I just wanted to let everyone know that as of November 1, I am retiring my digital designs at Design House Digital. I will be holding a 50% off retirement sale October 29-31, and then my entire shop will be closed beginning November 1st. So if you've been eyeballing something in my shop but putting off the purchase until later, now would be the time to buy because after November 1st, these items won't be available anywhere.
This was not an easy decision for me to make, and it's one I've been considering for quite some time now. I have a new job that I love, and the responsibilities with it require a lot more than my previous position. With two busy kids and a husband, there's just not much of me left over at the end of each day. Designing is something that I love, but it has always been a side-job, a hobby, for me -- never something on which I depended for income. I haven't been able to open Photoshop in months, and so I just decided that it was time to step back from it all for a while.
I want to thank all of you for your support and use of my products. I love seeing you capture your memories with things I've created, and I've formed some great friendships in the industry that I plan to keep fostering, regardless of whether I'm designing or not. And who knows...maybe, a year from now, two years from now, something will change and I'll be able to come back to designing. I would never rule it out...I just know that I need the time right now to devote to other priorities.
So thanks for a wonderful run at Design House Digital -- it's been great!
Today's new release is a collaboration with DHD Designer Mye de Leon. We created a kit called Free Spirit, with the intention of capturing an easy-going fun-loving personality. Mye's papers and my elements work beautifully together; my elements also coordinate perfectly with my Krafty Colorblocks papers, which are still just $1.00 for today only. Here are some great samples using these pieces.
I've got some new products coming to the shop this week. My designing time has really been limited lately, so I was excited to get these fun kraft papers ready in time for our Tuesday Dollar Deal special. Krafty Colorblocks will be $1.00 today through Thursday; after that, they'll revert back to regular price. Keep your eyes open for another new arrival in the shop on Thursday. I'm teaming up with Mye for a collab that we're releasing this weekend, along with a Featured Designer sale where everything in my shop will be 30% off, along with some dollar kits and a free kit too!
Just a couple of days left to get my September House Party bundle at 30% off the original price. You can buy it as a bundled kit, or you can buy the cardboards, papers, elements, alphas, and frames separately.
We just wrapped up a great month of $Dollar Kits$ at DHD, but that doesn't mean we don't have more $$ goodies in store for you. We're back to our regularly-scheduled $ Dollar Kit Tuesday $, and today I've got a fun set of Ombre Ruffled Papers for you. I think these will make a fun background for all kinds of pages. I'm also releasing a set of Ombre Ruffles Vol.2, which give you solid single ruffles in each color, as well as a smaller trio of ruffles in each colors. Both kits are just $1.00 each tomorrow, so grab them while they're cheap -- it's a great way to get new products!
I only read three books in August. Three. THREE. To say that balancing back-to-school, two soccer schedules, my (sadly-neglected) shop at DHD, and a new job has got my life off-kilter would be a severe understatement. Just look at what it's done to my reading time! LOL Here's a look at what I did manage to get read this month.
A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y. S. Lee (3 stars)
I enjoyed the Victorian setting, the detective agency, the core mystery needing to be solved. I enjoyed some of the characters. I didn't enjoy the stereotypes that were employed or how the author just disregards the conventions of the time period in which she's writing in order to create the character she has in mind. So while this would be a great book to recommend to YA girls, I think it sends some mixed messages about being strong, smart, and female. And to be honest, the whole "bickering main characters" trope is almost as worn out as the "falls immediately in love" trope.
Advent by James Treadwell (3 stars)
This was a really dense read, which I don't mind, when I feel the payoff is worth the time invested. At points, I felt as though I were getting my money's worth here, but at other times I really found myself struggling. The writing is lovely, and the magic constructed here is well-done (I've seen multiple comparisons to Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, which is accurate, although this book lacks the immediacy of her writing/story). I think my issue is that I never really felt like I connected with any of the characters in the novel, even though most of them are fairly well-developed and we spend plenty of time inside their lives. It's just hard to slog through 400 pages of story if you don't really care anything about the characters. What kept me going, to be honest, was trying to figure out all the connections among the different legends and magical beings called forth in this story.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (3 stars)
It became pretty clear to me about a third of the way through this novel that the things that were *kind of* bothering me in the first novel (the slow pace, a lack of character development, mediocre writing) would end up being things that really bothered me in the sequel. Again, the story itself has promise, and there are enough glimpses of the core conflict provided to keep me plodding through an accumulated mass of details that just never coalesce and lead anywhere. Harkness spends so much time detailing 15th century England, but she fails to pay that same attention to developing the relationships between her characters. Of course, their relationship does progress, but it does so in fits and starts, and it's mostly through telling, rather than showing, that we come to understand how Diana and Matthew feel about certain topics. What it comes down to, I think, is that there's just not any "flow" to this novel; the pacing and plotting and development never come together to create that literary magic that a really good novel seems to effortlessly possess.
I think now is a good time to revisit my Summer Reading List. I originally set a goal of 40 books. I ended up reading 29 books over the summer (June, July, August), with 16 of those being on my original list and 13 being additions that I picked up from the library, my own shelves, or the bookstore throughout the summer. I did make really good progress in getting a number of e-books read over the summer, especially some that I've had on my reader for almost a year without reading.
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (4 stars)
This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, particularly when I want something that I can move through in just a couple of days, dipping in and out of in little bits and pieces without losing the threads of the story. Izzy and the rest of the Spellmans are dysfunctional, but in a harmless way, not in a heavy or dark way -- and that makes a difference. Great voice here, although I had a little issue with the organization on this one (I thought all the rehashing of events from the first book was way too heavy-handed). Just an enjoyable read without doubt.
Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen (2 stars)
Pretty much the same as book #1 in the series -- lots of time spent describing the outfits and the settings, but very little time spent developing the characters beyond the expected stereotype.
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta (5 stars)
I just can't be unbiased when it comes to a Marchetta novel. What I love is how she just brings you into the lives of her characters so completely, and you end up just rooting for them. I particularly loved how this novel really tackled the more "adult" end of the YA spectrum. Marchetta's characters are so compelling, so real, and Marchetta again gives us a story full of heartbreak and hope -- a combination she is particularly adept at.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (3 stars)
I'm of two minds about this book. The first half of the story is really mostly romance, and I'm just annoyed by a number of things about it: Mara and Noah seem like just another version of Edward and Bella, and I get so tired of female characters that are so down on themselves all the time and of male characters that are just out-of-this-world amazing. However, Noah's amazingness was a good way to show off Hodkin's writing chops; the passages between Mara and Noah have some of the best writing in the book, and there were some turns-of-phrase that took my breath. I think, though, that Hodkin could work on improving the writing elsewhere, since Mara's thoughts ramble TOO much, and some of the descriptions just feel jumbled and incomplete.
I really enjoyed the second half of the book, and I can't really talk about it too much without giving a lot away -- but let's just say that there's a lot of potential with this particular character development. I just hope Hodkin can deliver and not get bogged down too much in the romance; I think there needs to be a careful balance between the two. And the plot twist at the end? Totally saw it coming but that's okay. I had plans to read #2 to see what happens as these characters "evolve" anyway.
Summer Morning Summer Night by Ray Bradbury (5 stars)
It's Bradbury -- there's no way I can be objective. Perfect for summer reading, savoring little bits of Green Town like sips of cool lemonade.
Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn (2 stars)
There's a lot of promise to the original concept here but it quickly turns into a hot jumbled mess with too many plotlines and overlapping stories, subpar writing, and little character development.
Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom by Brendan Halpin and Emily Franklin (3 stars)
I loved what this book was about -- even though it ended up not completely being about what I thought it was going to be about. It's written from alternating perspectives, and I think Halpern's character Luke had the stronger chapters. There was just something about Franklin's writing and Tessa's character that didn't click with me. Tessa came more to life through Luke's description of her than she did through her own thoughts and actions.
In the end, although it still is the story of Tessa's struggle to just be her own person and enjoy prom like any other teenager, regardless of her sexual orientation, the book really ended up being more about how Tessa's best friend deals with this entire situation -- and that's what I really liked. There have been lots and lots of coming out stories, and while this one was timely in a "ripped-from-the-headlines" sense regarding the prom issue, the coming out part didn't really cover new ground. But Luke's struggles were realistic and didn't feel like something I'd read so many times before.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (3 stars)
I'm really torn on this one. One the one hand, I really enjoy Libba Bray's sense of humor and intelligence -- and that just shines through. I follow her on Twitter, and she's got just the right combination of snark and seriousness; her comments are intended to carry a little bite, but they are also insightful and honest. I like that about her, and it really comes through in her writing, particularly when she's creating a satire, which is what Beauty Queens so obviously is. This book has more than a touch of reality TV to it, and it's perhaps the limitations of that genre itself that limit the book; there were lots of places where the pacing felt odd, or where some details were just glossed over and others really drawn out, and I couldn't see the point. But sometimes, as others have noted, it seemed as though the satire was just too much -- cleverness for the sake of being clever. I was willing to suspend belief to an extent, but sometimes this pushed it. In the end, this just ended up being okay, which really disappointed me, because I think Libba Bray is a talented writer.
Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner (4 stars)
Nicely balanced -- a good mix of new and old Bordertown authors. Some of the poetry was weak, but that was rounded out by some really fantastic short stories. It's always nice to see an author still play to their own strengths and interests within the shared world of the Bordertown series, and that's what the best stories did here (McKillip, Hopkinson, Barzak, Pratt). Plus, any chance to get back to Bordertown is a chance I'll take.
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (5 stars)
I thoroughly enjoyed this -- Myfanwy made me laugh out loud multiple times, and the plot was exciting and suspenseful. I didn't mind the "info dumps" at all, because I was completely intrigued by this agency and wanted to know as much about them as I could. I'm really hoping this is a series, because I'm definitely looking forward to more.
Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen (2 stars)
This was just okay. If as much attention had been given to the characters as was given to the setting, then it might've been better. Then again, with descriptions like "Her eyes looked like two blue planets in the pale oval of her face," maybe not.
Entwined by Heather Dixon (4 stars)
I really enjoyed this retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I thought the romance was well-done, the relationships between the various girls and their father was interesting to watch progress, and the magic made sense. The writing was really lovely in places, and I just found myself completely caught up in this. It's different enough from the original to make me feel like I'm not reading something I've already read, but it still retains that fairytale feeling.
Just popping in to remind you that this weekend is my Featured Designer weekend at DHD, so my entire shop is 25% off through tonight at midnight. In addition, I've got 1 kit that's available for FREE, as well as three others that are just $1.00 right now (Camp Currie, Good Sport, Whiz Kid).
And finally, don't forget about our August Dollar Days promotion; I've got four Dollar kits available in the shop right now: Bookshots, Confetti & Cupcakes Cards, Insta-Frames Set 2, and Handwritten Days & Months.
To end this post, how about a hearty helping of inspiration using these featured kits? My CT and the DHD Decorators have been so busy creating, and I haven't had time to share their work with you until now.
I'm writing this from my iPhone, so it will be brief. The new job is going well. Busy, sometimes overwhelmingly so, but I know that won't last long. The girls have started school; both of them have started the new soccer season, and cross-country begins soon too. Chris is getting ready for a crazy week at the help desk on campus, as the students move in this weekend.
No images to share but I have a new collab in my shop on Thursday with Gen Bursett. She did the papers and I did the elements. It's a school-themed kit packed to bursting -- about 250 elements (25 or so unique elements in 11 different colors). There's a great chalkboard alpha I created too.
Don't forget about the dollar kits all month long. I'll have a new one in the shop on Saturday. Plus, that's my designer weekend, so my entire shop will be 25% off all weekend, with a free kit available and three more marked down to just $1.00.
This is just a reminder that the August Dollar Days celebration is going on at Design House Digital. All month long, we're releasing new kits at just $1.00 every day. Kits will revert back to regular price at the end of August, so grab them while you can.
This month, I've released three kits so far, and I've got two more on deck. Here's a peek at what I have in the shop so far: