Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Thank you all so much for all the beautiful and caring comments on my last post, and for messsages sent privately, regarding the passing of our last little doggy, Jack. They were so appreciated. Cody and Jack will be forever in our hearts and it comforts me to think that they are together now.

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I'm trying to get back into a routine so here I am with more Tuesday book reviews. I am currently at 62 books of my 80 book goal for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I do love to read and I am a fairly fast reader, especially since getting my Kindle last year, so there's still hope I will meet the goal by the end of December.

On with the reviews - 

First up is - Have You Seen Luis Velez by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Raymond feels like he doesn't belong. He lives with his mother's new husband and step-siblings and sees his father and his new wife on weekends. His father's wife doesn't seem to like Raymond at all. His best friend has moved away and Raymond feels even more alone. He meets a 92 year old blind woman living in his building who seems persistent on asking anyone who passes if they have seen Luis Velez? Raymond also finds a stray cat that touches his heart and, worried about its safety, takes it to Mildred's apartment. Mildred, though reluctant at first, takes in the cat and a friendship starts to grow between her and Raymond.

It turns out that Luis Velez was Mildred's caretaker until he didn't show up one day leaving her to fend for herself. Raymond steps in to help her as he is concerned for Mildred and worries that she is giving up. So he sets himself a mission to track down Luis Velez.

My thoughts - I'm a big fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde's heartwarming stories. I shed quite a few tears throughout this book as Raymond crosses paths with lots of people in his quest to find Luis Velez. He and Millie become very close and their friendship helps him cope with his own feelings of not belonging. I gave this one a 5 star rating.

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Next up - The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

At the start, this book takes us to France in 1939. Vianne bids farewell to her husband when he leaves for the front never believing that the Nazis would invade France. She is devastated to find out she was wrong, especially when an enemy officer takes up residence in her home. She has a young daughter and she also has friends who are Jews so, when the Nazis start rounding up Jews for the camps, the situation reaches crisis point.  Vianne makes some high risk decisions which could put them all in imminent danger.

Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is only 18 years old and lives with Vianne until she can no longer cope with an enemy living in the house. Her outspoken attitude could prove dangerous for them all. The sisters have a bit of a rocky relationship and criticise each other. Isabelle ends up moving away and working undercover for the Resistance. 

My thoughts - I LOVED this book! I LIVED in this book! Both sisters had to deal with some horrific circumstances. The relationship with Isabelle and her father was non-existent but further things come to light on that score as the book progresses. The author portrays the heroic natures of 'ordinary' people in times of crisis. I cried, no, I sobbed, on quite a few occasions so be forewarned to have those tissues handy. It scored a 5 star rating from me!

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Lastly - Becky: The Heartbreaking Story of Becky Watts by Her Father Darren Galsworthy

In 2015, 16 year old Bristol schoolgirl, Becky Watts, was murdered and dismembered by her own stepbrother, Nathan Matthews. The crime shocked the nation and totally devastated her family. Darren, her father, writes this heartfelt and heart-wrenching account of Becky's life and the ultimate betrayal by a boy he had raised as his own. 

I had previously watched a crime video about Becky's murder on YouTube so, when this book showed up in my recommended reading list via Amazon Kindle, I bought it.  Understandably, Darren Galsworthy's world fell apart after learning of the unspeakable crime that stole his daughter from him. He was clearly a devoted and loving father.  Darren's book takes us back to the beginning, to before Becky was born.  He shares many fun and happy times that the family experienced together before it all came to a shocking end years later.

I felt heartbroken for Darren, his wife, Anjie (step mum to Becky), and for Becky's brother, Daniel. I gave this book 5 stars!  

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On that sad note, I will wrap up the reviews for this week.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Goodbye to our precious boy, Jack

This year has been a tough one in more ways than one. I lost my fur-kid and best-friend, Cody, in February after a battle with Cushing's Disease. Then my LARS hip tendon surgery was in early May of which I'm now halfway through the recovery period of ten months. This was followed by Bradley's wisdom teeth removal surgery in June. I then came down with a severe chest infection that was very painful and debilitating which took two months to recover from. We then learned that my sister-in-law (ex-husband's sister) passed away on August 27th which came as quite a shock. Colleen was only a year younger than me. I still can't get my head around it. Cancer sucks!

