How to make 50 Fabulous Flat Kumihimo Braids Beth Kemp

61Tbsmv6KBL._AC_US218_ Pub: Search Press Books

The friendship bracelet grows up! A beginner’s guide to making flat braids for fun and fabulous cord jewellery and accessories, complete with a lightweight but sturdy square kumihimo braiding loom to get you started.

A must-have book for anyone from tween to adult, who enjoys making their own jewellery. The specially drawn graphics make following the instructions easy for beginner to intermediate, and expert teacher, designer and braider Beth Kemp gives a masterclass in combining different colours and textures of cords.

Includes plenty of ideas for how to use braids for adorable friendship bracelets through to more intricate beaded projects, and has different ways to start and finish with clasps or decorative loops and tassels. The book comes with a cute mini-loom that you can remove to try out your skills on.

If you ever enjoyed making ‘Friendship bracelets’ then this the book for you..

Kumihimo Braids is a step up from the simple but effective braids we gave our friends to show our lifelong friendship.

Complete with a Braiding Loom to make this craft as easy as possible, I think that these projects could be achieved by adults and children. The book even has a replacement template for you to trace and cut out.


There are 50 projects in all, and this book is filled with complete instructions and colorful pictures.


From bracelets to bookmarks, and chokers, necklaces and collars,  Beth Kemp has come up with the most beautiful and decorative designs, she even demonstrates how to add beads and stones.


Filled with techniques and suggestions as to materials you can use, the projects start easy and progress onto more advanced shapes and patterns.

It is easy to be inspired by this artful book, and this craft has been brought right up to date by the author, who has a background in the jewellery industry.

Traditionally a Japanese craft, Kumihimo by it’s design looks difficult, but it is actually quite easy. I particularly  liked the Checkerboard Choker and I know that once I have mastered this craft, I will be making and designing my own jewels to gift to my loved ones.


Buy the book..


The Good Sister Jess Ryder

51DzoPAIH3L._AC_US218_.jpgPub: Bookouture

Two sisters. One secret… A lie that could destroy them both.

When her father dies, Josie is devastated to uncover he led a secret life: another house, another family and a half-sister called Valentina.

Both with red hair and icy blue eyes, Josie and Valentina could be mistaken for twins. But the similarities end there…

Josie – Sweet, reserved, jealous, thief.
Valentina – Care-free, confident, dangerous, liar.

There is a perfect life here for the taking. But which one of them wants it the most?

Two sisters. One survivor.


Josie’s father has died, but was it really an accident or was it something else..

Josie soon learns that her father had secrets.. two of them.. another wife and another daughter Valentina.

Just every so often a book comes along and totally shakes you to the core. The Good Sister is one such book.

This is a tale with so many twists my head spun. It is brilliantly written and with such an amazing plot line it is one to read and recommend.

If I tell you any more about  Josie and Valentina, it would take away the suspense and thrills, suffice to say they are two very different personalities, and the Viking references had me intrigued and are very interesting. Fact meets fiction in such a way  that the curious and inquisitive are easily satisfied.

This is a slick tale with a fabulous finish. The Good Sister is my first Jess Ryder novel but it definitely won’t be my last.





Antidote to Venom Freeman Wills Crofts

51uyX1vH-yL._AC_US218_Pub: The British Library Publishing Division

George Surridge, director of the Birmington Zoo, is a man with many worries: his marriage is collapsing; his finances are insecure; and an outbreak of disease threatens the animals in his care. As Surridge’s debts mount and the pressure on him increases, he begins to dream of miracle solutions. But is he cunning enough to turn his dreams into reality – and could he commit the most devious murder in pursuit of his goals?

This is a crime novel with a difference..

From the start we know who the murderer is, we know why the murder has taken place and we know how the murder was committed.

George is a man who has money problems. His wife Clarissa, who has money of her own but never spends it in anyone but herself, doesn’t know of George’s financial state. When George starts an affair with a beautiful young woman he meets at the zoo where is the Director, his money worries become of a burden.

