Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Review: Wrong Number

I just finished reading Rachelle Christensen's debut novel, Wrong Number. It was a suspense novel about a young woman, pregnant with her first child, who recieved a wrong number phone call on her husband's cell phone by accident. In that phone call, because she was distracted while driving and couldn't respond, the caller unloaded some information about a dead body and where he stached it before the caller realized he had called the wrong number and hung up. In an effort to cover his tracks, the caller killed the woman's husband and then went after her. She had to enter the FBI witness protection program, but when that proved insufficient to keep her and her new baby safe, she resorted to her own ingenuity. In that process, I as a reader was taken on an exciting ride of suspense and romance that I thoroughly enjoyed. Though her writing is not as polished as a seasoned author, the story made up for it and I was able to overlook the excess of gerunds and fall into the story.
Check out Rachelles blog at http://www.rachellewrites.blogspot.com/
or her website at http://www.rachellechristensen.com/

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Easy Applique Techniques to Jaze up Projects

This past month I have been making the bedding for my soon-to-be-born grandson's crib. I went shopping with my daughter and she couldn't find something that was what she had in mind, (elephants), so I told her I would make it for her if she would just pick the colors she wanted. She was thrilled and said she and her new baby would cherish it even more because it was made by grandma. I decided the easiest way to create the look I had in mind would be to use applique.
A few months ago a friend of mine showed me the quilt top she was working on for her new grand-daughter. The colors and design was darling, but unfortunately, she obviously didn't have the basics of applique in her repertoire, causing her quilt to fall short of its darling potential. That inspired me for this month's Mid-Month-Make-something Madness: applique.
I'm not going to give you the instructions on how to make the bumper pads and quilt, etc, but just simple instructions on how to do applique

First thing you do is pick a pattern, trace it on your fabric and cut it out using a good, sharp pair of scissors.

Next is to spray the backside of the fabric with a light coat of spray glue. I usually place the cut out in my garbage can (it's my sewing room garbage can, so it's just full of paper and fabric, not anything rotten). I do this so the sides of the lined can hold the excess spray from the glue.

Next, your apply your glued cutout on the desired spot on your fabric background.

Apply a light coat of spray glue on a scrap piece of fabric and apply it on the back side of the fabric background, opposite the position of your cut out. This serves to reinforce the fabric and ovoid puckering when zig-zagging the cut out in place.

Set your sewing machine's stitch length on about a 1 (small stitch, not quite as tight as a button hole stitch), and set your zig zag on about a 4 (not quite the widest). Stitch using a matching thread to your cutout, as it hides mistakes easier and I think gives a neater, finished look.

Needle placement is essential in good applique. You must have the outside width of the zig zag leave the needle poking down through the fabric at the exact edge of your cutout. This needs to be consistent for a well-finished look. When going around curves you need to move the fabric through the feed dogs like a marching band turning a corner, moving the outside of the curve faster than the inside to make a consist turn 
 of the stitching.
After you have zig zagged around the entire circumference of your cut out, your applique is done. Press it well with a steam iron and you are ready to incorporate it in your project.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: Heroes of the Fallen, by David West

I finished David West's debut book this weekend while on a road trip with my husband. For his setting, David has chosen a unique, interesting, yet familiar period of time: aproximately 400 A.D., western hemisphere. Those of you familiar with the Book of Mormon know that this is the time when the Nephite nation gets wiped off the earth. That is basically the premise of the story, and David does an excellent job of showing the wickedness of the Nephites and their prideful manner that makes them think they are invincible from the attacks of the Lamanites.

He begins the story with a prologue. I'm not usually a prologue fan, but he has done this one very well, capturing the reader's attention and drawing them in. The prologue introduces a character named Amaron, who I immediately bonded with. Amaron was a large, strong, almost invincable Nephite solider who has chosen the path of righteousness and is there to defend Moroni so he can flee with the records and take them safely away from the last battle. At the end of the prologue I envision that I was going to see the events that led up to the destruction of the Nephites through Amaron's eyes.

Unfortuantely, I was only allowed into Amaron's eyes on periodic occasions. The author chose to write this story through numerous points of view. Some readers really enjoy that type of story. Being a writer and reader of Y.A. I tend to shy away from the use of multiple POVs. I find that they tend to compete with the reader's finite emphathy, preventing the reader from falling in love with the characters. I found myself doing this in Heroes of the Fallen. When a scene came on the page with Amaron, my eyes perked up and my interest intensified. The same was true with some of his other good characters. But I found that there were too many characters, especially "bad guys" to keep track of, and too little time to connect with them. I also found that there were POV shifts within a scene, that left me distracted.

However, this is the style of writing that I noticed Gerald Lund uses, and apparantly a lot of readers gobble it up. So if you like Gerald Lund, and you like action, battles, and great historic detail, you will like David West's new book, Heroes of the Fallen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Review: I Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells

A few months ago I attended a workshop taught by Dan Wells at the LTUE conference at BYU. The class was awesome and I left knowing I had to read his book as soon as it was released, for the express purpose of learning how to grasp the voice of his main character. At the time I started reading his book, that was my only motivation to buy the book (I am not a fan of horror). But once I began reading, I was captivated. The story, and the characters, drew me in and I had a hard time setting the book down.
In a nut shell, John Wayne Cleaver is a teenager who exhibits all of the classic signs of being a serial killer. He is also obsessed with them, reading about them, learning about them, and would, no doubt, collect their cards like baseball cards, if only such a thing existed. He creates rules, however, to prevent him from becoming an actual serial killer. This is a quality that endeared me to the MC, because I couldn't help but love this character and feel sorry for him, because, despite his pschyopathic nature, he was deep down a good kid.
When someone in his town is murdered in a grotesque way, John suspects a serial killer and is immediately drawn into the mystery of the murder. It is easy to do, because his mother is the only mortician in town, and John gets to help with the embalming, which he loves to do. John goes on to solve the mystery and discovers who the killer is. It was a twist I wasn't expecting. I don't want to spoil the story, so I won't reveal the murderer here, but encourage you to get the book and read it yourself. You'll be on the edge of your seat, and tempted to pee your pants at time, but you will definately love it. I did.
Check out his website.