Friday, February 28, 2014

A Postcrossing Adventure: Weeks 15 & 16

Week 15
// outgoing:
During week 15 of my Postcrossing challenge, I sent a vintage postcard from the London Transport Museum to the Ukraine (AU-337684), and a Leichhardt First Day of Issue maxicard to Belarus (AU-337686).

Week 16
// outgoing:

It was another two Postcrossing cards going out this week as well: A platypus is on its way to Germany (AU-339207), and an Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14 maxicard was sent to the Netherlands (AU-339209) - which incidentally, is one of my all-time favourite historical photographs featuring South Australian geologist and explorer, Cecil Madigan, and one super cute puppy.

// incoming: 

Just the single card from Brazil (BR-298391), which arrived in yesterday's post, is the only Postcrossing card I've received in the past fortnight.
Postcrossing postcards sent to date: 36
All time: 94
Postcrossing postcards received to date: 37
All time: 99

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Blog Spot

Every Sunday afternoon, I browse blogs.

I catch up on those I follow, and go in search of new ones. It's a quiet time for me, to just sit and relax, and read about what's happening in the lives of other people - some similar, some not. It's a great way to unwind before a busy week of work kicks off again.
I don't mean to be bossy, but you simply must visit the following blogs if you've not done so before. They are all kinds of beautiful, amazing, and wow!
What blogs are you reading? Perhaps you have a recommendation for me?

Dirt Farmer.

Today, I show you my dirt.
When we first moved back here in 2008, after having spent a decade in the city, it was the middle of autumn. The days were clear and sunny, the nights cool and crisp. There'd be dew in the mornings. The signs of a hot summer were slowly being overgrown by the promise of winter. Perhaps it was just the excitement of starting something new, or the awe of all the wide open space that made me completely oblivious to the dirt.
People in the neighbouring towns call us "Dirt Farmers". Our town is situated on flats between the mountain ranges, surrounded by farming and grazing land. Rocky outcrops dominate the horizon, with creeks that are bone-dry most of the time, and saltbush plains that stretch for miles and miles... People plough and plant the same fields every year, keep too much stock and let them overgraze. I thought "Dirt Farmer" was a pretty clever observation, but I never thought it would be a term I'd apply to myself.

Let me tell you about the dirt: It's everywhere, and not just outside. It's evident not only in the garden or out of town. It is everywhere, all of the time.
It doesn't matter what season, or what direction the wind is coming in from. It doesn't even matter if there is no wind at all, or whether the house is open or closed-up, there will still be dirt.
It is dirt that covers every surface and finds its way into every corner, nook and cranny. It sits on bricks, stores itself on windowsills, between doors, and on flyscreens. Every time we walk on the hardwood floors we kick it up, move it around and stir the allergies. I can clean it away, but the dirt will be back the next day, making it look as though I've not done a thing.
Dirt Farmer.
I have developed a new understanding of that term, in its full context. If dirt were worth a dime, I'd be rather well-to-do right now.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Time Keepers by Nicki J Markus

Time KeepersTime Keepers by Nicki J. Markus

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in London in the year 2025, Time Keepers is a futuristic novel set in a world where the existence of supernatural beings is accepted - and feared. The Government, on the other hand, wants to gain control over these creatures, and so starts rounding them up and keeping them in labs, where experiments and brain-washing is the accepted norm.

Nick is a werewolf who believes he has successfully slipped beneath the radar of detection, whilst Ellie is a Time Keeper (time-traveller) on the run from the government. The abilities of a Time Keeper are regarded as the most valuable prize of them all. However, it is when fate colludes to bring Nick and Ellie together that the real adventure, intrigue and danger begins to unfold. Ellie just wants to the do the right thing, whilst Nick has to come to the realisation that there is a lot more at stake than just saving his own skin.

Time Keepers is the "filled out" version of a series of four short stories published in 2011. Whilst characters, locations, and events have been developed in more detail, the premise remains much the same. A lot happens in this story, and it happens very rapidly, which makes this a quick and easy novel to read; although the ending is somewhat predictable, it is otherwise enjoyable.

3.5 stars.

View all my reviews

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Blog Spot

Every Sunday afternoon, I browse blogs.
I catch up on those I follow, and go in search of new ones. It's a quiet time for me, to just sit and relax, and read about what's happening in the lives of other people - some similar, some not. It's a great way to unwind before a busy week of work kicks off again.
This week I am discovering and rediscovering the beautiful blogs belonging to:
What blogs are you reading? Perhaps you have a recommendation for me?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Postcrossing Adventure: Week 14

Week 14
// outgoing:
A few more of my Postcrossing cards arrived at their destinations this week, so I decided it was safe to send another THREE postcards out. Kelly Country (AU-336105) is travelling to Russia, beachside bliss in Glenelg (AU-336106) is on its way to Germany, and Indigenous leader Oodgeroo Noonuccal (AU-336165) was sent to The Netherlands.

