The Sewing Machine Natalie Fergie

61E8LNHa+9L._AC_US218_Pub: Unbound Digital

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents.  His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

From the start you just know The Sewing Machine is going to be a little treasure.

Set in three timeline 1911, 1954 and 2016, getting to know each of the characters was just amazing. Each timeline is written perfectly for the era. the strike in the factory and the consequences of that which affects Jean, the brilliance of the 1950’s NHS where the Sister would make tea in china cups to deliver bad news and the modernity 2011.

Jean, Connie and Fred each have a history to the Singer sewing machine that Natalie Fergie has written about. You would think that a novel about an everyday item would be quite dull… but you would be very very wrong.

From the start of its life, being made and tested, to being used to make beautiful ballgowns and mending sheets to finally being used as a doorstop which folk trip over. the life of the machine is interesting, and wonderfully brilliantly descriptive.

Without giving anything away, I loved the way each story entwines and we discover the link between each part of the tale.

It’s the little things with this book. The dust of the factory floor, sandwiches in grease-proof paper and the changing times which brings The Sewing Machine to life.

Everyone knows that I have a love of sewing, and this book was joy to read. Even if you have never stitched I am convinced that will be enjoyed by all who read. There is sadness, romance, births and deaths, but it is Natalie’s writing that gives this an emotive and realistic edge.

I could talk about it all day. and this book will be on my recommendation list for ever.  I just simply loved it.

5*/5

Buy the book

amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XWWM7TG/

 

These Great Ladies Lyndsy Spence

51QK3n8bkDL._AC_US218_Pub: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Oh dear,’ said Evelyn Waugh of his society friends, ‘these great ladies.’ In this book of pen portraits the reader is introduced to obscure ladies who were society stars in their day. From the Churchills to the Mitfords, British and European Royals, to international playboys and film stars, these ladies knew everyone. And everyone knew them, for better or worse. Margaret, Duchess of Argyll: Famous for her naughty polaroids, and whose divorce from her Duke saw 88 men named as her lovers. Mariga Guinness: A bewitching German princess with a harrowing childhood, who fought to preserve Irish buildings and became an icon in the process. Sylvia Ashley: A girl from the wrong side of the tracks who married two lords, two Hollywood stars, and a Russian prince. Joan Wyndham: A bohemian aristocrat who shunned a debutante existence to live a life of debauchery in Chelsea. Enid Lindeman: An Australian wine heiress who married four rich and titled men, and buried them all. Venetia Montagu: A society girl who moved at the centre of H.H. Asquith’s wartime government. Irene Curzon: A ‘poor little rich girl’ who dared to break the rules. Jean Massereene: A dazzling viscountess whose association with Sir Edward Carson almost ruined her reputation. A true eccentric, fashion icon, and champion of the spiritualist movement.

These Great Ladies is a superbly written Historical account of the lives of some amazing women.

Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, headstrong with a strained relationship with her mother is fascinating to read. She was forced to write with her right hand despite being left-handed and her confidence was constantly shaken by a mother who didn’t seem to much like her. Margaret had an abortion when she was young after getting pregnant by David Niven bu this was a friendship that would hold till his death.  Her travels, her loves and her awful marriage to the Duke are just a few of what was a eventful and interesting life.

Mariga Guinness. Born with an infection Mariga was not expected to live very long.  Mariga was my favourite of all the ladies that written about. Again well travelled and her ‘romantic notion of war she met and married her husband Desmond. His family were the rich and powerful Guinness dynasty, It was marrying Desmond that I think Mariga finally found herself. Her glamorous friends and rather bohemian lifestyle of the 50’s and 60’s were fun to read. her life was always a struggle, but she held herself high and I rather fell in love with her.

Slyvia Ashley known as the serial bride is also a girl with a strong personality. With her mother having the same maiden as me  I did feel drawn to her.  Born on Aprils Fools Day in 1904, and born with a very large gap between her teeth, she was a risque ‘lady’ and even posed in her underwear. She married the son of the 9th Earl of Shaftsbury, and they were dubbed by the press as th Earl and the Girl. Slyvia was not accepted by the Earls family and even moreso when she found she couldn’t have children. She eventually left her husband and went to live with the actor Douglas Fairbanks.

