Little Joe

Following the tragic death of his parents a young boy goes to live with the grandparents he barely knows in Round Rock, Tennessee. 

This book appealed to me because of my literary obsession with the 1940’s, so I was thrilled to receive an advance review copy from NetGalley/Greenleaf Book Group! I’m thrilled that Little Joe is the first in a four-part series by  Michael E Glassock III; the second (The Trial of Dr Kate) is now sat at the top of my ‘to be read’ pile.

BeFunky_What_I_Loved.jpg

The writing is just fabulous. From the offset I was sucked in. I loved the ‘small town’ shenanigans and Southern charm dripping from each and every page. I generally adore anything even slightly historical and this book combine two of my firm favourites – World War II and racial tensions in the American South, but both are dealt with in an extremely subtle way; they provide context to Little Joe’s story, rather than being the full focus of the novel.

Plot-wise there was a good balance between quaint, amusing moments, shared frustrations and pure heartbreak. Glassock seems to have the knack of making you feel what his characters feel. All in all it’s a very well-rounded read; you can empathise with both the troublesome child and the strict grandparents… which is a real novelty. With most books you definitely feel like you’re on someone’s side. Having said that, my favourite characters had to be Joe’s grandparents. They had quirks, they had layers, and they had an air of mystery lingering around them. Joe may be curious about their secrets, but so are we.

BeFunky_DSCN1903.jpg

I thought the ending left a lot to be desired. The novel as a whole was consistently steady-paced until the final chapter. The ‘big event’ was massively anti-climactic (and quite out-of-place considering the character development that had gone on). And then the final scene was just pointless, it seemed almost like an afterthought to be honest, as though the author just wanted to write something to close the book. I would have preferred it to end a little more decisively.

BeFunky_Youll_like_it_if.jpg

You loved Boy by Roald Dahl. I’d also recommend it to anybody who loves something a bit retro, or tends to go for books with quirky characters. If, like me, you don’t really like reading novels told from a child’s perspective, this one might just change your mind…

Advertisements

How to Avoid a Soggy Bottom

With How to Avoid a Soggy Bottom, food historian and chef Gerard Baker (no pun intended) provides a place for the answers to all the baking questions you’d feel too embarrassed to ask.

The first thing I noticed about this book is that it’s really beautiful to look at. Both the covers and the title page of each chapter have a quirky vintage fabric style design which I just love. The simple palette of colours used in the design create a clean, classic looking volume. Yes, it may lack the edgy food photography of most recipe books, but the monochrome line drawings evoke more of a traditional ‘1950’s kitchen’ vibe.

Divided into five sections, How to Avoid a Soggy Bottom cover the main cornerstones of baking: Cakes and Biscuits, Bread, Pastry, Desserts and Flavours and Fillings. Each of these sections is then divided further; we have a slice of history, where we learn about the origins and development of different baked goods; we have definitions of the occasionally baffling baking lingo you see in most recipes; we have technical tips and then a troubleshooting section, all peppered with classic recipes that every wannabe baking queen (or king) should have in her repertoire.

I consider myself a fairly seasoned baker, I’ve been wielding a rolling-pin and a bag of desiccated coconut since I was about three years old, so a lot of the definition of terms were unnecessary for me, but I think this would definitely be a useful book to have in your stash if you’re just starting out. I did, however, find it quite useful to read the explanations of why each step of the baking process is so important. My naturally impatient little self often feels inclined to amp up baking temperatures and ‘forget’ to chill my pastry, so I’m glad that now I know all my recipe books aren’t just out to suck the fun out of baking… we’ll have to see if my breads and cakes receive better reviews now that I have superior knowledge…

I adore cook books; I buy them way faster than I can read them, let alone cook from them, so when it came to How to Avoid a Soggy Bottom I thought the recipe sections would be my favourite part. But do you know what, they weren’t. I mean, those Cocoa Macaroons are at the top of my ‘to bake’ list, and I could quite literally live of that Sourdough Bread, but from a reading point of view, I absolutely loved the history of baking. I think this book would make a really fun gift for anyone who, like me, enjoys the random side of history. I’d also recommend you give it to the man in your life for Christmas if he needs a few tips in the art of caking!

Did you know that the word ‘cake’ comes from the Old Norse word kaka? (A word that has entirely anti-cake connotations nowadays!) Or that it was the Romans we have to thank for the invention of pastry?

No? Well neither did I. I think I may have to find myself another book on baking through the ages to read during Non Fic November… it’s all so weird and interesting!

D x

Heart Sight Heart Light

Hellooo! I’ve been a bit lax with posting my art journaling endeavours recently, and I’ve been even more lax about keeping up with the Life Book lessons… I’ll get more efficient I PROMISE but sometimes work and sleep and study just get in the way of everything! The good news is I’ve been given the spare room to turn into an art studio (yay!), and my Saturday tutorial has been cancelled this week, so very, very soon I’ll have a designated creative space with places to store my stash. I’m pretty damn excited, I’m not gonna lie! It’s so much easier to stay inspired if you don’t have to pack everything away once you’re finished using it. Plus, it will be really convenient having somewhere to leave things to dry!

Today I wanted to share the last Life Book page I completed – this one came from Effy Wild’s Heart Sight Heart Light lesson:

IMG_20131006_172226_057-1

 

I have to say, I’m slightly in love with this background! As a lot of my art stuff is still currently packed up in boxes, I didn’t have any tissue paper to hand, so I had to improvise. I ended up using some paper napkins with a floral design to create the texture, and I really like that in some areas the printed lines shine through. The supplies I used here were so, so simple – my napkin, some glue, two felt tips, some charcoal and a bit of white acrylic (partially because the lesson didn’t ask for too much more, partially because even if it had, I wouldn’t have been able to find anything!) It’s not my favourite page ever, but I wasn’t in a particularly arty mood when I was working on it, so I wouldn’t expect it to be! I’m expecting to be back in my arty swing this time next week, so hopefully have some more pages to share with you then!

D x

 

{Lucky Dip} Book Tin

As you’ll most definitely know by now, I have big love for books. I also have big love for bargains, so whenever I find bargain books I kind of have to snap them up. Unfortunately my buying is much quicker than my reading and I’ve ended up with a pair of bursting bookshelves… but now I’m faced with the ‘oh my God where do I start?’ problem. So I decided to make a lucky dip tin, just something I can pull out whenever I’m stuck in a reading rut (and might help me with my resolution of reading every book I own!)

Jpeg

Here’s what you’ll need:

A lidded tin or jar (I used a Twinings tin).

Gesso and acrylic paint in a colour of your choice

A selection of different papers (I used some scraps I’d doodled on, a page from a Mandarin poetry book, a digital stamp from Robyn’s Fetish and a couple of pages torn from a colouring book)

Some sparkly embellishments (I used a selection of rhinestones, some glitter glue and some sparkly nail varnish)

A pair of scissors, some wet glue (my fave is Collage Pauge) and an old paintbrush

My free printable and a pen or two you love

Step 1

JpegCoat your tin with a thin layer of gesso. Once it’s dry, paint it with acrylic paint – this is going to get covered up, so don’t bother with anything too fancy.

Step 2

Jpeg

Chop up your selection of papers and start pasting onto the tin. I’d recommend putting a thing layer of glue both under and over each piece to make sure it doesn’t start peeling off. Overlap the different designs (or maybe colours in your case) to create some interesting patterns.

Jpeg

Step 3

Now you need to let all that glue dry. While your waiting, make the ‘lucky dip’ pieces.

Jpeg

Print out the free printable (by clicking on the link at the top) and fill each box with the name of a book you’d like to read. If you have as many is me, the cutting out might take a while, but at least your tin will be completely dry when you’re done!

Step 4

Jpeg

Paint around the edges of the lid with glittery nail varnish. Once this has dried, start sticking on your rhinestones.

Jpeg

Step 5 

I felt in need for a bit more sparkle, so I also added a bit of glitter glue. While this is drying you can fold up all of your book titles.

Jpeg

Step 6 

Stick in your hand and pull out a book name… then get reading!

Jpeg Jpeg Jpeg

P.S. I made this book tin as part of my final Quirky Crafts challenge. The theme is ‘favourite things‘ and I used lots of my favourites here: I decorated a tea tin (my favourite drink), with reading in mind (my favourite hobby), using collage (my favourite technique), sparkles (every girl’s favourite thing) and Collage Pauge (my favourite adhesive). Check out the original challenge post for more design examples, and info on how to link up.

An Autumn Update

Heyyy,

I’ve been pretty busy with lots of bits and pieces, so I thought write a quick post to give you an update on current and future projects (and I promise this is not just a ‘loads of excuses for not blogging’ kind of post. Cross my heart.)

