Bedtime Stories: Fangirl

fanPost by Mark T. Locker.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Cather and Wren are twins (Cather Wren—Catherine—get it??), starting their first year at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. And although they have always been thick as thieves, as twins should be, bold and brash Wren wants to break out and become her own person. She doesn’t want to room with Cath, wants to party all the time, and begins teasing Cath about the fan fiction they have been writing together for years.

The Simon Snow novels are the Harry Potter books of their world. Stories of an orphaned boy with powerful, if poorly controlled, magic. He is roomed with his nemesis, a vampire named Baz, short for Tyrannus Basilton Pitch. Throughout the novels, the two spar and occasionally collaborate for the greater good. Cather and Wren, but mostly Cath, have been writing short stories about Baz and Simon, about what happens between scenes. Her fic is hugely popular, garnering tens of thousands of followers, as she attempts to finish Carry On, Simon Snow, her version of the final book in the series, before the real final book comes out.

Between bouts of storytelling, Cath learns how to be her own self, thanks in large part to her brusque and straightforward roommate Reagan, who exasperatedly tells her she has to be her friend because she’s so damn pathetic. And thanks also to Reagan’s friend Levi, whose unflappable good cheer chips slowly away at Cath’s stony, stubborn exterior.

This is a book about magic, about friendship, love, and siblings. And it’s about growing up and learning how to have parents as an adult.

The best part is that if you are intrigued by the chapters of Carry On, Simon Snow that you get a peek at, Rainbow Rowell released the entire novel, Carry On last year. Good reading for people who like witty and smart writing with just a little (not too much) drama.

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Thread Count: What You Need to Know

Post by Tracy Kaler.

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-2-16-11-pm

Let’s talk sheets, shall we? If the term “thread count” has you baffled, then this post is for you. “Thread count” appears on bed linen packaging, and suggests the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch (in fitted sheets, flat sheets, pillow cases, etc.). Higher thread counts usually mean that a linen will wear well, feel softer or become softer as it ages, and be more expensive than lower thread counts. If you’re looking at 200-thread count vs. 800-thread count, the 800 should be higher quality and cost more than the 200-thread count. But, that’s not always true.

You see, depending on the construction of the sheet, that higher thread count might not mean much. According to HGTV, “Astronomical thread counts don’t necessarily mean the sheet is better—there are even tricks to inflating the thread count (such as using multiple yarns twisted together) that don’t actually improve the hand of the fabric and may even detract from its quality.”

Lake Washington

Photo by Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects

Depending on the construction and finish of the sheets, 200-thread count can feel quite luxurious, so don’t always aim for a higher number when shopping sheets. Certain types of cotton sheets boast longer fibers, offering a stronger construction and softer hand on the fabric.

Want the best quality sheets? Go with 100 percent Egyptian cotton (also probably the priciest), followed by pima cotton, which should be trademarked Supima. If you find sheets marked 100 percent cotton, they’re probably American upland cotton, which won’t be nearly as expensive (or soft) as Egyptian or pima, and will be more likely to pill.

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Bedtime Stories: Goldenhand

goldenhand_garthnix_epicreadsPost by Mark T. Locker.

Goldenhand by Garth Nix.

I don’t have a scary story for you today. Sorry! I was too excited about the new Garth Nix novel to read anything else. I’m sure you all understand.

20 years ago, the Australian author released Sabriel the YA fantasy novel about a young woman, Sabriel, flung before her time into the dark and dangerous world of necromancy. Wielder of seven magical bells, her job is to fight Free Magic necromancers, who bring the dead back to life to do their bidding. Later, we met Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr. Lirael is a Clayr, the Seers who live underneath the glacier and watch the future and the past. In the final book, Abhorsen, Lirael continues her quest to defeat a dark necromancer.

