enlight1

On Mornings like these, and a new travel tradition #Soulfood #Poetry #Journaling

Bliss is found on mornings like these…

Today has been spent eating Poetry for Breakfast and Journaling in my heart space ~ my Zenkraft traveller’s notebook. I bought these two stunning poetry editions while in the UK last year. Poetry and music were my healing spaces in 2016 and continue to be this year. I also decided to start a new personal travel tradition. Instead of keychains or other travel keepsake ephemera I have decided to buy myself books of poetry every time I travel somewhere. These are my first two poetry mementoes and what stunning eye candy for the senses and soul food for the heart and mind they are.


“Time cannot be cut

with your weary scissors,

and all the names of the day

are washed out by the waters of the night.” 

excerpted from Too Many Names | Pablo Neruda



I have always wanted my own edition of exquisite Pablo Neruda poetry. This edition is truly exquisite. The cover is stunning, symbolising both a sensuality and a vulnerability that is embraced in the words contained within. 


“In the name of the lost who glory in

The swinish plains of carrion

Under the burial song

Of the birds of burden

Heavy with the drowned

And the green dust

And bearing

The ghost

From

The ground

Like    pollen

On the black plume 

And the beak of slime

I pray though I belong

Not wholly to that lamenting

Brethren for joy has moved within

The inmost marrow of my heart bone…”

excerpted from Vision and Prayer | Dylan Thomas

I have always wanted to own The Complete Works of Dylan Thomas. This centenary edition stood out to me because the waves on the cover are deeply symbolic to me and a beautiful echo of my journey.

How do you fill your well? 

Tell me what brings you bliss?

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#Travel Edition | These are some of my Favourite #OnTheGo Things #2017 #EDC 

For the last 5 months of 2016 I was on the road, in the air, on planes, trains, underground trains, cars and mostly living out of a lightweight suitcase + a backpack + a crossbody travel bag. So I had to minimise my favourite things into portable Every Day Carry (EDC) options; those which would take the least amount of room, be highly functional, be minimalistic but still give me pleasure. When travelling, especially long-term, the key-words are Minamalism + Functional. I would add my personal motto of Yo-No-Bi: Simplicity, Function, Beauty. 

  • Yo-No-Bi 

This principle is known as yo-no-bi. Common among the older generation of craftsmen in Japan, yo-no-bi consists of two kanji, yo (用) which means use or application, and bi (美) which means beauty. Together they aim to balance the aesthetic and the functional – not only must a technique/item be functional, but it must be pleasing to the eye.


So here I’ve summed up my Favourite On-The-Go EDC things, all true to the principle of Yo-No-Bi, that I ended up carrying with me all over Australia/Hong Kong/UK/Greece for the last half of 2016.

Write It Down

Hobonichi 

  • Hobonichi Weeks [Wallet-Size]

Hobonichi Weeks

Hobonichi is hands down my favourite planner. I have waxed lyrical about my love for Hobonichi before. Hobonichi come in 3 sizes: Original Techo/Planner -A6; Cousin – A5; Weeks – Chequebook/Wallet size. I have all 3 sizes and use all three for different uses. But my favourite that is always with me is the Hobonichi Weeks. This is the Hobonichi I chose to carry with me while travelling overseas.

Traveller’s (/Traveler’s – USA) Notebooks aka TNs

Favourite Brands:

Chic Sparrow Maverick – Pocket

    Zenkraft Appalachian Trail Trifold Logbook

    I adore my collection of traveller’s notebooks [Current count = 7] but in 2016, while travelling for 4 months, my constant companions were my hardy Chic Sparrow Maverick Pocket TN + my rustic Zenkraft Appalachian Trail Trifold logbook. These were the two I chose to carry with me. My little Maverick (Water-Buffalo leather) went everywhere with me as my notebook-on-the-go. My gorgeous Zenkraft Appalachian Trail- this leather is stunningly soft and pliable – embraced my journal.

    Notebooks

    Pens

      Fountain Pens

      TWSBI Vac-Mini Fountain Pen + Visconti Travelling Inkwell + Chic Sparrow Maverick Pocket TN


      My favourite on-the-go fountain pen is designed with an ink shut off valve for easy carry and no mess on airplanes. Although it is a mini fountain pen, because it is a vac filler it holds a large amount of ink so it is both functional and portable. Along with the handy Visconti traveling inkwell, I can travel with these with ease and still have the pleasure of writing with fountain pen.

