Back to your regularly scheduled programme…

Important bit – none of the links below are affiliate. Deerskin is actually to a review, not the purchase.

It feels so good to be back writing, and reading, and stitching, and (dare I say it) work! I spent a good portion of the last fortnight ill, five work days away from my desk, and it’s only yesterday that the sleep-deprived me felt kind-of-normal.

SO about the above..

  • I started & finished Deerskin, by Robin McKinley. I’d not read any of her novels but I got hooked in by the cover. And the price (it was free that day). Now I’m adding Sunshine to the Kindle, as @aragonsgirl72 recommended her on my IG post.
  • For those of you that liked my version of Not All Those Who Wander, Emma Congdon has now uploaded this to her etsy site.
  • I brought myself the Palace Cinema from Lego. Loving it. Construction kept my mind tired and from being overwhelmed with solo parenting & worry. I finished it and brought the Bank set. I might have started a new obsession…
  • Mase “helped” with the construction. Cars are still a little boy favourite. Look how long his fingers are now! I miss the true little boy chubbiness.
  • And last night was my first night at a stitch group in far too long. I laughed and really enjoyed myself. It was in Grey Lynn, an older established and PRETTY suburb of Auckland. Love the way the trees grew to form a canopy.

And stitch-wise, I am well into March’s Stitch MAYnia designer SAL, which was Teresa Wentzler. My goal was to back stitch and fill in a lot of the gaps in the top floral border of Tapestry Cat. I’m really happy with the progress.

And as for the other, that’s for an Instagram swap. My partner loves How to Train Your Dragon, so as one of the pieces I am making her a needlebook with the two main characters front and back. Cloudsfactory make such easy, cute designs for this sort of thing.

What have you been up to?

 

Book Review – The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

Format: Kindle (own purchase)

51lptbquyvl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Synopsis: Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabinmate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.

Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity, The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets.

 

I picked this one up in the new year sales on a whim, & started reading this weekend in my wait for the TV programme Maigret (yes, I know he’s not written by Christie, but it was the era that triggered my whim). And this has the hallmarks I love about historical fiction – the basis of the story is true, the side characters existed (in fact, it’s hard to pick which one of the main characters is fiction if you don’t know much about Christie, like me) & the period is beautifully written. I won’t really expand on the jacket synopsis, as I don’t think that I need to, but I will say this – READ THIS BOOK. Or listen. It’s that good. I’m going to be looking for more from Ashford very soon.

 

Sorting Jane Austen Characters Into Hogwarts Houses: The Definitive Guide — Carrots for Michaelmas

images by Katherine Makowky You love Jane Austen. You love Harry Potter. So why not sort your favorite Austen characters into Hogwarts houses? I could not come up with a good reason not to. I’m the sort of person who wonders how Elinor and Marianne Dashwood’s Myers-Briggs personality types made their sisterly relationship complicated. And I’ve…

via Sorting Jane Austen Characters Into Hogwarts Houses: The Definitive Guide — Carrots for Michaelmas

Review: Connilyn Cossette’s Counted With The Stars

out-fo-egyptSynopsis: Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation.

When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all. To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus.

She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Genesis 15:5

I picked this one up thru Book Bub as I have liked Biblical historical fiction previously – and I was wowed. Not only was it cheap (but hurry, that offer closes shortly!!) the writing of this one is superb. There is attention to detail, a real urgency, adherence to the story of Exodus and the fleshing out of the characters is top-notch. I didn’t even stitch last night, as I wanted to keep reading – and I raved about this one to whomever would listen. God’s grace is for everyone, even a sinner like me.

I’ve already brought book two! Definitely 5 stars from me.

Complimentary bible studies for the first two books are available on the You Bible study website and app; see https://www.bible.com/search/plans?q=Connilyn%20Cossette&version_id=1209

Book Review: Just One Thing by Holly Jacobs

jot“Sometimes, you find yourself inadvertently in the dark. But I’d discovered that if you stopped fighting against it and just stood still, sometimes something marvellous comes along.”

Artist Lexie McCain spends her days literally weaving the story of her life into a gorgeous tapestry. But on Monday nights, she walks to the Corner Bar, drinks a Killian’s, and answers the same question every week from Sam the bartender: “One thing?” She starts with her name, then her cottage, slowly moving on to the devastating tragedies that tore her life apart.

Sam Corner’s smile doesn’t seem to hide any pain. One night, Lexie turns the tables on him, asking Sam, “One thing?” To her surprise, Sam reveals his own tragic history. Together, Lexie and Sam learn that, with good beer and a trusted friend, sharing just “one thing” might lead to the one thing they both thought was lost forever: love.

From award-winning author Holly Jacobs comes the story of heartache, hope, and the power of sharing just one thing.

 

This one popped up thru my Kindle for Samsung app as a freebie. It’s not free anymore, but still cheap – and I totally recommend it. This author’s been around for a while (mainstream and HMB) & I’ll be picking up some more. First I think will be “I Waxed My Legs for This?” 🙂

I read this on-and-off as my “appointment” book, so it’s been about two months total since I started it. The short chapters and flowing dialogue make it easy to read, & I didn’t manage to confuse it with the others I read during this time. The themes of getting knocked down then needing to find strength to go on are universal. The characters (like the ones I recently reviewed by Susan Mallery) are carefully crafted and realistic, and most importantly (if you’re going to get a message from this book) – likeable. The romance is secondary to character growth, there’s little PDA (so if you have littlies and listen to audio books, this is safe). Just get it.