Then on October 2nd, we said a very sad and tearful goodbye to our last little doggy, Jack. He was around 14 years old, 90% blind, had bad teeth and arthritis among other things, and he was suffering. We knew it was time but it was still a hard decision to make nonetheless.

Jack found his way to our door on my Dad's birthday back in September of 2010. I had been preparing for my daughter's upcoming wedding on October 2nd which turned out to be the date on which Jack passed away 9 years later. Jack was severely malnourished and riddled with fleas and ticks. I also felt Jack had suffered abuse to some degree because he became very fearful whenever voices were raised. He was also favouring his rump area which was very stiff. I remember wondering if he'd been kicked hard and/or injured. The vet felt the same. Jack had no microchip which made it near impossible to find his owner. We asked around, notified local vets and visited pet shops, leaving our details just in case but it was all to no avail. In the end, we figured we would keep him as the vet had advised. We didn't want him ending up at the high kill shelter because they give them only three days to be collected before they put them to sleep.

So Jack was then micro-chipped and officially became a much loved member of our family. The vet estimated his age to be between 4 and 6 years old which meant he was around 14 years old when he passed. He bonded quite well with Cody too.


Jack had clearly been an outdoor dog in his previous home as he was not house-trained. He learned quickly thanks mostly to watching Cody. I remember that Jack loved to play tug 'o war in his younger years. He would pick up a toy and continually nudge it into someone's leg until they played with him. He was also known as the 'squeak destroyer' because he would destroy every squeaker toy within seconds of getting it. Poor Cody loved his squeaker toys too and we did try to keep Jack away from Cody's favourite ones but we usually lost the battle.

Jack was clearly a Jack Russell terrier/Shih-Tzu mix, hence his name, and like the breed in general, he was very territorial. In his eyes, no other dogs, or people for that matter, were allowed to walk past our house even if they were on the opposite side of the road. He would bark and carry on like they were a threat to his home and family. Cody soon followed suit and we then had two barking maniacs whenever they spotted other dogs or people, and even cars parking, in view of our house.

Jack tended to be an all round family dog until the last five years of his life when he started to follow my eldest son, Bradley, around. He would even sleep in Bradley's room every night. He became Bradley's shadow as Cody had been mine. Jack definitely classified himself as Bradley's best friend and vice versa. He would even stand outside Brad's door waiting patiently to go in. He will be greatly missed, that's for sure.




Dearest Jack,
Thank you for all the many special moments you gave us. We were blessed to have you in our lives. No doubt, you are now running free of pain with your 'brother', Cody. We love you both so much and know that neither of you will ever be forgotten. Our hearts are forever stamped with your names. I hope to see you again some day. xo


Jack Lewis 
19/9/2005 approx. to 2/10/2019
Forever in our hearts

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” — John Grogan

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books & a quick update

Not long after my last post — yep, almost a month ago — I came down with a terrible chest infection followed straight after with the flu. I was bed-ridden and in a lot of chest and back pain from all the deep coughing which totally exhausted me.  About all I could manage during my sickness was to read my Kindle and watch Netflix. Anything else was too draining. It took three doctor's visits and 2 courses of different antibiotics to get on top of the cough. I'm still recovering but, on a positive note, yesterday was the first day I've felt half-human again despite still coughing, blowing my nose constantly, and some lingering muscle pain. I hadn't been sick like that in quite a few years.

On with the reviews —

First up is Down Under by Bill Bryson
This book is titled - In a Sunburned Country - in the USA

Bill Bryson is a travel writer and this book caught my attention because he was writing about his travels in Australia. Bryson first visited Australia in 1992 and, from what information I can find, this book was first published in 2000. Naturally, a lot has changed in Australia in almost two decades but, for the most part, it was at a time I remember and can identify with. I liked how he portrayed the Aussie sense of humour and how laid back we can be, especially when it comes to all the dangerous creatures we share this country with. He also expresses clearly how vast Australia actually is and how much of it is uninhabitable.