      Ballpoint Pens

      Archival Ink Pens

      Pencil Case


      Devices & Apps

      • MacBook 13″ Aluminium 2008 Laptop 

      This laptop has been my faithful companion for 8 years and is still going strong. But I can no longer update the OS so this year it will be a time for an upgrade. I have decided, after lugging around this MacBook in my backpack through airports, that I need a more portable laptop. So this year I will be downsizing my MacBook 13″ and getting the new 12″ ultra-light MacBook. These (1) + (2) articles had me lusting over the 12″ MacBook. But it was when I went into my local electronics store and tested one out for myself that I was 100% convinced this will be my 2017 laptop. And Yes, I can’t resist that gorgeous rose-gold option.

      • Apple iPad Mini

      Hands down my favourite on-the-go EDC device. I can write on it, I can communicate on it, I can be entertained AND it is extremely portable.

      • Apple iPhone 5c

      My favourite mobile phone is actually my Blackberry Storm 9900. But although I took it with me on my travels, it was not playing nice with the different overseas networks. Thankfully I had my backup iPhone which ended up being my main phone. 

      These ear-phones were a godsend on my ultra-longhaul flights + numerous underground/overground train trips. Excellent audio quality and excellent external noise-cancelling qualities but allow in just enough external ambience noise so that you’re aware of what is happening in your surroundings – vital for travelling.

      Favourite Apps

      • Dropbox – My favourite cloud backup.
      • Scrivener – Hands down my favourite writing/editing word processing app.
      • Swipes – My favourite to-do list app.
      • Netflix
      • Spotify Premium



      Travelling/ On-the-Go

      Although I have travelled a lot in the past, the longest those trips were, were 1 month. In 2016 my travels were for 5 months. On top of that I travelled from the…

      Southern Hemisphere Winter: New Zealand (Home) – to Australia 

      To

      Northern Hemisphere Summer + Winter: Hong Kong – U.K. – Greece

      To 

      Southern Hemisphere Summer: New Zealand (Home)

      So not only was I crossing hemispheres but I was travelling to countries with vastly different climates to New Zealand’s. So I had to plan both my luggage + wardrobe options very carefully and precisely as well as take into account that I would be changing seasons while on my travels as well. I was also travelling by myself which meant I had to carry everything. If nothing else, this journey made me an even better traveller. With all this in mind, I did my pre-travel research – we writers love any excuse for research – very thoroughly, both on what to pack and what to pack everything in for long term travel. Here is what I ended up with…

      Luggage

      These PACSAFE bags were two of the best purchases I have ever made. Extremely durable, all-weather-proof, brilliant anti-theft features and the clincher for me, both were extremely comfortable to carry.

      Favourite Clothing Items (for longer-term travelling across seasons)

      • Black Leather Jacket + black leather gloves
      • Kathmandu Isograd All-Weather Waterproof 3-in-1 Jacket
      • Skinny Jeans [Day + Night] – In 3 colours, classic distressed blue, classy indigo blue + dressy black.
      • 3 * Cotton Cargo Trousers – My preference are the ones that can zip off into shorts.
      • Tank tops in multiple colours
      • 2 * Boho-inspired maxi-dresses + 2 * maxi-skirts 
      • Little Black Dress (LBD)
      • LED Little Everything Dress – not black, but something that is a colour version of the LBD
      • 2 * Pashmina Shawls – Brilliant as knee-blankets, scarves, shawls, replacement cardigan/jumper/jersey
      • Monokini Swimming Costume – One-piece swim-wear costume with cutouts + a good beach towel
      • Underwear + Socks (Took the basics but ended up buying what more I needed while travelling.)
      • Pilates work out pants/top – Triple use as casual day/wear and/or Workout clothing and/or Pjs (sleeping).
      • Havaiana Flip-Flops
      • Flat-heeled Knee-Length Boots – Tip: make sure your boots’ soles are thick, especially if in Europe/UK cobblestoned streets.
      • Platform/Wedge Heeled dress shoes (They look good, are comfortable and good for cobblestoned streets.)
      • A good water-resistant pair of running shoes
      • A good pair of ankle hiking boots.

        Tell me, what are some your Favourite EDC On-The-Go Things?


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        Capsized | Writing through the Fog, Emerging from under the Wave

        The Uses of Sorrow | Mary Oliver

        (In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

        Someone I loved once gave me

        a box full of darkness.

        It took me years to understand

        that this, too, was a gift.


