What I’m reading! My Review of the Joona Linna series by Lars Kepler

I recently finished the Joona Linna series, written by Lars Kepler, a husband-wife writing duo from Sweden.  The series consists of 5 books, The Hypnotist, The Nightmare, The Fire Witness, The Sandman, and Stalker.  The series follows a main character, named Joona Linna, who is a detective Inspector in Sweden.  He specializes in serial killers and the more grisly crimes that come along.  He is impulsive, passionate, and moody!  Very intelligent and observant, with the highly sought after characteristic of most detectives, that uncanny, and dark, ability to think like a killer.  It makes him a very successful detective, but a not-so-successful human being.

I absolutely loved the first two books.  I devoured them.  I waited on the last three books, until I knew the last book was ready to be released, so that I could just read them all back to back without having to wait for each one to be released.  The books are originally written in Swedish, so they take a little longer to be released in English.  The first two books were translated by the same person, and are very well done.  Apart from a few awkward conversations, and a bluntness to the characters, the translation between languages was seamless.  The third book was translated by a different person, but I didn’t really notice, as it was also well done.  The fourth and fifth books, however, I noticed right away that they were also translated by a different person.  I didn’t enjoy them as much.  The translation was too literal and didn’t flow well.  I feel like the translator didn’t take the time to convey the meaning of the book into the English language, he just translated the words.  The effect was that the story was flat, subtleties were missed, and there were a lot of repetitive adjectives.  In the fifth book, I even found myself offended at the descriptions used for a pregnant character.  She was constantly referred to as ‘heavy’ and ‘bulging’.  Up to this point, the few sexist remarks in the book could easily be chalked up to cultural differences, and the setting of the book, where a police station is still, sadly, a boy’s club, for the most part.  Since I can’t read Swedish, I have no idea if the authors wrote these descriptions in the original story, or if this was solely on the translators shoulders, but since I didn’t encounter this in the other books, I feel like this boils down to translation.

I also felt that the fifth book was rushed.  Not that the book is shorter, but more that the story was rushed, and not as well thought out.  I find it curious that they used brand new characters for the book, when there were still old, familiar characters, who’s stories hadn’t ended, or could have ended with the conclusion of the series.  It was especially odd considering the return of a character from the first book, probably used to give that ‘full circle’ effect that neatly ties up a series.  These new characters didn’t add anything to the story, necessarily, or at least, they didn’t add the things that the authors hoped they would, in my opinion.   I think giving us a new point of view of Joona Linna made him less sympathetic.  At a time when he is becoming more and more impulsive and careless, it wasn’t helpful to have ‘strangers’ pointing this out.  I felt disconnected to him, and found his irrational behaviour to be a little overboard.  In fact, I felt that a lot of the characters reactions to different situations in the book, were less than realistic.  The whole book seemed desperate to me.  I know that they wanted the desperation of the characters to be conveyed, to add to the suspense, but I found some of it too far-fetched.

All in all, I did really enjoy this series, and according to Goodreads, the books are well received and enjoyed.  I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.  There are some trigger subjects in each of the books, including mental illness, suicide, adultery, sex, violence, drugs, and language, so please go into the books knowing that.  I gave them: 5, 5, 5, 4, 3 stars, respectively.

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Let me know how you liked this series, and if you have any recommendations for another series I might enjoy🙂

Thanks so much for reading!

Jenn

Getting Scrappy: Day at the Park

Ever have one of those days that just turns out great?  Nothing particular happened to make it great, things just all seemed to fall into place.  The kids got along, the weather cooperated, you weren’t running late for anything, and you were having a good hair day!  When those days happen for me, I know I end up taking a lot of pictures.  There is nothing especially exciting that I am trying to capture, other than just the natural happiness of the day.  These are the kinds of pictures that I like to put into Project Life, but every once in awhile I have more of a story to tell, and more pictures to include.  I like to elaborate on my reflections of the day, and explain why an ordinary day turned out to be an extraordinary day!!!