And now, 20 years after the last battles of the Old Kingdom, we get Goldenhand, a new tale that picks up shortly after Abhorsen. Tying together all the novels (including Clariel, a story that takes place hundreds of years earlier) we get what appears to probably be the final book in the series. Focusing again mostly on Lirael, we join her as she reunites with a young man from the other side of the Wall, a non-magical person with little experience in the magical North. We also meet a new character, another brave and fierce woman, a tribal warrior named Ferin. While Lirael and Nick work their way to the Clayr’s glacier, Ferin is fighting to make her way to Lirael, carrying an important message from Lirael’s long-deceased mother.

If you have read the other four books in the Old Kingdom series, Goldenhand will quench your thirst for another trip north of the Wall. Personally, Sabriel is still my favorite but this is a satisfactory end to a much-loved series.

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Bedroom Design: Chic Brown Bedrooms

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Brown in a bedroom? Okay, so the color doesn’t sound sexy, and when you fantasize about your dream bedroom, you’re probably not dreaming in brown. That being said, it’s not the most obvious choice for the basis of any color scheme –– especially that of a romantic room –– but brown can be incredibly appealing, and lovely in a bedroom. Let’s take a peek at a selection of chic brown bedrooms.

Straightforward with a clean design, this California bedroom takes on a Mediterranean feel. The crisp, white bedding balances the soft brown backdrop. Notice how the nightstands fit perfectly into the head cubicle.

Monarch

Photo by M. Elle Design

Timeless elegance and luxurious, brown walls set the tone for this Chicago bedroom. Again, the white bedding pairs well, but this time, with an embroidery detail. A traditional crystal chandelier makes the space feel upscale with a feminine twist.

Lakeview Residence Bedroom

Photo by Rugo/ Raff Ltd. Architects

Designer Marcia Morine used a variety of brown shades in this rustic bedroom in Minneapolis. The house boasts a mountain or lodge feel, and the smart layout accommodates multiple guests.

Northern Wisconsin Bunk House

Photo by John Kraemer & Sons

IMI Design LLC is responsible for this contemporary Asian-inspired Phoenix bedroom, which has brown in the grasscloth, wood floors and built-ins, platform bed, ceiling pattern, and bench, but adds a color on the bed. This teal bed covering gives the space the punch that it needs.

Urban Luxury - Tonto Verde

Photo by IMI Design, LLC

This San Francisco bedroom might be a bachelor pad, but that doesn’t mean a woman wouldn’t appreciate the space. Decorator Grace Dumalac added a woman’s touch but still maintained a level of masculinity for her single client, and it begins with brown walls.

Bachelor Pad





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Bedtime Stories: Strange and Creepy Stories

link_getintroublePost by Mark T. Locker.

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link.

Nobody does weird and creepy quite like Kelly Link. I fell in love with her stories the first time I read “The Wrong Grave” about a self-obsessed young man whose girlfriend had died and he’d thrown a sheaf of poems into her grave, thinking it the poetically appropriate thing to do only to regret losing such amazing writing to the earth and deciding to exhume his probably terrible teenage poetry. This is one of the more likely premises of a Kelly Link story. Get In Trouble shows a bit of maturing in her writing; some of her early stories leave the reader a bit puzzled at the end, which I think was her purpose. This new collection, which was a Pulitzer finalist this year, has nine short stories covering ghost hunting reality television, fake vampire boyfriends, and superhero conventions.

Kelly Link merges the mundane and the bizarre with such casual ease that you begin to wonder what’s made up and what isn’t. The rich girl Ainslie in “The New Boyfriend” gets everything she wants, including all the boyfriends available: the Vampire Boyfriend; the Werewolf Boyfriend; and on her birthday the discontinued Ghost Boyfriend featuring Embodied and Spectral mode. He can float invisibly like a ghost. Immy is deeply jealous that Ainslie has the ghost, who she has named Mint. That’s just the first couple pages of a wonderful tale of complicated friendships and ghost boyfriends.

“The Summer People” is about a girl and her moonshiner dad who tend to vacation homes while they are abandoned. They also care for one in particular, where the Summer People live, a group of mysterious beings.

Each of her stories is dripping with atmosphere and plunges you headlong into strange and often spooky worlds. Great reading for teens and adults who like fantasy and horror but are looking for something less run of the mill.

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