        …And today I felt like I was drowning in this ocean wave of grief and pain and lostness. I felt overwhelmed and raw with too many emotions trying to come out all at once…Then I knew I needed to quiet the ocean of noise in my brain. The only way I know how to do this is to Write! So here I have been writing in this journal on and off all afternoon/night. I don’t think the noise in my brain has died down yet. But it feels cathartic to see my thoughts and feelings in black permanent ink on a white page…-I need my poems to truly expel all this grey emotion. I’ve been purposely staying away from working on my poetry because I don’t want to actually face all these emotions. But I know I’m drowning beneath all my emotions/thoughts…the only way I know to come up and out from under all of this is through my poetry. It is my own life-raft. I need to get back in my life-raft… | excerpted from my journal ~ Greece, September 2016

        “From the Sea” [Image by Bojan Jevtić]**

        capsize

        kapˈsʌɪz/

        verb

        1.(of a boat) be overturned in the water.

        “the craft capsized in heavy seas”

        “gale force winds capsized their small craft”

        antonyms: right

        cause (a boat) to overturn.

        “gale-force gusts capsized the dinghies”

        Origin
        late 18th century: perhaps based on Spanish capuzar ‘sink (a ship) by the head’, from cabo ‘head’ + chapuzar ‘to dive or duck’.


        A new country called Grief

        I am a traveller in a new country called Grief. For much of last year I was lost in a place-less Fugue. I went through the motions automatically relying on muscle memory rather than being present in the moment. There was no need to be present in the moment, this Fugue state carried me through this isolated country of Grief. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on much else than normal daily surviving requirements. Fiction, my own and others, was no longer an escape or a refuge. For the first month and a half after losing A, I just barely existed. But slowly as I got acclimated to this Grief, I started looking for ways to communicate; to express myself more clearly and to process this emotion that remained nameless in its immensity. Music and Poetry were the two life-rafts that rescued me from this storm-ravaged place.

        A New Project

        Newton’s law of motion states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”. Grief capsized me completely but through the twin life-rafts of Music and Poetry I was slowly Emerging: Emerging into a new direction, an altered me. When you sink, the equal and opposite reaction is to finally rise and emerge. I have found a way to breathe again. I have a way to stop drowning in this Grief. 

        The only way I was going to emerge from this Fugue state was to truly give in to the terrible emotion. To let it embrace me without fighting it. The only way a drowning swimmer can be rescued is if they don’t fight or struggle but simply relax and let themselves be rescued. In much the same way, I needed to just let this Grief encompass me in her watery depths before I could be rescued. Slowly I started rising up from these depths and as I began to rise, words started rising with me. At first I could not grasp the words so I just let them rise around me. But slowly the words became clearer to me as I immersed myself in others Poetry; poetry by Dylan Thomas, Pablo Neruda, Leonard Cohen and Rupi Kaur, and let Music be the soundtrack to drown out the cacophony that was the silence of this Grief. Slowly I could grasp enough words to form a line then enough words to form a verse then enough words to form a stanza. As I journaled I realised that these were my emotions becoming words becoming poems. Poems that expressed what I could not, did not want to verbalise in conversation. 

        What was emerging from my immersion into Poetry, Music, Art and through my journaling was a collection of emotions in words: a collection of poems. Suddenly I could focus again creatively. I had stopped struggling and in my surrender to this emotional drowning I had found a way to rise up and to begin emerging again. So this is what I have been working on for the last few months and will continue to work on for the next few months. A new project. An anthology of poems that could finally name all these unnameable emotions that Grief drowns one in. An anthology that I am calling…

        CAPSIZE

        Every year for the last five years I have chosen One Word to theme and propel my New Year. Last year my word was ironically RISE. But although most of last year felt like the opposite of Rising, felt closer to drowning, it was the gift of words in the form of Poetry that did have me eventually Rising. 

        2016 has forever changed me. I’m carrying a box of loss that is forming a new version of who I am. So for 2017 I have chosen a new theme, a theme of hope. A new word for a different me. A me that is navigating an altered topography of where I am going, who I am now and who I want to be. I am ready for a new dawn.
        So this year my Word of The Year is: 

        EMERGE

        ɪˈməːdʒ/

        verb

        verb: emerge; 3rd person present: emerges; past tense: emerged; past participle: emerged; gerund or present participle: emerging

        1. move out of or away from something and become visible.

        “black ravens emerged from the fog”

        synonyms: come out, appear, come into view, become visible, make an appearance; turn up, spring up, come up, surface, crop up, pop up; materialize, manifest oneself, arise, proceed, issue, come forth, emanate

        2. become apparent or prominent.

        synonyms: become known, become apparent, become evident, be revealed, come to light, come out, transpire, come to the fore, enter the picture, unfold, turn out, prove to be the case; 

        3. recover from or survive a difficult situation.

        Origin

        late 16th century (in the sense ‘become known, come to light’): from Latin emergere, from e- (variant of ex- ) ‘out, forth’ + mergere ‘to dip’.  




