Tag Archives | Books

Books | Scrapbooking Mystery: Gossamer Ghost [Giveaway]

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If you are a scrapbooker who is also into mysteries, then Laura Childs has the perfect series for you. The new addition of Gossamer Ghost this month makes a creepy total of 12 books in her bestselling Scrapbooking Mystery series of books.

The series centers around scrapbook store owner Carmela Bertrand, who has an unsettling habit of tripping over dead bodies in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Of course, she then has to solve the mysteries surrounding their deaths, earning her a reputation as an amateur crime solver. She does all of this in between running her successful store, Memory Mine, and attending all New Orleans most glittering society events.

Gossamer Ghost

In Gossamer Ghost, which is the twelfth book in the bestselling Scrapbooking Mysteries series, Carmela discovers the dead body of the owner of a neighboring antiques shop. When the eccentric man’s fiancée begs Carmela for help solving the crime, she soon has a long list of suspects – and lots of creepy crafting to do, as Halloween is rapidly approaching! The book features recipes for classic Cajun favorites as well as instructions for fun craft projects.

Laura Childs

Laura Childs is the author of the New York Times bestselling Tea Shop Mysteries, Cackleberry Club Mysteries, and Scrapbooking Mysteries series. She’s currently working on Parchment & Old Lace (Scrapbooking Mystery #13), due for release in October 2015. She’s also got a new series in development under the byline of Gerry Schmitt, featuring a single mom named Afton Tangler. The first thriller in that series will be called Finders Creepers.

And the best part is…one lucky Craft Critique reader is going to win a copy of Gossamer Ghost to read!

How To Enter: All you have to do to have a chance to be one of the lucky winners is leave a comment on this entry before 11:59PM eastern time on Sunday night, October 12th, 2014. Make sure you include your email address in the line reserved for it on the comment form (for your own protection, don’t put it in the text of the comment, where it will be visible to the public – just in the line labeled “email” in the form where only Craft Critique staff can see it). We will need it to notify you if you are a winner. Winners will be drawn by random drawing from all eligible entries. One entry per person.

Disclosure: This author is engaged in marketing work on behalf of Gossamer Ghost.

Books | The Brushstroke Handbook by Maureen McNaughton

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

Disclosure: This site participates in the affiliate program.

One of the reasons I was excited to review “The Brushstroke Handbook” was because I know nothing about fancy brushstroke painting. I can paint walls and furniture, and I can even use stencils. But I wanted to give my skills a little boost.

The Brushstroke Handbook

It turns out this is a great book for beginners because the author, Maureen McNaughton, is noted for her clear and concise directions. She also goes into detail on the supplies that she used for the book and why they work well for the techniques described. I used a different brand of acrylic paint and brushes (because it is what I had on hand) and I was missing the paint “extender” that she mixed with each color to change the paint’s consistency a bit. I will have to get this before I start any serious projects.

The Brushstroke Handbook

I started with a flat brush and used two shades of green to attempt the “Closed C Stroke” on page 102. The beginning of the book shows proper technique for loading paint onto the brush before you get started. This was very helpful and I referenced it many times.

The Brushstroke Handbook

I would not call these first attempts successful, and I had to change brush sizes a few times to even get close to the end results I was looking for.  But it was great practice! I had to resist the urge to follow along with the step by step pictures, and actually read the instructions too. The author does a great job of telling you what kind of brush pressure to use and how to move the brush for each of the different strokes described.

The Brushstroke Handbook

I decided to try a round brush next and did a variation of the “Pointed Pressure Stroke” on page 36. I have to say that the round brush techniques seemed easier to get a good result with (which is the opposite of what I expected). I tried to make some pumpkins that could be used for Halloween and fall gift tags.

The Brushstroke Handbook

As you can see I still need some practice before fall rolls around again because they are a bit onion-like. But I was happy with this one:

The Brushstroke Handbook

Overall, I had a lot of fun trying the new techniques and found this book to be a great reference guide. One of my favorite sections of the book shows common mistakes that you could make for each brushstroke. It shows a picture of what result you might have gotten, and then another picture of the result you actually wanted.  Then there are tips to improve your technique to fix those specific mistakes. It was just what I needed!


  • A great resource for decorative brushstrokes, with clear instructions for beginners and more experienced painters
  • Step by step photos for more than 50 different brushstroke techniques and patterns for each of the finished paintings
  • Two fully illustrated sections (one for round brushes and one for flat brushes) to help you fix any problems you may be having and improve your technique


  • If you are a beginner, like me, you will obviously need some practice before you can paint like the illustrations in this book
  • Unless you have a plethora of painting supplies you may need to purchase a few extra items to get the desired results in this book

The Brushstroke Handbook” by Maureen McNaughton is available for about $17 on It features quick reference photos, easy to follow worksheets for each of the 50 decorative brushstrokes and helpful guides to fix common mistakes.

Have you have read “The Brushstroke Handbook” and tried the brushstroke techniques it teaches? Let us know in the comments what you think!

Giveaway | Scrapbooking Mysteries Book – Gilt Trip by Laura Childs

Disclosure: I am currently working as a PR consultant for Laura Childs, the author of Gilt Trip. This site participates in the affiliate program.

Here’s a fun giveaway as the weather turns cold – a book to cozy up to!

New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs has just released the 11th book in her Scrapbook Mysteries series. This one, titled “Gilt Trip“, takes scrapbook store owner through a dizzying series of New Orleans high society events as she solves the murder of a business tycoon at his “Welcome Home” party after his release from prison.

Gilt Trip cover

Gilt Trip is steeped in the sights, sounds, and smells that are uniquely New Orleans, and references to scrapbooking and mixed media projects thread through the narrative as well, as Carmela juggles running her Memory Mine store with solving a murder.

Although I’m not normally a fiction reader myself, I found this book a very entertaining read. Laura paints a vivid description of New Orleans high society and the mystery is engaging without being too heavy. You will definitely get hungry reading this book, as one of the signature aspects of New Orleans is its cuisine, and Laura certainly does it justice. Gilt Trip even includes recipes for Big Easy Brownies, Cajun Chicken, and Crockpot Meatloaf that are sure to get your mouth watering!

Giveaway: If you’d like a chance to read Gilt Trip, you can win an autographed hardcover copy from Craft Critique!

**giveaway closed!**