This post was supposed to be a review of The Diviners by Libba Bray, but my migraine over the Thanksgiving holiday cheated me out of 5 days of reading. I did watch a lot of Being Human, Doctor Who, and the back of my eyelids, so not all was lost. I’m about halfway through, though, and so far I really like it. It’s dark, which seems to be what I’m drawn to these days. However, had I played the trailer, which I just watched after inserting the code into this post, I would have run screaming into a pool of holy water.
The book is spooky, but so far it’s not that spooky.
I was offered a copy–no review was necessary for this post–and I took it thinking I could read it and turn around and donate it to the library. To quote Evie, the main character, that is posi-tute-ly not going to happen. The Diviners falls firmly in the 14+ camp, at least for someone who volunteers at a Catholic K-8 school. I’ve seen kids at school read books that are just as mature, but they bring them from home. There is no way I could get my principal to approve a book about a serial killer, the occult, and the 17 year old speakeasy-hopping teens that chase him.
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
Libba Bray is an excellent writer, and she so far she hasn’t disappointed with The Diviners. I know some of you disliked Going Bovine, and I’m curious to know if you’ve read The Diviners and enjoyed it. There are so, so, so many young adult paranormal stories out there, and it’s refreshing to read one that I, an adult, find myself enjoying. It’s smart young adult fiction. Libba Bray and her contemporaries prove young adult literature exists and it’s not all candy floss and soda. The trick is to hold out for the good stuff.
Kind of like this giveaway, which is for one book and one tote bag. The book and tote bag aren’t what makes the giveaway great–I mean, yes, they’re great and you should enter and tell all your friends!–but much like young adult books, it pays to hold out for the good stuff. I try to limit the giveaways and sponsored posts on the blog. I turn down quite a bit, even for books, because (1) this isn’t my livelihood and (2) giveaway posts can be really dull, especially when the blogger hasn’t finished the book and doesn’t have a story to share.
Luckily, I have a story to share. Last week I was offered product and payment for a post on something I thought my boys would like because it’s an interest they recently acquired. My discussion with the company was going well until they said they could not proceed unless I agreed I wouldn’t disclose the post was sponsored and that I received free product. Long story short: I said NO.
They didn’t care. They were confident someone else would do it; maybe they’re right. After blogging for 6 years (this blog turned 6 on Saturday!) my only piece of advice to anyone starting out is this: don’t sell out. Blog in a way that aligns with your principles. Don’t let a big company or a fancy publicist manipulate you into thinking that if you don’t take this deal right! now! you will never become a blogging sensation, because giveaway or no giveaway, the odds of you becoming a blogging sensation are very, very slim.
There are very few Evie O’Neils in this world, and there are even fewer successful full time bloggers. If you’re destined to be one of them, it’s better to get there on your own terms. I’m not destined to be a successful full time blogger and knowing that makes blogging a lot more fun.
Wait for the good stuff. Giveaway the good stuff. Read the good stuff. Or be like me and try to do those three things as often as you can, with a little fluffy brain reading tossed in to cleanse the palate. (A lot of fluffy brain reading. Ahem. No one’s perfect.)
SHOW OFF YOUR LOVE FOR THE DIVINERS!
One (1) winner receives:
An exclusive The Diviners tote bag & a copy of the book!
Prizing courtesy of Little, Brown
Giveaway open to anyone 18 years of age and older with a current mailing address
One comment per person on this post
Giveaway closes Friday, December 13, 2013
I did it! I made the garland and then I made another one. I made two garlands for $6 each using supplies from the 99¢ Only Store. They have ornaments and lights. They are not heirlooms Christmas decorations. They are going up in the library. They are bright and colorful, more bright and colorful than I would ever pick for my own home, but I designed them to match donated decorations that don’t really…match. We have traditional decorations, modern decorations, kid decorations, adult decorations. You know, donated decorations. These garlands pull in almost all the colors I’ll have going on. (Wowza!)
