Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Travelling Stresses and Easter Fun

We are currently getting ready to go to Brisbane (in fact, I'll probably get into trouble for blogging instead of packing...). We have decided to drive and stop off to see some of our amazing family who we never get to see on the way. The purpose of this trip is to attend the wedding of my best and dearest friend to her amazing fiance (well, obviously she's marrying her fiance...). But before we go, I thought I should post about what we did on our Easter break.

It wasn't much of a break for us. We are not the tidiest people with two kids and we are doing a house swap with another family while we are away. They too have two children, but still, we didn't want them to walk into our awfully messy house! So we cleaned and worked on our renovation projects to get them to a safe standard for other people's little ones. In between all of that, we did an egg hunt:

 And exchanged presents. The girls' grandma is a diabetic, so we don't exchange chocolates. Grandma and Grandad bought the girls clothes for our trip to Brisbane (it's a bit colder down there!) and the game 'Hungry, Hungry Hippos'.

We continued the homemade gift trend and made Bel's Dora doll that her Gran gave her for Christmas a couple of years ago a new ballet outfit (that matches Bel's own ballet outfit) and I made Willow a Waldorf Doll.

I bought the pattern for Willow's doll at Adirondack Patterns (I am in love with their etsy shop!!). The pattern was easy to use and their tutorial had a truckload of pictures and was incredibly easy to follow. I just loved the idea that the face can be left expressionless to facilitate imagination.

After church and the gift giving, we went to the shops to buy some warmer clothes (no luck for me, but we did buy loads for the girls). Along the way, David and the girls had fun with fedora hats,

and pillow displays.

So now we are madly packing and dealing with Bel crying because she wants to play with the toys she packed for the trip. I have voted in our local election and David is out running errands. I will post pictures of our trip and the wedding almost as soon as we get back! Which hopefully won't take as long as this post did. 3 hours just to get pictures in grrrrr!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hippe Boy: A Girl's Story Review

I have just posted my latest LibraryThing review...

Ingrid Ricks’ “Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story” is an autobiographical account of one girl’s experience with religion and divorce in Southern America in the 70s and 80s. Told with great sensitivity and yet a poignant sense of truth, Ricks presents a story that is very relevant to modern teen audiences.

Told from her own perspective, Ricks reveals the anguish she faced through her parents’ divorce and her mother’s subsequent remarriage. The reader cannot help but feel sympathetic for Ingrid and her sense of impotence in the toxic situation comes through Ricks’ prose very clearly. Ricks provides relevant details and keeps her story concise so that it reads as a narrative rather than a memoir.

Ricks has presented her characters as larger than life. Her own personality comes across as endearing and likable. I could not help but sympathise with Ingrid and relate to the highs and lows of her adolescence. From the very beginning, Earl is particularly loathsome. Whether Ricks’ description of him is purely subjective or not seems to be irrelevant and he does become a character that one lives to hate. Ingrid’s mother seems to epitomise mothers who try to do the right thing by both their children and their religion and become hopelessly conflicted. On the other hand, Ingrid’s flaky father is idolised and becomes Ingrid’s escape from her torturous home life.

Set in Southern America in the 70s and 80s, Ricks brings to life the openness of the southern states. From Mississippi to Utah and Texas, Ricks adequately describes each house, trailer and motel room. The irony of Ingrid preferring to sleep in the back of a car rather than the dilapidated house that she loathes constantly reinforces the anguish she faces at home.

I definitely recommend “Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story”. As I read, I felt that it is very suited to a teen audience. Ricks’ story highlights the impotence that teens experience as they balance on the precipice between childhood and the autonomy of adulthood. Teens from any walk of life can relate to “Hippie Boy”. Those who do struggle at home can take away a sense of hope and perhaps take steps to better their own situation.

I gave the book 3 stars. It was a lovely read!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Seedpod Fun

 It has been so nice to finally have some consistent blue sky. The girls are loving getting out and about. The temperature has come right down and the outdoors is just spectacular! This time of year is what all Cairnsites stay here for!! We found some seedpods on our wanderings a few days ago, which lead to loads of crafting fun with the girls' aunty who is staying for the week.

So over a bowl of popcorn, wielding a hot glue gun, scissors, fabric and bamboo skewers, we made some very cute seedpod boats.

Seedpod boats
Bel loved floating them in the water, but got a bit frustrated at the big one because it kept capsizing.

Seedpod boat with pegdoll
The small one was the perfect size for the little pegdoll boy we made last week, but Bel was terrified the boat would capsize with him in it and he couldn't swim. She held the boat very securely until I took him out!

Seedpod boats in 'dry dock'

We also found some complete seedpods. One of which reminded me of a baby all bundled up. So we pulled out the paints and some ribbon to make a ‘Bush Baby’.

Bush Baby

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kindred Spirits Review

I cannot say how much I am loving LibraryThing! I have won even more amazing books!! The latest one I have had the pleasure to read is 'Kindred Spirits' by Julianne Lee. She writes with the Book View Cafe and I am really looking forward to reading more of the ebooks from the site. I have put my hand up for a review copy of their Beyond Grimm anthology, and definitely have my fingers crossed!!
But I digress! Here is my review for 'Kindred Spirits'...

Julianne Lee’s ‘Kindred Spirits’ had me riveted almost from the beginning. I must confess I do not like ghost stories, but Lee’s descriptive style and dynamic characters had me wanting more. The more I read, the more I had to read to find out exactly what happened to Lucas Robert.

Set both in the present and during the American Civil War, Lee brought both settings to life with her vivid description. I really felt as thought I could see what Lee was describing, from Shelby moving into the old Brosnahan house and her first encounters with the ghost, to the horrors of the Civil War. Her descriptions of what the soldiers endured and their women who were left behind reveals how appalling and wasteful war is. The transitions between the settings are seamless and keep the plot flowing.

Lee’s characters are very dynamic. I adored Shelby and found her to be passionate, courageous and strong politically, emotionally and physically. She is not afraid to fight for those she loves and even those she has lukewarm feelings for, if it is the right thing to do. I found myself often amused at Lucas’s expense and loved how Lee acknowledged the character’s struggle between his feelings and Shelby’s propriety. I would have liked to know a little bit more about Mary Beth and Jason. This subplot often read as an afterthought with the characters a little two dimensional.

I found Lee’s style to be a breath of fresh air. A formal style of writing is unfortunately lacking in a lot of indie novels. However, Lee’s command of grammar and vocabulary are accessible while still being very polished.

I absolutely recommend ‘Kindred Spirits’.  It is a love story that is not a traditional romance. While it is a story that demonstrates that time is no barrier for love and fate, it is far from sappy. Lee’s resilient and dynamic characters and vivid description make ‘Kindred Spirits’ a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I gave it 5 stars. Go get it!!