It’s all about Ruth Galloway

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Or, rather, my week is.

My February in fact has been very much focussed on Dr. Ruth Galloway; insecure, studious, knowledgeable, wonderful Ruth. And gruff DCI Harry Nelson, out of place and missing Blackpool. Not to forget Cathbad! Oh my favourite Druid! Yes, guys. One of the main characters is a druid.

On March 1st in the Compass Theatre in Ickenham, I will have the great pleasure of interviewing the wonderful Elly Griffiths about her books, particularly her amazing Ruth Galloway series – modern and ancient crimes blended with in depth archaeological knowledge and fascinating histories.

Roman burial sites! Salt marsh henges! WW2 mysteries! Murdered curators that have something to do with recently unearthed medieval archbishops! And those are only the first four books…

This series has sucked me in completely, with Griffith’s fantastic character work and mysteries set in a backdrop of sparse Norfolk landscapes. I didn’t know I liked crime fiction beyond my Christmas-time Agatha Christie hit, but this series has changed that. I have yet to guess the bad guys in any of her books so far, which I feel is the mark of a really gripping thriller.

We will of course be talking about her non-Ruth Galloway books as well! Maybe.

I’d love to see you there to hear all about Elly Griffiths and see me completely fangirl at her on stage. Join us!

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave | 1 Minute Reviews

Note: In America this book is known as The Cartographer’s Daughter.

The Girl of Ink and Stars is a great adventure and a future classic.

Isabella is a budding cartographer whose skills are required when one girl is murdered and another runs away, lost in the island’s Forgotten Territories. But who killed the girl, why are the animals fleeing to the sea, and what is that churning feeling in her stomach?

Were the stories her Da told her just stories, or could the myths of Arintara be real?

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Dressing as a boy, Isa escapes her home and goes to rescue her missing friend, while determined to solve the mysteries of the island of Joya.

Isa is a great heroine, brave and a little reckless, and in Joya, Hargrave has created a fascinating world. This is a lyrical, wonderful story of friendship. A book to read and to pass on to all the women you know.

In the British edition, the pages are decorated with cartography symbols. It really is one of the most beautiful children’s books.

This is a powerful debut children’s novel from poet Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and has been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by an Author of Colour and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. I personally believe it should win both.

Suitable for children aged 9 and up. This is a great novel for adventurous girls that shows they can be the main character not just the sidekick.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Moonstone by Sjón | 1 Minute Reviews

This beautiful little book arrived in my postbox earlier this week and I couldn’t take my eyes off it, and so decided to sit down and enjoy it in one sitting.

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Máni Stein Karlsson, a sex worker who sees male clients, spends his days in Reykavik avidly watching the best of cinema and admiring the beautiful leather-clad motorbike-riding Sola G-, clutching at her lost bright red scarf.

The year is 1918 and Spanish Flu strikes the town, and so everything begins to change. The cinemas fall abandoned, the streets become emptied as disaster strikes and people die, leading Máni to work as an assistant to the few overworked doctors treating the influenza epidemic.

This is a beautiful novel that captures Iceland in the wake of a volcano eruption and complete devastation of a community. It has a gentle melancholy that reminds me ever so of Stoner by John Williams or A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler.

While Máni is a fictional character, it is clear that this novel is from a personal place. At the climax, it is revealed to be linked to Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson’s (whose pen name is Sjón, meaning sight) own life.

A short novel at around 140 pages, this book really touched me and I look forward to reading more works by Sjón.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you ever so much to Sceptre for sending me a copy of Moonstone.

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff | 1 Minute Reviews

This book absolutely took my breath away. I’ve been thinking about how to sum it up, how to find the right words. I probably cannot do it justice here, but know that you really should read this.

 

Maresi lives in the Red Abbey, where she was sent after the Hunger Winter. The Red Abbey is a sacred place, isolated on its own island Menos, inhabited only by women. Here, the girls can learn, read, reach their full potentials under the tutelage of the Sisters of the Abbey.

One day, a girl arrives covered in dirt and scars on a ship – Jai. Fleeing persecution from her abusive family, Jai lives in fear that the men of her family will not let her escape from them. Not truly.

