floral embroidery : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Pen & Sword via NetGalley

Floral Embroidery by Teagan Sturmer offers ten gorgeous embroidery projects designed to take you from a beginner through to a proficient embroiderer.

Floral Embroidery is a well structured guide, with stunning photos and a gorgeous, clean, layout. 

I loved the introduction to Teagan and her grandmother’s who have been instrumental to her pursuing what she loves: ‘Whatever we do, we must create.’ is a very sweet quote!

Each sampler comes with a Shakespeare quote, so I guess this has to be my new favourite book on embroidery! It’s also left me hoping that one day we might receive a Shakespearian embroidery book from her.

We start with a stitch guide which is one of the best that I’ve seen, and would serve as the perfect introduction to the stitches if you’re a complete beginner. Instead of having to seek out YouTube tutorials, you should be able to get started using just this book. 

The sampler shots are delicious, and I’d love each and every one to fill the walls of my house. The instructions that follow each sample are clear, and you’re assisted through the process with work in progress shots. The attention to detail in matching shots to steps is wonderful. It can sometimes be difficult to visualise written instructions, so the photos help to reassure you that you’re on track without being overwhelming. I also loves the ‘extras’ section which provides suggestions for further techniques that could be used to personalise the piece to your tastes.

This text also goes one step further than most guides and comes with pattern sheets to trace. I think that this is one of the best tools for beginners, as having something to follow allows you to understand how shape can impact an entire piece; if your line is slightly off, it can offset the whole design and be extremely frustrating. 

My only criticism is that the finishing section felt far too vague, and would have benefited from the inclusion of additional photos to illustrate the steps. 

I opted to recreate one of the earlier patterns included in the guide, ‘rosemary sprig arrangement’.

The instructions were, for the most part, straightforward. It definitely helped to have photos that matched up to particular step, but I think at times, the language could have been clearer.

There’s definitely some areas that came out better than others, but it’s been months since I last worked on a piece like this, so I don’t mind too much. I also just used floss that I had to hand, so my colours are a little off and the texture is slightly different to that presented in Floral Embroidery. Cheap thread is definitely better put to use for cross stitching!

Floral Embroidery is due to be published on July 30th 2020. You can pre-order a copy in the UK through most large retailers, however, I would recommend that you reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in for you.

mid-week catch up [23]

it’s barely feels like a day has passed, let alone a week! this week has definitely been my happiest since lockdown began, and it feels like i’m finally finding my groove. hopefully now i can start work on becoming more comfortable with being outside.

✨ here are my favourite photos from this week ✨

the two scenery shots were taken in my local park, fishponds, this morning. it’s my first time going there this year, and it’s just as magical n the early morning light as i remember.

the shot of the books just feels really well composed. i have no real understanding of photo composition, but i think it looks good!

my foray into growing seeds did not go as well. on saturday the heat amped up whilst i was out doing the food shop and it seems that the shoots burned in the sun because i hadn’t sufficiently watered them. i’m going to try to get some new seeds and have another go, but try them out near the bedroom window which only has light in the morning when it’s much cooler.

with the seeds a loss, i switched my focus to embroidery. i’ve been meaning to pick up some new hoops and fabric so that i can practice for a while, and on friday i bit the bullet ready for the long weekend.

the piece pictured on the left was created purely as an excuse to use this stunning blue floss that i’ve had sitting around for years. it was so strange to be able to see and feel the improvements in my technique as i worked through the piece, and i’m quite excited to see my progress over the next few months. maybe everyone will be getting small embroideries for christmas gifts?

have you tried something new this week? let me know below!

my first dolly parton : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Pen & Sword via NetGalley

My First Dolly Parton by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Daria Solak is a short illustrated guide to the life of Dolly Parton.

My First Dolly Parton offers a fairly conservative presentation of Dolly (where is her personality? the glamour? the sequins?) It offers no real insight into her life, and brushes away all of her struggles. One of the reasons that Dolly is so beloved is because she confronted every challenge head on, and to suggest that everything fell into place for her with ease is disappointing. It would be better to show children that you can overcome adversity. That you can be loud and bold, as well as virtuous and charitable.

I found the illustrations to be confusing – they often contradicted the text – as well as distracting. The illustrator also opted to include a butterfly on each page, but its inclusion was never explained. Is this supposed to be a reference to one of her songs, or an artistic signature?