All of the women in These Great Ladies are strong, feisty and beautiful.  It is a novel that is very well researched and nobody writes historical non fiction quite like Lyndsy Spence.

It is like one glorious history lesson with soundbites of scandal and personal tragedy as well as funny anecdotes.

My love of Spence’s novels has grown with each of her books that I have read and I highly recommend reading them.

5*/5

Buy the book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1530417600/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1495454333&sr=8-2&keywords=these+great+ladies

 

Happy Hexies Boutique Sha

51hru6P7CXL._AC_US218_Pub: Search Press

Hexies are taking the world by storm!

Driven by the popularity of English paper piecing, hexagons are fast becoming the go-to motif for quilters and patchworkers of all ages and abilities.

In this inspiring and informative book, you will learn how to construct these cheerful little fabric shapes using the full-size templates provided, and then use them to create unique patchwork projects. Step-by-step colour photographs illustrate various techniques, including English paper piecing, hand-pieced inset seams and special hexagon-specific quilting methods. Once these have been mastered, you can try your hand at the collection of 12 adorable patchwork projects, including a floral-inspired mini quilt, retro tea cosy and zippered pencil case.

These hexie-based paper piecing projects work up quickly and easily, making them ideal hand-sewing projects for weekend crafting and quilting on the go.

I absolutely adore hexies..

So I was rather pleased when I given the opportunity to review Happy Hexies and make the simple but beautiful projects.

Each project has a ‘menu’ that tells you what you need, sizes and include tips and methods. There is even a section on what tools you need and a definition of two methods that you can try. It is quite educational, and even if you have been sewing for a while, it is a fabulous reminder of what English Paper Piecing is all about.

The instructions are easy to follow and they all come with picture illustrations so you really can’t go wrong.

The projects are suitable for a novice sewist, and a more advance person. I think they can even be perfect for children to try.

From bags to purses and coasters to quilts, each project can be completed in just a few hours or over the weekend.

Sewing little hexies together is very addictive.. so be warned.

5*/5

 

 

I decided to make the Graphic Flower Pouch

Each project has a ‘menu’ of what you will need..fabric, size and any extras.

1.IMG_20170519_175557

Firstly I chose my fabric and cut my hexagons. I would have benefited more if the size of the hexagon was listed.. then  I could have downloaded the perfect hexagon.. however, there are full sized templates and as you don’t need a lot of them for each project it didn’t really matter greatly. You just trace around them and cut them out. Easy.

2.IMG_20170519_183823

Sewing the hexagons together is an easy process. First I tacked/basted the paper pieces to the fabric… you can use fabric glue at this stage,  but my preferred method was stitching them.

3.IMG_20170519_200443

I then over stitched them together to form ‘flowers’, diagrams and instructions on how to achieve this are given.

I followed the pattern to the end. The beauty of this project is that by adding more hexies you can make a deeper pouch.. and fill it with more lovely items.

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Ta Da… one very cute little purse. 🙂

I embroidered some of the hexies to add a personal touch, now to decide what to fill it with.

 

I finished this in about four hours. Some of the projects are simple and won’t take a long time but the others can be done in a weekend.

I loved this book and I think it would be the ideal gift for someone who loves the craft of sewing, or be like me just keep for yourself to enjoy,

Happy Sewing.

 

Buy the book

https://www.searchpress.com/book/9781782215417/happy-hexies

The Killer on the Wall Emma Kavanagh

511MqSqCOSL._AC_US218_Pub: Arrow

he first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

 

This is a novel with the WOW factor.

Isla has lived with the murders of Briganton, since she was a girl and she found the bodies propped against the wall. The Wall being the famous Hadrians wall, but the history of the Northern sleepy town in which she lived was lost when a serial killer took over.

Now twenty years later, Isla’s job as a Forensic psychologist has brought her in touch with the man who killed three people and left for dead the man who is now her husband.