// incoming: 
Just the ONE card in this week, from Katrin in Germany (DE-2778018) who made the card pictured above using a photograph, and spoke of her love for books.
Postcrossing postcards sent to date: 32
All time: 90
Postcrossing postcards received to date: 36
All time: 98

Friday, February 14, 2014


Okay, so last week I was complaining about being stuck inside because of the heat. Well, today I've been indoors on account of the rain, which is something you'll never hear me complain about (L-O-V-E the rain!), but it never ceases to amaze me how quickly, and how dramatically the weather can shift here.
Yesterday it was 41*C.
Today it's 25*C with torrential downpours.
The pictures above were taken during a rainstorm that lasted, at most, fifteen minutes. Within that time, the front yard, the back yard and our street became a raging torrent of water.
...Okay. Maybe not a raging torrent, but as close as you'll ever get to one in these past.
There was thunder, and lightning, and so much water it set the fire alarm off (yeah, I'm not sure how that works, either).
Then the rain stopped and the water promptly soaked away. In half the time it took for the rain to fall, the yard and the street were back to normal.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

The White Princess (The Cousins' War,  #5)
The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I like most about the novels belonging to Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series is that with each novel there is a new perspective, and with each new perspective the relationship dynamics between the characters shift, making each story as a whole feel brand new, even though they are all intricately entwined.

The White Princess tells the story of Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville. Favourite of King Richard III, Elizabeth is betrothed and then wed to Henry Tudor after Richard's defeat at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. But she is not a favourite in this new royal court, which is dark, paranoid and brooding - a stark contrast to the bright and happy court of her father and uncle. However, Elizabeth's marriage to Henry Tudor (that is, Henry VII) is a political manoeuvre to bind the houses of York and Lancaster together forever, and through this create a new royal House: The Tudors.

Elizabeth of York is presented as an intelligent and devoted young woman who is forced to marry a man she does not like, and who killed her true love, Richard III. However, raised as a royal princess she is acutely aware of the part she must play, and so sacrifices her own happiness for the wellbeing of her country. But her marriage to Henry does not bring about the peace they had hoped for, and rebellions made against the new King in the name of the House of York has devastating consequences for Elizabeth and her kin. Torn between her loyalty to her Tudor and York families, Elizabeth's decisions are not easy ones, especially when rumours are rife that her youngest brother, Richard IV, is alive and preparing to win back their father's crown.

I really liked Elizabeth of York as a character, in particular how Gregory made her faithful, compassionate and forgiving - a contrast to her prior heroines, who were rather conniving and vengeful. Elizabeth, who is not scared of anything or anyone, is the perfect opposite to her wickedly delusional mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, and a great teacher to her husband, Henry VII, who knows nothing of what it means to be a King of England.

The story that Gregory tells in The White Princess is a believable one, and one that flows far more effortlessly between events than her prior novel, The Kingmaker's Daughter. There weren't really any opportunities for the women of the Cousins' War to have happy endings, but Elizabeth's optimism and resolve manage to provide a silver lining to even her deepest tragedies. It makes it possible for the reader to overlook the historical inaccuracies, ignore the absence of historical detail, and focus on the characters and the story to which they belong.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Blog Spot

Every Sunday afternoon, I browse blogs.
I catch up on those I follow, and go in search of new ones. It's a quiet time for me, to just sit and relax, and read about what's happening in the lives of other people - some similar, some not. It's a great way to unwind before a busy week of work kicks off again.
This Sunday, I am getting immersed in the lovely blogs of:

What blogs are you reading? Perhaps you have a recommendation for me?

Sunned in...

Today we have a one day reprieve from the sweltering temperatures the south-east of the country has had to endure these past few weeks.
At 32 degrees Celsius, and with a southerly breeze, it is a nice change from the 45 degrees we reached yesterday. But the wind today is also pushing the smoke from the Bangor bushfire in our direction, so we are blanketed in a grey, smoggy haze.
Tomorrow begins yet another heatwave, with temperatures expect to soar back into the 40s for at least another week.
I spend a lot of my time in the early mornings and evenings in the garden, watering the plants as the soil is extremely dry at the moment. I am in need of more Lucerne hay for mulch: The sun is fast disintegrating what is left.
We have started putting the sprinkler on in the evenings for a few minutes on the back lawn, and all the birds (including up to ten magpies at any one time!) come swooping in to cool off, take a drink and search for bugs under the spray. We watch them from the kitchen window, in the comfort of an air conditioned house, where indoor activities are all the go.
We don't get "snowed in" here; we get "sunned in" instead.
How's the weather at your place?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Postcrossing Adventure: Week 13

Week 13
// outgoing:
I sent just TWO cards again this week: A Farming Australia (sugar cane) First Day of Issue maxicard went to the USA (AU-334714), whilst the Jane Austen quote was sent to a fellow bibliophile in New Zealand (AU-334715).
I like to trade blank non-tourist cards with other people to get some variety, as it is very difficult to find postcards where I live. This allows me some extra choice when sending out cards via Postcrossing. I'd love to exchange some blank cards with people (such as art cards, quotes, photography cards that aren't tourist cards etc.), so if you're interested please get in contact with me via email at sorcha(dot)sidhe(at)gmail(dot)com.
I'm especially interested in trading First Day of Issue maxicards and the postage paid cards from Australia Post with fellow Australians, as not all the same cards and packs are made available at every post office (or online). I can trade up to ten cards per swap.

I didn't receive any Postcrossing cards this week.
Postcrossing postcards sent to date: 29
All time: 89
Postcrossing postcards received to date: 35
All time: 97

Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

The Kingmaker's Daughter (The Cousins' War #4)
The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was rather excited when I learned that Philippa Gregory's novel The Kingmaker's Daughter was to be from the perspective of Anne Neville - that is, daughter of the Earl of Warwick ("the Kingmaker"), widow of Prince Edward of Lancaster, and then later wife of King Richard III. These three events alone provide the premise for a fascinating and truly gripping novel of what it was like for Anne Neville to live right at the heart of the Wars of the Roses.

The story begins when Anne is still a young girl, and Edward IV (of York) has claimed the throne and declared his marriage to the beautiful widow, Elizabeth Woodville. However, when Edward IV proves not to be the puppet king Anne's father, the Earl of Warwick, had planned for him to be, it isn't long before she and her sister, Isabel, become pawns in their father's quest for a replacement. First it is Edward's younger brother, George, the Duke of Clarence, to whom Anne's sister Isabel is married. Then when that doesn't quite go to plan, Warwick seeks out Margaret of Anjou, wife of the deranged Henry VI, and their son, Prince Edward, to whom Anne is quickly wed. But that doesn't quite go to plan, either, and for a long time after Anne is kept hidden by her brother-in-law, the Duke of Clarence. That is until she is swept off her feet by the chivalrous Richard, Duke of Gloucester, youngest brother to Edward IV, and the two marry. Yet it is from this point on that the story seems to lose a lot of its adventure, excitement and glamour.

The truth of the matter, however, is that (historically speaking) there isn't a great deal of information available on Anne Neville's life after her marriage to Richard, and this no doubt would have proved quite a challenge for Gregory to embellish into a novel. I give her points for trying, though, as she takes the reader on a journey that sees a young and bubbly Anne grow into a hardened, bitter and paranoid woman, forever holding onto her father's ambition that she would one day become Queen of England. Yet the story isn't quite fluid; it's all inside Anne's head, which at times is a confusing and depressing place to be, and jumps between seasons and events at alarming speed. The story is brought to a sudden halt with Anne's death in the spring of 1485, when she was just 29 years old. She outlived her son, but not her husband. This makes the story feel unfinished as Anne's later life revolved around her husband, and Richard III would die at the Battle of Bosworth just five months after his wife, bringing to an end the reign of the York kings.

Considering the era in which it is set, I found myself constantly wanting more detail of the Royal Court and of life in 15th Century England, which is something that Gregory does not go to great lengths to paint. However, Gregory does make Anne and Richard likeable and relatable characters with whom the reader can empathise. But The Kingmaker's Daughter is not a particularly cheery story, nor does it have a happy ending, which can lead its reader to feeling rather empty by the end of it all. It is also a novel that would probably be more enjoyable for those readers not overly familiar with the history, who have the luxury of being able to enjoy the story for what it is: Just a story.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Blog Spot

Every Sunday, just after 3pm, I sit down with iPhone in hand and browse blogs.
I catch up on those I follow, and go in search of new ones. It's a quiet time for me, to just sit and relax, and read about what's happening in the lives of other people - some similar, some not. It's a great way to unwind on a Sunday before a busy week of work kicks off again.

I thought it'd be nice to share some of my favourite blogs with you each week, so that the next time you take a moment to catch up on your blog reading, I might have found the perfect, new favourite blog for you. 

On this very sunny Sunday afternoon, I am getting immersed in the pretty blog worlds of:

What blogs are you reading? Perhaps you have a recommendation for me?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Postcrossing Adventure: Week 12

Week 12
// outgoing:
It has been very hot and very boring here this week. I think I would have happily written Postcrossing cards all week, if Postcrossing didn't set limits on the number of postcards a person can have in transit at any one time. So, I just sent another TWO cards this week, since it seems to take a really long time for my cards to arrive at their destination.
A lovely vintage forest scene from went to Hong Kong (AU-333544), and I sent a stunning merino ram First Day of Issue maxicard to Finland (AU-333546).
// incoming: 

Two out, and two in: From China (CN-1171331) I received the lovely Big Ben postcard (I just L-O-V-E Big Ben!), and the vintage favourites came in from Russia (RU-2315054).
Postcrossing postcards sent to date: 27
All time: 86
Postcrossing postcards received to date: 35
All time: 97