Seedlings of Life

The seedlings are sprouting.

Seven days ago I sowed some seeds. In case you haven’t read my previous post, I am attempting to grow herbs and vegetables from seed. They include onion, cress, dill, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, radish, chamomile, oregano and chives.

Day 8 shows new life is sprouting. The cress came out fighting on day three. The onion and radishes are also doing well. I’m pleased to say the dill, chamomile and thyme are showing signs of life too. However, nothing is happening with the parsley, oregano or chives, but it is early days.

The tomatoes I grew from seeds haven’t done anything in the last week and, unfortunately, two died. That was a little worrying because I believed they are meant to grow fast but not mine. I do understand that I can’t expect all of them to make it to full-grown, tomato bearing plants though. Perhaps it’s still a little chilly for them. I remain hopeful.

But there’s more, the regular tomato plant that my son gave me has doubled in size. Thrilled about that.

And, to top everything off, there are two cucumbers on my little cucumber plant. Can’t stop smiling as I didn’t expect it so soon. The plant is small, so fingers crossed they make it to harvest time.

More updates to follow over coming weeks, months.

Day 12 NaNo Update

“Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.”
–Jane Smiley

I saw this quote today and thought it was a timely reminder as I am currently writing the first draft of Ghost at the Cemetery. At a little under 6,000 words, I cannot say I am particularly happy with the result so far. In fact, I was feeling a little despondent this afternoon–until I saw this quote.

Yes, I can acknowledge this first draft isn’t great, but as long as I continue writing until I get to the end, I will be happy. The first edit will be HUGE! But at least I will have a (shaky) draft to work with.

I’m pleased that I can recognise the fact that I still have a lot of work ahead of me, especially when the first draft is done. Yet, I feel invigorated knowing that my brain is already working on the improvements I intend to make. And knowing that, the story I currently write is morphing in a slightly different direction than I intended to accommodate the changes.

My intention is to complete the first draft by 30 November. I am on track to reach that goal.

Seeds of Life

The seeds have been planted

Reading and writing form a massive part of my life. In fact, just about everything I do is centred around one of these two things. Of course, I do enjoy other hobbies such as walking, family time, nature, and catching up with friends. However, in recent months, I was given some plants that a friend had grown from cuttings, and that sparked a new interest for me.

Those cuttings are doing well. I love colour, and those plants have produced an array of colour. I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of seeing them grow this spring.

Then I found myself wanting to take things a step further, and I planted seeds from a cherry tomato. Believing they wouldn’t actually take, I planted around 40 seeds and ended up with about 30 seedlings. They are currently two to three inches in height.

On 11 November, I decided to also plant onion, radish, cress, dill, parsley, chamomile, oregano, thyme and chives.

And finally, on 9 November, my son gave me a regular tomato plant, which was roughly a foot high. The next day, I was at a nursery and saw a baby cucumber plant for a few dollars. If I’m going to have a heap of tomatoes, I figured I would also need cucumbers, so I splurged and treated myself.

The photo at the top is all the plants together. The photo was taken on 11 November, and I’m calling it Day 1. Stay tuned, I’ll give updates and share my successes and failures on this little side adventure.

eBook review: The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain, #2)

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, and his friends are led into a mortal struggle with Arawn and his deathless warriors. Taran must wrest the black cauldron from them, for it is the cauldron that gives them their evil strength. But can he withstand the three enchantresses, who are determined to turn him and his companions into toads? Taran has not foreseen the awful price he will have to pay in his defence of Prydain.

My review: Like book 1 in the series, book 2 is a winner in my eyes.

It is wonderful to pick up a book and just fall into the story. The pages seem to turn themselves and the characters and plot play out in front of your eyes, with the reader feeling as if they are right there with them. This is how I see The Chronicles of Prydain books. Simply love them.

The characters are so much fun and if young readers are lost in the story, a parent can relax knowing they are being taught how to work together, be loyal, think of others and be self-assured. It’s important to recognise good and evil, but this book also reminds us that sometimes there is a grey area where we can go either way if pushed–yet we can be saved if offered help.

The author has a writing style that pulled me in and held my attention. The words flow with the storyline and characters. Highly recommended.

eBook review: The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane

The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane (A fairy fantasy for kids ages 9-12)

The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane by Elena Paige

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: A magical house. A secret past. And an awful decision. Will she claim her destiny… or save her sister?
Twelve-year-old Chia is blind and toils in the mines digging up diamonds for her evil stepmother, Priscilla. Her only thought is to rescue her twin sister Viola from a life at the palace.

Everything changes when a mysterious woman transports Chia to 66 Lilly Pilly Lane, a magical house where wondrous creatures live. To her delight, she’s no longer blind! With an entourage at her side and magic at her fingertips, it’s time to rescue Viola from Priscilla’s clutches and start a new life elsewhere.

The trouble is, her new friends claim Viola is not as innocent and helpless as she seems…

Come on a magical adventure to discover The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane, a middle-grade novel that will entertain and delight even the most reluctant of readers.

My review: This book is a story that I may have missed out on, which would have been a shame because I loved it. The characters are “different” and by that I mean you will read about people interacting with animals, trees, statues and even a house. Yet each character has a distinct personality and has a way of planting themselves in your mind so that you think nothing of a tree offering you breakfast.

The book is a magical, delightful story where the main lesson (in my opinion) is doing what makes you happy — not doing things for other people. At first, I had an issue with the premise as I believe it is important that our children are taught to be helpful and supportive of each other. It took a while for me to understand, and for the main character to understand, that the author was trying to say (again, in my opinion) that sometimes by helping ourselves, we help others. And that while we should always consider others, we must do what is right for us first. Sacrificing yourself is noble, but is it the right option to take.

And then a real-life situation occurred and I found myself saying “we can try to help her, but she needs to want to be helped”, and that’s when I realised what the author was trying to say without saying it.

Young readers will enjoy the adventure of Chia and her best friend, Pip. The story will allow their minds to open to all possibilities, but a few younger readers might find some scenes a little scary. However, the majority will love the opportunity to become lost in Chia’s world.

Recommended. I will check out other books by this author now that she’s on my radar.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Audiobook review: Dark is the Moon

Dark Is the Moon

Dark Is the Moon by Ian Irvine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Rulke the Great Betrayer is free at last, to use the deadly construct he has spent a thousand years perfecting. To succeed he needs just one thing Karan’s sensitive talent. Karan and her lover Llian are lost in the Nightland, in an alien palace that is collapsing around them. Only Rulke can open the gate and send them home to Santhenar, but Karan is terrified that he will corrupt Llian first. Yggur and Mendark, sworn enemies, struggle to tame the power of the rift. They must seal the gate before Rulke brings forth his construct. If they fail he will ravage the world. And if they succeed, Karan and Llian will be trapped in the Nightland for eternity.

My review: Sorry to sound like a broken record but, again, if I had to “read” the books, I would have abandoned the series. For this series, in my opinion, audio is better.

If you have read the first two books, you know what to expect and don’t need to read reviews. I guess the thing that annoys me the most is the long, dry spells in the story. You know what I mean, the long periods of time when nothing much happens. Yet I listened every day and do not regret that decision or action.

The Llian and Karran relationship seems to be smoothing out to feel more realistic now. I am not totally convinced of their feelings for each other, but they seem to be finding their way. Perhaps that’s how it is for some couples.

By the end of this book, we are getting a better understanding of the characters and how they might fit together. There are clues as to those who might have been deceitful and those who could have been wronged.

Good and evil can be a hazy business and I suspect that is the case within this story.

I don’t have much more to say, except I am going to finish the series. I’ve invested a lot of time already and want to know how it comes together.

NaNo 2019 starts tomorrow

Yes, I am joining NaNoWriMo this year. If you don’t know what that is, well, thousands of writers join up in November with the intention of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It is a great way to get the bare bones of a manuscript down on paper–or the start of one at least. The trick is to write, and not to edit as you go. This is the one thing I have a problem with, but I will try hard to conquer this little issue. 😀

But…

I am not doing the full NaNo. In other words, I am not aiming for 50,000 words. I want to write another Cat and Mouse adventure, which is a book for young readers. I am aiming for 15,000 words or there abouts.

NaNo starts tomorrow. I am ready and willing to get started. In four weeks, I WILL have the first draft of Ghost at the Cemetery completed.

eBook review: A Crafty Crime

A Crafty Crime (A Stoneybrook Mystery, #1)

A Crafty Crime by Eryn Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: Hadley James is finally living the life she’s always wanted: making jam and selling it at the local farmers market. When a cat-sitting job turns into a murder investigation, life no longer seems so perfect.

Her twin brother, a deputy sheriff, is on the case but they’ve always done everything together and she can’t help but get involved. Following a trail of crafty clues, the James twins learn that their sleepy town might be harboring more darkness than they could’ve imagined.

My review: I started reading this book in May and finished it in September. That possibly tells you everything. It certainly does me and explains the three-star rating.

I cannot put my finger on what was wrong, but I felt as if I had to drag myself through the pages. In all honesty, I did abandon it at one stage and then thought “no, I want to finish it” and returned to the story.

It’s a cozy mystery book so it makes sense that the main character, her twin brother and best friend set out to solve a murder in their town. However, a side theme in the book dealt with all things craft, such as making jam, knitting, painting. I love craft so I was fine with that too. However, the side theme wasn’t weaved into the storyline well enough (in my opinion). Because of that, I believe the craft side of the storyline distracted from the murder side. This meant that I wasn’t able to become totally absorbed by the mystery and basically I lost interest in the whole thing.

The author’s writing is good. The workings of the mystery and how it came together was good. But putting it all together didn’t quite work for me.