George’s  marriage to Clarissa is a cold one.George’s Aunt, very frail and old has money and George knows he is to inherit all that she has.

George is shocked to find he is thinking more and more of his Aunts death and even has wicked thoughts about her demise.

This is a novel that has intrigue and is well written with an extremely clever plot.

Originally published in 1938, it has lost none of it’s charm and set in the unusual vicinity of a zoo, Antidote to Venom is quite unlike most other crime novels.

I am really loving these books, this is the 3rd of the series I have read. Antidote to Venom is well worth a read, it has charm, and The author captures George’s feelings of fright and anxiety perfectly.

A wonderful novel and perfect for crime lovers.


The House with Old Furniture Helen D Lewis

51O6Ok83PdL._AC_US218_.jpgPub: Honno Press

Evie has lost her eldest son, Jesse, to inner London gang violence. Leaving the house he was born in is pulling apart the few strings left holding Evie’s heart together. Only the desire to be there for her younger boy, Finn, impels her to West Wales and the house her husband thinks might help heal some of their wounds.

Days later, Andrew is gone – rushing back to his ‘important’ job in government, leaving his grieving wife and son. Finn finds solace in the horse his father buys by way of apology. As does his evasive and fearful new friend, Nye, the one who reminds him and Evie of Jesse. Evie tries to drown her sorrows in housekeeper Alys’ homemade wine. As Evie’s drinking becomes a problem and Finn begins bunking off, Andrew’s parents ride to the rescue and it becomes clear that this is a house they know and know well. They seem to think they own it and begin making changes nobody wants, particularly Alys and Nye, her son, the boy who looks like Jesse and is terrified at loud noises.

This book was such an unexpected surprise to me..

and not at all what I thought it would be.

After the murder of her son, Evie and her family upsticks and move to Wales.

Evie and her husband Andrew are dealing with their grief in totally different ways, and Evie’s pain is very sad to read. Helen Lewis has captured what it is like to be a mother with such a loss.

I have a similar history to Evie, in that my brother was also murdered and I watched my own mothers grief spiral in such a way that all that mattered was her dead son. The living did not bring her any comfort, so I totally understood Evie.

This is a book about death, The 1st world war is largely portrayed and as Evie’s life falls apart we learn so much about her, her relationship with her husband and also that of Alys, the housekeeper who comes to help Evie. With her book of ‘life’ filled with recipes, notes and remedies, this is a character that intrigues. Nye, her son is a fearful boy and the similarities between them all fills this book with heartbreak and a sadness that sticks.

This is a tale with unpredictable plot.

I loved the title, it gives this book an air of tense expectation and suspense.

Reading the first few pages of The House with Old Furniture, I got the feeling that this would be a ghost story, and  it was.  Jesse follows his mother and his brother Finn, Finn is rather ignored and my heart went out to him. Ghosts past and present haunt the characters and secrets, grief and a highly emotive tale makes this book one to read.



An Almond for a Parrot Wray Delaney

6105dWxc55L._AC_US218_Pub: Harper Collins

I would like to make myself the heroine of this story – an innocent victim led astray. But alas sir, I would be lying…’

London, 1756: In Newgate prison, Tully Truegood awaits trial. Her fate hanging in the balance, she tells her life-story. It’s a tale that takes her from skivvy in the back streets of London, to conjuror’s assistant, to celebrated courtesan at her stepmother’s Fairy House, the notorious house of ill-repute where decadent excess is a must…

Tully was once the talk of the town. Now, with the best seats at Newgate already sold in anticipation of her execution, her only chance of survival is to get her story to the one person who can help her avoid the gallows.

She is Tully Truegood.

Orphan, whore, magician’s apprentice.


The title of this book refers to what Tully Truegood would call her biography..

In prison for murder and the prospect the verdict resulting in her hanging, she tells her story with aplomb.

The daughter of a drunkard Captain, and her only friend a cook, Tully is employed at 8 to clean and married at 12 to a man whose name she does not know.

Did I mention she also sees dead people??