  • Last night my new kitty arrived! Meet [name to be confirmed]. If you have any interesting name suggestions please leave them in the comments below, I’m stumped! I’ll post some photos of her when she comes out of hiding (she seems to be terrified of me at the moment!)
  • I’ve been getting stuck into the Semi-Charmed Kind of Life Autumn Book Challenge… I’ve just finished reading The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, I haven’t really decided which of these is going to come next though…
  • I’m looking forward to two gigs this weekend: Bowling for Soup and Blue. I am just so excited I can’t even describe it! Luckily I’ve managed to get the day off on Monday, sadly I’m feeling far too old to do two nights in a row and then be up at 6am!
  • I’ve been lagging behind a bit with my Life Book pages, but I have been enjoying Alisa Burke’s latest class ‘Layers of Love’. For more information on her schedule of fabulous Autumn classes check out her blog.
  • I’ve been getting to know the people in my L140 (Intermediate Spanish) and A363 (Advanced Creative Writing) classes – there seem to be a lot of unusual characters which is always fun! I love the ‘start of a new year’ feeling that hovers in the air around this time of year… I’ll be posting more about my new modules next week, so stay tuned!
  • Last Thursday I joined Slimming World, it’s definitely been a challenge learning how to cook in a new way – I’m definitely an ‘if in doubt, add more butter’ kind of girl at heart. It’s my first weigh-in tonight so wish me luck!
  • I’m getting ready for my last ever Quirky Crafts challenge as part of the Design Team. I’ve had a lot of fun working with the girls, but I really need to buckle down and focus on my last year of University for now.
  • And finally… I’m still recruiting bloggers for my November blog event ‘Non Fic November’ during which we will be celebrating all things non-fiction. Check out this post if you fancy signing up 🙂

See you soon!

D x

Becoming Indigo

Becoming Indigo is the coming of age story of Indigo, a Canadian teenager with supernatural abilities, who seems to attract trouble from both the magical and the mundane.

This was an ARC provided by NetGalley and Hayhouse in exchange for my honest review. I requested it for one, entirely superficial reason… the title. I needed to tick of the ‘colour’ category of my whimsical reading challenge, so I did.

BeFunky_What_I_Loved.jpg

The whole book had this quirky, bohemian vibe that just made me think of the freedoms of summer. It really appealed to the non-mainstream side of my personality, and Indigo is not dissimilar to the way I was as a teenager. I mean, I can’t see ghosts, but other than that I could really relate to her experiences.

I thought that the way the author dealt with the magical aspects of the plot was very original. A lot of the fantasy/supernatural novels I’ve come into contact with seem to recycle storylines, abilities and histories, so it was nice to see something a little bit different.

One thing that really stuck out was that Indigo had issues to deal with that had nothing to do with her powers. Something that irritates me about a lot of young adult fiction is that every twist and turn of the plot is somehow linked to the protagonist’s destiny or magical lifestyle – I personally think that ties things up too neatly, and generally makes for two-dimensional characters. I liked that Indigo had human problems, it made her seem much more grounded than the shiny, perfect amazingness of a lot of other heroines.

BeFunky_DSCN1903.jpg

I thought that some parts of the story could have used a little more exploration. Her whole relationship with her ex and her family was glossed over slightly, but this may be focussed on more in Through Indigo’s Eyes (the first in the series – that I am yet to read). To be honest, I’m just being picky now. I read the whole thing in one sitting after locking myself out of the house.

BeFunky_Youll_like_it_if.jpg

You enjoyed the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan or Kate Cann’s horrible-holiday-turned-lifechanging-experience series.

D x

The Sweetest Hallelujah

In 1950’s Mississippi a dying black woman places an advert in the local paper, trying to find someone to take care of her ten year old daughter, not realising the life-changing chain of events she has just put in motion for a wealthy white woman from the other side of the tracks.

I requested this book from NetGalley a while ago, as I feel very drawn to anything set in the deep south, particularly if set in a politically tumultuous time. So I’d definitely like to say a big thank you to Harlequin for allowing me to indulge myself!

BeFunky_What_I_Loved.jpg

Absolutely everything.

The narrative tone was so magnetic that I could barely put it down. In fact, I walked home while reading. In the rain. The plot was profound and surprising and satisfying and heartbreaking all at once. It dealt with timeless issues that affect the human condition, no matter the day and age, and showcased grief from so many angles in a way that was just so raw and true. I was really impressed.

The characters were quirky, and vivid and surely couldn’t have been purely figments of Elaine Hussey’s imagination! She managed to write very convincingly from a variety of perspectives, which I know from experience is no easy task. I believed that she was a ten year old girl, and a cancer stricken jazz singer. I believed she was a grieving father and a god-fearing grandmother. I sincerely cannot remember the last time I empathized with a bunch of characters to this extent…

BeFunky_DSCN1903.jpg

NOTHING!

BeFunky_Youll_like_it_if.jpg

You enjoyed The Help or, like me, just have a morbid fascination with the racial interaction of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

D x