actions.

There was a lot to enjoy about this book however.  I loved the intelligence of  the story and the way poetry and Shakespeare was worked in.  The plot was very clever with a lot going on, and also featuring a really great empowering resolution.  And one character really stood out for me - Dragon - who was such an understated hero and a moving character.  While this is a very readable book that is sometimes hard to put down, I'm not sure it will stay with me because I found the characters oddly lackluster.

(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.)
Monday, March 3, 2014

New Blog Design + a Giveaway!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
New blog design alert! It’s always exciting when you get something new and shiny! This was designed by the very talented gals behind These Paper Blogs - Megan and Chri! Thank you so much girls for this beautiful design! I was looking for a something that would look elegant, less busy, and more vintage-y than my previous one, and from their portfolio I found their designs to have a lovely clean aesthetic which was the basis for what I wanted. In 2012, when I first sought a blog design from Jenny at Inside the Kaleidoscope, I really had no idea of what I wanted. And what she came up with was both unexpected and perfect. Going into a second redesign, I had more of a notion of what I wanted for my blog so this time around I was more involved with the process, and sending little tweaks and ideas to Megan and Chri. It’s turned out better than I could have hoped though - actually I think the new design has a sort of semblance to the movie poster for the recent Jane Eyre - in the color and the head silhouette -
Kind of?
which is perfect for me of course! And I think it was just serendipitous!

Megan and Chri were just delightful to work with, I sometimes felt bad about all the emails I sent their way with my harebrained ideas, but they were ever gracious and accommodating. I love the look of their designs, and it is all at such affordable prices! They were always prompt at responding to my emails as well which is particularly great because for someone as impatient as me, the wait to see what the designer comes up with is painful, but regular communication eases my fretfulness!

To celebrate my new blog design, I’m having a little Amazon Gift Card giveaway for $25! And because I’ve added a few more social networks to my blog sidebar, there are quite a few options to gain more entries. (Sorry about the social media overload!)  I have come to the sad decision to get rid of Google Friend Connect... Umm mostly because Google has taken it out of their updated widget lineup and I can no longer access the code.  They replaced it with a Google+ widget and no thanks.  Bloglovin is my preferred follow method now anyway!

And if you are one of the lovely, fantastic people to have my blog button on their blog, I would really appreciate it if you could update it with the new button! Thank you lovely fantastic person!

  • Open Internationally
  • One Gift Card to one winner
  • The giveaway ends in two weeks, and the winner will be promptly contacted. The winner must reply to the email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

And again please check out These Paper Blogs if you are looking for a new design!  And thank you so much for visiting my blog! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My old design for the memories: