Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

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Book Review: 
The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

Dial Press. June 2015. ISBN: 9780385342940


Twelve-year-old Willa is on the cusp of her teenage years and becomes determined to figure out things that her family won't tell her, especially concerning her dear Aunt Jottie and enigmatic father Felix. When Layla Beck, the daughter of a prominent senator, is sent to Willa's hometown in Macedonia, West Virginia to work on the Federal Writer's Project, Willa's world gets a little more interesting. As the summer passes, she learns about the secrets people keep, and the pasts that they bury in order to get by.


This book was a charmer. Willa reminded me of Scout Finch, and she tells her story in a similar way. She's a tomboy and she's nosy, and through her eyes and her observations, you can see how she grows and changes, while also revealing more about her intriguing family members - in this case, her mysterious father Felix and her aunt Jottie. You get other points of view as well - some of Jottie's, and some of Layla Beck's (Layla's side is told through her correspondence, which almost feels like you are prying like Willa does). The dialogue is amazing - a lot of ribbing between Jottie and her brother Felix, with undercurrents of unspoken words, and the fast pace of their witty conversation is highly entertaining. This was the biggest charmer for me, and why the Romeyn family was so intriguing.

Family loyalty is a big theme throughout, and it's easy to get sucked into the intricacies of the Romeyn family. Once a big name in the town, the Romeyn family name is now somewhat tarnished, but like Willa, we are left to wonder how that came to be, and part of the fun is trying to figure out how they got where they are today.  In a similar thread, Layla Beck is working on Macedonia's history, and bit by bit, she too is putting the pieces of the town's history together, and revealing the truth which overlaps with the Romeyn family mysteries. Every bit the outsider to this small insular town, the reader has to find the inside scoop, and know whose stories you can rely on and whose to take with a grain of salt.

What I find most interesting, and which I really came away with, is that even the bad apples have a story to tell. Not everyone is as they initially seem. And we all tell ourselves different truths to help get us through the moment, and that even when that truth isn't accurate, we find ourselves believing our own stories as well.

You'll like this book if you like:
  • great characterization 
  • coming-of-age stories 
  • historical fiction 
  • family secrets 
  • charming and funny dialogue
A big thanks to NetGalley for providing me the opportunity to read this book before it was published in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Artists' Journal Workshop: Personal Favorite Supplies from Cathy Johnson

I am on hold for Cathy Johnson's Artist's Journal Workshop book at the library right now, so I looked more into and found this great page while I'm waiting. She lists all of her favorite supplies for painting and artistic journaling. I'm in love!

I have always liked the idea of using watercolors out and about, but haven't tinkered with the supplies much. Mostly, I get overwhelmed by the idea of getting all the supplies together, making sure I had everything, and then "setting out" to find the right place. By then, it's a big thing in my head, and the thought of going out and doing it sounds like a whole lot of work, and maybe it would be easier to stay in and take a nap? No more! (Well, not no more napping, naps are good, too.) With these little tools, it would be easy to keep supplies in my car, and use inspiration as it comes to me. Or throw them in a tote bag when I may have down time, and just go from there. True artistic journaling.

Seriously? Here she uses a recycled Altoids tin with little trays of color, a tiny spritzer with water, and a tiny pencil and pen. Genius! She stuffs some good watercolor paper into a notebook skin and she's good to go! TWO THINGS to carry that can fit in your purse.

This is a little more like me. I might need more colors than an Altoids box affords. Luckily, I have a little tray of paints from when I was very young that words perfectly for this.

And lastly:

A little spray bottle that she uses to wet the paints in her tins, to add texture, etc., and she has a nesting cup that fits on top, too!

Go to her website below for more great stuff, it's fantastic! And if you haven't checked out her book yet, find that, as well:

Find it here

Please see Cathy's post, here:

Artists' Journal Workshop: Personal Favorite Supplies: What Journaling Supplies Work for YOU? We all like to see what other artists enjoy using in their journals; I started our with jus...

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Dog Days of Summer" Library Display

Thought I'd bring out one of my displays of August past by showing you...

Relax in the Dog Days of Summer - August 2013

I really had fun with this one. It's very simple. I found an image of a dog laying in the grass like this and wanted to basically make a display out of it. I had a volunteer cut out my little grassy pieces and pick out the letters. I drew the dog because the picture I had couldn't be blown up without a lot of pixellation. Add in a ton of books of all ages featuring dogs - and Dog Days of Summer came to life.

See more displays like this here.