For an excerpt, or book club questions, click here http://www.hollyjacobs.com/JustOneThing.html

Review: Daughters of the Bride

cover-daughtersDaughters of the Bride – Susan Mallery, July 2016, HQN Books

Courtney ~ The Misfit ~

As the awkward one, Courtney Watson may not be as together as her sisters, but she excels at one thing—keeping secrets, including her white-hot affair with a sexy music producer. Planning Mom’s wedding exposes her startling hidden life, changing her family’s view of her—and how she views herself—forever.

Sienna ~ The Free Spirit ~

When Sienna’s boyfriend proposes—in front of her mom and sisters, for crying out loud—he takes her by surprise. She already has two broken engagements under her belt. Should she say “I do” even if she’s not sure she does?

Rachel ~ The Cynic ~

Rachel thought love would last forever…right up until her divorce. As Mom’s wedding day draws near and her ex begs for a second chance, she’s forced to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about why her marriage failed, and decide if she’ll let pride stand in the way of her own happily ever after.

This book links into Mallery’s Mischief Bay series (see here for my reviews  ) which I loved. This title is one I’d solidly rate 4 stars also; it ticked nearly every box. I would put myself in the Rachel camp, so I’ve learnt something from this book – it is okay not to expect the same effort in bathroom hygiene from my boys as I would put in, but it’s definitely okay to give them a checklist for guidance!

  • Well drawn characters
  • Believable plot
  • Consistency in character behavior
  • Consistency in story line
  • The animals didn’t hurt the story either!

IRL, I have not lost more weight altho I have stayed static for the last two weeks. I can however slide my jeans off without undoing them and I need new bras. This is progress! Simon’s torn some cartilage in his knee, and is on a wait for surgery. Understandably, he’s in discomfort most of the time and outright pain at other times. Yesterday I picked up a brace – and we both slept solidly. 7 hours or so my Polar tells me! Apart from the night he fell asleep on the couch, I haven’t had more than five to five-and-a-half hours for a few weeks. I’m hoping this is the start of a beautiful friendship. It’s very hard to get up at 5am and go swimming without restful sleep!

20160814_205158I didn’t stitch for a couple of weeks, but then I binged a little over the last weekend and finished Afternoon in London! It’s currently on my noticeboard here at work, as I need to make time and go to the framers in Mt Eden. I’ve started the Harry Potter House Banners for Z, and it’s BORING. Seriously boring. It’s going to be a Netflix binge watch to get thru these things. I have also joined up a large format (5K stitches) round robin – what was I thinking?!

 

 

IMG_20160816_213950.jpgMase is collecting the Countdown Star Wars cards right about now. He wrote Pete, our COO, this cute letter to say thanks! It’s one for his 21st wall.

 

Tourists in our own Island

My rotation plan has gone out the window- well, not entirely but there’s an edit. When we checked the referee’s draw on Thursday, neither Si nor B had been allocated games, so we decided to escape Auckland for the weekend (thanks Emma for feeding the fish!). We knew the weather wasn’t going to be sharp anywhere we went, but it’s all about the adventure. We don’t know how many more weekends we will be able to get away as a family of 5 (B plans on finding an apprenticeship for 2017) so we want to take advantage of the opportunities. Raven Queen is too unwieldy to do in the car (32ct dark fabric? ah no) so I picked up Afternoon in London. I needed a jump to get over my stitching hump with this one.

We booked in at a little cottage in Opua, in the Bay of Islands. It’s just before Paihia (too touristy) and it’s where the car ferry for Russell leaves from. Small, but we could see ourselves retiring there. They even have a Stitch & Bitch session! Sadly we did not win lotto so that dream will wait a while longer. Even in the gloom the view from up on the hill was engrossing and I spent time at the windows both mornings. My only complaint would be that the kitchen doesn’t face that view.

Saturday we were all up early so we jumped in the car, planning to get to the northern most tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. Mase wanted to be the first boy to have been at both top & bottom of the islands (he’s forgotten all about Stewart Island!) & goal achieved. We did stop wherever we felt the need – lots of junk shops & second hand bookstores. I found some haul too as well as a very thick bio on Mary Magdalene (amazon link here).

The Cape was a bit different from what Simon remembered as a teen. The parking lot is now well back from the lighthouse (a ten minute walk) and the entry has been all tourist-fied with piped in traditional Maori music and planned plantings. Never mind. Once you’re thru that, it’s raw and as it should be.

The lighthouse is smaller than I thought, much smaller than I remember Castlepoint being. Sadly it’s operated by remote computers now, but I could imagine the loneliness a keeper would have experienced. It’s so open and you can see where the two seas meet – Tasman on my left, Pacific on the right – and recall the Maori myth about this being the departing place for the spirits of the ancestors, as they made their way back to Hawaiki (better story here).

20160709_145257Being back at work is kind-of a letdown. I would much rather be back at the lighthouse.

and lastly – Mase reenacting the story of Jonah…

20160710_102353