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. I'm assuming they chose the kitten over her which breaks my heart but it does explain lots. 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 their cat roams about.  I'm concerned with local council law stating that cat owners must keep their cats indoors 24/7. 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. I think there is more to the story...

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.

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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