A few of you asked for a tutorial on Facebook, so here you go. I’m not a tutorial person, so I’ll share what I did and if you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments. I’ll be decorating in the library today, so I may not be as prompt as I normally am, but I will answer any questions I can when I get home. If you want to see how the garlands look in place, follow me on Instagram. I’m @theMrsKendall.
Here is everything you need. Some items, like the tinsel and lights, are optional.
For one 6′ garland (approximate) you will need:
Two 6′ garlands
One pack of large ornaments
Two packs of small ornaments
One pack of tinsel (you will have soooo much leftover)
Two packs of mini lights
Small ornament wires (or twist ties, twine, floral wire, etc.)
Large ornament wires (or twist ties, twine, floral wire, etc.)
I already had the ornament wires, which is why my garlands came out to $6 each. If you don’t, you’ll be paying $8 per garland.
You’ll need two 6′ garlands because the garlands are so thin and cheap that you’ll be doubling them up. The pencil is there for scale. The garland on the left is open while the one on the right is right out of the package. Don’t be alarmed. It will look like a Charlie Brown Christmas Garland.
Open and smooth out both garlands. Spread their cheap, flimsy little branches out. They will look like something that should go in a goldfish tank.
Stack your garlands. You could do more than two, I suppose, but I think at that point you should march yourself to a craft store and let go of the under $10 lighted garland dream.
The instructions get a little tricky here. Basically, you’re attaching the garlands. You do that in three ways. You twist them together; you take a bottom garland branch and cross it with a top garland branch and make an X. (Like a twist, but you’re twisting branches, not the garlands.); you wrap the branches around the garland stem front to back and front again. You can do one, two, or all three. I did all three because I wanted the garland to look as natural as possible (hah!) and I think I did that by avoiding a construction pattern.
The twist is self explanatory.
The X is similar to the twist, but instead of twisting the stem (see above picture) I joined the garland by twisting the branches. You can see in the picture that the garlands aren’t attached.
The Wrap is impossible to explain and even more impossible to photograph. Here goes nothing. Take the branches from the top garland and wrap then around the bottom garland, bringing them back up to the top. Do the opposite with the bottom branches. The branches are hugging the stem, in other words.
I bought the tinsel garland because I thought it would be the fat, feather boa tinsel garland of my youth and could add girth to my garland. I didn’t realize it would be as thick as dental floss. I almost didn’t use it, but I gave it a shot. I’m not sure it’s necessary, but in this case, where I wanted lots of color, it works. This is definitely an optional supply.
I can say the same thing about the mini lights. The ornaments in this picture aren’t in place. They are there to show you how they look with the lights. In my head, I was imagining colored lights like you find at craft stores: distinct, with a soft glow. These are bright and indistinct. Is it yellow? Blue? Red? It’s all a blur. Also, there is only an outlet on one side, so you can’t connect several mini lights together. You have to plan carefully your placement and how you will ultimately install your garland.
Time for ornaments! My only plan was to avoid any suggestion of a pattern. I wanted it to look random, but not chaotic. Sort of hard when you’re working with 234 colors, but I tried. I started in the middle with three ornaments threaded together with a large ornament wire.
I worked out from there, using small ornament wires for small ornaments. Attaching the ornaments to the garlands was straightforward. I bent the wire and wrapped them around the garland, taking care not to poke or cut the mini lights.
And that’s it! The garlands took about 30-60 minutes to make. I’m honestly not too sure on the time because I was stopping to take pictures. It wasn’t hard and didn’t feel like an eternity. That much I can tell you.
Thanks to my friend Kelly–whose family owns Patio World/Christmas World–for showing me the double garland trick and convincing me I could make my own garlands.
My mom was never one for holiday decorations. We had a tree, stockings, and outside two wreaths and a string of lights. I always wanted more. I wanted it to look like Christmas exploded. I wanted it to look like every holiday exploded. Didn’t happen. I vowed I would be different and that, for the most part, didn’t happen. It turns out holiday decorations are expensive and you have to store them when they aren’t is use! Just another one of the crushing truths you learn once you grow up.
