Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books and a medical emergency

I've kinda been missing in action the past couple of weeks.  I'll skip all the gritty details but we had a bit of an emergency with my 83 year old Mum who has ended up in hospital with two fractures to her spine - L4 and L5. Mum has Osteoporosis so not the greatest thing to have happen.  If all goes well, Mum may be back home by the 8th with a Transitional Care team visiting daily to assist her with all the basic needs while she recuperates.

Mum will need to be very, very careful though as, with osteoporosis, fractures can take a longer time to heal. One of the fractures is actually an older one and still not fully healed. We believe that one happened when Mum was trying to move a bed frame in her spare room, lost balance, and ended up with the frame on top of her. The latest fracture we believe happened when she was out doing yard work, lost balance, and fell backwards against the wall of her garden shed.

The first day we realised Mum was in very bad pain, I brought her home to our place to stay overnight as we thought it was muscular and she just needed to rest. My back injury flared up quite badly trying to assist Mum getting up and down from the bed/chair during her stay. My 35 year old son, Bradley, tried to assist and he ended up with a bad back that required strong painkillers, a visit to the Doctor, and a Physiotherapist. Mum is quite petite but it was more the awkward positioning that strained our backs. Mum was off to hospital by ambulance the next morning. Brad had a nasty fall around nine years ago and his back seems to be a soft spot for him. If it doesn't rain, it pours, right?!

While Mum is in hospital, I am minding this little bundle of cuteness.
Her name is Teenie and she is Mum's little doggie. Teenie is a Pomeranian and she is being such a good little girl while here with us.

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So, onto the book reviews -

First up, Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Roseanna has been a powerful attorney all her adult life but, when her law partner and best friend dies of a heart attack, she snaps. Uncharacteristically, Roseanna drives her car upstate until it pretty much runs out of fuel. From there, she finds herself living in a run-down shack, on 76 acres in the foothills of the Adirondacks, with no plans to go back to law. A mother and young daughter are squatters there and Roseanna allows them to stay, albeit reluctantly. There is a lot more to this story as other characters come on the scene making for an interesting read. Her son and her other law partner look for her and, when they find her, they both think Roseanna is nuts for giving up the life she had before. Roseanna's newfound lifestyle soon comes under threat. What will Roseanna do? Can she convince her son that she wants to stay put? Will she lose the property she desperately wants to keep?

I instantly connected with Roseanna's sudden desire to lead a simple, minimalist lifestyle. I love the way the story unfolds in such a lovely setting despite the hurdles that arise.  This is the second book I have read by Catherine Ryan Hyde and I'm sure it won't be the last. I loved it and gave it a 5 star rating!

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Next up - Without a Country by Ayse Kulin. Translator - Kenneth Dakan

This Historical Fiction novel begins with Gerhard and Elsa Schliemann, and their two children, fleeing Germany as Hitler's reign of terror takes hold. Along with many other German Jews in similar predicaments, they end up in Turkey.  Gerhard's qualifications as a medical professor are greatly needed by the hospitals and universities at a time when Turkey is undergoing expansion and major changes. The story of this family spans four generations and covers a lot of ground. Things go well for a while but there are troubled times ahead as several military coups cause a lot of unrest and anti-Semitism rears it's ugly head. Will they have to flee Turkey? Their children are now grown and with lives of their own. Are they in danger?

I was torn between giving this book three or four stars. I went with four because I did enjoy the book and I'm a bit of a history buff and learned a lot about Turkey's past. I considered the three stars because it seemed quite rushed to me.  It felt like the author was cramming three generations mostly into the second half of the book whereas I would have liked her to delve a little more into those later generations. Still a good book, nonetheless.

That wraps up the reviews for this week. 

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Hello fellow bookworms!

I'm happy to report that my daily reading continues at a fairly fast pace.

As I don't get out on big adventures myself, I am obsessed with living them vicariously through others. One of my many interests are canal boats...I've never been on one but I love the idea of living in one and travelling the canal systems. I even follow a few canal boaters on YouTube. I watch documentaries on rock climbers, mountain climbers, extreme snow-boarders, and people who are on personal adventures in foreign lands.

So it stands to reason that I enjoy books like that too which brings me to the first review for today....

The Journey In Between by Keith Foskett

Keith, aka Fozzie, takes us with him as he walks the El Camino De Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. It is an ancient path that leads through French and Spanish countryside. Hundreds of people travel this path each year and it is said to be a soul enlightening journey.  The people who do the walk are referred to as Pilgrims and they are given a special certificate at the end. Keith's walk/hike will cover 1600 miles.

If you're into real life, adventure stories that include the good, the bad, and the ugly, it is worth the read. I enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars. I already have another book by Keith in my Kindle library where he hikes The Pacific Crest Trail.