Had there been a sharper focus on her record breaking achievements and fun facts, we would have been able to have a wholesome view of Dolly, without negating who she truly is. Instead, she comes across as a woman living a simple life who just happened to step into fame and have opportunities and awards land in her lap.

I’d recommend that if parents/guardians are introducing their children to Dolly through this book, that they follow up with a wider exploration of her life.

My First Dolly Parton is due to be published on June 16th 2020. You can pre-order a copy in the UK through most book retailers, however, I would recommend that you reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in for you.

10 classics i want to read in 2020

dropping my tbr plans for the year was a relief, and it’s led to two of my best reading months ever! now, i’m looking to spend the rest of the year mood reading and hitting some smaller targets. one of which is to read more classics.

✨ without futher ado, here’s the 10 i want to read! ✨

the count of monte cristo – this was brought up in one of my renaissance classes during my undergrad degree. i mostly remember it as it’s definitely not a renaissance piece and so there was no reason for it to be discussed.

les miserables – i’ve tried reading this like six times so far in my life, and i’m determined that this is the year i actually remember to continue with it. at the moment, my copy is in birmingham so hopefully i’ll be reunited with it before the end of the year because i don’t want to have to get a new copy. mine’s one of the old yellow bordered penguin editions, and they’re my favourite!

the decameron – i’ve technically already started this, but i’ve only finished the introduction so far as i got distracted by 17 other things. this is a mild re-read as i read 30 or so of the stories during my third year of uni. it was one of my favourite texts so i’m very excited to continue with it.

wuthering heights – it’s high time that i re-read this, my last re-read was in 2015 which is forever ago! it’s one of the few books that i’m happy to come back to time and time again. if you’ve not yet read it, get on it!

the grapes of wrath – this is a classic right? a modern one at least? my copy says it is, so we’ll go with that. i’m slowly working my way through steinbeck’s works and this is the last one that i have a physical copy of.

the moonstone – another book that’s currently in birmingham. a detective novel told in an epistolary form? i’m in!

to kill a mockingbird – another modern text. i never studied this at school and i feel like i might have missed out on something. then again, it might be too modern a classic, the 1960s is not a winning decade for me.

the pillow book – told in diary form, this japanse classic speaks to my heart. who doesn’t love accounts of ancient courts? the drama! the intrigue! the insight! i’m sure that this will be a wonderful treat.

the story of the beauty and the beast – a few weeks ago i read the original cinderella, so i’d like to delve into some of the other stories that have been developed into disney classics.

the idiot – i read my first dostoevsky novel, notes from a dead house, earlier this year and it was an experience to say the least. i’m not quite ready for crime and punishment yet, so i think this will be the perfect stepping stone.

if you’ve got any recommendations for other classics i should pick up, let me know! you can see what i’ve already read over on goodreads.

mid-week catch up [22]

it’s been a hot minute since i posted one of these! i felt like there wasn’t really any point in them as i’ve barely left my house since march and that there wouldn’t be any interest in what i’m doing at home. that said, i’m starting feel the blogging spark come back, and i’ve realised that ultimately these posts are for me to look back on, so i can do as i please.

✨ let’s kick off with some of my favourite photos of the past few months that haven’t made their way onto instagam

the photo of the dog (rosie) was taken by my sister. it’s been nice to be able to see her on face time since i can’t actually go and hang out, i miss her so much!

as i’m still working, i don’t have entire days to fill, but i’ve earned back plenty of extra hours by getting rid of my commute. this time is now mostly spent reading or looking after my new plants. i’ve never really cared much for indoor plants, but now that i’m kinda terrified to go outside, it’s been nice to bring the outside in. here’s some progress shots of my little indoor garden!

i’m now also trying my hand at growing some lemon balm and alyssum from seeds. it’s been super exciting to watch the shoots come out of the alyssum and grow, and i absolutely cannot wait to see the first real leaves and flowers!! i just hope that the lemon balm is going to have some shoots soon.

lemon balm

alyssum

have you found enjoyment in something new? let me know below!

following in the footsteps of edward ii : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Pen & Sword via NetGalley

Following in the Footsteps of Edward II by Kathryn Warner explores the places associated with Edward II, providing insight into his relationship with them.

Following in the Footsteps of Edward II is a confusing read. Whilst the chapters themselves are organised in to chronological order, the contents of each is far from it. As someone who is unfamiliar with Edward, I had expected this to provide a succinct overview of his reign that would be easy to follow. However, the narrative jumps rapidly between years and decades, leaving me without an understanding of who was who, or how Edward was involved.

In addition to this, I found the references to opening times for the locations to further interrupt the narrative. They would have been best placed at the end in a collated fashion for easy reference.

I’m sure that if I become better acquainted with Edward I’ll be able to enjoy this. From what I can see, Warner already seems to have written excellent pieces on him, and you can absolutely feel her passion for his life throughout the text.

Following in the Footsteps of Edward II was published on July 31st 2019. You can order a copy in the UK through the publisher, however, I would recommend that you reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in if they don’t currently stock it.

wrap it up [april]

april was weird but not terrible. i ended up buying far more plants than i probably should, and restarting my instagram. i haven’t been a serious user since i had a one direction fan account back in 2013, and i’m finding it much more fun this time around!

in april i opted to not set a tbr list. i needed the freedom to mood read, to not be held accountable, and it resulted in me having my most productive month (page wise) since march 2016! in total i read 24 books, dnf’d 3, and have another 2 in progress. in total, i read 6,404 pages. so, i’ve now only got 18,536 pages to go before i hit my goal of 40,000 for the year.

i read such a wide variety of books this month, and i was definitely helped along by the two readathons that i took part in. you can read about my experiences of the stay home reading rush and the netgalley library readathon if you’d like to. it turns out that i really like readathons so i’m definitely going to be taking part in more.

despite the large number of great reads i had this month, i found it quite easy to pick a top three: a little life, the hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared, and floral embroidery.

that said, i wouldn’t rush into recommending a little life to everyone. definitely do some research ahead of committing yourself to it, and don’t feel bad if you do start and then have to stop. it’s a deftly written piece that can be triggering in a number of ways and reading shouldn’t be hazardous to your mental state. personally, i could only read it in small chunks and it took me ten days to get through and a hell of a lot longer to actually process.

this is always my favourite section, i love stats! i cannot wait until the end of the year when i can see what my overall figures are!

for the ‘pages’ chart, i’ve shown the pages i read compared to the pages that were available from the books i attempted this month.

  • spanish love songs
  • all time low
  • happy accidents
  • enter shikari
  • better oblivion community centre
  • cheerbleederz
  • shit present
  • the front bottoms
  • coldfront
  • the wonder years

i’ve been inundated with good releases this month, but i’m still shocked at how much i love the new all time low record. i really thought i’d never be able to say that again!

  • stretch – i’m stretching regularly, but my body still feels like it’s a hundred years old. i think i just need to leave our flat more than once a week though.
  • self care – i’ve gotten better at this, i’m mostly eating three meals a day so now i just need to get everything else together.
  • plan – i haven’t actually written a formal list, but i’ve definitely been thinking about all the fun places i’m going to go to once this is over.
  • no new books – i really want to get my tbr below 100 again. at the moment i’m at 115, so it’s not too far off, but if i keep acquiring new books i’m never going to get there!
  • reviews – i want to catch up on my outstanding netgalley reviews. i have 15 to write, so hopefully i can power through them.
  • deep clean – as i’ve got so much extra time on my hands, i really want to take the time to deep clean the flat.

let me know what you got up to in april!

as always, feel free to link your own wrap up posts!

my #netgalleylibrary wrap up

the netgalley library readathon finished on sunday 26th april, and it was a blast! the readathon was hosted by hâf and anniek and offered seven challenges. i aimed to read at least four books from the seven listed below.

the readathon was mostly a success for me, i’ve definitely found a few new favourites, and i’m finally making some solid progress through the stack of netgalley reads i have outstanding! that said, i did skimp on reading during the last two days, and i am quite disappointed in myself.

let’s dive into what i attempted though!

read

dnf

still in progress

read a hyped book

an absolutely remarkable thing by hank green. i was super apprehensive about reading this, but i had so much fun. i’m actually considering pre-ordering the sequel, so i guess i own hank an apology!

read your oldest title

gender identity, sexuality and autism by eva a. mendes; meredith r. maroney. this has been hanging around since april 2019, and it’s now complete! i liked it, but it’s not anything i’d shout home about. you can check out my full review here!

read your newest title

a thousand ships by natalie haynes. maybe i should start passing on ‘feminist’ retellings. i’ve got a whole post about this in my drafts, i just need to go over it when i’m feeling less scathing.