I thought this book would mostly focus on his personal experiences and travels in this country which it did, however, Mr Bryson also goes into A LOT of Australia's history even pre-Captain Cook times. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the history lessons too — I loved history at school — but the history aspect could get a tad boring at times. Of course, bear in mind, I was quite sick when I read it so may not have always been in the mood for some history lessons. Taking all that into account, I gave it a 5 star rating.

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Next up - The Thing About Clare by Imogen Clark

This book spans back and forth over 4/5 decades and focuses around the lives of Dorothy Bliss and their four children - Miriam, Clare, Anna, and Sebastian.  Dorothy's husband, Frank, is on the scene but not a focal point in the book. In her later years, Dorothy dies, supposedly without a will. However, not long before she passes, Dorothy entrusts Anna to find her Will, plus a letter to Clare, with instructions to burn them both. Why? Does Anna follow her mother's instructions? What is it about Clare?

I loved Dorothy's Irish way of speaking in the book. I enjoyed the book but not really sure the story-line was very effective overall. It hints early on in the book that Clare's parentage may be in question and the possible reason she was always different to her siblings — the tear-away of the family and very rebellious. Each sibling wrestled with their own issues at different stages of their lives so I'm not sure Clare really had a valid excuse for her behaviour. Guess you'd have to read it to understand what I mean.  I was tossing between 3 and 4 stars and the 3 stars won out.

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Lastly, my Amazon First Reads choice for August - The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne

Jess, a grieving mother, finds herself in Pine Lake after her car runs out of fuel, among other issues. As luck would have it, she lands a job as a caregiver to elderly Lucy who is rumoured to be the witch of the mountain town. Lucy seems eccentric, has a keen interest in crossword puzzles, and seems to know things before they happen. Star, a teenage runaway, is invited to Lucy's home. Like Jess, Star suffered a tragedy, and unbeknown to them, their paths have crossed for a reason. Jess lost her 8 year old son while Star watched her best friend die. Lucy seems to be guiding them in a certain direction. Has a call from beyond the grave brought them together?

I read this book, on and off, over a period of 36 hours. I found it so hard to put down. LOVED it!  There are mysterious happenings afoot right from the start and it keeps you wanting to turn the pages to seek answers. It does not disappoint while it builds to a climatic ending. I gave it 5 stars!

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And that wraps up the reviews for this week. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I always find it interesting how two people can read the same book and have vastly differing opinions on it. Same with movies, I guess.

So up first up today is —

My Grandmother sends her Regards and Apologies by Fredrik Bachman

A story about 7 year old Elsa — going on 30, in my view — and how she adores her Grandmother and sees her as a superhero. Elsa is very close to her Grandmother but not so much her mother.  Elsa is bullied at school on top of dealing with her parents divorce. To get Elsa's mind off her troubles, Granny tells many fairy-tale-like stories about the Land of Almost Awake and the roles that she and Elsa play in the kingdom. In a roundabout way, this helps Elsa deal with the hard times she is facing. When Elsa's Grandmother is no longer around, she tasks Elsa to deliver letters of apology to the people who live in the same apartment house. As she delivers the 'sorry' notes, Elsa begins to see the connections between the fairy-tale and the people who cross her path.

My thoughts - This book got a lot of five star ratings but I was so bored to tears. I found the back-and-forth between the fairy-tale world and reality to be somewhat confusing and a real annoyance to me.  I wanted to like this book because I enjoyed A Man Called Ove so much...written by the same author. Yes, there were some touching parts but, for the most part....I found it boring! I gave this book only 1 star.

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Next up, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga 
Balram Halwai, also known as The White Tiger, is the smartest kid in his village. He is born into a very poor Indian family where the caste system is designed to keep you in the poorer classes. He is sent to work in a tea shop and is later hired to be a rich man's chauffeur. He ends up moving to Delhi with the rich man and sees a whole new world which is out of his reach due to his own poverty. Balram hatches a plan to change all that and, shockingly, part of that plan involves murdering his master. 

My thoughts - This book is written in the form of a confession by Balram to a visiting Head of China. It delves into the seedy parts of life in India and the genuine struggle to survive if born into the poorer castes. It also shows how the actions of one can bring about consequences that effect their whole family.  It was interesting enough but I found it hard to connect with the characters and it was also on the boring side.  Maybe I'm used to reading the more romanticised versions on life in India. However, I did read 'A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley' and loved it.  Anyway, I gave this one 2 stars.

