I've just finished reading Together by Julie Cohen.
It's the first time I've read one of her books and I was really impressed. The whole novel works backwards from the present (2016) to 1962. The story is a love story but it's a mystery.
Why would Robbie leave Emily a note and walk out of her life forever after being her waking and sleeping moments for so many years?
What kind of love would cause a person to do that?
What could motivate such a drastic thing after so many blissful years?
How could a love that has stood the test of time and produced so much beauty be a lie?
I read this book really fast which is always a sign of an enjoyable read in my books. As soon as I finished it I wanted to begin it again and read the book backwards. Although promise you won't skip to the end this is a story to be read just the way it is written.
The book deals with some really difficult topics but does so in way that is delicate and meaningful.
The book is a story most of all but it also poses some big questions about connection and how much we are the product of secrets and our convictions.
So enjoyable. I look forward to reading other titles by Cohen.
This book fell into my hands at the Art Gallery bookshop recently. The next book happened to be my selection from a voucher for Scorpio that I received for mother's day. Despite the fact that I get sent so many wonderful books to review it doesn't stop me from still purchasing them. I also love to support my local bookshops as much as I can. (Sometimes I do buy online).
Most often when I am 'just browsing' I end up falling in love with a picture book. I have zero shame in buying these books for myself, although of course I share them with children - mine especially! I absolutely love beautiful picture books - I love the messages, the simplicity of language that often coveys a huge complexity of thought.
Picture books, really good ones, are some of the cleverest, most thought provoking, cherished books I own.
A River by Marc Martin
I saw this book at the art gallery bookshop and I couldn't go past it. I adore, adore the colours and the style of illustration. I love the map like qualities/birds eye views of many of the illustrations. There is such a lot of beauty in every page. I'd love some of the pages on the wall at home as art.
The text in this book is so paired back and the illustrations beautifully capture the changing of seasons and the sweet relationship between the bird and lion. There are often pages with no text at all. It's a thick book and it is gentle and enchanting at the same time. Love!
Recently I've been loving trying to watch the screen less and curl up by the fire with a book in the evenings. It sounds so luxurious but it's so easy to neglect.
I've just finished reading The Trip of a Lifetime by Monica McInerney. It's a perfect book for evening reading it isn't a demanding read but it's got enough mystery to keep you turning the pages and reading just.one.more chapter.
The action centres around Lola Quinlan who suddenly decides she is going to head back to Ireland after leaving 65 years ago. Accompanying her are Bett her daughter and Ellen her granddaughter. They all approach the trip with a very different sense of what it will bring and be about. As the trip unfolds Lola must face her past and the person she is now.
How will the secrets she has kept from her family and the memories she has kept from herself impact on her life now and will she regret this 'trip of a lifetime'.
Back home in South Australia the family members they have left behind face their own dramas and there is all the excitement and drama of the soon to be filming series featuring some international stars.
McInerney has also written other books centred around the Quinlan family.
A really enjoyable read that makes me want to travel again. It was great to have the action centred in South Australia having lived there for 2 years. It's lovely to relive places you know through a book.
I'm taking a break from books to bring you a make. There has actually be quite a lot of making going on of late but I've been tardy with my blogging!
I bought this fabulous lamp shade making kit a while ago from The Make Company. When I got home I realised, oh joy!, that I had enough of a scrape left of the fabulous Kaffe Fassett fabric Deb gave me to make the shade.
The kit came with everything I needed so I finally pulled it out one Friday morning and whipped it together.
Now it is hanging above our kitchen table and it makes me smile every time I look at it.
Sometimes there are things that need to be made that really are so quick and satisfying you wonder why it took so long. Maybe that explains why I have about 10 months (I may exaggerate slightly) worth of washing I haven't folded!
Anything new come out of your creative space lately?
love you more than basking in the actual glow of a recent make xxx
Today’s post is brought to you by the letter P! So as part of Indie Pattern Month I made an 'outfit' with three pieces in it.
** Warning: This outfit is a lot of outfit. I can almost hear Heidi Klum saying, ‘Miriam we question your taste.‘ and I’m thinking, ‘Yes Heidi, my mother has been thinking the same forever.‘
I was lucky enough to win the Kobe pattern from Papercut in week one of IPM. I love the shape of it and that it’s essentially a t-shirt shape (so easy to wear) but with glammy details. The gorgeous pegasus fabric is from By the Yard and the pink one, which feels like it might have some wool in it, was from an op-shop. Ideally I would have done the whole top in pegasus’s (pegasi?) but I didn’t have enough. In hindsight I feel a fabric with even more drape would be better.
The pattern comes together really quickly but I completely screwed up the shoulder pleat bit and didn’t realise that until I was trying it on at the end and wondering why it was all twisted up. I had a look at the online tutorial and unpicked the overlocked(!) and stitched seams. Re-did them, hand stitched and then sewed. I lengthened the front by about 5cm too because I have a great fear of midriff reveal! Aside from that I like the pattern. I like the little details in the pattern when it tells you to neaten all the edges at one point.