Wray Delaney’s debut in the fiction world for adults is quite a read. I was amazed that I quite enjoyed this book given the sexual content. Tully is quite a ‘lady’, and she is one I rather quite liked.

I loved the historical timeline, set in the late 1700s, you can almost smell the stench and the atmospheric feel is quite marvellous.

This is book that some will like and others not so much.. I surprisingly found it a delight in the fact that is really is quite different to my usual reads.

This book is filled with magic and is at times frightening, it is a pacy read and cleverly written.. and yes I would recommend.





The Watch House Bernie Mcgill

510+Hd5Oc4L._AC_US218_Pub: Tinder Press


As the twentieth century dawns on the island of Rathlin, a place ravaged by storms and haunted by past tragedies, Nuala Byrne is faced with a difficult decision. Abandoned by her family for the new world, she receives a proposal from the island’s aging tailor. For the price of a roof over her head, she accepts.

Meanwhile the island is alive with gossip about the strangers who have arrived from the mainland, armed with mysterious equipment which can reportedly steal a person’s words and transmit them through thin air. When Nuala is sent to cook for these men – engineers, who have been sent to Rathlin by Marconi to conduct experiments in the use of wireless telegraphy – she encounters an Italian named Gabriel, who offers her the chance to equip herself with new skills and knowledge. As her friendship with Gabriel opens up horizons beyond the rocky and treacherous cliffs of her island home, Nuala begins to realise that her deal with the tailor was a bargain she should never have struck.

As a reader I struggle with books that use dialect text..

I would much rather the author tell me where the character hails from, then my head can ‘voice’ the character for me.  I just find that if I don’t know the area or the lingo used I find it difficult to read and understand…. having said that,

The Watch House is a truly good tale.

Having accepted Ned..the Tailor offer of marriage, Nuala soon finds she has made a mistake. With her family gone she thought that this was the only life on offer, but when she finds she is interested in the new way of communication brought by none other than the Great Marconi, who comes to the island of Raithlin, she forms a close relationship with The Italian Gabriel Donati.

The Watch House has wonderful characters, some likable some not, it is atmospheric and life his hard for Nuala. McGill captures her bleak start and the lifestyle of the time perfectly.

This is story which captures your heart quickly, I soon became involved with all that happens with Nuala, she is treated poorly by Ginny, the crony sister of Ned the Tailor.

There is a lot of story in this book, and watching the real  history unfold within it’s pages is quite amazing. You can tell this book has been well researched.

One to read and recommend.


Ever wonder what books your favourite author is reading and recommending ??….

Bernie has kindly give her top ten for us to enjoy.

Bernie McGill: Ten Favourite Books (Today)

I imagine this is a little like choosing music and reading material for Desert Island Discs – it entirely depends on what point in your life you are making the selection, perhaps even on which day of the week. Today, and in no particular order, these are my ten.

BELOVED by Toni Morrison

I’d spent years at University reading books that were supposed to be good for me and most of them had been written by white western men. When I left my studies, I made a resolution to – at least for a period of time – read books by women, and from parts of the world and from cultures other than my own. If I hadn’t I may never have realised that there were books like this. BELOVED is stunning – a ghost story, a story of slavery, a horror story, told matter-of-fact.

ALIAS GRACE by Margaret Atwood

This is another book I read in my twenties and for the reasons above. I’ve been a convert to Margaret Atwood ever since. It tells the nineteenth century story of Grace Marks who has been convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper, but who claims to have no memory of the incident. A beautifully written book that tells a cracking good story. I’m enthralled, at the moment, with the tv serialisation of Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE and looking forward to the release of the film of ALIAS GRACE.

DEAR LIFE by Alice Munro

Another favourite Canadian writer, this is a master class in the short story. Every now and again I re-read her to try and work out the technicalities: how she does what she does so well, and every time I get carried off, aloft, by the storytelling. ‘Corrie’ is a personal favourite from the collection, in the style of Flannery O’Connor’s classic short story ‘Good Country People’ (also highly recommended for those who like their fiction short).