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I'll be back next Tuesday with more reviews....

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Recovery update after surgery

I know, I know....I did say I'd be back with a post on Wednesday but time clean got away from me and it's now Sunday already...

Since I last posted, Bradley, my eldest son had surgery to remove all his wisdom teeth plus a molar that was damaged by one of the wisdom teeth. He is now on Day 12 of recovery and doing really well. I think he will be glad to get off the soft food diet come Tuesday though. Soups, mashed veg, porridge, vegan yoghurt, vegan ice-creams, apple sauce, mashed banana etc. are all yummy but he will be happy when he can munch down a vegan burger or his regular granola cereal.
Pre-surgery
I can tell you that he didn't look this happy after the surgery.

About five days prior to Brad's surgery, I made the mistake of doing too much walking at a shopping centre, using only one crutch, and I ended up with strained oblique muscles on the left side of my back. I was laid up in bed for three days and every step was agonising, even with two crutches. Lesson learned not to overdo things. The muscle strain did recover enough where I was able to be at the hospital for Brad's surgery day. Angela, my sister, drove us there and stayed for the duration. She helped Bradley at the hospital where I was unable to. We would have been lost without her over the past couple of months and we are so very grateful for all her help.

I'm now managing to get around at home using a walking stick but I still use one elbow crutch when I go out because it gives me more support and stability.  My surgeon said to keep using the crutch if I felt I needed it. All in all, I'm happy with how I'm progressing with recovery. Still a long way to go with only 2 months done of a 10 month recovery but I'm glad the worst pain is over with.

I can also drive again which feels great! It's a little difficult getting in and out of the car because my operated hip gets crushed and pulled a bit, plus the steering wheel gets in the way, BUT I'm managing okay. I'm loving the freedom of being back behind the wheel again.

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The cat, Kya, is still hanging out here. It feels weird having a neighbour's cat practically living here but her not belonging to us. She is a sweetie though and seems to be getting quite attached to me.
She sleeps a lot! 

And likes high places

Eyes OFF, Missie!

Since my previous post about Kya, I had a visit from the owner for a second time —  nearly three weeks back — and the mystery of why Kya started showing up here just over two months ago is solved now. While here the second time, the owner told me that they bought a new kitten which Kya apparently hates and won't accept. Oh, and the owner remembered that Kya is actually 10 years old, not 7 or 8, as she bought Kya when her daughter was born. She also said that she feels we may end up with Kya as she seems to have chosen us anyway. Hmmmmm... I guess we will see what happens...

So, that's it for now....

I hope you have a great weekend! We've had rain on and off this past week but it's a fine day today (Sunday).

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I will put up a personal post tomorrow to update you on my recovery and my son's recent surgery.

For now, a review on some Kindle books I've recently read —

First up, Along the Broken Bay by Flora J. Solomon.

Gina Thorpe is an American expat living in Manila with her husband and young daughter. However in December of 1941 war breaks out in the Pacific and, when Japanese soldiers invade Manila, Gina and her daughter flee to the mountains with friends. Her husband is missing and Gina is encouraged to join the resistance so she is smuggled back to Manila to take on a new identity at a nightclub. 

Gina struggles to keep one step ahead of the Japanese as she comes under suspicion. Does she manage to avoid arrest and torture? Is her husband safe and alive? Will she reunite with her daughter? 

My thoughts - WOW! What a read! Flora Solomon knows how to tell a story. I lived in this book alongside Gina and found it hard to put down. It ran a gamut of emotions for me. I will definitely read more by this author and gave this one a 5 star rating.

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During my recovery from surgery, I've also finished The Imogen and Hugh Croft Mystery series by Katharine Pathak starting with Aoife's Chariot

Imogen is a wife and mother of three who also has a keen interest in solving mysteries. Along with the help of her psychologist husband, Hugh, and some family members here and there, Imogen uses her sleuthing skills to solve crimes/mysteries throughout the series. I enjoyed them very much and I do like Pathak's writing style. I had previously read Pathak's later series featuring DCI Dani Bevan which I enjoyed also.  