And that’s when they arrive on a boat.

Maresi is an absolutely stunning book on the patriarchal ownership and subjugation of women, a story of honour killings and brutality. Maria Turtschaninoff’s writing is stunning and this feels like one of the most sophisticated YA novels I’ve read. A spiritual descendent of The Handmaid’s Tale, Maresi is the first book in the promising Red Abbey Chronicles.

Interested? Buy it here in hardback or paperback. I’m a bit in love with both covers.

What to read next:

Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon | 1 Minute Reviews

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Steampunk pirate ships.

I’m sure many of you, as I did when I first head that portion of premise, just sat up and went excuse me?

Let me introduce you to one of my new favourite series: The Tellus Saga by Lucy Saxon – whose birthday it is today! Happy birthday Lucy! The Tellus Saga, which will feature six books with each following a character from a different country (see the map below), begins with Take Back the Skies, a rip roaring adventure of taking down corrupt governments in Anglya.

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Catherine is lucky; born and raised as a Government child in Anglya, she has never wanted for anything and lives in the lap of luxury. As her mother’s mysterious illness deepens and her father’s threat of an arranged marriage, Catherine takes her life into her own hands and stows away on a skyship, as Cat the boy who escaped a Governmental Collection.

Once discovered and allowed to stay onboard provided she proves her worth, Catherine realises that the truths she was fed are nothing more than propaganda to keep the people oppressed. Determined to use her insider knowledge from a life as a privileged Government child, Cat and the crew of the Stormdancer decide to take down the Government of Anglya.

Take Back the Skies is a truly exciting steampunk dystopian adventure, set in a world that I’m excited to explore throughout the six novels.

Interested? Get it here. The second book, The Almost King, is already out and the third book, The City Bleeds Gold, is due out in March. Perfect time to launch into a new series!

What to read next:

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury | 1 Minute Reviews

This review is a rare thing because it also is partly a review of a re-read, and I have only re-read two other books before – To Kill a Mockingbird (about eight times) and Six of Crows (cannot keep away from that banter).

Twylla is the Sin Eater’s Daughter, or she was once, before she gave it all up for a life of glamour and royalty as Daunen Embodied, the reborn daughter of the Gods. But fleeing one life of duty has led her to be trapped in another, and she finds herself the weapon of the kingdom of Lormere, the executioner. A girl with poison in her skin that can kill just by a single touch.

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These covers are so good it is frankly rude

The Sin Eater’s Daughter finds Twylla shortly after she has executed her only friend for treason, lost and alone. Twylla is naive, and knows only the world of Sin Eating or Daunen. She cannot read. She has no one. When her new guard Lief arrives from the country of Tregellan, Lormere’s longstanding rival, Twylla starts to question the world she knows.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter is a mesmerising high fantasy novel on battling duty and choice, as naive Twylla tries to keep her head afloat in a kingdom ruled over by the cruel Queen Helewys. Melinda’s writing is suffused with nature, flowers, passion and fury. It also has ripped out my heart more times than the Sleeping Prince (in-jokes for the Salisbury nerds).

The first time I read this book, I knew I loved it. Re-reading it has shown me so much more beneath the surface, as I read in anticipation for finishing the trilogy, with The Sleeping Prince to follow and The Scarecrow Queen closing the series this March.

You should definitely read this. Get it here, and then have the other two to hand so that you can finish it in one delicious feast.

What to read next:

The Story Sew Far | Sew Many Books

Hello pals. You may not know but I also witter away on Youtube occasionally, and I have finally done a sewing video after 6 months of my channel and literally 1/3rd of the name being a sewing reference.

Anyway, here it is.

However, YouTube hates my super IN DEPTH descriptions so I’ve added it all below.

Patterns Mentioned:

1. Sew Over It Circle Skirt

This pattern you only get when you do the class, however here is the handy calculator by By Hand London I mentioned. It allows you to select full, half and quarter circles, your length and then has links to blogs to tell you how to add in your zipper and waistband.
An equally useful tutorial is Tilly & the Buttons’ Picnic Skirt, which has buttons down the front instead of a zip.
The fabric I used is Atelier Brunette’s Bye Bye Birdie, a very light cotton lawn, usually available at Sew Over It & Guthrie GhaniGuthrie Ghani. It is also available in a mustard-gold which is so nice.

2. Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress

You can buy the printed pattern here.
I got this in a dressmaking kit with a fabricdressmaking kit with a fabric chosen by them (and it includes all the notions you need too). On the site it doesn’t specify the fabric, but you could call them up and ask what they’ll bundle in? Can be a good non-scary way of gathering everything.

3. Sew Over It Betty Dress

The two I made are both the standard Betty pattern. They have also made a Betty add-on pack which allows you to do long arms and scoop necks, which makes Betty a bit more day-to-day wearable.
The Cherry fabric was a lucky find in Goldhawk Road. The turquoise fabric is from the Cotton Candy collection by Dashwood Studio. I got mine from G&G but checking in Feb 17 I can only see the candy pink version.

4. Tilly & the Buttons Agnes Top

The great thing about Agnes is that you can either fly solo and chance yourself on jersey OR you can pay for the Agnes online class which you can do as you want. The videos are clear and you have essentially life time access to them, which is helpful when you need a reminder of what to do early on. I really recommend going for the class if you can afford it.
Physical pattern here, but Tilly also sells PDF editions of patterns for slightly cheaper that you can print at home. The online class comes bundled with the PDF.
I have no idea where the black ponte roma is from. The banana jersey fabric is from here & I’m not lying when I say how soft it is, just be gentle with it.

5. Tilly & the Buttons Dominique Skirt

I made the mini version and you might recognise the fabric on the picture except ofc they pattern matched it. As with Agnes, I bought the Dominique online class and found it very useful. You can buy the physical pattern here, but Tilly also sells PDF editions of patterns for slightly cheaper that you can print at home. The online class comes bundled with the PDF.
I used lovely anchor chambray by Robert Kaufman from M is for Make. It goes out of stock quickly so if you want it, request a stock reminder. Price is per fat quarter/quarter of a metre.

6. Tilly & the Buttons Coco Dress

A super easy comfortable dress that everyone should give a go. Don’t be scared of stretchy fabrics! There’s no online class, but Tilly does have a useful sewalong and Pinterest boards that help you come up with great ideas.
Printed pattern here, but Tilly also sells PDF editions of patterns for slightly cheaper that you can print at home.
I bought my ponte roma from Girl Charlee Fabrics who I love love love. They are currently out of stock of the Breton I bought, but here is there selection of Pontes. Their heavier weight Jersey cottons would also work.

Shops & Classes Mentioned

Sew Over It : This is the shop that I did my first class with. They regularly have 10-15% off classes, and you often get a voucher for your next class each time. They can be pricey but I’ve had very good experiences. They also have online classes, for when you get going. They have a number of lovely patterns which are available often in printed and digital, and they do a great number of kits – some of which are highly limited and sell out like lightning.
Their fabric shop is also very good for finding femme pattern fabrics, and has an excellent ponte roma range at the moment. Their fabrics are on the pricey end, and prices are listed per half metre. They also have a great YouTube channel which is updated very regularly, and preview their latest amazing fabrics on there.

Tilly & the Buttons: My favourite patterns come from Tilly, hands down. Very wearable, comfortable clothing which all looks really good together. Tilly doesn’t sell fabric alongside her patterns on the bolt, but she has just started selling fabric kits for your outfits and for some you can buy the bits without the pattern (granted this is probably the pricier way of doing it but if you are slightly lazy and love to support small businesses then you are set eh). Her blog is also excellent, with sew-alongs for most patterns which help give you inspiration and help you around the tricky bits. Her online classes are excellent.

Guthrie Ghani: Lauren Guthrie won the Great British Sewing Bee, made her first book and then opened her own little shop. A great place if you are based in the UK to order from – they package things up well and have a very well stocked haberdashery.

Girl Charlee: American made jerseys of various kinds. All their fabrics are super soft and good quality, printed. Their customer service are spot on and I recommend just having a little chat with them to work out what you want.

If you have any questions, leave them in a comment below and I’ll try and help you out! Happy sewing!