AFTER YOU’D GONE by Maggie O’Farrell

A friend bought me this book as a birthday present and I’ve read every one of Maggie O’Farrell’s books since. The story is pieced together as the main character, Alice Raikes, lies in a coma in hospital, in varying stages of consciousness, following an accident. I love the mosaic structure of it, all the narratives at competing angles, everything told slant. I don’t like to write chronologically. It was one of the first books I read that made me feel that it might be possible to be a writer.

THE BUTCHER BOY by Patrick McCabe

Small-town Ireland, a disturbed young man, and his eventual descent into madness. Dark, savage and brilliant and written by an Irish man. If this had been on my MA reading list, I wouldn’t have been quite so ready to leave these shores behind, literarily speaking. (Although I don’t think it would be included in the list of recommended reading from the Irish Tourist Board.)


I love the title of this book. It’s the first I read by Sebastian Barry and I’ve read every one since. His books fit together like one big puzzle: a bit character in one turns up in another with her or his own dedicated story, but stand-alone, they are nonetheless totally absorbing. Eneas is an innocent who, desperate for work, joins the Royal Irish Constabulary after the first world war, finds himself on the IRA blacklist and consequently an exile from his country. In many ways, the story of Eneas is the untold side of the story of Irish independence. Poignant and uplifting in turns: an absolute classic.

FOUR LETTERS OF LOVE by Niall Williams

A friend lent me this book. I haven’t given it back. I will when I’ve bought my own copy but I haven’t done that yet. Don’t lend me books because as soon as I’ve read them, I feel like I own them and I can’t bear to part with this one. It is a miraculous book about love and magic and joy. HISTORY OF THE RAIN, by the same author, is also a treasure.


Spare and earthy and beautifully written, this book follows the journey of an unnamed Irish writer (Samuel Beckett) from Paris at the beginning of the second world war. One of those books that makes you realise that you’ve never fully considered what it must have been like to live through that experience: from the early inconveniences to the daily deprivations to the undeniable atrocities to the palpable relief of its ending.

OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout

A novel in stories. Incredibly accomplished, brilliantly written, and testament to the fact that you can love a book in which the main protagonist is not an easy person to love.


Utterly chilling from start to finish. For a taster, read Shirley Jackson’s short story ‘The Lottery’. That will give you a fair idea of what you’re in for. If you don’t like the story, then stay well away.

The Winter Children Lulu Taylor

51tLQD+hI2L._AC_US218_Pub:  Pan

Olivia and Dan Felbeck are blissfully happy when their longed-for twins arrive after years of IVF. At the same time, they make the move to Renniston Hall, a huge, Elizabethan house that belongs to absent friends. Living rent-free in a small part of the unmodernised house, once a boarding school, they can begin to enjoy the family life they’ve always wanted. But there is a secret at the heart of their family, one that Olivia does not yet know. And the house, too, holds its darkness deep within it . . .


The Winter Children is quite a tale…

Atmospheric with mystery, tension and sadness.

Olivia and Dan unable to have children decide to use donor eggs in order to conceive. Bea and Stan are the blessed children born in Winter that fill Olivia’s life with contentment and happiness.

Dan’s old friend from University, Francesca, has been part of his life for many years and they share a close bond. When ‘Cheska’s’ husband Walt buys an old stately home, she enables Dan and Olivia to stay in the old cottage in the grounds to help them out, Dan and Olivia’s financial situation is not good since Dan was made redundant, and this opportunity gives the chance to finally do some writing.

This is a story of deep secrets, and to be honest if I give away too much of the plot it will ruin a tale that has so much to offer any reader.

Partly historical, in that it is set in two timelines, The Winter Children is a heart rending and emotive story. The characters care much for themselves, but oh my ….that ending!!!

I loved the plot set in 1959, and Lulu Taylor has really captured the attitude of the times. The friendship between Julia and Alice is warm and tender, and I particularly liked the closeness they shared.  Donnie was a surprising character and I didn’t guess his part at all.

I savoured this read, and quite honestly was sad to have finished it. I definitely had a ‘book hangover’.

Beautifully told.