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Next up was my Amazon First Reads monthly choice titled Thin Air by Lisa Grey. This is book one is the new Jessica Shaw series. 

Private Investigator, Jessica Shaw, receives an anonymous tip via email. It's a missing child case but she instantly sees that the three year old child is none other than herself. Jessica immediately embarks on a mission to find her true roots and to solve the murder of her real mother which happened 25 years prior. The night her mother was murdered happened to be the same night Jessica was abducted. She can't question her father because he had recently passed away. Was he even her real father? Was her life as she knew it just an elaborate lie? Who sent the photo to her?  Were they involved? Why was her mother murdered? Will she uncover the truth before she herself becomes a target?

My thoughts - There are a few twists and turns with this one but I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely be reading more by this author. I gave this one 4 stars.

See you next Tuesday for more reviews.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

It's been a while

...but I'm still standing.  Well, on crutches, that is.

I had LARS gluteal medius tendon surgery on May 2nd and after four weeks being on two crutches — partial weight-bearing —I've now progressed to using one crutch — partial weight-bearing. Then I may need a walking stick for a while as there is still a long recovery ahead. My surgeon said my medius and minimus tendons were pretty beat up and the medius tendon had torn all the way through. He said to allow ten months for full recovery which takes me through to March 2020.

The first couple of weeks were real tough as it involved fairly intense pain whenever I moved.  I needed a lot of assistance, even with lifting my operated leg into bed. I'm told the first three months cover the most difficult part of recovery. I can drive again at 6 to 8 weeks pending the surgeon's approval...still in the non-driving stage. I will require physiotherapy at some point too. If you aren't squeamish and interested in seeing the type of surgery I actually had done, click LARS gluteal tendon repair surgery. I now have permanent internal stitches, a synthetic ligament, and a titanium screw in my hip. Suffice to say, my hip feels kinda weird but, I'm looking forward to a future of no pain or limping.

Bradley, my eldest son, has been a huge help during my recovery. Carrying my paraphernalia from room to room as well as carrying meals to the lounge-room TV tables. Basically being an extra pair of hands when I'm unable to do something. Hopefully, I will be able to return the favour when he has his wisdom teeth surgery later this month. I've been getting groceries delivered which has been great and I may even keep that going. My sister has been a blessing in so many ways — taking me to and from the hospital and my post-op appointment at two weeks, as well as helping out when needed. 

Over the past week I've had issues with severe back pain., particularly after bending over. I haven't been allowed to lie on my operated side since surgery and lying on my other side causes pulling, discomfort, and pain in my operated hip. So I've had to lie on my back which seems to have flared up my back. As you may remember, I had a back injury back in 2003 from a bad fall but I also have age-related wear and tear going on also — spinal stenosis, protruding L5 disc, and spondylosis. Lots of rest and heat packs required.

OH that reminds meI had my 60th birthday during my blog absence! My sister organised a family get-together in my honour and my nephew even organised a Vegan Key Lime pie for my birthday cake.  Beau, my son, also made a delicious vegan cheesecake especially for me. I got some wonderful gifts too and it was lovely to see everyone. I had a great time and felt totally spoiled! 

I'm still missing my sweet Cody every day, some days are worse than others. Jack has adjusted now although I'm not sure how much longer this sweet boy will be with us. He has health issues of his own too — age-related.

Here Jack is fast asleep in his bed. 

About a week prior to my surgery, this uninvited guest showed up one rainy night seeking shelter under our front entrance. I felt sorry for her and made the 'mistake' of putting out some warm milk and dog biscuits and she has barely left.  We have since bought cat biscuits. We thought she was a stray at first but later discovered that her owners live in the street opposite us. I've met the owners and they don't seem to mind that she is hanging out here.  I'm concerned with local council law stating that cat owners must keep their cats within their own boundary lines during the day and must be kept indoors at night. There has been a problem with roaming cats killing wildlife and messing in people's gardens for years now. You may remember that we had a huge problem with roaming cats in our street going back a few years. Anyway, Kya is 8 years old and so sweet. She visits nearly all the time now. Maybe we've made her too comfortable? I just hope she doesn't end up in a council cat trap and taken to the council pound where a grim fate could await her. It's just really odd to me that her owners have been in the street for nearly a year and she has only just recently showed up. Maybe Cody sent her?