I made the size M based on previous patterns I’ve made from Papercut and I’m happy with the fit. The little feature button is a very special one I bought on a trip to Barcelona in 2004. It’s waited a long time for a special project.
May I assure you that it looks better from the back than the picture suggests – my ‘stylist’ (read husband) did not adjust as necessary or tell me that I was bunching it up… we do what we can!
In week one of IPM I made a dress using the Philippa pattern by Muse Patterns. If you read my post then you may remember the fabric I used wasn’t my first pick but I didn’t have enough of the one I wanted to use. Well, saddle up cowgirls, this was the fabric I wanted to use. It’s a super cute corduroy that I had left over from another project featuring little ponies.
The pocket features are in ‘road cone orange’ fabric I picked up second hand. I’m not sure whether the constant roadworks and general construction and high vis gear in Christchurch post 2011 earthquakes has made me like this colour or not – maybe it’s a kind of Stockholm Syndrome?! The button is a very cute fan shape one I’ve had in my extensive button collection for some time.
it’s straighter in real life!
I really like this pattern as well. As the Philippa dress I made was bigger than I expected I cut the size 38 and then did a 2cm back seam and 2cm grading out to 1cm on the side seams. It has made it a really good final fit. The instructions are good to follow and I like the way the pocket part is constructed (pockets!). I cut the skirt half way between the knee length and mini length and did a fairly deep hem. Next time I would cut the mini length.
I live in Christchurch NZ and the last few weeks have been supremely rainy. The photo below shows the river at the end of our street. There is actually a road on each side but the river had taken over. There were even rescue boats evacuating some people!
Anyway, it made me realise I don’t actually have a rain coat with a hood, so I thought I’d make one! I had the waterproof fabric in my stash already. (It’s not that thick so I’m thinking showerproof might be more accurate!). Then I lined it with a thick stretch drill that I picked up second hand.
I used Twig and Tale’s Pixie Coat which comes in adult and child sizes. I have made a couple of non-raincoat versions in the past. The pattern is fully lined but really simple and a great start for a beginner sewist. The fabric was a bit of a dog to sew with and the difference between the thicknesses wasn’t ideal for a pristine finish. I finished the top with velcro tabs and sewed a pocket on the inside. Unfortunately the velcro I had was the stick on version so my sewing machine needle got all gummy and did not enjoy the sew!
I made the size 12 with no amendments other than the fact that it’s clearly not designed to be a raincoat, and the inner pocket. I especially like the little hoop for hanging it on a hook.
It’s not perfect, but it’s fun for jumping in puddles. I think it looks better on my 8 year old than it does on me but I can live with that!
And there it is… A perfectly practical outfit for a princess ( geddit? royalty!) who rides ponies and has a pegasus, but also parades in puddles.
My sewing space looks like a wild storm has swept through it. I’m pretty sure my overlocker and sewing machine need a service and I have zero sewing machine needles left, also I think maybe I need to put pattern weights on my Christmas wish-list. I used cutlery to help with lack of pin-ability on the pixie.
I hope you've been enjoying the week of reviews for children's books.
Pottymouth and Stupid by James Patterson is a book designed especially for readers who have a sense of humour, at least one great friend and who know what it's like not to be the cool-kid.
Highly readable and filled with illustrations to support the text it's the perfect novel for the 10+ category of 'I can read, but not always enthusiastically'.
David and Michael have spent a life time with nicknames they didn't choose or like and now here they are at the front of the whole school assembly telling their story - right from the beginning. How did two rejects end up here and what has prompted this situation? Read on to find out.
A funny, silly and a little bit naughty tale with some bite. A commentary on bullying told without any of the approach we might be used to.
A great read for fans of fiction that doesn't take itself too seriously. Perfect for the middle school age group. (10-13 years).
Sky High: Jean Batten's Incredible Flying Adventures by David Hill and Phoebe Morris is the next in a very welcome series (I hope!) about Key New Zealanders and their stories.
The combination of Hill and Morris is a good one the illustrations really enhance the text and make it a great book to read. First to the Top, published in 2016 documented Sir Edmund Hillary's journey and this one is about Jean Batten.
Jean Batten is a wonderful example of tenacity and paradigm breaking. This book is a great introduction to her. I especially like that there is a timeline of her life in the back. The story is very readable and contains some wonderful titbits about her life. A gorgeous book.
Recently I was reading a with a student and the story was about Edmund Hillary and I was surprised to discover she had not heard of him. These kind of books are important for New Zealand children to read - we have a wonderful list of characters who have played on the world stage and beautiful books help our children to meet them, be inspired by them and carry on their legacy to us.
Chase by Linwood Barclay is a thriller for 9-12 year olds. I just finished reading this one aloud to my boys (8 and 11) and they LOVED it.
