It’s the first full day of Fall 2014, which means 92 shopping days left ’til Christmas. Since nearly every retailer has had decorations on display for weeks, I got to thinking about my own gift-giving list. There’s a lot to be said for the idea of implementing a Family Gift Registry.
Now I know both sides of the aisle have started barking at me already, but you decide whether a Family Gift Registry (FGR) is either a parody of ghastly nonsensical consumerism, OR just plain common sense. In the meantime,
#1: The sweaters that mom sends me are hideous. Or the closely related, who buys someone chartreuse hand towels?
#2: I would really rather have preferred the hip-high fishing waders, not the knee-highs. Or the red wine, not white.
#3: My mother-in-law keeps buying me cooking utensils, but I do not cook. Or hairstyle magazines, but I like my hair the way it is.
#4: My child drinks a lot of milk and has already outgrown his/her entire wardrobe, and it’s back to school time again.
#5: My entire wardrobe is so “last season.” Or the closely related, my waist has outgrown all of my pants.
#6: How do I buy for the person who has everything? Or hates everything I ever buy him/her? Or hates me? I’d love to donate to their favorite charity instead.
#7: I’m not sure what my niece/nephew is into right now. Frankly, what I think they’re into is scary and ridiculous, and I’m not sure where I’d go to buy something like that.
#9: I’d never spend the time and/or money to buy that for myself, but drawing farm animals is my favorite hobby and my sketch pad is full.
#10: How do I tell friends/relatives that I could really use a grocery/gas/home improvement gift card instead of another blender?
After perusing the Top 10 reasons for the concept of FGR, it really comes down to these fundamentals:
Think about it. A couple gets married, and they set up a Wedding Registry. Why don’t they just maintain it, adding and deleting items as the years go by? They’d get what they need or desire most during the changing times/needs in their life together, and your gift giving checklist is widdled down in a day.
The same couple has a baby, and they set up a Baby Registry. Simply maintain it as the child grows, allowing for updates in the clothing or diaper sizes, changes in the style of the child’s room, or any unexpected costly special needs items that a group may chip in on. When the child is of the age to start asking for new sneakers, a video game, or Lite Brite, then others can easily pick and choose for their child’s birthday, Hanukkah, or graduation. With size and preference updates, the child gets what it wants/needs (NO rival team Zubaz from Grandma for the 5th year in a row,) and there is no wasted time, money, or effort, as regular quantity or “item received” notices are provided.
Similar to an online family website that may be private or public, where people share photos and news with loved ones near or far, every family could establish a Family Gift Registry, that’s mobile, password protected, and possibly linked to favorite stores, or linked to preferred charities for giving donations instead of gifts, or listing gift cards in various denominations, etc. FGR’s would provide a separate page with distinct profiles for mom, dad, child, grandpa, the dog, etc. that each would regularly update in time for the next occasion.
What’s more, an FGR App could stem from the registry, downloadable to any device, so that last minute shopping is convenient and painless, both for the shopper and the recipient who rack their brains for last minute ideas, while party-goers are waiting for cake.
Of course, there’s still something to be said about spur-of-the-moment gifts, like a bottle of wine for a dinner party, a bracelet for that special someone, flowers for mom, a juicy mystery novel for a great friend, or a restaurant gift certificate for a shining employee. Spontaneity AND variety are truly the spice of life. And don’t let your significant other forget it.
But, say goodbye to Boxing Day holiday, Canada…there’ll be no more cause for returns. The entire dynamic of the day-after-a-holiday would switch from battling traffic, weather, and fellow patrons traveling store to store with arms laden with returns/exchanges, to strolling through the park with loved ones and a picnic of leftover turkey sandwiches. Black Friday would still be black for retailers, but so would many other days, as the need for returns becomes obsolete.
Sure, you can put together a site yourself, but here’s a quick list of some Family Gift Registry sites that offer to do the work for you:
So make a list, and check it twice…because Santa’s job has never been easier! What do you think? Does a Family Gift Registry take the magic out of gift giving? Or does it provide a money- and time-saving way to choose THE perfect gift? Let me know what you think…
2) Use the contest entry form on my CONTACT page at my website, http://www.GinaFava.com/Contact, to include your name, email address, AND the link(s) to the blog or review website where you posted your review. It will better your chances of winning if you post on several sites.
This contest is worldwide and rolls out on May 21, 2014 and runs until midnight on November 7, 2014. On November 8, 2014 three winners will be chosen.
In addition, the winner of the Most Thoughtful Review will be acknowledged in my next book.
And, the person who wins the Funniest Review will be a named character in a future book.
