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?

 

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

Hellooooo July!

Well, I finished Firefly Lane AND the sequel Fly Away. I enjoyed Firefly Lane very much, getting so engrossed in the characters that I had no shame bawling my eyes out while waiting for Zac’s sweet & sour pork the other night. Fly Away not so much, but it had a redemption theme which I do like.

firefly laneIn the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable. 

I have a bestie like this. We’ve been apart for a long time, but as she’s moving to Auckland very soon I hope we can slide straight back into that easy friendship.

Stitching-wise, I haven’t done a lot this week. I woke on Monday feeling quite dissatisfied with things, and decided that I was going to change. So I hauled a$$ & went to the base early to start.

Now, I used to swim competitively. I went to meets all over, and secondary school nationals a couple of times. I thought I’d slide back in – oh no. But I managed 4 lengths (of a 25m pool!) before everything turned to jelly. And once I was back at work, I rang the local Jenny Craig office and got a same-day appointment (no room to chicken out, right?). Turns out that mentally I’m ready for this. Ready to turn around my health spiral. It took 6 months of being out of the yes-I’ll-volunteer cycle to get myself to this point. I wonder if in a few months I’ll be able to give up the headache pills? Look for an activity/weight loss update Monday – if I don’t post it, YELL at me. Please keep me accountable!

So I’ve managed maybe half-a-dozen threads at work, and a couple of hours on Mermaids at home. And as today is the first, I am rotating out from Mermaids to Persephone for a week. My only issue with her is that she is on the big stand so can’t go to league with me tomorrow. But a limited time period might help me get some progress on that skirt – the carrot being that I plan to switch out to Raven Queen next Friday. Then Arezzo, and lastly nine days back on Mermaids – or maybe 7, with the 2 days of the weekend doing something new? We’ll see what happens!

For the Smalls SAL, I finished a Mill Hill kit (Fireflies) and have two Holly ornaments ready for beading, and another two Berry ornaments being stitched. I decided to stitch a second of each of these on Darine 14ct plastic canvas, not only so I have a set to keep, I’m feeling like I get more value for money. These kits are not cheap here in NZ  – roughly $18 for fireflies and $14 for the Christmas Jewel series, each! I also finished the Bunny kit from Cross Stitcher magazine – he’s going to stay as is, without the ribbon, and become my massive needle minder.

 

Hope you all have a fun-filled weekend with your family & friends!

Book Review: Mischief Bay & a bit of waffle

Sorry for not keeping up – life is kind-of hectic, altho I look back and think that really, I’m just dog-paddling like a mad thing, trying to stay in the one spot. I feel sorry for Mase, as he is not playing a team sport this winter, solely so that I can support Bran & his refereeing. Si is running around with Zac in tow – who STARTED in the run-on 15 this weekend. Woot! Mase is lovely and while a little upset, is just getting on with everything else. I brought him a Lovett’s kids puzzle book as it was persisting down on Saturday (no park playground time) & he ripped thru it. His spelling list is year 5/6 – he’s technically a year 2. Words like acclimate, estimate, zootopia – and he’s expected to know the meanings too. Have you ever tried to explain Zootopia to a 6 year old? I think it could have been easier to explain the U2 album of the same name…

Anyway, I have made time for reading. Right now, I’m in Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah, but I’m kind-of hungover from back-to-back Susan Mallery. I came across her Mischief Bay series and wow.

The Girls of Mischief Bay.jpgBook ONE: The Girls of Mischief Bay:

Nicole Lord wants to be a good wife, but there’s a difference between being supportive and supporting her husband, who quit his job to write a screenplay she’s never seen. He won’t even help take care of their son, leaving Nicole to run the house and work full-time at her Mischief Bay Pilates studio. Can she say enough is enough without losing the man she loves?

Sacrificing a personal life for her career is how Shannon Rigg rose to become vice president in her firm, but she wonders now whether she made the right choice. An exciting new relationship with a great guy convinces her that it might not be too late—until he drops a bombshell that has her questioning whether she can have it all. And if she can, does she want it?

Although Pam Eiland has a beautiful house and a husband she adores, she feels… restless. She wonders who a stay-at-home mom becomes after the kids are grown. Finding sexy new ways to surprise her husband brings the heat and the humor back to their marriage, but when unexpected change turns her life upside down, she’ll have to redefine herself. Again.

The Friends We Keep.jpgBook TWO: The Friends We Keep

After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can’t wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband’s crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own.

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost.

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn’t as painful as it should’ve been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time’s the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?

At times these characters are someone you’d like to know IRL, then at other times I wanted to smack them. I guess that’s the sign of a good book – you get engrossed and you have real feelings. The growth and changes are realistic, the sub-characters are well crafted, the location (the other side of the earth from me) sounds real; I’ve already added book 3 to my diary so that I definitely don’t miss it next February.

Sadly, not the same with the latest Nora Roberts trilogy. Blah blah boring.

And lastly – go ICELAND! Love a good under-dog story.

Book Review: The Obsession

Nora Roberts, 2016, Penguin Random House.

image

I haven’t read a Nora for a while. TBH, they were feeling all same-same and I couldn’t be bothered. But I downloaded this one on Thursday and finished Saturday night and could go back and happily read it all over again right now.

The basic plot is that Naomi discovered  something awful in her father, revealed it, and was strong enough to start creating her new life. As an adult she moves to a remote-ish house on the Washington coast, starts reno and starts living properly. In comes Xander, the hero, and the sub-hero, Tag.

Some things hit close to the bones for me (the mother’s way of checking out was the main) but on the whole I enjoyed this one. The book is divided up into sections (exposure, depth of field, panorama, light and shadow, focus, & balance) and I like the way the writing is subtly changing in each section to highlight the heading. The character development is vintage Nora and the second quotes are perfect.
4 1/2 ⭐

WIP Wednesday

I don’t know if it’s the mood that I’m in or that time of year, but I am looking intently at my routine. What is going to make me happy? What is going to make me feel satisfied?

I’ve decided NOT to follow up on the Reading Challenge. Well, not as printed anyway. I’m still going to read to improve, and to relax. I’m going to follow recommendations more, and I’m definitely going to clean up my eReader to get rid of the crap stuff, or the “oncers” – you know, the things you read once then shelve. And I’m going to journal my “new” reads more, either in my log or on IG.

I’m going to continue to get up early & use that 30 min or so to catch up on social media, on my notebooks, and MAKE something. Even if it’s just a couple of thread lengths, or planning. I started doing this late last year and it made a difference to my sanity, once I got over the shock of not having the snooze option. Being “alone” in my home gives me peace. I want to introduce a daily devotional to this mix as well.

Anyways enough of the WIP that is me. Let’s look at the WIPs I’m making:

20160113_053605.jpg

This was my table this morning. My current read (one co-worker expressed shock that I was reading a “real” book, ha-de-ha), my log and the current Small. I am planning a border for this then to make it into a small hanging ornament. It’s the symbol for Year of the Monkey, and I intend for it to be a gift for my local Chinese takeaway place. I’m altering Raven Queen’s border, hence the chart paper – I want to use pencil & avoid the stitch-and-frog part of today’s entertainment!

Hope your week is a little bit awesome.