Category: Book Reviews

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy- Book Review

Are you one of them millennials I keep hearing about?  In your 20s, with unfulfilled potential, no money, and feeling generally lost?  Sofia Papastergiadis feels the same way.  25, with an unfinished anthropology doctorate, and working in an artisan coffee shop in London, she hasn’t quite figured life out yet.  I felt like this through most of my twenties, graduating with a history degree and then just working in retail, and generally not having a clue what I wanted to do.

What I feel most is that I am a failure but I would rather work in the Coffee House than be hired to conduct research into why customers prefer one washing machine to another.

Hot Milk

Continue reading “Hot Milk by Deborah Levy- Book Review”

Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing-Book Review

Gretchen Hirsch began her blog, Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing, began when she tried to follow the 1950’s book, Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing.  As well as sewing and fashion, she has written about gender and body image.  Her popularity grew and she ended up publishing several books herself.  Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, there are 14 projects inspired by the original Vogue book with patterns including.  They are all pretty vintage in style, but modeled by Gertie with her fuller figure and tattoos there’s definitely a modern touch.

I was given this book as a gift which was sweet.  But it didn’t take long for me to realise that none of the outfits suited my body type, style, or lifestyle.  And, while full patterns are included you have to trace them first before cutting out as they all overlap.  When I got this book I hadn’t used patterns in a book before, and just used single patterns that you can just cut straight out.  I understand why books do this, it saves a lot of paper and expense but it’s a real pain to use.  I attempted to make a skirt a while back but it ended rather disastrously and looked atrocious.  Although I really appreciate Gertie’s work this was not the book for me!

Save

Save

Save

Sewing Bee Leggings- First Attempt

Mum bought me ‘The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe’ a while back, when that show was the hot new thing.  I’ve only just got around to looking it over properly.  To be honest most of the garments weren’t my style but I wanted to give a couple a go.  It’s supposed to be accessible if you’re a beginner, and the leggings were marked as ‘easiest’ difficulty, so how could I go wrong? Continue reading “Sewing Bee Leggings- First Attempt”

Adventures in Letterpress- Craft Book Review

Adventures in Letterpress

Adventures in Letterpress is one of those beautiful books that I bought a while ago and don’t ever really look at.  Because it’s not instructional I don’t feel the need to pull it out from under 17 other heavy books to look through it.  But it has lots of incredibly clever, artistic, and eclectic examples of letterpress printing.   Many of them are political and/or rude which makes them more interesting imo.

Letterpress printing uses a printing press to press a raised surface (say protruding letters) against a continuous roll of paper.  Letterpress was almost obsolete, with other easier techniques of printing available.  But, according to the Adventures in Letterpress blurb, artists and designers have taken is upon themselves to rescue letter-presses from scrap yards. This kind of art has become nichely popular (if that makes sense), as an antidote to the crazy digital age we live in.

 

Save

Save

Sebastian Faulks- Where My Heart Used To Beat- Book Review

I loved the title.  It’s taken from a Tennyson poem, that Faulks quotes at the start of the book.  Anyway, it’s the reason I bought the book.  Faulks’ more famous work is Birdsong from 1993, in which a women in the 1970’s tries to understand her grandfather’s experiences of WW1.  I never read it, but picked this more contemporary effort instead.  This also deals with war, although more focused on WW2 this time.

Where My Heart Used To Beat

Set in the mid 1980’s our protagonist, Robert Hendricks is prompted to revisit old memories of his childhood, a lost love, and war time combat after receiving an odd letter from a man who served with his father in the First World War.  The death of Robert’s father in the war has left a hole in his life, like many children growing up in the interwar period.  There is a compelling moment when teenage Robert looks at his teacher, injured in WW1, and doesn’t realise he is looking at his own future. Continue reading “Sebastian Faulks- Where My Heart Used To Beat- Book Review”

A Beautiful Mess- Craft Book Review

A Beautiful Mess

A few weeks ago I went through the stack of craft books in my craft room, and one of them was A Beautiful Mess.  It’s a blog by a few ladies who I think used to run a vintage store but now blog full time.  They cover food, crafts, and clothing and style.  It’s evolved in the last few years into a sleek lifestyle blog for better or worse.  It’s the type of hipster lifestyle that I think I want but will never have.  One where you can wander outside in a summer dress and dutch braids, where you do photo shoots against brick walls holding guitars, and where you spend autumn in pumpkin patches.  Well where I live, no matter the season, it’s cold and rainy, there are no attractive faux urban backdrops to hand, and pumpkins exist for 1 week in a pile at the supermarket… I wonder how representative the photos on A Beautiful Mess are of their lives.

They sort of specialise in photography and there’s a lot of info and tips on their website.  They also do sell some courses but I’ve never tried them.  The book I have is a photo idea book, which has practical suggestions of what you can do with photographs such as personalised gift tags.  It also has a lot of creative ways to take photographs, not so much with technical insight this is more about how make the picture interesting with backdrops and props.  So if you want a nice instagram photo then this might be the book for you 🙂

Save

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov- Book Review

Isaac Asimov is probably the daddy of sci-fi writing right?  He was extremely prolific, writing or editing about 500 books.  He was known for ‘hard’ science fiction, a sub-genre of sci-fi known for its scientific accuracy.  He wrote some of his most famous works in the 1940’s and 50’s though, so now it’s less about detecting scientific accuracy and checking whether his view of the future has actually come true.

I read Foundation a while ago, part of his famous Foundation series, which I enjoyed.  It begins with the Galactic Empire falling and a subsequent 1000 year dark age.  The book moves through subsequent generations trying to rebuild the galactic empire.   There are actually 7 books in the Foundation series, including some prequels added later on, but I stopped at the second book which was a little too confusing my little brain. Continue reading “The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov- Book Review”

Book Review- Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ah, another author whose name I can’t pronounce, Chimanada Ngozi Adichie.  The Nigerian author is more famous for ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, but that was 448 pages and ‘Purple Hibiscus’ was 336 pages so…It’s my thing to look up great books, and then see what else that author has written that is shorter!

Purple Hibiscus

This is the story of Kambili, a 15 year-old girl living in Nigeria who fears and reveres her father (I think the two can weirdly co-exist quite well).  He’s a leader of the community, extremely wealthy and well respected for his acts of generosity, his piety, and his determination to speak out against corruption in the country.  He is also a violent patriarch at home, regimenting his children’s lives and enacting extreme punishments for any indiscretion. Continue reading “Book Review- Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

Craft Books

My craft ‘room’ is actually about 1/4 of a room as it also functions as our guest room so most of the space is taken up by a bed.  We also don’t really have enough storage space so my craft stuff ends up getting quite messy quite quickly.  So I was spending my second weekend tidying it up when I came to my stack of crafty books.  There’s a mixture of sewing, paper craft, knitting, and photography books. Continue reading “Craft Books”

Book Review- The Stolen White Elephant by Mark Twain

This is one of those £1 Penguin classics, that offer a cheap chance to read classic authors without having to commit to read an entire book.  I’m not sure it entirely works however.  This was my first Mark Twain, and I didn’t find it particularly mind blowing, but maybe you need to sit down with a novel of his to ‘get’ him?

The Stolen White Elephant is the main and best story in this little collection, with a couple of others just there to fill up the extra space I think.  The Stolen White Elephant is the story told by a man who was to deliver a gift of the eponymous white elephant from the King of Siam to the Queen of England- because that’s how things worked back then I guess….

Twain is renowned as a ‘humorist’ which is an interesting tag, not funny but humorous…There was only one exchange really that seemed amusing to me:

‘He would not care if they were fresh of not; at a single meal he would eat five ordinary men.’

‘Very good; five men; we will put that down.   What nationalities would he prefer?’

‘He is indifferent about nationalities.  He prefers acquaintances, but is not prejudiced against strangers.’

So if that broke you out in raucous laughter than maybe this is for you.  But it’s hard to recommend as it’s just a short story.

Save

Save