Good luck, everyone! And, thank you for posting a review of THE SCULPTOR! It’s greatly appreciated.
Gina Fava’s thriller, THE RACE,
check out www.GinaFava.com.
The plaster has been chiseled away,
and now all is revealed…
Gina Fava’s latest suspense thriller, THE SCULPTOR, has arrived!
DOES ART IMITATE LIFE, OR DOES LIFE IMITATE ART…
WHEN IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY?
Rome’s serial killer has a way with the ladies…first he wines and dines them, then he carves and plasters them ― alive. Preying on the brilliant, voluptuous grad students of Rome’s universities, the Sculptor excises and molds their finest features for his personal gallery of adulation. The Sculptor, Italy’s most notorious serial killer since the Monster of Florence, has confounded Rome’s police force. Their slew of suspects is growing as fast as their list of victims.
Mara Silvestri is a saucy female grad student seeking to shed her past. When she discovers that the Sculptor is stalking her in a twisted game of cat and mouse, she becomes wary of her relationships with fellow students, art professors, her business mentor, and Jesse, a sexy lothario and mysterious colleague. Barely thwarting the Sculptor’s attacks in Rome, Venice, Tuscany, and the Swiss Alps, Mara uncovers the family secrets in her past that draw him to her. Can Mara turn the tables on the Sculptor before he finally claims her as his prized masterpiece?
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Steepo Press
Publication Date: May 21, 2014
Number of Pages: 450 print pages
The Reviews are in! And here’s what they’re saying about
Gina Fava’s THE SCULPTOR:
“From the opening attack high in the Italian Alps to the final chilling twist in the dark streets of Rome, Gina Fava’s new novel, The Sculptor, carries the reader on a harrowing journey of nonstop action, with vivid settings, sympathetic characters, and a serial killer to die for. Highly recommended.”
―Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Monster of Florence.
“In The Sculptor, Fava has chiseled another fast-paced thriller featuring beautifully rendered European settings. I loved courageous heroine Mara Silvestri, and the rich cast of suspects kept me guessing right up until the hold-your-breath climax. An excellent read!”
―Steve Ulfelder, Edgar-nominated author of Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage
“After thrilling us with her action-packed debut novel, The Race, Gina Fava takes a slightly lateral move to an intimate, suspenseful, at times creepy but always gripping, mystery tale in The Sculptor. Just when I thought that I figured out the bad guy, Fava threw me a curve, and then another, until I reached the shocking, satisfying conclusion.”
―J. H. Bográn, author of Firefall and Treasure Hunt
“Evil stalks the streets of Rome. A serial killer searches for his next victim amidst the ancient ruins and modern wonders. A smart, resilient, resourceful young woman crosses his path. How smart? How resilient and resourceful? Find out in The Sculptor, a page-turning, spine-tingling heart-stopper that will keep you up all night. And when dawn comes and you turn the last page, you will agree that Gina Fava is one of the rising young stars of the thriller genre.”
―William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Back Bay and The Lincoln Letter
“A unique front-to-back thrill ride worthy of our primal senses. Deliver[s] a robust thriller for lovers of the genre.”
―Rob Watts, author of The Crooked Road Through Cedar Grove series
Gina Fava is a Buffalo, New York native and lives with her family in New England. The Sculptor, her second novel, is the first in her Mara Silvestri mystery series. She is also the author of The Race: A HELL Ranger Thriller. A University at Buffalo graduate, she also holds a law degree, and has studied art history and counter-terrorism in Rome. Stricken with wanderlust, she travels far and wide to research new characters and new places to murder them. Visit www.GinaFava.com.
What does it take to transform an average Joe into a bad ass dick (sleuth, that is)? Pure grit and hard core determination. Just ask critically acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author Steve Ulfelder, whose gutsy yet affable hero, Conway Sax is back, with a vengeance.
Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage: A Conway Sax Mystery
“Conway Sax is a man on a mission—this time in Los Angeles, where he uses his race-driving experience in a desperate bid to rescue Kenny Spoon, a washed-up TV star who’s been kidnapped. It’s a favor for Kenny’s mother Eudora, Conway’s dear friend and a fellow member of the Barnburners, his tight-knit maverick AA group.
After hauling Kenny back to Massachusetts, Conway finds himself caught between Eudora and her two sons: Kenny, and Harmon, a cop who resents his talented, troubled half-brother. Each member of the Spoon family distrusts and even despises the others, it seems… and each has a past full of dark secrets that may explain why.