When I put up decorations in the library, I wasn’t expecting the older kids to pay much attention, but they did. They immediately asked if there would be Christmas decorations and, most surprising of all, it was the 7th grade boys who were the most excited about the decorations. They wanted to put on the star, hang the ornaments, set up this and that. I was shocked. It changed my view on holiday decorations, at least a little.
I finally bought the Christmas Village I have always wanted, and I even spread out fake snow. No, even more embarrassing than that, I bought two kinds of fake snow (glittered and plain) and mixed them together because the glittered was too glittery and the plain didn’t have enough pizzazz. (!!) When I showed my little snow village to the family they just sort of looked at each other and blinked, smiled, and–were Mikey and Nico tall enough–probably would have pat my head. The Mister looked at me and said, “You bought dust?”
“It’s not dust; it’s fake snow.”
“But in a few weeks you have to dust the fake snow and throw it away.”
“No, I have it all planned out–”
“This I have to hear.”
“I’m going to sweep it into a container I marked Fake Snow. I’ll reuse it every year! You’ll see.”
It was $2, so I’ll probably just throw it away, but I refuse to admit defeat until it hits the trashcan.
In the spirit of things I never thought I would do, I’m making garlands! My friend’s family owns Patio World, and every holiday season they turn into Christmas World. Their prices really are better than large chain stores for a much better product, and you’re shopping local. But, if you’re making a garland for a K-8 library and want something super, super inexpensive, then you ask your friend Kelly to give you a garland making lesson in the parking of her store using only items from The Dollar Store. It was like wizardry. I had trouble tracking her hands because there was cheap garland and tinsel the width of dental floss flying. We’ll see how I do. I have this image of me looking like the Magician’s apprentice, covered in soot and holding a garland burnt to cinders. Then I sneeze and the garland crumbles to dust at my feet. An ornament rolls away, exit stage left.
Do you remember Dinosaur Mountain? They are alive and well! They come out every year, without fail. Dino Mountain–as it’s now called–has moved to the mantel since our three little trees gasped their final breath last year. I’m tempted, oh so very tempted, to add more dinosaurs to the mix.
Last week was supposed to be vacation? Mikey did a book report the entire week, and as much as I hate to dampen his creativity and expansive ideas, next time the kid’s drawing a picture and calling it a day. For five of those days, we had my father in-law staying with us. No problem, except I don’t think a person flies across the country to watch someone do homework. And when my sister in-law arrived at the end of the week: major, major migraine. I missed most of her time here…and my birthday.
Despite this, Thanksgiving was great. I had a breakfast with my mom and brother. I made a quiche and cinnamon rolls, both of which were delicious. (Maybe not the cinnamon rolls, but I’m not a fan of cinnamon rolls. They were for the Mister, a Super Fan.) There was absolutely no drama. It was calm and relaxing and fun. The boys played football with their uncle. My mom cleaned the kitchen. The Mister and I put up Christmas decorations. Thanksgiving brunch may become a new tradition around here.
Whoa! The weather changed. On Monday I was out walking in a pair of short sweats and a t-shirt. On Tuesday I put on my long pants. On Wednesday I wore my pants and long sleeves. On Thursday I walked in the pouring rain. The rain just never let up. I went out mid-day so I would at least have some light. On Friday I took stock of the damage from Thursday’s storm. That fallen tree branch gave me pause. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Saturday and Sunday were great. Sweatshirt weather, but not terribly cold. I probably could have done without the sweatshirt, but I can toss my iphone in the pocket. Convenient!
Some comments from Instagram:
That 2nd picture is of a plastic Santa’s belly. Ho, Ho, Ho! Christmas is almost here.
I really like those pink hedge flowers in the 3rd picture. I’ve never seen anything like them before and don’t know what they’re called.
As for the loan black shoe in the 6th picture, am I the only one who sees one shoe in the road and immediately thinks serial killer or kidnapping?
Song of the Week
Restless Heart – Matt Hires