Heath McGowan, having been arrested by Isla’s father is now undergoing an MRI to find out why he killed and is the 13th serial killer that Isla has tested.

Then… a body is found, killed and propped up against the wall.

The Killer on the Wall is dark, twisted and very very good.

Emma Kavanagh is one of those authors who can do wrong. She has a knack for taking the reader on a journey is so cleverly plotted I honestly didn’t see the ending at all.

I must admit, halfway through the tale. Isla is having a group discussion and it was this that made start thinking differently about who the killer might be.

I was hooked from the start and what must have been lengthy research, Kavanagh’s 4th novel is superbly brilliant.

The characters, the setting, and of course the whole scene of Police involvement and the serial killer insights was for me an enjoyable learning curve as well as a fabulous read.

Highly recommended

5*/5

The Darkest Lies Barbara Copperthwaite

cover111382-medium.png Pub: Bookouture

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.
Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

 

I love Barbara Copperthwaite, and recommend her books to everyone.

After reading Flowers for the Dead, which is one of my all time favourite reads, I couldn’t wait for The Darkest Lies.

Melanie’s daughter, Beth,  has disappeared and her search for her is one that strikes fear in every mothers heart. I honestly don’t know how Barbara managed to ‘get inside’ Melanie but she truly did and this is novel that is brilliant. traumatic and tense.

The Oaks are a perfect family,  but what happens is absolutely terrifying, and Barbara, with her vivid imagination and poised pen has written the perfect thriller.   I was completely gripped from the start.

With a few little twists along the way, it will delight and intrigue fans of Copperthwaite,

The Darkest Lies is another I will be recommending and one I loved.

4*/5

 

 

Ella’s Ice Cream Summer Sue Watson

cover112224-medium Pub: Bookouture

 

Ella’s life just hit rock-bottom, but can a summer by the sea mend her broken heart? When life gives you lemons… make ice-cream!

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her.

Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets.

There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time.

 

Can Ice Cream mend a broken heart?? 

Set in my hometown of delightful Devon Sue Watson has written a book with the Wow factor.

Ella has no job and no love life and everything else in her life in also going under.. so she packs her bags and heads for the sun and a beach.

With romance, laughs and of course Ice cream this tale is the perfect escape. I literally lived the scene and the story for the whole time I was reading.

Sue Watson shows other authors how writing women’s fiction should be done. It’s not sugary, it’s not twee and along with gorgeous characters, the story has a theme of family and relationships at it’s core.

I could imagine that there are several families such as Ella’s all over the world and I loved getting involved.

Perfect Summer sun reading.

4*/5

My Sister Michelle Adams

51W0o7zGjYL._AC_US218_Pub: Headline

My name is Irini. I was given away.

My name is Elle. I was kept.

All her life Irini thought she was given away because her family didn’t want her. What if the truth is something worse?

Two sisters. Two separate lives.

One family bound by a harrowing secret.

 

Phew!!

What an incredible story this is.

Irini was ‘given away’ as a child to her aunt and uncle, both of whom seem to cast her aside in all things family.  With a disability and her inability to fit in, she struggles socially growing up and she sees an opportunity to find answers when her mother dies and she is called to the family home by her sister Elle.

My Sister is a thrilling read. For me it was a ‘one sit read’ and I was absolutely hooked from the start.

Michell Adams debut is a powerful, tragic and psychotic tale. It is disturbing, sad and quite harrowing.  It is also a tale that makes one wonder with whom they feel the most sorrow for.

All the characters have a deep rooted despair about them, and the relationship between the two sisters is raw, challenging and at times, dare I say, tender in an odd meeting of minds kind of way,

All through the novel I had a feeling about Irini, and boy, the way this brilliantly plotted novel weaves is amazing.

My Sister is the most unsettling book I have ever read.  It’s exploration of family, and the ties that bind are second to none. Some of the topics are uncomfortable to read but this is tale worth reading.

An exceptional story that makes you shudder.

5*/5