read your longest title

i was supposed to read george orwell: a life by bernard crick. i didn’t even open it it 😦

read your shortest title

following in the of footsteps of edward ii by kathryn warner. i ended up dnf’ing this and read my first dolly parton instead as i was approved for it on the same day. it was just 17 pages!

read an upcoming release

the cat and the city by nick bradley. i wish i hadn’t had such high expectations. the book started off really well, but each vignette drew us further and further from the initial spark.

read a book with a pretty cover

i aimed to read necropolis by vladislav khodasevich and translated by sarah vitali. so far, i’m about a quarter though! floral embroidery has a gorgeous cover though, so i think i can mark this challenge as complete! if you are considering getting into embroidery, or are already a dab hand, then make sure you check this out, it’s a stunning production and the designs are superb!

did you take part? let me know how your challenge went!

btw – if anyone has suggestions for future readathons that i can join, let me know!

gender identity, sexuality and autism : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Pen & Sword via NetGalley

Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism: Voices From Across the Spectrum by Eva A. Mendes and Meredith R. Maroney brings together a number of narratives from those who are both autistic and on the LGBT+ spectrum.

Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism is short read, merging personal accounts with professional advice. It is therefore not only valuable to those who are autistic, but to their friends, family, and those working with them – whether this is in a general workspace or within a clinical setting.

I found the initial content to be interesting, but I would have been disappointed if that was all we received. The interviews are really what hold the piece together, and I’m sure that readers will find them validating in a variety of ways. Personally, I didn’t agree with everything said, or the language used at times, but there’s differences in both age and cultures so that may account for some differing opinions.

That said, the interviews began to feel rather repetitive after the third or fourth and I would have preferred a more organic Q&A with some unique questions for each person rather than just one different statement to respond to per interview. Many of the subjects were cared for/are under the care of the authors so this should have been easy to implement.

In addition to this, the responses from Partners and Parents seemed far too long. We’ve engaged in reading this book as we want to find out more from those who are experiencing this intersection of identity. These responses should have been more succinct.

Readers should be aware that there are insufficient warnings for when interviewees would branch off to discuss trauma, self-harm, suicide etc. A quick line providing warnings for each interview would ensure that readers can skip over any which may be upsetting or triggering, whilst not missing out

The authors provided clear acknowledgements of the limitations of the scope of their interviewees (the majority being white and middle class adults and all are in a stable enough place to complete an interview and share their experience). I hope that if they opt to write on the subject again that they actively work to gain insight from participants who’s experiences have not yet been considered. I did appreciate that intersex and asexual people were included though; they’re often neglected within LGBT+ circles.

To close the book, we are provided with an extensive list of traits for diagnosis of autism. I’m sure that this will prove to be a very useful tool, especially for those who are looking to self-diagnose, or seek a professional assessment and would like to have supporting documents.

Overall, it is a very supportive text, if a little too academic to appeal to the masses.

Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism was published on January 21st 2019. You can pre-order a copy in the UK through a number of large retailers, however, I would recommend that you reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can order a copy in for you if they do not currently stock it. There is also a preview available through Google Books.

what the dinosaurs saw : an e-arc review

I was provided with a free e-copy of this text in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Bloomsbury Children’s Books via NetGalley.

What the Dinosaurs Saw by Fatti Burke is the illustrated history of the earth, taking you on a journey from the vast emptiness of space prior to the big bang to the present day in just 60 pages!

What the Dinosaurs Saw: Life on Earth Before Humans, is an absolute delight!

It’s stylistically dreamy, as Burke opts for a whimsical illustration style which injects each and every one of the animals (and later humans!) with their own personality. The font choices are excellent and only further enhance the reading experience.

The text is written in an accessible way, and reads well for both it’s intended audience of children, and adults.

I also enjoyed the inclusivity when it came to the illustrations of the humans. It was fantastic to see the world so well reflected!

I’m sure it’s a book that people will be happy to revisit time and time again, I know I’ll definitely be diving back in before my copy expires!

I’d love to see some prints to go alongside the release of the book, either collations of animals from each species or time period, or spreads from the book itself, just with less text such as the dinosaur family tree.

What the Dinosaurs Saw will be published on June 25th 2020. It doesn’t seem to be available to pre-order online in the UK yet (and it’s not on goodreads either), so I would recommend that you reach out to your local bookshop to see if they can stock it for you.