        [**PostScript: The image of “From the Sea” by the Serbian visual artist, Bojan Jevtić, helped inspire my theme for my new W.I.P poetry anthology: Capsize. I found that this particular image was able to vividly portray how this loss, this Grief makes me feel. It was the picture that has inspired my new words.]


        Devastation | The Daily Post

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        2016.Bitter.Sweet.

        …Today is a difficult day I feel overwhelmed by pain: emotional waves of grief and emptiness that keep on breaching my foundations; foundations weak from physical pain-migraine! I’m angry at myself for being a mess today. I’m angry that I feel so broken and I’m doing all I can to hold onto the broken pieces…but really I just want to throw away all the brokenness and wipe the slate clean and start again, build myself back up…I’m still in Migraine Hell. The pain has dulled but the nausea is now kicking in with full force. I slept better last night but took a while to fall asleep…too much noise in my brain again. But I put on my headset and drowned the noise with music. There is a numbness today after all the emotion that poured out of me yesterday…This is not the End of me…This is the beginning…For so long I had caged my heart, told it to keep quiet. I have lead solely with my head. But I have only survived, I have lived a life half-lived. But losing A so soon, too soon, opened that dark lock-box where I had hidden my heart. Suddenly it was no longer just a lock-box but it had transformed into Pandora’s Box. Suddenly I couldn’t contain, couldn’t constrain, couldn’t control all the emotion that came pouring out of this hidden place. Grief, rage, death, loss skinned me of all my protective layers. I was left unformed, raw, vulnerable, unprotected from the elements, all my dam walls broken in millions of pieces…this journey was a part of my destiny. It would take something tragic, something devastating to move me from the grey places I had walked into when I shut away my heart. The worst thing happened. Someone I loved, someone who was part of my history, part of my story, part of my identity…Left. Not only did she leave but I lost my chance to see her in person once again. She was ripped from my life, taken away with not enough warning. There are moments in life and death that define us, shake the very core of us, change us. There are moments in life that are defined by what came before and what came after. This is my moment. This is the moment, the fragment in time, where I decide to either stay the same or change direction. This journey has freed my heart from the martingale I had constrained it with. Then my heart, now raw, free and untethered suddenly found a reason to wake up…It was both the most painful trip I have ever had to make but also the most clarifying journey filled with sweet pockets of unexpected joy…I cannot help but think that A is still being my BFF and arranging circumstances and moments to bring me joy, to remind me what it means to truly live, not just survive but thrive. Seeing A go through the Cancer with courage and yes even with joy and still believing in love, in spite of the Cancer or perhaps because for her the Cancer clarified how short and precious life is and how rare joy and love is…| excerpted from my journal ~ 2016

        I’ve been away, both from this blog and from my own life. I’ve come back from a life-changing, life-altering journey. A journey that I never wanted to take but one that is now part of my story. The journey started 26 years ago when two adolescent girls met one morning waiting for a school bus and said “hello”. One of these girls is me at 12, just moved to a new town with no friends. The other girl is A: a girl who stands with her ballet dancer’s elegance, her feet meeting at the heels and toes pointed in opposite directions. That first “hello” changed my story and opened the chapter of a life-long friendship. In 2016 that long chapter changed with the last words I told my friend, the ballet dancer, the daughter, the sister, the mother, the woman, the nurturer, the compassionate one, the warrior, my anchor; when I told her she could let go now, she could rest. 

        In 2016 I lost one of the cartographers of my past. In 2016 I lost my oldest friend, my soul-sister to Cancer. I then travelled thousands of miles, a journey that was delayed and complicated by a category 8 typhoon, to do my final duty as a best friend. We had been best friends for 26 years but for 20 of these years we had lived many thousands of miles and two oceans apart. This distance did not weaken our bond. Instead it deepened our bond because holding onto each other was a part of holding onto our youth, our land left behind, our past. I was planning on going to visit A in 2016 anyway because I wanted to help her fight Cancer by holding her close and being in the same physical space together. But we ran out of time. On July 1st, A’s journey ended. On August 1st, I left on a journey I never wanted to take. A journey that would bring a close to a 26 year long chapter of my story. 

