Tuesday 25 September 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I have more book reviews for you today.

First up - A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley.

Some of you may have seen the movie 'Lion' which was actually based on this true story. I was familiar with Saroo's story via our Australian Current Affairs programs before the movie or book came out. Truly amazing story! I enjoyed both the movie and book but the book was naturally more in depth.

Born in 1981, Saroo at five years old, becomes separated from his older brother at a train station in remote India. Poor Saroo inadvertently finds himself on a train which takes him to Calcutta — changed to Kolkata in 2001 — one of the busiest train stations in India.  Can you imagine?!  It was like a sea of people busily rushing about with their own agendas and the pleas of a small five year old child went ignored or were not understood due to different regional dialects in India. Little Saroo was a long way from home and had to fend for himself on the streets of Calcutta which was a very dangerous place to be, especially at night time.

Saroo has many close calls but eventually finds himself adopted by a couple in Tasmania, Australia. The Kindle picture above shows the real Saroo when he arrives in Australia. In adulthood, Saroo starts to search for his biological family which is a monumental task considering he has no idea where to begin.  India is so vast and Saroo only had vague memories of the landscape near his home. It was like searching for a needle in a hay stack and Google Earth plays a major role. After 25 years, he is finally reunited with his birth mother.

I gave this book five stars! Loved it!


Next up - The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

Ludwig 'Lale' Sokolov's story is told by Heather Morris, a Screenwriter and native of New Zealand, now residing in Australia. The book is classified as Historical Fiction only because the author did make some changes for dramatic or creative effect but, according to the author's editor, the book is 95% true fact.
As with most Holocaust stories, it's difficult to read in a lot of areas — heart-wrenching, in fact. Young Lale, a Slovakian Jew, ends up at the notorious Auschwitz death camp where he is given the job of tattooing a number on his fellow prisoners as they arrive at the camp. This is how he first meets Gita and falls head over heels for her at first glance.  It's a story of love, endurance, hope, and survival against all the odds. 

Definitely worth reading — I gave it 4 stars. 

I have a few books on the go at the moment so I will be back with more reviews next Tuesday. 

Stay tuned...

Thursday 20 September 2018

Scribble Picnic - Explore

Hello dear friends!

The theme for this week is EXPLORE/EXPLORATION.

I really lived up to the Scribble Picnic title this week as all I have so far is a SCRIBBLE! haha My main problem was that I was overwhelmed with so many different ideas in my mind that I had trouble settling on one. I ended up going with a teddybear pilot ready to explore the skies in his plane — scribbled last night just before lights out.

Here is my very, VERY rough pencil scribble for now. I may make some minor changes as I go along.

To check out what my fellow Picnickers have done for this week, click HERE.

I will either add more pics to this post later today or I will show you all the end result next week. I have a busy day ahead with doggy-sitting among other things.

I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful week!

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I'm trying out something new on my blog — for the time being Tuesdays will be my 'reviews' days when I will be sharing my thoughts/reviews on books and art supplies mostly but other things might creep into the mix. Hope you enjoy...

Today, it's all about books!

I've still been on a reading frenzy since getting my Kindle.

So far this year I have read 49 books, 48 of which have been Kindle books, of my Goodreads Reading goal of 55 books. I had to keep extending it from the initial 25 books.

First up for this post - Courage in a White Coat by Mary Schwaner.
This book was beautifully written in a way where you felt like you were there sharing the experience right along with Dorothy. I loved it!

Dorothy is an American doctor working for a medical mission — first in India for ten years and then at a hospital in the Philippines for a couple of years before she and her small family end up in a Japanese POW camp when the Japanese took over control.

Early on in the book you share in Dorothy's many joys, triumphs, and obstacles as she becomes accustomed to life in India. Quite a challenge at times for a foreign female doctor because her gender and modern medical practises aren't easily accepted among the locals.

Dorothy uses her ingenuity many times in overcoming obstacles that present themselves. For example, there were no medical information books available to help train her Indian nurses, so Dorothy created her own medical sketchbooks in her own handwriting — including her own ink and wash sketches outlining medical maladies and procedures. She would write and draw with a dip pen and ink — then she would wash some colour on with her tea, or was it coffee? — I can't remember offhand but it gave a lovely watercolour effect. Those sketchbooks proved to be invaluable to her staff. She was also a very talented seamstress which came in very handy in their remote location.

After ten years in India, Dorothy had a short stay back in the States before heading off to the Philippines to continue her practise at a hospital. However, two years later, war would have a profound effect when the Japanese took over the area where they were stationed. Dorothy's ordeal with her young family in the POW camp was horrific and you constantly fear for their lives and for the other prisoners. People, including children, died from malnutrition and other ailments. They were literally starving to death under the constant threat of beatings or execution. Heartbreaking stuff.