While Conway tries to learn why Kenny was kidnapped and protect him from further harm, a shocking murder devastates this complex, all-too-human family. Conway vows to find the killer and avenge the death, but each clue only points to more suspects.
Things get even more complicated when Conway, separated from his girlfriend Charlene, begins a passionate affair that can’t help but cloud his judgment. The more secrets he uncovers, the more danger he’s in as this masterfully written page-turner builds to a wrenching confrontation.” –Official Website of Steve Ulfelder
You’ll love this guy. The protagonist, Conway Sax, relies on his keen instincts, a healthy man card, and a zealous reliance on his own baggage to get him to the bottom of the mysteries that encroach on his life as a car mechanic. His lovable soft side, his resiliency in the face of whatever bad guys throw at him, and his enduring loyalty to his friends and his comrades in dependency (“Barnburners”) make him a true hero in my mind.
Ulfelder’s writing style is steady and approachable, reeling in the reader from the first page. His use of first-person perspective is vulnerable, acute, and engaging. Ulfelder taps into Sax’s recovery from dependency with affecting honesty and humor. He unfolds the mystery with gradual pace that feels real and justified.
Ulfelder also plunges a dip stick into some car racing jargon that’s smooth and slick. You’ll find yourself adding “bootlegger turn,” “tank slapper,” and “bump drafting” to your everyday vernacular. His secondary characters are spot on, full of enough vitality that you’d think they were idling in a Crown Vic outside your front window. The authentic journey through the winding roads of Central MA will have you dropping your Rs. The dialogue, as well as Sax’s inner monologue, is sincere, fresh, funny, and noteworthy (“Two times a year, I wish I had a gun.”)
If you’re a fan of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels, this Steve Ulfelder mystery is for you. It is fresh, raw pulp fiction that’s refined into a sweet and coarse concoction, and it’s sure to please.
My rating: 5 out of 5 FAVA beans.
Steve Ulfelder is the author of three mystery novels featuring unlikely hero Conway Sax: SHOTGUN LULLABY, THE WHOLE LIE, and PURGATORY CHASM. Steve left journalism to write novels and focus on Flatout Motorsports, a company he co-founded that builds, rents, sells and services race cars. Steve’s debut novel, PURGATORY CHASM, published by Minotaur Books in 2011, was nominated for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the Best First Novel category, and was named Best First Mystery by RT Book Reviews. Steve is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America (serving as president of MWA’s New England chapter), Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio Wesleyan University, and lives with his family in Worcester County, Massachusetts. Learn more about Steve Ulfelder’s books at www.ulfelder.com.
In author Michelle Hoover’s debut novel, The Quickening, she explores “the polarization of the human soul in times of hardship and the instinctual drive for self-preservation by whatever means necessary.”
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: Other Press
Publication Date: June 2010
Number of Pages: 216 print pages
“Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. Despite having little in common, Eddie and Mary need one another for survival and companionship. But as the Great Depression threatens, the delicate balance of their reliance on one another tips, pitting neighbor against neighbor, exposing the dark secrets they hide from one another, and triggering a series of disquieting events that threaten to unravel not only their friendship but their families as well.” –Official Website of Michelle Hoover
Lyrical prose, superb description, and dialogue that rings true thrust this novel into a must-read for any book club. Generally, the story is akin to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, with its vivid characters and historical resonance. Personal sacrifice, reliance, and the bonds of family are issues that are pulled taught like guitar strings. Its pace is slow at times, but its voice is pure, which helps pull the reader along to its resolution.
My only issue with this otherwise moving work is that it lacks a gratifying ending. I felt that Hoover might have left off the last chapter, because the penultimate chapter is raw and edgy and deep, and the last is a poor attempt at a salve for a wound that won’t easily heal.
Selected by Indie Booksellers for the July 2010 Indie Next List and the Winter 2011 Reading Group List, The Quickening is an excellent debut novel. Michelle Hoover is an accomplished author and teacher, born in Ames, Iowa, the granddaughter of four longtime farming families. Her experience and polish shine through in this novel.
I’d recommend this novel to readers of historical fiction looking for a gritty transport into the Great Depression, for book clubs seeking a thought-provoking look at the human condition, and for writers that are hungry for a superb lesson in crafting tight, effective prose.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 FAVA beans.
Click the above image to reach the Library of Congress website; read the full transcript (a mere 271 words) and discover loads of information about the Gettysburg Address delivered 150 years ago today on the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, PA by Abraham Lincoln. The address, in a document permanently displayed at the Library Congress, is also inscribed on the side of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Click the above photo to learn more about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, and the famous orator who gave this speech, 150 years ago today.