        “Give it all or don’t do it” | Celine Cassone, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal

        2016 has changed forever who I am. In a way I am learning to discover this new version of me. I am back “home” and have been for a month; seeing out both the dying breath of 2016 and welcoming the new breath of 2017. But I feel untethered in so many ways. I am not the same person who started the year in January 2016. I am not the same person who left on a journey both physical, emotional, and mental on August 1st. There has been a plot-twist to my story. But I am the same person who was best friends with A for 26 years. And now I need to continue on my journey wherever it may yet take me. I need to map out the altered, changed, new cartography of the next chapters of my life-journey. There are massive exciting plot-twists ahead for me in 2017. Chapters that will end and new chapters to begin. Old spaces to farewell and new spaces to welcome. Old words to end and new words that have already begun. There are many changes ahead but I am ready to put the Bitter away and to embrace the Sweet. I am ready to continue living out my story and to continue writing. I am ready to chase after, cherish and embrace joy, love and friendship, unafraid of the risks but to embrace them in spite of the risks and because of the risks. I am ready to truly live each present moment boldly and to own each chapter of my story. For that I know is what A wanted.

        2016.Bitter.Sweet.Goodbye.Hello.2017.

        *Feature Image courtesy of NYC Dance Project | Celine Cassone * 

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        What I read in April| #KimsKaffeeKlatsch #amreading

        I would like to thank Netgalley, the respective publishers and the respective authors for the copies of the following books in exchange for my honest review. 


        As always on #KimsKaffeeKlatsch, I have paired up my reads with my recommended coffee recipe. After all what is a good book without the decadently delicious aroma of strong coffee. So curl up on your favourite couch, light the fire, brew your favourite coffee and lets klatsch delicious books and thrilling coffee. 

           

        Summit Lake | Charlie Donlea

        [Kensington Books | ISBN: 9781496700988]

        Set in a small, picturesque North Carolina town, Charlie Donlea’s suspenseful debut novel tells the haunting story of a murdered law school student, the reporter assigned to her story—and the intimate connection that comes when the living walk in the footsteps of the dead.

        “No suspects. No persons of interest. Just a girl who was alive one day and dead the next.”

        Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place, with charming stilt houses dotted along the pristine water. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student, was brutally murdered in one of those houses. The daughter of a powerful attorney, Becca was hard-working, accomplished, and ambitious. Now, while the town reels with grief and shocked residents gather to share their theories, the police are baffled. 

        At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the determined efforts to keep the case quiet, all hint at something far more than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper into the mystery, pushing on despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life—and the secrets she was keeping—the more convinced she becomes that learning the truth about Becca could be the key to overcoming her own dark past…

        This book surprised me in more ways than one. Initially the blurb and the cover had me interested but not completely intrigued. But the moment I opened up the book and began to read, the author had me intrigued. I loved the main character Kelsey Castle. Kelsey Castle is the type of female fiction lead that I love reading about. She is smart, witty, resourceful and has a wonderful depth to her that this story has only begun to peel back. I also loved that she is a flawed character with her own demons to fight. She is not a cookie-cutter protagonist but then again Summit Lake is not a cookie-cutter mystery. She is an interesting and original fully-layered character that I doubt, at least I hope, we have seen the last of. I like smart writing and layered characters especially in my mysteries and thrillers. Charlie Donlea has both of these elements in this story. 

        The premise of the story seems fairly simply and straightforward but with the turn of each page, more layers are pulled back to reveal a story that is plotted well and a cast of characters that keep surprising the reader. The story is told smoothly and seamlessly in two alternating viewpoints: Kelsey, main protagonist, and Becca, the victim. There is never a clear antagonist and each time I thought I knew who the killer was, another layer was peeled back for me and I was in the dark guessing again. I love a good twist or two in my tales but I especially love it when the twist comes when you least expect it. This story has more than a few twists to the tale yet the clues the author gives us are so well-drawn and so subtle that you don’t feel like you could know the ending until you get there. I love it when a climax surprises me and this story’s climax definitely did that. 

        ☕️☕️☕️☕️

        This is a book about secrets. Secrets the characters keep from each other, secrets they don’t want to face, secrets at the heart of a small town. Summit Lake earned a solid 4 stars from me. This was a a very strong debut and I can’t wait to see what Charlie Donlea writes next. I know I’ll be first in line to read his next book. 

        Author’s Website

        Buy the Book

        Add it on Goodreads

        For Summit Lake I recommend 4 sweet mugs of Chocolate Coffee Kisses



        Recipe | Chocolate Coffee Kiss

        Ingredients

        3/4 fluid ounce coffee liqueur

        3/4 fluid ounce Irish cream liqueur

        1/2 fluid ounce creme de cacao liqueur

        1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier(R))

        1 cup hot brewed coffee

        2 tablespoons whipped cream

        1 1/2 fluid ounces chocolate syrup

        1 maraschino cherry

        Directions

        In a coffee mug, combine coffee liqueur, Irish cream, creme de cacao and Grand Marnier. Fill mug with hot coffee. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate syrup and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

        ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️



        The Lion’s Mouth|Anne Holt

        [Scribner | ISBN: 9781501123238]

        From the internationally bestselling author of 1222, called the “godmother of modern Norwegian crime” by Jo Nesbø, the next book in the Edgar Award–nominated mystery series: Hanne Wilhelmsen is on the case when someone murders the prime minister of Norway.