In this case, The Hubs and I took the boys to a new playground to play, while KB was dancing.  The sun was shinning, the boys were happy to have some alone time with us, and we had the park to ourselves!  Even a call from work, for The Hubs, on his day off, didn’t take away from the casual, relaxed feel of the day.  It was really fun exploring the playground and finding all the cool things to do.  I just had my cell phone, but I snapped away, taking pictures of the boys as they explored the park, and a lot of selfies (which is not normal for me).  Non of the photos were posed, or planned.  My goal was to capture real life.

After adding a couple of my favourite pictures to Project Life, I still had these four 4×6 photos, which included two 4×6 selfies, and 2 collages.  I decided to try something a little different (for me, at least) and made four 6×12 layouts. I’ll my Fuse tool, to create two 6×12 pockets out of a 12×12 page protector.  I used some old Studio Calico paper that I had out from a previous project (click here to check out that project!), vellum, tissue paper, and embellished with Stampin’ Up stickers and enamel dots, flair from Fancy Pants, die cuts from Simple Stories and Fancy Pants, and gold Heidi Swapp Color Shine.

Here is my process video and some close-ups!

Thanks so much for watching, and reading🙂

Jenn

 

Project Life Catch-Up-February

What was my first rule in planning for Project Life?  Simplify!  I wouldn’t say I struggle with simplicity, but I do have to remind myself of it sometimes.  When there are so many pretty things to choose from, it’s hard to resist using them all on the first pocket.  I try very hard to keep my embellishments simple and fuss-free.  My rule of thumb is pretty basic: the busier the photos and layout are, the less embellishing I do.  It becomes too crowded when you have a lot of patterns and photos and decoration all competing with each other for attention.  It’s hard to focus on each pocket and follow the story when there is so much going on.  But even keeping this rule in mind, I really struggled with February.  I’m not sure why this month gives me so much grief.  I don’t think I’ve even finished my February spreads from 2015 yet.  I find myself just sitting there, starring at the layout with no idea what to do.  But I powered through it this time, and lucky you, you get to come along for the ride🙂

I split this up into 3 parts so the videos would be shorter.  Here are some close-ups of the final product.  Hope you enjoy.  Thanks so much for taking the time to watch!

Happy Scrapping everyone🙂

Project Life Catch-Up!

I know you won’t be shocked to hear that I am behind in my Project Life.  Project Life often has to take a back burner, well, to, LIFE life.  I don’t own a photo printer, so I order my photos at the end of everything month, which means I always scrapbook at least a month behind so I am used to playing a little catch up, but I’m currently only working on July 2015, so that’s a little more than a month.  It’s time to rev it up a little bit, so that I can put 2015 away.

The key to catching-up is creating a plan of attack!  You need time, motivation, and desire.  Time is a big part of the plan.  Time is a commodity we all struggle to balance.  Here is my plan for 2016:

  1. Simplify!  Yes, like with all things, I think you get to a point in life, where you cherish simplicity (or is that just me?).  I love the beautifully embellished, amazingly creative, PL spreads I see on Youtube, but in reality, it’s just not going to happen for me… or at least, not every week.  So I’m continuing my approach of simple is better.  I swoon over the gorgeous photos I see popping into our favourite PLer’s pockets, but I just don’t get enough time at my computer to edit all the photos I take, so I work with what I have, and I don’t worry about it.  I like to pick just a few nice embellishments for each week, and let the stories shine through.
  2. Organize! I’ve found a really great system that keeps me organized so that printing photos is easy and simple (see above, haha).  Using Picasa, I quickly edit and manage my photos, make collages, and sort them into the right months.  I’m not sure what I will use once the updates to my computer finally render Picasa incompatible, but for now, it still works so I am holding on to it.  Staying organized is the key to making this whole system work.  I know exactly which photos I want to print off so I don’t get too overwhelmed.
  3. Schedule!  This is the hardest part for me.  In order to stay caught up while working a month behind, you need to make sure that you are scheduling time to work on your PL.  Make it part of your routine, whether it’s 20 minutes a day, an hour a week, one Sunday a month, whatever works for you.  Think of your Project Life in the same way that you think about other important parts of your life like groceries, going to the gym, date night.  Find times in your schedule to devote to PL and pencil them in!!!  You will thank yourself🙂
  4. Think outside of the box!  The beautiful thing about scrapbooking is that there are no rules, so stop boxing yourself in.  If you find you are falling behind, then it’s time to rethink your approach.  I’m not sure that there are many others who PL the way I do, but it works for me so that’s what I will stick with.  I will explain more in my next video why this process works for me, but in short, it all goes back to being able to fit PL into my schedule, which often includes just short bursts of time to work on one or two cards at a time.  PL has evolved so much, and there are so many unique ways of doing it, you just need to find a way that works for you!
  5. Be Realistic!  This is another hard one for me.  Of course, I know what I can do, and I know what I want to do, but often the two don’t see eye to eye.  I’d love to be one of those prolific scrappers who pumps out tons of layouts (Nicole Jones, I’m looking at you here!) all while art journalling, creating mixed-media masterpieces on canvas, making cards for all their friends for every occasion, and perfecting their watercolour painting and brush script.  Maybe one day I will be, but not today, and not anytime soon.  Of course, I dream big, and ooh and ahh at everything I see, and think about how much I would love to do it to, but I have realistic expectations that I won’t always be able to do it all.  I have 3 young, busy kids, a full time job I commute to, a husband and family, friends, and community obligations.  There are only so many hours in the day.  I will always want to do more, and it’s good to have goals, and try new things, but don’t let it all overwhelm you.  Pick the things that are important and make them a priority.  If there is time left over, then woo hoo, that’s a bonus, and you can fit in something else, but if not, then that’s ok, because you’ve, at least, accomplished the important things🙂

Here is my latest video working on February 2016.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBJxrApWRLQ

My next video will explain this plan of attack in a little more detail and also share a little more about the photos, as I embellish each pocket.  Thank you so much for reading and watching🙂 If you have any questions, please let me know!

Enjoy, and Happy Scrapping!

Jenn

My One Little Word

 

Happy New Year everyone🙂  Welcome to 2016!!!  I thought I’d share with you me One Little Word for the year.  If you’d like to know exactly what that means check out aliedwards.com for more information on her One Little Word project.  In short, you pick a word, every year, to give you focus and direction for the year.  It can be any word you’d like.  In the past I have chosen ‘Thankful’, ‘Appreciate’, and ‘Enjoy’.  Last year I chose the word ‘Me’.  My intentions for the word were to take the year to work on things that ‘fill our cup’, make us happy, and make us healthy.  I’ve always struggled with making myself a priority and I’ve noticed, more and more, that KB is having the same struggle.  I really want to make sure she understands that it is ok to take time for ourselves, to do the things we need to do to make sure we are the best that we can be.  For me, this meant time to craft, time to be alone without any responsibility, time to do the things that I’ve always skipped because I didn’t feel they were important enough to do (like take the time to do my hair and makeup in the morning, or get me hair cut, a massage, or even important things like get to the dentist on a regular basis).  This also meant I needed to understand and accept that it is ok to spend money on myself.  It was a difficult year, and didn’t necessarily go as planned, but I think we took many baby steps that have helped us to see that we need to work on this a lot more.

This brings me to 2016 and my new One Little Word.  As a way to continue with this idea of caring for ourselves, I’ve chosen a word that is an extension of last year’s, and perhaps the word I should have chosen last year: TIME.  This year we are going to focus on time management, assigning time appropriately, taking the time we need for each other, and ourselves, and appreciating the time we have.  I think this will be a much more successful word because (hopefully) my children and family will see that there is a time for everything, including Mum, and themselves.  I’d like them to be more aware of how we spend time and what it means to give our time and allow others to take their own time.  My hope is that KB (and myself) will come to realize that we are important enough to deserve time for ourselves, to ‘fill up our cups’, and develop healthy habits.