I also have two other books by artists I follow online. Each walked the El Camino De Santiago — at different times — and I may do reviews on those at a later date.  On Netflix, there is a documentary titled Footprints, the Path of Your Life which covers the journey of a group of strangers coming together to walk the Camino. I quite enjoyed that.

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Next up are a few books by an author who is new to me - Darcy Coates. She writes horror and suspense novels and I really like her writing style. Not too heavy and keeps you in suspense.

I just finished Hunted which starts out with the disappearance of a young female hiker in Ashlough Forest.  Fed up waiting on the police to do something about the disappearance, her brother and three friends set off in search for her. As they get further along the trail that they believe she took, it becomes very clear that something very sinister is at play in the forest. Will they make it out alive? 
I gave this one 5 stars. I didn't want to put it down.

The Folcroft Ghosts starts out with siblings, Tara and Kyle, having to go and stay with their estranged grandparents after their mother is involved in a serious accident. Their grandparents seem lovely enough but strange and unexplained things start to happen and Tara and Kyle find themselves in serious danger. Can their grandparents be trusted?
I gave this one 4 stars.

The House Next Door is told from a first person perspective.
Jo lives next door to a haunted house — Marwick House. She has seen quite a few people move in but they never stay long...some leave in a frantic panic in the middle of the night. Then Anna moves into the house and she and Jo strike up a friendship. Jo feels the need to watch over and protect Anna from the unfriendly ghosts that reside there. Can Jo save Anna or is her own life in danger too?
I gave this one 4 stars.

I will definitely be reading more books by Darcy Coates!

And that wraps up the reviews for this week.

Do you have a favourite author or genre? Please feel free to share in the comments.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Scribble Picnic - FOREST

Hi fellow Scribblers!

It's been one of those weeks and I very nearly didn't participate.  However, I caught a lucky break because there were some issues with the Mr Linky gadget on Michael's blog so he extended the time for us. Phew!  I swear I had nothing to do with it!

So this week's prompt is FOREST.

I LOVE hiking through the rain forests at Mount Tamborine here in South East Queensland so I figured I'd depict a forest walk.

Initial ink pen sketch and watercolour

And then to give it a bit of oomph by bumping up the contrasts between lights and darks. I used Sumi ink for the darks.

To see what everyone else did for this week's prompt, click HERE.
To find out how to join in on the fortnightly fun, click HERE.

The next prompt will be GOODBYE AUTUMN.  Not sure that it applies to me though as we will be saying goodbye to spring soon.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Scribble Picnic - Double

Hi fellow scribblers!

We had a choice of prompts this week with either JOLT or DOUBLE.

I chose double but it took me a while to decide what I actually wanted to do hence just a scribble for you this week.

We came to Australia when I was only four but, at fourteen years old, my Mum and we five kids went back to England for a three month holiday to see family. Dad remained behind as there was another motive for the trip — to decide if we would move back to England permanently. If we chose 'yes', Dad would sell up and follow us over.

While in England, I remember how entranced we kids were by the double decker buses there. We had never seen them here in Australia and it was such a huge treat when our Uncle took us on one for the very first time. Of course, we just had to ride on the top deck, didn't we?!  Needless to say, my 'Londoner' Uncle was more than a little embarrassed when we 'Aussie kids' kept screaming with delight while the other passengers behaved like they were in a library. My Uncle even apologised to the driver and nearby passengers as we exited the bus adding, "They're from Australia.". haha I'm sure the passengers were all greatly relieved to see the back side of those noisy Aussies. However, it still remains a very happy memory for me.

So here is my very loose graphite sketch and that's as far as I've managed so far...

To see what everyone else did for the prompt this week, click HERE.
To find out how to join us each fortnight, click HERE.

The next prompt is FOREST and due on the 14th. Hope to see you at there!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

To start the reviews this week, we have...

Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard

In 2016, UK ultra marathon runner Dion Leonard comes across a little stray dog while competing in a race across the Gobi Desert. Normally competitive and out to win, Dion ended up opening his heart to this little bundle of fur who seemed just as determined to run with him.  A true story of love and commitment as Dion fought various obstacles in an attempt to bring little Gobi home to the UK.

I loved this book! A great story and very deserving of the 5 star rating I gave it.

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Next up - A Funeral for an Owl by Jane Davis 

After a school yard stabbing, two teachers — Jim Stevens and a reluctant Ayisha Emmanuel — risk their careers to help a troubled young student, Shamayal. This story jumps about a fair bit as Jim is reminded of his own past and why he feels compelled to help Shamayal. Owls are featured too.

I have to admit that this book felt very disjointed at the start. It flitted from one character to the next, not to mention regular trips back into Jim's past. It's quite involved with more than one storyline going on. However I persevered and did reach a point where I was able to better connect to the flow of the story and its characters.  From that point, I started to really enjoy the book even though I felt the ending could have been better.  I gave it 3 stars but did lean towards 4 stars.

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That wraps it up the reviews for this week. Stay tuned for Scribble Picnic tomorrow.
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