        Less than six months after taking office, the Norwegian Prime Minister is found dead. She has been shot in the head. But was it a politically motivated assassination or personal revenge?

        Hanne Wilhelmsen, Chief Inspector of the Norwegian Police, is on leave in California but when the death shakes the country to its core, she knows she can’t remain on the sidelines of such a crucial investigation. The hunt for the Prime Minister’s killer is complicated, intense, and grueling. When secrets begin to unravel from the Prime Minister’s past, Hanne and her partner, Billy T., must piece together the crime before a private tragedy becomes a public outcry, in what will become the most sensitive case of their career.

        Filled with lies, deception, and the truth about government, The Lion’s Mouth questions who truly holds the power in Norway, and how far they will go to keep it…

        This is my first Anne Holt novel. For the last three years or so, I have been introduced to Scandinavian noir and I have quickly fallen in love with these cool thrillers and mysteries. I had not heard of Anne Holt but the moment I saw this book on Netgalley I knew I wanted to read it.

        From the opening of this book, I was intrigued. I love locked room mysteries and I do like political intrigue and this book opens with both. For all intents, it looked like I was in for another enjoyable read. But as I read on, I was disappointed. The premise of this book was brilliant and the characterisations of each character was done very well. But this story quickly became clunky and confusing to me. There seemed to be too many characters for me to keep interested. I didn’t particularly like the main investigator, Billy T, either. I have never taken more than a day or two to finish a Scandinavian mystery/thriller but I took weeks to finish this story. As for the political intrigue, the politics of this books seemed a little too dry for my own tastes.


        ☕️☕️☕️

        I’m in two minds on this review. The characterisations were well-written and there were definite moments that grabbed me but ultimately there were fewer page-turner moments for me. This left the plot feeling clunky with too many dry political details and too many characters, and muddied what should have been a really good read. I give this book a sober 3 stars. 

        Buy the Book

        Add it on Goodreads

        For The Lion’s Mouth I recommend three strong, rich shots of espresso-ristretto.


        Recipe | Espresso Ristretto

        INGREDIENTS

        1/4 oz (7 g) ground espresso coffee, pod or capsule

        INSTRUCTIONS

        It is the smallest of them all, but it commands respect. Dedicated to those who don’t like half measures, Espresso ristretto has a strong character where everything is focused on a single goal: pure, decisive pleasure. Served without sugar, it is the passion of those who prefer coffee without distractions.

        To prepare the smallest coffee of them all, follow the classic method, using your Espresso machine as usual with a capsule, pod or ground coffee. Only one thing changes: the extraction time is shorter.

        Start the machine and stop it when you have 20 ml (1 tbsp plus 1 tsp) of Espresso and in any case not before 25 seconds have passed: this is the minimum time necessary for obtaining a cup rich in aroma.

         So tell me what books have you been curling up with, and what’s your caffeine indulgence of choice?

        2015-06-24 10.56.01 hdr

        My #WriteSpace | With Space to Create #WhereIWrite

        I have always been fascinated with the spaces where creatives love to retreat to. I loved the Hachette vlog series #WhereIWrite. I absolutely love Catching Days’ How We Spend Our Days interview series where Cynthia Newberry Martin asks writers to guest-post on how they spend their days. I have also just recently found the delightful rabbit hole of  Novelicious’s My Writing Room. 

         

        courtesy of the freedictionary.com

         
        To me there is something sacred about being let into a creative space. For many creatives, this space is often where they feel most like themselves. It is a nest where they can retreat to succour their creativity. So I thought I would invite you into my #WriteSpace for a short while. 

        *Ever curious about other creative spaces, I have also knocked on the doors of some of my friends and asked if we could have a quick peek into their creative spaces over the next few weeks. If you’re curious to see where they create too, remember to click on their names, at the end of this post, to take you to their digital spaces.*

        “The writing life is defined by the succession of choices you make, primary among them whether or not you will write. You honor your writing space by entering it with this mantra: ‘I am ready to work.’ You enter, grow quiet, and vanish into your writing.” | Eric Maisel.

        Welcome to my #WriteSpace.

