Thursday, 27 January 2011

Turning Over a New Leaf - book 3

Book 3 this year: But Inside I'm Screaming by Elizabeth Flock.

The blurb:

'But inside I'm screaming' is one woman's unforgettable story about what it is to lose control as the world watches, to figure out what went so very wrong and to accept an imperfect life in a world that demands perfection.

While breaking the hottest news story of the year, broadcast journalist Isabel Murphy falls apart on live television in front of an audience of millions. She lands at Three Breezes, a four-star psychiatric hospital nicknamed the "nut hut," where she begins the painful process of recovering the life everyone thought she had.

But accepting her place among her fellow patients proves difficult. Isabel struggles to reconcile the fact that she is, indeed, one of them, and faces the reality that in order to mend her painfully fractured life she must rely solely on herself.

My view:

A disappointing read; a quick, read-it-on-the-beach novel rather than a realistic portrayal of mental illness.

I liked the fact that the main character's story was told through flashbacks of her life, whilst enduring the daily, personal torment of life in a psychiatric hospital. However, I thought that the author didn't spend enough time on the recovery process - Isabel came out of her depression way too quickly and easily for it to be true to life.

The ending was intriguing in that loose ends weren't tied up. We're left wondering what Isabel did when she was discharged, and how she coped with the decisions she'd made about her future - and I liked that. Full of stereotypes and two-dimensional characters though.

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Monday, 24 January 2011

Granny in the Garden

My New Year's resolution to make pretty things for me rather than to sell is going well.

I started making these crocheted Summer Garden Granny Squares over the festive break (see Lucy's lovely blog over at Attic24 for the pattern).

I used some acrylic yarn that I had in my stash - yarn that came with each issue of The Art of Crochet partwork that I collected last year. I never got past the first binder as I was quite disappointed in the number of designs for the price of each week's issue. Anyway, I had enough balls of yarn to make 49 squares (a nice size for a cosy lap cover). Nine colours were used, though I had more balls of certain colours (mainly the blues) so they tend to dominate.

I wanted to make each square different so I wrote out a little chart where I could check off colours against their row position in the square. This ensured that I had a pretty much equal amounts of squares with a white border, or a red border, or a lime green border, etc.

I had great fun trying out different combinations of squares - making sure that no centre colours or edge colours were next to each other; and then of course colours such as the white shone out so they had to be moved around until they were more evenly spaced. And then I joined the rows together in the wrong order so things were slightly more random than intended - but it looked ok and so I didn't bother pulling it out!

I didn't have enough of the yarn left for the border so I'm hunting now for some similar tones. I've found a green yarn in my stash and used that for the first row of the edging but I need a shopping trip to get a couple more to finish it off!

It's such an easy pattern but the overall effect is lovely. Hopefully I'll post a FINISHED! photo soon, and I'll try and take a decent picture in daylight as these photos don't show the lovely bright colours very well.

What have you been making this month?

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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Turning Over a New Leaf - book 2

Well I'm doing well so far - two books read this year and we're only in week two (only another 51 to go to beat my record!)

My latest read was The Savage Garden by Mark Mills.

Whilst browsing the charity shop shelves I'm always drawn to books with 'garden' in the title, or those set in exotic locations - this book was both. Full of intrigue and suspicion, this book is a decent mystery novel, with a bit of romance thrown in, centred around a memorial garden in post-war Italy.

Review from Fantastic Fiction:

A beautiful Tuscan villa, a mysterious garden, two hidden murders - one from the 16th century, one from the twentieth - and a family driven by dark secrets, combine in this evocative, intriguing mystery set in post-War Italy.

In 1958, Adam Strickland, a young Cambridge scholar, travels to the Villa Docci in Tuscany to study a sixteenth-century garden. Designed and laid out by a grieving husband to the memory of his dead wife, it is a mysterious world of statues, grottoes, meandering rills and classical inscriptions. But tragedy has hit the Docci family more recently. The German occupation during World War 2 had a devastating impact on them, and the tensions between collaborators and partisans were played out within their own tight circle.

Adam is fascinated by the Doccis and increasingly aware that there are dangerous secrets hidden within the family domain. The garden itself starts to exercise a powerful influence over his imagination, its iconography seeming to point to some deeper, darker truth than was first apparent. And what really lay behind a killing at the villa towards the end of the war? Past and present, love and intrigue, intertwine in an evocative mystery which vividly captures the experience of an innocent abroad in the uncertain world of post-War Italy.

This was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2007, so if you didn't read it then it's worth trying to pick up a copy now.

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Friday, 14 January 2011

Every Girl Needs a Pink Dinosaur

One of my major plans this year is to concentrate on making things for my own pleasure - whether it be for family, friends or home. There will be a lot less making to sell and I have no craft fairs lined up at all this year (though of course that may change). I'm keeping my Folksy shop open, and I'll list new items occasionally, but this year I thought I'd concentrate on learning new techniques and spending time developing my own ideas.

I really enjoyed knitting this dinosaur for my Great Niece Deja's first birthday (actually last November but I hadn't got round to posting the photos). Due to the copyright laws I tend not to make things from magazines, but when I'm knitting for a gift (and not to sell) then that's okay.

This was from Let'sKnit magazine, issue 31, June 2010 - knitted in oranges, blues and greens in the magazine 'perfect for little boys' - I thought it would look lovely for a girl in a variegated pink/lilac/white yarn with touches of minty green. I added the long eyelashes at the last minute to make her extra-girlie!

I'm not sure that Deja liked her birthday gift at first.

But she seemed too after a little while.

Every girl needs a pink dinosaur, hey?

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

New Year - New Book Goal

As I've previously mentioned, I love reading. In a previous job my journey time to and from work was much longer, so I used to read a lot of books to make the time more enjoyable - 53 in 2007 (I was aiming to read a book each week but I miscounted!) But then I changed jobs and worked much closer to home so my travelling time reduced, and consequently so did my book quota - 45 in 2008, 32 in 2009, and a pitiful 26 last year.

You can see which books I read in 2009-2010 if you scroll down the right hand side of the page. I tend to buy most of my books from charity shops so it's a fairly eclectic mix of whatever appeals at the time.

I have big plans for this year - and one of them is to read a lot more. Over the festive break I managed to finish my first book: The Book of Names by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori.

I really enjoyed it. It was easy to read, fast-paced, with a decent good-versus-evil plot.

Here's the blurb:

Within each generation, there are thirty-six righteous souls. Their lives hold the key to the fate of the world. Now someone wants them dead.

When a childhood tragedy comes back to haunt Professor David Shepherd, he finds himself in possession of knowledge that holds the world in a delicate balance. He uncovers the Book of Names---an ancient text originating with the biblical Adam, and thought lost to history forever. By Kabbalistic tradition, the book contains the names of each generation's thirty-six righteous souls---the Hidden Ones---by whose merits alone the world continues to exist. Legend holds that if all thirty-six Hidden Ones were eliminated, the world would meet its end.

When the Hidden Ones start dying of unnatural causes, the world grows increasingly unstable: war in Afghanistan, massive flooding in New York, brutal terrorist attacks in Melbourne, a tanker explosion in Iran. David finds himself battling against the Gnoseos, a secret religious sect whose goal is to destroy the world by eliminating all of the righteous souls. David's involvement quickly turns personal when his stepdaughter's name is discovered to be one of the endangered. With the help of a brilliant and beautiful Israeli ancient texts expert, David races to decipher the traditions of the Kabbalah to save the righteous souls, his stepdaughter, and perhaps the world.

And here is an interview with the authors, explaining the background to the novel.

Can you recommend your latest read? Which books do you intend to read this year?

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