The Briefest of Updates

Heyyy!

You may have noticed my absence over the past week or so, and I feel I should explain. Last weekend I moved, which means I’m currently residing in that special circle of hell known as the-period-in-between-cancelling-your-old-internet-and-getting-it-installed-again. It’s trying, but I firmly believe challenges such as these are character building.

But on to more exciting things… I HAVE A HOUSE. I’ve refrained from talking about it as much as I could have (because I didn’t want to jinks it) but I am officially a homeowner! It’s all very scary and very exciting (and very tiring!). I promise to share some pictures with you soon! I’m just hoping to wade through this sea of boxes before sharing my home with the world!

In other news I’ve also been embarking on some exciting writing projects, but I’m keeping it zipped for now, and I’m also working on something else that is TOP SECRET for now, but will be revealed over the next couple of months…

I have lots of the usual arty and bookish things for you too, but unfortunately these are on standby until I get my internet up and running again. This is scheduled for the 30th, so the end is in sight! I should be back to my normal patterns after this involuntary blogging break, but please don’t forget about me while I’m gone!

D x

P.S. Also, this is the first (and probably biggest) thing I’ve managed to cross of my list of 52 Things, so go me!

{Book Chat} Memoirs & Autobiographies

Hey guys! Today something very exciting is happening, I’m co-hosting The Book Chat! Don’t forget to check out our host’s post here. This week the theme is all about Memoirs and Autobiographies… I have to say that nowadays memoirs scare me. It seems increasingly easy to get famous, and everyone to have fifteen minutes in the spotlight seems to want to write a book about it… and some of them really shouldn’t! It’s can be hard wading through the swamp, but here are a few memoirs that have crossed my path over the years…

My First 

Boy/Going Solo – Roald Dahl

Boy was my first experience of a memoir and I absolutely *loved* it. Roald Dahl is a true magician, capable of transporting you to fabulous worlds… I adored all of his books, but I remember being convinced that his autobiography would be less magical. I was wrong. I remember sitting on the floor in room (because I couldn’t wait until I reached the bed) and read it in one go. Boy is the story of Dahl’s childhood, filled with hilarious anecdotes and a touch of social commentary, but ends as he leaves school and gets his first job. There are simply no words to explain how happy I was to find Going Solo (the chronicle of his later years, that tells of his journeys with Shell Oil and later with the RAF), so that I could continue on the journey with him. I think Boy sparked my fascination with memoirs, and ever since the first time I turned the first page, I’ve been looking for another that would capture my imagination. Let me tell you know, it’s been slim pickings.

My Favourite

Escape – Carolyn Jessop

Carolyn Jessop was raised in a polygamist sect and at the age of eighteen was forced into a marriage with Merril Jessop, a man 32 years her senior. Escape is the story of her life in this world, a world so far removed from our own, and her quest for freedom. This is one of those books that I started and kept reading ‘just one more chapter’ until ‘uh-oh it’s 3am’. I love it so much I now have a Kindle copy and a hard copy. It’s completely fascinating, disturbing and hopeful in equal measures, and there is not a doubt in my mind that I will read this book again and again.

My Most Recent

700 Sundays – Billy Crystal

I enjoyed his stories, but there was no major gripping event. His narrative tone was exactly what I imagined… hyperactive. reasonably interesting.

Driving Over Lemons – Chris Stewart

I was probably over critical of this book, as Stewart is sharing a part of his life that I can really relate to: his emigration to rural Spain. I moved to Spain when I was 12, and lived somewhere very, very similar, so I really picked up on some of the tiny problems that normal people probably wouldn’t notice (mostly discrepancies with his translation of Spanish swear words). Even so, I really liked the book (and it really made me nostalgic for growing up on the side of a mountain!. Stewart has a really easy voice to get a long with, and I have another of his memoirs ready and waiting on my Kindle.

Council of Dads – Bruce Feiler

This memoir had a very interesting premise; a man is diagnosed with cancer and decides to put together a group of men who can act as fathers to his daughters. All of the chosen men had some sort of impact on his life, and would be able to teach the girls something different about their Dad. The book is written in the form of letters, and tells of his encounters with his chosen few. To be honest, I’m torn about this one. It was very well written, and it was an interesting concept, but it didn’t make me feel anything. I wanted to be frantic, and heartbroken, and hopeful… but none of that came across.