The action centres around the dog Chipper - a souped up dog from The Institute who has been fitted with all kinds of technology to create the ultimate spy. But Chipper isn't happy and he escapes from The Institute to pursue an orphan Jeff Conway who has no idea that Chipper or The Institute even exist.
Will he get to Jeff and give him the message?
Will The Institute get Chipper back, harvest the technology and put him down?
The chase is on.
There are plenty of suspenseful moments in the narrative and we were broken hearted when we realised that the book is part of series/ trilogy... and we have to wait until June next year to find out what happens next.
Flip (11) put the book straight into his school bag as soon as I finished it to take it to share with his classmates and Bounce (8) asked if we could read it again.
A few years ago Grandad bought us a copy of My First Car was Red which is a truly different picture book from any (of the very many) we own. When I saw Gecko had published another, Where is Grandma, by the same author Peter Schossow I was really eager to read it.
Schossow both writes and illustrates his books, we'll try not to hate him for being so talented! and he is a master at both. The text reads like a continual inner monologue as Henry waits and waits for his young nanny to get off the phone so that they can go and find grandma in the hospital.
Finally Henry takes matters into his own hands - how hard can it be to find grandma? and sets off. For anyone who has ever visited anyone in hospital you can imagine just how hard that turns out to be!
The book manages to capture the truly dizzying complexity of a modern hospital - all those doors - without ever feeling stressful or overwhelming in a negative sense. The narrative feels absolutely genuine and rather charming in an effortless sense.
A wonderful read for anyone who loves detailed illustrations and is in touch with their own inner monologue.
We're three days into a week-ish of reviewing recent reads in the children's book field.
When I receive parcels with books in them there are always delighted noises when said parcels contain books for child readers. Although my boys are both competent readers we also (especially the 8 year old and me!) have a very soft spot for picture books.
Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by Andy Stanton and Neal Layton was a fast hit with Mr 8.
The cover was instantly appealing to him with a mix of cartoon and collage style. He read the book to himself, laughed uproariously at the ending and made me sit and read it myself immediately. Then he continued to 'share' the joke with me again and again.
The book has a solid rhyme scheme and it's the right amount of fantastical and fun. A perfect book for sharing with children who have a great sense of humour.
Look Out, Pink Piglet by Phil Cummings and Sarah Davis.
We discovered Phil Cummings books while we were living in Australia and Bounce (Mr 8) chose one to buy at the writers festival. This gorgeous offering is perfect for the very young reader. It follows brave and curious Pink Piglet as he confronts a monster that has the rest of the farmyard in fear. Turns out Pink Piglet and the monster have a lot in common! Perfect for any little person who's received a sibling.
The illustrations are very sweet - the colours and the ways the animals are portrayed are uber cute.
A week-ish of reviewing recent reads in the children's book field.
Twice Upon a Time - A very good very bad story by James Norcliffe is a riddle of a story or maybe a riddle in a story.
When I started reading this book I was immediately reminded of The Faraway Tree stories. It has that same kind of magical jumbled up feel and the same kinds of extremely quirky characters. The story is all about the interplay of Ginny's real world problems and the parallel world of Digger Dagger and his problems.
This book will have high appeal to children who like the parallel world, language play and magic in the 'real world' kind of style.
School holidays have been over for a week now and I made up a large portion of them with my nose in a book. I also did some reading to the boys. Reading aloud to my children is one of the parts that I love SO much about parenthood. So you can expect a load of reviews coming your way. This week I am going to focus on books for children.
First off the pile was Jacqueline Wilson's offering Wave Me Goodbye.
Wilson is obviously a very well known and published author but I must confess I haven't actually picked up her books before. I think she was garnering a lot of popularity while I was at home changing nappies and if I'm honest I've always looked at the cover art of her books and assumed the'd be fairly light and fluffy.
Not that there is anything wrong with light and easy to read. It is actually a really good thing for emerging readers but it's not usually what I am likely to pick up for myself or for reading aloud to children.
Wave Me Goodbye is centred around the action of the evacuation of children from London in WW2. It follows ten year-old Shirley as she is sent to a small village with all the other children from her school and others around.
The story is lovely. It is easy to read and there are a good number of illustrations to help the narrative flow. Shirley is a likeable, if quirky, character and I think a lot of children would relate to her. She ends up being put in a house with 2 boys from her school. There are adventures, friendships, failures and misunderstandings along the way. The two women who run the household are their own kind of quirky and there are some truly touching moments in the story.
I really enjoyed this book. I can see why Wilson has such a following and I think she does justice to the historical events of the novel while delivering a book with a timeless feel. Perfect for any reader who likes to escape into their own world.
So I'm still going (not going to use the word strong - just going!) on my 100 days challenge. I'm not sure at all how I feel about the coat, the thinking or even doing the days but I feel like completing something for 100 days has to be good for me - like broccoli and exercise but with less sweat or cutting involved.