Black, Gray and Pale

Black, Gray and Pale

Richmond denim tube top, Anna Sui kimono jacket, 7 for All Mankind jeans, Carvela Kurt Geiger sandals, Rochas clutch, Sweet Deluxe earrings

Admit One

Admit One

Pf Paola Frani dress, C'N'C cardigan, Sophia Webster pump, Giorgio Armani clutch, Jamie Wolf Pave Diamond earrings

Pretty Poppies

Pretty Poppies

McQ Alexander McQueen crop top, MSGM print cotton skirt, Jessica Simpson wedge, Jimmy Choo clutch, Keli necklace, Alexis Bittar ring

Hope for the Future

Hope for the Future

Pianurastudio cardigan, Current/Elliott Moto jeans, Valentino pumps, KTZ tarot clutch, VersaceMedusa ring, Gaby earrings

Bringing Nature Indoors

Bringing Nature Indoors

The 6ixty Armchair, Eangee Fortune lamp, Ethan Allen rug, Jen Honey Poppy pillow and orange zebra pillow, Berkeley small side table, living wall, Bracken Fern framed

Pink & Peach Blush

Pink & Peach Blush

Lanvin tulle top, Frame denim LeColor skinny jeans, Aquilano-Rimondi blazer, BCBGMaxazria heels, Isharya multi-color earrings and cuff

Take a Back Seat, Scarlett O'Hara!

This was a story that I had great difficulty in putting down ... but also great difficulty in reading. The Last Summer is beautifully written with very real and wonderful characters who evoke a world far removed from our own. Clarissa is dreamy and manages to hold on to a certain degree of innocence (despite everything she is put through) that really makes her someone special. Her relationship with Tom manages to survive every trial that life, society, the war, and their respective families and friends throw their way. It is always heartwarming to read a story of love which does manage to overcome everything and survive, and in such a believable way.

The hard part of reading this book is the aspects of reality which stormed through Clarissa and Tom's world. The outbreak of World War I began with a fanfare of patriotism and national belief in Old Britannia's right and duty to make safe the civilized world from the barbaric ravages of "the Hun." They quickly and tragically learned just how wrong they were to be proven. This book is a vivid and heartbreaking reflection of the seeming-unending and viscous Great War and its aftermath, which wrenched England into modern times. It is stark and sometimes brutal. The good and the innocent die, and even those left "safe" at home struggle as heroically as the boys at the Front to live another day. The period detail and the attention given to the less glamorous side of life during this dark time for the British home front is spot-on and intensely presented.

This is a beautiful story. It is a tragic story. This story brings to life a bleak time, but promises the hope of the will to endure. Love may not conquer all, but it can be the light which guides us home and keeps us warm when far away. Clarissa and Tom are a marvelous pair and their story is worth a read. Bravo!

Will this be the one?

On the Line

NEW CONTEST! Please come and play!

Fly Free!

Neutral Home, the Perfect Canvas

Neutral Home, the Perfect Canvas

Adrian Pearsall chair, square stacking tables, Babette Holland lamp, Surya Moderne rug, Austin Horn classic pillow, Lorenza Printed Tapestry pillow, Abstract family bronze scuplture, Torino glass vases, wood and metal horse sculpture

LEGO Look

LEGO Look

Carven ribbed crop top, Paule Ka blazer, AG Stilt low-rise skinny, Giuseppe Zanotti sandals, Urania Gazelli Pixel Plexiglas clutch, Kate Spade New York earrings

The Lady in Someone Else's Skin

The Lady in Someone Else's Skin

Lanvin dress, Kate Spade New York open toe, ALDO clutch, Syna Mogul 18k black onyx earrings

Soothing Accessories

Soothing Accessories

Mayan 35" round mirror, Serena & Lily Nantucket basket, Sara Bengur Interiors pillows, The Gerson Company candles

As Simple as a White Blouse

Royal Passion

Royal Passion

Phase Eight dress, Giuseppe Zanotti mule, Stella McCartney clutch used, Max & Chloe ring, Ana Khouri Brigitte earrings

Beach Quartet

Not Quite Georgie

I had mixed feelings as I read this addition to the irresistibly cute Her Royal Spyness mystery series. The story was interesting and the resolution had a twist that was at once disturbing and yet ballsy of Bowen at the same time. Not many authors are willing to go there, especially with a cozy. Not that children never cause someone's death, but most people like to believe in the "incorruptible innocence" of the child. In a way the children here are innocent, but it was still their little experiment gone wrong which led to their uncle's death. I say good for Bowen that she was willing to take that step. On the other hand, though, it just didn't feel like a Georgie book.

Things started going wrong when Georgie went out with Belinda her last night in London. The setting was classic for our leading lady: dinner and dancing, high society men, and evening shoes. Fans have come to recognize this mixture as a disaster in the making, but the whole thing resolved itself in a quick sentence or two in which we learned that Georgie went out, danced with a rich American, had a wonderful time ... AND DIDN'T HAVE A SINGLE CLUTZY MOMENT!!! What?! That's not Georgie! Sure she'd already disgraced herself earlier by squirting eclair cream down her front during tea with HM, but that was tame compared to what generally befalls her when she's attempting to be graceful while dancing with a rich man. And this seemed to set the theme for the remainder of the book. Georgie didn't crash into any priceless vases, get lost and walk in on an embarrassing encounter, drop her earrings in the soup tureen, etc etc etc ... she just wasn't her usual "not-again-Georgie!" self. It's what makes her character really sparkle and not having her on her game was a disappointment.

Another sadness I had with this book was Darcy. HE WASN'T HELPFUL AT ALL!!! He showed up in typical, out-of-the-blue, oh-my-girlish-heart fashion and set himself up in a position to provide us with humor, insightful comments, and blushes. He wasn't as smart with his wit as he usually is and he really didn't contribute anything at all to the investigation. Okay, he helped Georgie discover the secret passage in the folly, but that was it. Usually he's all tail up, nose down, sniffing out the culprit, but this time around he seemed to spend his time telling Georgie to stay out of it (SAY WHAT?!?!) in between their lip-locks. He didn't have any heroic scenes of nabbing the murderer, chasing someone in a Bently, or catching Georgie before she plummets off the edge of some high place. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Okay, I've stopped my ranting, promise. Setting all that aside, Heirs and Graces really is a good little cozy fueled by one of the best brain-benders Bowen has come up with yet. True, our leading lady and her still-my-heart Irish beau were off their game characterization-wise, but the plot carries you along effortlessly. Bravo!

On Pointe

On Pointe

New Look dress, Kate Spade NY pumps, Edie Parker clutch, Alexis Bittar earrings

Shiny Links

It's Always a Balancing Act

It's Always a Balancing Act

Elie Tahari dress, Giuseppe Zanotti sandals, Boohoo clutch, Maria Canale for Forevermark earrings, Swarovski ring

Studly

Studly

Mango sweater, Stuart Weitzman wedge, Prada clutch, Deepa Gurnani necklace, Links of London ring, Miadora ring, Oliveti ring,

Too Young for a Red Hat!

Too Young for a Red Hat!

Patrizia Pepe dress, Gianvito Rossi pumps, Kotur clutch, Syna earrings, Max & Chloe ring

The Mistress, the Death ... A True Art

Wow! This book is one of the finest treats for history lovers I have ever come across. I had read that Franklin died recently and that the last book written in this series ends off on a cliffhanger, but the reviews persuaded me to go ahead and give it a read anyway. I am so happy that I did.

In a time during England's history when anything out of the ordinary immediately came under suspicion and women were considered soulless temptresses responsible for the Fall, a female doctor seems unlikely - impossible even. Enter Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar of Salerno. A woman raised amidst the culturally ambivalent atmosphere of a city in which a female could receive the same education as a man, Adelia is considered one of its most accomplished denizens. When Henry II - by proxy of the King of Sicily - calls for the expert investigative skills of a specialist in the examination of the dead it is Adelia who is sent. For she is not merely a doctor versed in herbalism, surgery, and ailments of the living ... she is a Mistress of the Art of Death.

Characterization in this book is strong and diverse. Amidst the mundane citizens of Cambridgeshire Franklin looses the unique and testy female doctor to the dead, her Moorish guardian, a Jewish investigator sent to assist her, and characters seemingly straight out of Chaucer. Our leading lady unexpectedly - and reluctantly - meets her match in Sir Rowley Picot, royal tax collector and seeker of vengeance. And tagging along is the scampish Ulf, an ornery urchin whose life and happiness come to mean a great deal to Adelia ... especially when threatened by a viscous and perverse murderer who stalks the countryside. Together, this colorful band sets their combined will against that of a befouled soul long lost to heaven.

Admittedly, the last bit of the epilogue reads like a history textbook and is ultimately irrelevant to the actual story, but I forgive Franklin as I am just that much of a history freak! I loved reading this story - even though there were scenes which were emotionally scalding - and can't wait to catch up with these wonderful characters in the next book. Bravo!

P.S. Yes, I fully admit to picturing Henry II as Peter O'Toole in his role from "The Lion in Winter!"

Twist 'n' Turns

Twist 'n' Turns

Helmut Lang jeans, Lupattelli blazer, top is unavailable, Jimmy Choo pumps, Lanvin pumps, Jane Stone necklace, Oscar de la Renta ring,Ceramica Gatti 1928 vase

It's your time!

It's your time!

Anthony Vaccarello one-shouldered sheath dress, Marchesa clutch, Tom Ford pumps, Irene Neuwirth earrings

Tickled Pink

Tickled Pink

CelebinDress, Jessica Simpson open toe, Miguel Ases earrings, Allurez stackable rings, Blue Nile stackable rings, NYX lipstick, Butter nail polish, Versace perfume

Thank you, Mr. Strauss

Thank you, Mr. Strauss

TopShop denim dress, Express denim pumps, Miu Miu denim clutch, Del Gatto ring, Jamie Joseph earrings

Update on Fashion History Series

Sorry, I've injured myself and can't type right now, so I won't be able to do the Fashion History Series until this has healed. This is being typed for me. I'll get back to it as soon as I can possibly do so. Stick with me, the next in the series is Schiaparelli!

Thanks for dropping by!

Sea Dreaming

Sea Dreaming

Digital Art Journaling by Judi Easley

An Inner Glow

An Inner Glow

Antonio Berardi dress, Aldo shoes, Miu Miu clutch, Kate Spade NY necklace, ASOS ring

My Own Rainbow

My Own Rainbow

Lanvin top, ONLY denim jacket, Frame jeans, Christian Louboutin pumps, Marc Jacobs clutch, shoppe23-online ear cuff, Allurez stackable rings, Art by Tom Ventulett

Pattern Mix

Pattern Mix

Vionnet blazer, BGN top, T by Alexander Way skirt, McQ Alexander McQueen clutch, Aperlai sandal, J.Crew necklace, Caravelle watch, Pull & Bear sunglasses

Donna-Jean C

Donna-Jean C


Henrik Vibskov blouse, TOPSHOP bralet, 3.1 Phillip Lim short, Alexandre Birman sandal, Alexander McQueen tote, c.A.K.e. by Ali Khan bracelet set, Ivanka Trump ring

My Nest




My Nest
Linea Garda armchair, Lights Up! floor lamp, Natural Curiosities Woven Nest, Jean Paul Gaultier pillow, DecoMates wall clock

Be Yourself...

Be Yourself...


Chalayan crape dress, Steve Madden pumps, Forever New clutch, Henri Bendel earrings, original contemporary sculpture by Botero

Pretty Pale Pastels

Pretty Pale Pastels


Alexander McQueen crop top, Corinna Caon blazer, Hudson Jeans, Tom Ford pumps, Oasis clutch, Evocateur cuff bracelet, Sazanna Dai earrings

A Kris Worth Waiting For

**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS**

FINALLY!! This series started off rather lukewarm, but with a teasing sparkle that persuaded me to carry on. Once I hit Books 6-8, though, I was seriously getting ready to pack it in and give up on the promise of that little something special that seemed to be peeking out at me from the pages every now and then. That promise is finally fulfilled here in Daring.

For all that many of Shepherd's chronic writing and style issues still make appearances - if one more person let's out a "good old Irish sigh," I swear... - Kris finally comes into her own as a character. Until now she has been an upright and courageous warrior, a beloved princess, and savvy diplomat, but there has been something she hadn't quite grown into yet. When humanity faces it's greatest peril and Kris Longknife is the one left to make the sacrifice she steps up and proves she has matured enough to bring all of those facets together into a single noble personality. One which is utterly selfless, commanding and brave -- and capable of making the hard decisions that no soul should ever have to carry the burden of.

The Story
Kris has gotten her way and is off on her Voyage of Discovery. Commander of her patrol of corvettes, she also has battleships representing the Greenfeld Empire, the Helvetican Confederacy, and Musashi along for the ride - oh, and our good friend Ron the Iteeche shows up to hop aboard as well! Good thing she's the daughter of the leading political family on Wardhaven. Kris's diplomatic skills, combined with her natural gift for commanding the respect of allies and enemies alike, are tested again and again by the mixed and conflicting agendas of the various factions. Her troubles have only just begun, though...

When her scouting expedition trips over an alien ship that comes out with guns blazing and no call for quarter, Kris finds herself in an unenviable position: the discoverer of a race of humanoid cutthroats bent on ripping apart anyone who crosses their path. What would happen if these "bad actors" found their way to human space? It's not something this Longknife is prepared to risk, and so she leads her task force against the first new alien contact since the blood-soaked battles of the Iteeche War. Her mission: Destroy them before they can annihilate us!

The Battle
Something you can count on in every Kris Longknife flick is a big battle scene. It's typically the best-written chapter(s) in the book. While Daring is a gigantic step up from what came before it as a whole, the ultimate battle still stands out.

Everything Kris knew about the massive mother ship the new aliens were headed her way in told her that her force was outgunned. Nevertheless, there is still an optimism that you go into the battle with, knowing that it's Kris and she can pull off just about anything. That makes it all the more devastating when we are forced to bear witness as the battleships in her command are blown away one after the other. Characters who we had come to know and like were gone in a sentence, and Shepherd didn't allow any time for mourning as he moved from one tragedy to the next. It was absolutely impersonal the way the death toll was accounted for, and that is what made it so brutally effective. I wanted to bow my head and Taps was sounding in the back of my mind, but the end of the engagement only led directly into a desperate run from jump point to jump point as furious aliens gave chase. Escape came at an unbelievable cost.

Kris's Reaction
No less disturbing than the slaughter itself was the aftermath and the emotions Kris and her friends had to deal with as a result. We watch as survivor guilt grips them -- a virulent trap for the mind. Shepherd forces Kris to deal with it, though, and she manages to pull Vicky out of her funk and rationalize the situation. No, they will never go to sleep without seeing all those good men die, but bearing the two-edged fortune of surviving doesn't mean they should lie down and give up on living. They have a job to do, a duty to the greater good of humanity, and Kris is going to see it through one way or another.

I was so so SO proud of Kris! If the version of her character from the earliest books had faced this situation she would have curled up in Vicky's bottle and the series would have ended pathetically. This Kris, however, has learned to shoulder the burdens she deserves and not let anyone shove guilt she hasn't earned her way. She knows herself now, and while she doesn't like some of the things she is now capable of doing and thinking, she knows that someone has to make the tough calls. That's the essence of a true leader.

The Kiss
Yes, it happened! It finally actually happened! If you didn't pick up on the chemistry between Kris and Jack by now, then you need to give up on this series. Matters reached a boiling point between them and the wall came down. Shepherd constructed it well. He didn't rush it, allowing the first revelation to come out without a melodramatic lip lock with soaring music and fireworks in the background. I was so afraid he might take the easy out there, but he proved that I should have had more faith in him.

The parting where Kris is arrested and led away for a quick ride back to Wardhaven and a confrontation with Great-Grampa Ray, played out just like a good movie. An embrace, a desperate kiss, and then a forced separation with the soulful promise that stirs every girly girl's hearstrings: "I will find you." (Ah, Jack, I want one just like you.) It was well-handled and tastefully composed. Mush-factor was nada, and the raw emotion that has gripped the two of them for so long is laid bare. The fact that it is cut short so abruptly makes it all the more poignant.

Okay, okay! The gush is over. Carry on...

Family Matters
That last scene. That. Last. Scene. Woah! Kris vs. The Trio of Terror, and guess who got the last word? It wasn't King Ray this time.

Kris sticks to her guns here and defends her actions, and those of all who served with her in the battle against the aliens. Never will she allow what those men and women died for to be taken lightly. This is what ultimately wins it for this character: no matter what the cost to her personally, no one who serves under her command is allowed to be undervalued or forgotten - the sin of those who sit safely at home while their lives are being defended. She sticks it to her grandfather and takes the fall with both eyes wide open. That, my friends, is nobility.

~~~

If you're slogging your way through those early books, keep going and get to Daring. It is the very best of Kris and her creator. Bravo!

Sailing Fever

Sailing Fever

Kilian Kerner Crop Top and jogger pant, Seychelles wedge, Celine handbag used, Diane von Furstenberg clutch, Etsy necklace, Kooringal fedora, Tom Ford sunglasses, Melissa van Hise wall art

Africa

Africa


Alice & Olivia dress, Gianvito Rossi pump, Ted Baker clutch, Marco Bicego Africa necklace, earrings, ring