So what does this look like, from a practical point of view?  Well, it involves me setting up routines that include some ‘me-time’ in everyday, based on goals that we’ve all come up with for ourselves.  My personal goals include time to craft and film for my YouTube channel, time for self-care like hair cuts and massages (things that make me feel better) and time with each of the turkeys, individually, and The Hubs, which is something we’ve been missing out on.  Everyone in the family has their own unique goals, and we will spend the year finding ways to fit them all in!  Wish us luck🙂

Thanks so much for reading!!!  I really appreciate it🙂

Card a Day September Challenge!

Welcome to September!  Can you believe it?  Where did the summer go?  No one told me that when you have three kids the summers pass by three times as fast.  School starts tomorrow, followed by dance next week, and gymnastics (for Fox) the week after that.  Things are getting busier by the day.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it!  I think it’s awesome that my kids have found things that they enjoy doing, but the more things they do, means the less time I have to do the things I love.  It’s part of being a parent, I know, but this year, I am giving myself the goal of always keeping some time set aside for myself.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

For the month of September I’ve challenged myself to catch up on Project Life.  Shimelle recently did a YouTube series where she did a card a day in an effort to catch up on her PL baby album.  I was really inspired by it.  One of my very first videos was on my little travel box that I put together to bring with me to KB’s dance competitions and things like that, where I can sit and work on a few cards and small projects while I wait for her.  Shimelle’s series really spoke to me because it was already something I was trying to do.  I decided that for the month of September, I would not only work on at least one card a day, but I would make a video of it, that way I’d have a little extra incentive, to keep me on track!  Nothing keeps you focused more than making your journey public and having others hold you accountable.  So here is a flip through of what my Project Life album looks like before I start the challenge:

And here is Day#1:

If you guys have any tips or ideas on how to get caught up, or would like to participate in the challenge, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Thanks so much for reading and watching!  Take care everyone🙂

Happy scrapping!

Scrapping on a Budget Tip#2

Oh boy, did this video ever give me trouble.  Between my phone cutting out on me, my turkeys interrupting me every two minutes, and taking a very, very long time to upload to YouTube, I just about canned the whole thing.  But I think tip #2 is an important one so I wanted to make sure I got something up… and that’s exactly what this video is… something… lol.

Tip #2 is ‘Know your Stash’.  This may seem obvious to you, I mean, of course you know your stash, you’re the one that bought it all to begin with, but do you ever take the time to go through your stuff and remind yourself of what you have?  This is a great way to make sure you use your stash up and keep your money in your pocket.  What have you got hidden away that you can pull out and give new life to?  Trends in scrapbooking are so cyclical, so you may just be sitting on some pretty, currently COOL, things that you dismissed after their last trend faded away.  Do you have duplicates of things (I mean, let’s be honest, how many heart punches do you REALLY need)?  Sell them!  Put a jar in your scrap space to keep all the money you make.  Set a goal for yourself to collect a certain amount, or aim for a specific new toy!

When you know your stash really well, it also means you can put together kits for new projects from your own stash instead of running out to the store to buy new stuff.  I was surprised to find I had some Disney stuff in my stash, that I can now use for a Disney album for KB!  I don’t remember buying it, or why I might have, but it was a great find, and meant I didn’t need to go buy new embellishments for the album.  If the time comes that I’ve used everything up, but still have more work to do on her album, then I can go buy exactly what I need.  I also took the time to look through my stash for some dinosaur stickers and embellishments to use for scrapping our latest little Dino-themed holiday.  I was only able to find one little pack of stickers, so I know, now, that I can invest some money into more embellishments for these pictures, if I find them.

Lastly, knowing your stash also means organizing it in a way that works for you, so you can use it up.  For me, that means having everything out, in front of me.  I showed you my beautifully messy desk, and in another video I will show you the rest of my space.  I am very visual, so if I see it I will use it!  This may not work for you, so find what does.  Do you like lists, do you like labels… how can you organize your space to maximize your odds of picking from your stash first, before buying more?  Give yourself challenges and goals of using things up before you go out to buy more.  When I do a more detailed space tour, I will be sure to link to other videos using different types of organization, to hopefully help inspire you to find the system that works best for you.

Thanks so much for watching and reading!  Happy Scrapping🙂