I initially gave this book a four star rating but changed to five stars because, apart from being so well written, it left a big impression on me. Well deserved.


Next up we have The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee.
Another amazing book about one woman's ordeal as she recounts her escape from North Korea. You'd think getting out of North Korea and safely across to China would mean her ordeal was over but, in fact, it was only just beginning. Hyeonseo's courage and determination is to be commended. It was touching to see strangers reach out to help her at great risk to their own safety but there were those she shouldn't have trusted at all and that led to some scary predicaments.

Hyeonseo later attempts to help her mother and brother escape North Korea too and that is yet another harrowing and hair-raising ordeal. There are times you lose hope that they will make it at all. At other times, you feel so grateful for the kindness of strangers — even an Aussie guy played a huge role in helping Hyeonseo and she was in awe that he wanted nothing in return.

I have read a few books by people sharing their accounts of escaping North Korea and each perspective is just as interesting and as horrifying as the last. The scary part is that these experiences happened not that long ago and it is believed that the North Korean regime still starves and kills its own citizens to this very day — prisons, labour camps, and executions for what we would deem as minor infractions by starving citizens are the norm there.

I gave this book 5 stars! I was on the edge of my seat a lot of the time worried sick that Hyeonseo, and later, her family would be caught and sent back to North Korea which would mean certain death for them.  This book was a harrowing read but it was also a beautiful and touching story about the endurance and courage of the human spirit.


I have more book reviews coming next Tuesday so stay tuned...

Sunday 16 September 2018

Sunday musings

Hi everyone,

I know I said I'd be back with a book review post and I will....just not today.

I moved my workspace yet again so I could have more things at my fingertips. On the wall opposite, there is now a big white cupboard housing more of my regular art supplies.

Here is my main workspace...loving it so far!

If I want more light at my desk throughout the day, I can just pull the vertical blinds fully across.

I haven't been doing daily sketching but I did drag out my sketchbook to work on another Sktchy portrait last week.

Still a work in progress....

I seem to have lost the creative urge lately — maybe because I've been feeling down in the dumps with daily pain — either back or hip, or both. Scribble Picnic is starting back up on Wednesday so that might give me a bit of a boost to snap out of the doldrums.

Speaking of creativity...check out this masterpiece! Spider webs amaze me...all that work and effort! This one has a regular type web above and some sort of conical shape of web just below but both appear to be connected...never seen that before. I wonder if both webs were created by the same spider?

I will leave you with another masterpiece — taken just after we had a spot of rain. The rainbow span was huge and the photo just doesn't do it justice.

I will be back soon with those promised book reviews...

Monday 3 September 2018

Sunrises, carrot cake and an imposter

It's been over three weeks since I last posted on my poor old blog. What can I say — not much has been happening of late apart from bad pain days, rest, and lots of reading. Sadly, not much sketching.

OH, and I've been doing some baking — banana cakes, ginger cakes with lemon icing, and even a carrot cake — the latter being my latest triumph in veganised recipes right down to the vegan 'cream-cheese' icing.  They were all delicious! I only managed to get a pic of the carrot cake because, when it comes to home-made treats in this house, I can tell you they have a habit of disappearing very quickly.


Yesterday did not get off to a good start when Bradley alerted me to the fact that someone was impersonating me on Instagram. This unscrupulous person had created a fake profile using my own profile pic with a similar username. They then Followed all the people who were Following MY own Instagram feed as, more often than not, especially if people think it's you, they will Follow you back. Well, some did follow the impostor back as they thought it was just me starting a new account. The impostor then sent out Direct Messages in the hope that people, thinking it was me, would click on a malicious link within the message.
Luckily, we got onto the issue quickly. I alerted my Followers via a post on Instagram. A few of my followers blocked and reported the offender to Instagram, as did I.  To Instagram's credit, they promptly removed the account before any real damage could be inflicted on my friends. It pays to be alert to how these impostors work.


Yesterday also happened to be Father's Day here in Australia. It's hard to believe it's been over three years since my Dad passed away at 82 years old. Father's Day just isn't the same without him here. I still miss him terribly. Here he is with Mum back in 2010.

We've had a few foggy mornings of late —

Taken on August 29th at 6am

An hour later with the sun making an appearance through the fog. I love the eerie feeling that comes with fogs.

This lovely pink sunrise was taken at the end of July

I love a cloudy sky too — especially a cotton ball sky. These were taken early August.

Some rain has been forecast until Friday which we do need. The gardens and lawns will love it! 

I hope you all have a beautiful and blessed week. 

Stay tuned for some upcoming book reviews...