I haven't sketched since January which sounds terrible, doesn't it? I've just not been in the right head space after losing Cody and so much has been going on in my life the past few months.

I have been feeling the pull of my sketchbooks again though so stay tuned...

Monday, 18 February 2019

Missing my best friend

I haven't been up to posting until today because, on Monday February 4th, I had an agonising decision to make and that was to say goodbye to my best friend of twelve years, Cody.
Cody - 2 years old (2008)

As you know Cody was battling Cushing's Disease and it was extremely taxing on his little body. He had developed a heart murmur and his gums were grey-white and tacky, a sign of dehydration despite the massive volumes of water he consumed — a symptom of Cushing's. He had become so lethargic and we all felt it was becoming too much for him.  The vet said that some little dogs muddle along while some go downhill very fast and, sadly, Cody was in the latter group.

There hasn't been a day gone by where I haven't shed tears for my little man and I'm even crying as I type this. I feel like I've cried an ocean already. I miss him terribly as Cody was like my little shadow. We were so very close and he was never far from my side and he would pine for me when I was not at home. It's hard coming home now and not being greeted by his excited barking and happiness to see us — lots of kisses and cuddles were always a must.
He came to us at 8 weeks old. Photo taken January 7th, 2007.
I will always be grateful to my nephew, Adam, for giving me such a precious gift.

Cody left an indelible mark on my heart as he did with his human siblings too. They took it very hard as they each have their special memories with Cody. As hard as it would have been for Aaron, it meant a lot that he was there with me and Cody until the very end. Cody was his first dog and I always joked that they were like litter-brothers.

Poor Jack is missing his 'brother' too. He seems a little lost no doubt wondering where Cody is. Breaks my heart.
Cody and Jack (2012)

I would often say that Cody looked like a little harp seal when he lay flat out on the floor.

I had my precious boy cremated and his ashes returned in a small silver urn. The house had felt so empty for the 5 days he was gone but, when his ashes came home, it didn't feel so empty anymore. I like to think that he is watching over us.

Dearest Cody, 
Thank you for being the most loyal and loving friend a girl could ever have. You made me feel so special and loved unconditionally. Know that you will always be in my heart and never forgotten. I love and miss you so much, my baby, but I'm sure we will meet again some day. 
Cody Lewis 
10/11/2006 - 4/2/2019
Forever in our hearts

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” — John Grogan

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I'm still reading daily which is something I'm really happy about. The Kindle just makes it so easy and I have already racked up over 70 books in my Kindle Library for 2019 — all waiting to be read. Love my Kindle so much!

So, a couple of months back, I signed up to Amazon First Reads. It's where members get to choose a book each month from the Editor's picks. The books are available to members before the publication date and I only pay $1.99 AUD. The reviews today are my first two First Reads.

First up is True Places by Sonja Yoerg
Suzanne's life pretty much runs like clockwork. She is the glue that holds her family together but she is feeling overwhelmed and taken for granted. Her teenage daughter is rebelling, her son is becoming more and more shut off from the family, and her OCD husband just doesn't see the underlying turmoil beneath the surface. He is work-focused and he knows Suzanne will be the perfect wife and keep everything running smoothly. And she does...until, one day, she takes a spur of the moment drive outside of town and her life changes.

On the outskirts of a forest, Suzanne finds a young teenager, barely conscious, very ill, and in desperate need of medical attention. Suzanne rushes her to the ER and feels committed to following up on the young girl's progress. It becomes clear that Iris has been living in the forest — off-grid — with her family and is terrified by the craziness of the city. Her mother is dead and, as authorities try to track down other relatives, Suzanne brings Iris into the family fold. That underlying turmoil starts to break through the surface as jealousies, expectations, and anger rear up in various ways.

Will Suzanne continue with her 'normal' life? Or will she claim back her own identity? Will Iris learn to live like a 'normal' teenager or is the wild woods calling her name? One thing is for sure, this family is falling apart...can their love for each other keep them together?