        This is where I go to run away with my characters and escape into my stories. I am fortunate enough to have a dedicated “Room of my Own” with space to create. I write full time and for me my home is the perfect place to write. I’m not one to write at cafes. I prefer to be in my own space in solitude when writing. I love this space of mine. It is on the top floor of my home overlooking a beautiful golf course in hills embraced by the Pacific Ocean. It faces north-east which means that the morning sunshine streams into this space. But being north-facing, this space is filled with light throughout the day. I’m a country-gal, born and bred, so to work well, I need lots of natural light, spaciousness and a view of the outdoors, as free of buildings as possible. A space from which I can hear bird song and enough open space to get lost in. 

        I have spoken before about my vintage solid-oak rolltop desk which I waited patiently for years to find and finally make mine. There is something special about sitting down at a rolltop desk and writing. Talking of sitting, my chair is the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in. I paid more than a a pretty penny for it but every penny was worth it. It is a leather ergonomic (very important for the comfort of my lower back, where I was kicked by a horse 20 odd years ago) swivel chair that rocks back and forth, leans back like a lazy boy chair, swivels in 360′ and has both a seat that is height adjustable and arms that are height adjustable.The desk itself is an inspiration for me. Each object on this desk has a purpose and a special meaning particular to me. 

        “People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.” – Stephen King

        One of the many reasons I love my rolltop desk is all the little storage compartments and many, many drawers, even a few secret drawers, it has. Here are a few of my own “hearts in a jar” that I keep on my desk.

        Top of the Desk

        • Jessica Fletcher ~ My sexy Vintage Imperial Good Companion 5 Portable TypeWriter circa 1957.
        • Angel Sculpture (left) ~ I bought this beautiful Angel of Inspiration in Greece. She is holding a font of water that is said to be from a sacred waterfall of inspiration. 
        • Bronze sculpture of Hermes (right) ~ a nod to the Ancient Greek patron of Writers.
        • Photographs ~ photographs of me in places I have travelled and my beautiful Arabian gelding I left behind in South Africa when I immigrated to New Zealand.
        • Special memento objects from my favourite places that I have travelled ~ a sea-shell and glass bowl of semi-precious stones from South Africa + Exquisite handcrafted perfume bottles +traditional copper coffee pot from Dubai + Urn from Greece – my flower vase when I feel like fresh flowers + glass paperweight with a dragon kanji from Singapore + glass paperweight of a Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia.
        • A wooden paper weight carved for me from my brother when he was a child + stuffed tiger also from my brother.
        • A perpetual desk calendar with daily quotes from Shakespeare.
        • A collection of scented candles ~ I love to burn these when I’m finding the blank page/screen overwhelming.
        • The top of my desk also works excellently as a standing desk-space when I get tired of sitting.

        On the Desk

        • Left: A shelf of fountain pen inks ~ Currently: Iroshizuku Yama Budo, Diamine Ancient Copper, Diamine Bilberry, Diamine Red Dragon and Diamine Eclipse + along with my rubber stamp and book darts collection
        • Right: Some more memento objects from my travels + a pink-haired troll (circa early 90s) with a sign – “Nobody’s Perfect” – important reminder for a recovering perfectionist.
        • Desk Area: A few of my collection of leather Traveller’s notebooks. (Leather covers that can hold multiple notebooks.)
        • Centre Desk Area: My A5 Custom Trifold leather Traveller’s notebook that houses my drafting notebook, my research notebook and my plot notebook + my favourite fountain pen ~ The Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night with Medium nib.
        • Desk Area: Rear Centre Left ~ A leather and wooden carved book-box, carved by my late maternal grandfather, where I store my fountain pens. On top of this box are my Hobonichi planners. 
        • Desk Area: Rear Centre Right ~ My Rain Design M Stand (aluminium laptop stand) and MacGyver aka my MacBook Pro 13″ aluminium laptop
        • Desk Area: Right~ Apple Time Machine (very important backup storage) + modem
        • Desk Drawers: If you opened my desk’s many drawers you would find a stationer’s supply of writing + sketch notebooks, pens, pencils, watercolour + oil paints and coloured pencils. These are essential to be kept close to me for my own sanity. I don’t believe a writer can ever have enough notebooks and pens/pencils. I also love to relax by sketching or painting. My love of sketching and painting is almost as strong as my love of writing. Just recently though I have started sketching with fountain pens as well which I am really enjoying. 