My Future

These are a few more memoirs I have adorning my shelves right now…

Bossypants – Tina Fey

The Vow – Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

Running with Scissors – Augusten Burroughs

The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls

I’ll get to them one day – but generally I like to take long breaks in between memoirs, they’re not my fave.

So… those are my thoughts on Memoirs & Autobiographies, fancy sharing yours?

To join in…

1. Please follow the host and co-host

2. Visit a few other book chat links and show some support.

3. Link back here in your post.  Or use the button available here.

4. Old posts are always welcome if you have blogged on the topic before.

I seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties, and the linky list refuses to show up, so for now, please link your posts here. I’ll update this post once I’ve figured out how to fix it!

D x

Let’s Catch Up

Today Book Chat is back after a short hiatus (wooo!) – for those of you just tuning in, Book Chat is (you’ve guessed it) a chance to chat books, hosted by The Tangerine.

Today’s theme is ‘Let’s Catch Up’, so I’m going to talk about some of the books I’ve been reading recently. As you know, this summer I’m attempting all the books from the Richard and Judy Book Club list. I’ve already reviewed Tigers in Red Weather, This is How it Ends and The Sea Sisters, but now I have a few more to update you on…

Close My Eyes – Sophie McKenzie

This novel tells the gripping novel tells the story of a woman who is told one day that the daughter she thought was still-born is actually alive, and her husband was complicit in whatever happened all those years ago. The magic is that it’s never clear if Geniver is crazy, or if she’s been lied to by her husband, or sabotaged by one of the enemies they’ve accumulated; we’re left in the dark until the final chapters, and even after that, the final page is simply chilling. Well worth a read.

Natural Causes – James Oswald

As a crime novel aficionado, I’m always on the look out for a new team of detectives to follow. Natural Causes is Oswald’s debut, and I can only describe it as FAB. After reading the blurb, I was a tad worried that it would be written in a dialect (my biggest pet hate), what with being set in Edinburgh, but fortunately everything was impeccably written and easy to understand. The mystery was baffling, and (unusually for me) I didn’t unravel it by the end; there was a great (potentially supernatural) twist at the end which has really left me eager for Novel #2 of the Inspector McClean series.

The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker

I knew I wouldn’t enjoy this book… I can’t explain how, I just knew it. I had to renew it twice before I even started it. After reading about a third of it I just gave up for good. I couldn’t empathise with any of the characters; I didn’t find the plot very substantial… it just seemed quite wishy-washy and two-dimensional. Oh well, you can’t love them all… and as reading is my hobby, not my job, I’m determined to only follow through with the novels that I enjoy.

I have four R+J books left (to read before the end of August) : The Light Between Oceans, The Sea Change, The Universe Versus Alex Woods and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky; but as I’m dependent on my local library right now, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get to them all!

So what have you been reading lately? Is there anything you’re hoping to get to soon?

D x

P.S. For a more comprehensive overview of my reading habits, check out Readarama Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Readarama Update

Firstly I’d like to say WOW. I’m so humbled and grateful for the kind responses to my slight identity crisis yesterday. I hope you’ll all go and check out Lynn, Janet, Beth and Buffy and leave them some love (and send some good thoughts out for Mog – I don’t have a link to her blog, but she’s one of the fab five who gave me the lift I needed yesterday). They reminded me of the things I love about blogging, and made me realise that people actually enjoy reading the things I write.

I have a few scheduled posts ready to go, but other than those, I’m going to have a little bit of down time and get working on some new things (top-secret at present!), also I’m buying a house this week so I’m kind of busy.

And now back to today’s posts…

A week or so ago I shared an update of my Readarama progress (the Penguin hosted challenge involving reading at least one book per week for the whole of 2013), but I only went up to the end of May… so today I thought I’d bring you up to date.

w/c 3rd June

Tigers in Red Weather – Liza Klaussman

w/c 10th June

Week off with the legitimate excuse of final exams!

w/c 17th June

This is How it Ends – Kathleen MacMahon

The Sea Sisters – Lucy Clarke

The Biscuit Witch – Deborah Smith

w/c 24th June

Close My Eyes – Sophie McKenzie

w/c 1st July

Natural Causes – James Oswald

Becoming Indigo – Tara Thompson

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

w/c 8th July

The Sweetest Hallelujah – Elaine Hussey

w/c 15th July

Lady MacBeth: On the Couch – Alma Bond

Little Joe – Michael E Glassock III

w/c 22nd July

Bones in Her Pocket – Kathy Reichs

w/c 29th July

Cosmo – Spencer Gordon

As I said before, I have many a review pending, just be patient with me!

D x

Stuck

So here I am again. I have to be honest about something… I feel like I’m in a bit of a blogging rut. I have lists and lists of post ideas and books to review and yet my motivation levels are at zero.

I can’t tell you why exactly, because I don’t even know myself. Maybe I need to take some down time and review what I post on here? No, that’s unrealistic… I’m far too obsessive to let it slide. I like to fix things not let them fester.

My art related posts are mostly unaffected as the images carry most of the load. The worst off seem to be my beloved book posts, and it breaks my heart. I’ve been reading back through my last few reviews and I can’t help but think they’re quite flat and ‘meh’ (which is now seemingly one of my favourite adjectives). I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of ways to inject a bit of life into this elephants’ graveyard known as Doing it the Open Way. But I’m blank. I never used to have to force the writing… it used to drip from my fingers, but now I’m just stumped.

I always thought my blogging problems would come from having no ideas; I wasn’t prepared for the words to fail me. So, I’m appealing to you, dear readers, to help me out of this unprecedented slump.

What do you do to keep yourself (and others) interested? Do you ever use prompts to help start your reviews, or do you have a formula you rely on every time?

Also (and I’m not looking for an ego massage) would you tell me, with total honesty, the things you think do or don’t work about this blog? I have to admit that my self-deprecating soul might be a bit biased, so any guidance offered would be much appreciated!

D x

A Quirky Picnic

The latest Quirky Crafts challenge is live! This time the theme is ‘A BBQ or Picnic’ (very fitting for this weather, don’t you think?), and was sponsored by Crackerbox Palace; check out their online shop for a great line of rubber stamps.

As design examples for this challenge, I came up with these two art journal pages:

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For my first spread I used a ‘spontaneous background’ created when cleaning of my brushes and stamps. The Watermelon from Crackerbox Palace was coloured with normal felt-tips (with a few gel-pen doodles), before being covered with strips of paper from a Mandarin poetry book. I redefined the watermelon and coloured those areas with Prismacolor pencils and then added a gel-pen quote and border (quote reads “Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it” – Russell Baker)

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I started this second page with a quick sketch – using two felt-tips I drew a picnic blanket kind of pattern before blending with a waterbrush. I coloured the flower (and dots) with Papermania Watercolour Markers and an orange Sakura Souffle pen. The ants were doodled with a PITT pen, and the quote was added using Tipex (and outlined in black).

For more inspiration, and details on how to link up, visit the original challenge post here.

See ya later!

D x

P.S. If you’re a twitter user, use the #abloggers tag to connect with artists, illustrators and other creative bloggers. We’ve also started weekly #ablogger chats, on Wednesdays at 7.30pm GMT, come join in!

Stencils, Masks and More

Heyy!

Today I wanted to share another Life Book page with you (if you’re interested, you can still sign up for Life Book, just click here). This one was inspired by Joann Loftus’s lesson ‘Stencils, Masks & More’ (she of the very cool, but very fiddly stained glass window lesson).

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[sorry about the glare]

 

I really quite enjoyed creating this page even if it did bury me with a frustration or two… firstly I built the silhouette on really thick card so it was pretty hard to cut out neatly, and then I picked a pale colour for my first layer, so you couldn’t see the cool stencilling technique, and then my stencil betrayed me and allowed too much seepage. And just when I thought it was all over… I spilt my water jar on it.

But I decided to make lemonade so to speak, and scrape a quote into the soggy paint layers, which gives you a little peep of the journalling underneath. Despite all my troubles, I really love how this one looks. It’s entirely random, and a lot of it was remedial, but sometimes the best spreads are!

So have you been doing anything creative recently? If you’re an art journaller, link your pages up here, and I’ll come and check out what you’ve done!

Have a great weekend!

D x