My thoughts - I loved the idea of a girl from the wild woods coming to live with a suburban family while the search is on for her relatives. Iris has an impact on them all to one degree or another, especially Suzanne. I liked the author's writing style and obvious love of nature. I enjoyed the book enough that I would most likely read another book by Sonja Yoerg. I rated this one 4 stars.

Next up - Blood for Blood by Victoria Selman
You've probably guessed already but yes, it's a British crime novel. Ziba Mackenzie is an ex-Special Forces profiler and she is on a train that crashes. She rushes about trying to help injured passengers including a dying woman who leaves Ziba with a puzzling message - "He did it. You have to tell someone". Shortly thereafter, a body is found with grotesque similarities to a murder committed 25 years ago. Ziba is pulled into the investigation and finds herself being stalked by the killer putting her own life in danger. Time is running out...

This was Victoria's first novel and also the first book in a series. I loved it and gave it five stars.

See you next Tuesday for more reviews.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Okay, fellow bookworms,

It's more a series review this week....

I started reading a Crime series (featuring DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans) by Joy Ellis and was instantly hooked. I even ordered a different crime series (featuring DI Nikki Galena and DS Joseph Easter) written by Joy Ellis too. I just love the way she writes! Good character development and, of course, being set in Britain is always a win for me. I LOVE watching British Crime series on TV so it makes sense I'd feel the same with books too.


Twenty years ago, a farmer and his wife are brutally murdered by a serial killer.

Twenty years on, a woman is brutally murdered in her upmarket home and Daniel Kinder fronts up at the police station and confesses to the crime. However, DI Jackman and DS Evans soon realise that it's not that cut and dry. Daniel Kinder can't seem to remember the first five years of his life and suspects his mother is the serial killer who committed the murder twenty years ago. Lacking any evidence that he committed the recent murder, they have no option but to let him go. Shortly thereafter, more murders occur.  The plot thickens and it's a race against the clock before any more lives are taken.

This was the first book in the series and I have since completed #2 - Their Lost Daughters; #3 - The Fourth Friend; #4 - The Guilty Ones; and I'm currently in the midst of #5 - The Stolen Boys. If you're into British crime, I'm sure you would enjoy her books too.  Check out the title links provided to learn a little more on each book. I gave practically all of them a 5 star rating.





And that's it for this week. Next Tuesday, I'll cover a couple of Amazon First Reads editions that I completed so stay tuned...

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Scribble Picnic - Holiday Party

Hello fellow Scribblers!

Sorry I've been MIA...if you read earlier posts, you will know why.  The past couple of months have been an emotional roller-coaster ride for me so I haven't been online much at all. I didn't find any time to sketch and I didn't feel the desire to sketch either...until today.  I had planned to have January off to rejuvenate a little but I couldn't let another Scribble Picnic go by.

So the prompt for this week is HOLIDAY PARTY.

With Christmas and New Year behind us, I immediately thought of our Australia Day holiday coming up on January 28th. A day when many Aussie households celebrate with Australiana-themed parties. I've been to a few Australia Day parties organised by various family members over the years and they are a lot of fun.

So, little Charlie the Koala, is all excited and decked out for the party he is off to.  He is wearing an Aussie park ranger uniform, Aussie hat with corks dangling to keep the flies away, a boomerang for the boomerang-throwing competition being held at the party and, of course, his eucalyptus gum leaf snack. OH, almost forgot — his Aussie thongs — which Americans refer to as 'flip-flops', I think.

It's only the initial pencil sketch for now but I will finish him later. As usual, I will most likely make some changes as I go along...could be minor or major changes.

Check out what my fellow scribblers have done for this week HERE.
Feel free to come along to our fortnightly picnic — find out how to join us HERE.

See you all at the party!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Hello fellow bookworms!

I hope that 2019 has started off well for you all. Mine has been busy so my usually fast reading pace slowed down a little but I am back on track now.

This week, let's start with....

Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper

A fictional story about, Melody, an eleven year old girl with cerebral palsy. Melody cannot speak or walk. She has a photographic memory and is very clever although, due to her disability, she is unable to communicate with others so her brilliance goes unnoticed.  She wants desperately to communicate and feels like she is going out of her mind trying to get the attention she wants. UNTIL Melody's neighbour comes up with a simple but nifty way to give Melody a voice! Melody is beyond excited and her story escalates from there especially when she attends school and they integrate the special needs kids in with a few of the regular classes.

I believe this book is mainly aimed at young adults but I enjoyed it a lot. There are parts that made me cry for Melody but mostly I was happy for her.  I gave this one 5 stars.

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Next up, Postcards from a Stranger by Imogen Clark

Cara is a wedding dress designer and lives with her father who has Alzheimer's Disease. Her mother died when she was young. She has a brother with a young family who lives some distance from her. Unfortunately he isn't much help as far as the father is concerned. Cara hires a nurse to help out as she is very busy with her at-home business. One day, Cara discovers a box of old postcards in the attic which causes her to suspect that her father has lied to her since childhood. Who sent the postcards and why would her father have kept them? Cara sets out to solve the mystery. Will the answers make or break her?

I loved this book so much that I ordered another by the same author. The book is told in dual timelines but I found it easy enough to follow. I gave this one 4 stars although I was torn between 4 and 5.

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Beneath an Indian Sky by Renita D'Silva

This story revolves around three women - Sita, a native of India who has ambitious goals; Mary, who lives in India (then under British rule) with her English parents; and Priya whose father suggests a trip back to India after she is mortified when she finds out that her husband has been cheating on her. 

This book spans more than 70 years starting in 1928.  The first part of the book mainly focuses on Sita and Mary who become steadfast childhood friends, along with Amin, a local Indian boy who is simply content to become a boatman.  In later years, one of the women will betray the other in a heart-wrenching way.  Priya is mentioned throughout the book but in a different timeline and she is connected to Sita and Mary. Will the truth ever prevail? 

I LOVED the author's description of India — the scenery, the smells, the sounds, etc. You can almost feel like you are there. I ran a gamut of emotions with this one. A wonderful book! I liked it so much I bought the previous six books written by the same author. Each is a standalone novel and not part of a series. I gave it 4 stars, although again, I was torn between 4 and 5 stars.

That wraps up the reviews for this week.

See you next Tuesday with more reviews.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year!


I know I've been slack as it's been almost a month since I last posted but I just had to hop on the computer and post for the start of the New Year.

I wish you all a very happy, creative, and blessed 2019! 

I have felt exhausted for most of the day after Brad and I followed through with our New Year's tradition of staying up all night to greet the dawn of the new year. We played Yahtzee and watched movies. I couldn't really dance this year due to my back and hip but we had a good time nonetheless. I tried to catch a nap earlier this morning but I've always had trouble sleeping through the day-time so it didn't work. An early night tonight is definitely on the cards.

What did you do for New Year's Eve?

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Thank you for the concern and well wishes for my 83 year old Mum after a fall in her back yard landed her in hospital in November. She is now back home with a Transitional Care Team visiting every second day to assist and help her with daily needs and physiotherapy etc. Mum is improving albeit very slowly. Osteoporosis and spinal fractures are no fun at all.

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I start 2019 with a certain amount of trepidation after learning that my elderly fur-kid, Cody, has a terminal illness (Cushing's Disease). I don't know how much longer he will be with us but I'm making every day count. Our other elderly boy is almost totally blind now and he has health issues of his own. Our vet said I would need to make some tough decisions in the near future. I trust that Cody and Jack will let me know when it's time to say goodbye. I am dreading it as they are my precious babies. I've already shed lots of tears.

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I'm looking forward to getting back into a more regular routine come February. I have big plans although a possible major surgery may be on the cards for me to repair the torn tendon in my right hip. If it goes ahead, my big plans may take a hit as my orthopaedic surgeon said it is a ten month recovery — the first three months being the hardest — but we'll see what happens. I am trying to stay positive and will discuss more on my plans in a later post.

I'm now off to have a Chamomile tea and then it's off to bed for me.

I will leave you with a pic I took this morning of the first sunrise for 2019.  I love that the crescent moon is featured too.

Nighty-night...
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