        “Do me a favor – right now, today, start a list of all your crazy obsessions, the things that get your heart pumping, that wake you up in the middle of the night. Put it above your desk and use it to guide you, to jumpstart your writing each and every day.” | Jennifer McMahon

        I do face the wall when seated at my desk but I could not bare a blank wall. So I have a print of one of my favourite paintings by Jackson Pollock ~ Silver on Black. I love the controlled chaos and sheer creative freedom of this piece. It is absolutely mesmerising to stare at. On the surface it looks chaotic but actually as you look deeper at it it reveals exquisite layers of colours and shapes. Ever single time I look at this painting, I see something new. Between this Jackson Pollock masterpiece in front of me and magnificent views to the left of me, I am never without visual stimulus sitting at my desk. I also love this painting because it reminds me that every creative masterpiece contains many initially imperfect, chaotic layers that eventually combine to form a masterpiece. 

        “Routines and rituals, discipline and structure: it is within this order that the wild, free creative mind is set loose to roam.” | Judy Reeves

        I do more than just writing in my space. I do a lot of reading and I love sketching here too. Every nest needs a comfortable corner. My comfortable corner is my large blue leather couch. There is nothing I love more than to lie back on my couch, pull my purple mohair blanket over me and tuck in with a new book to read. Of course as any self-respecting writer I am a caffeine-addict and coffee is my chosen vice. So I have my coffee corner all set up with my DeLonghi Automatic Espresso (the working drink) / Cappucino (the relaxing drink) machine and my assortment of favourite mugs and cups.

        My two prints above my couch are copies of my two favourite Dali (Salvador Dali) paintings. Dali is one of my favourite artists and his works all inspire me to continue to dream and imagine. I am obsessed with surrealism but Dali is definitely my favourite surrealist. 

        I always wanted a large whiteboard/blackboard to work out ideas and fill plot holes but never found anything quite right. Luckily enough I have a huge built in double wardrobe in my atelier and it has very useful, convenient full length mirrors. These work perfectly as my “whiteboard” area. So if I’m stuck in a plot-hole, I’ll usually write my way out of the hole by working things out on my mirrored plot-wall.

        You’ll also have noticed the can’t-miss-it bold red carpet that fills most of the floor in my atelier. I absolutely love bold, bright colours and red is my power colour. So even when I look down at the floor, I am visually stimulated by the bold geometric patterns and bright colours of my carpet.

        “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” | John le Carre

        Although I truly love my creative room of my own, I love to get outside. I do some of my best thinking outdoors. I have a cozy sitting area on my verandah (Jazz, my ever-constant writing companion, my beautiful papillon believes this space is as much his as mine) that is situated in a very leafy, small enclosed garden and being north-facing is bathed in sunlight most of the day. 

        Walking is one of my – and Jazz’s – favourite daily rituals. Often I will take my Traveller’s notebook and pen and settle down in one of my favourite outside spots. I live on a gulf so am lucky to be within walking distance of the ocean, a river bordered by beautiful willow trees and a peaceful marina. I love being near water, somewhere where I can watch and hear the water flow or the tide come in. If I’m feeling in a funk, then I know it is time for Jazz and I to take a walk which usually takes me to these serene spaces.

        “Most people dream a dream when they are asleep. But to be a writer, you have to dream while you are awake, intentionally. So I get up early in the morning, 4 o’clock, and I sit at my desk and what I do is just dream. After three or four hours, that’s enough. In the afternoon, I run. The next day, the dream will continue.” | Haruki Murakami


        So tell me where do you create, think, dream? 

        Do you have a creative room or place of your own?

        Care to show me your write space? 


        *Knocking on some Creative Doors #ShowMeYourWriteSpace*

        Darcy Conroy | Narrative Disorder

        Julie Christine Johnson

        Rebecca J Bradley

        C.J. Carver

        Michael Jecks

        Cynthia Newberry Martin

        My favourite Websites of Creative Spaces

        Hachette | #WhereIWrite

        Catching Days | How We Spend Our Days

        Novelicious | My Writing Room

        2014-07-08 15.28.11

        Thrilling Secrets and Tantalising Lies | #amreading #KimsKaffeeKlatsch

        I would like to thank Netgalley, the respective publishers and the respective authors for the copies of the following books in exchange for my honest review.

         As always on #KimsKaffeeKlatsch, I have paired up my reads with my recommended coffee recipe. After all what is a good book without the  decadently delicious aroma of strong coffee. So curl up on your favourite couch, light the fire, brew your favourite coffee and lets klatsch delicious books and thrilling coffee. 

          

          

        The Forgotten Girls | Sara Blaedel

        [Grand Central Publishing, ISBN:  9781455581511]
        “In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick—the new commander of the Missing Persons Department—is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed—and hidden—in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed…”

        I am obsessed with the Scandinavian Noir genre so I am always pleased to be introduced to another brilliant author in this genre. Sara Blaedel is a new author to me but after reading The Forgotten Girls, I am adding her as a new favourite. 

        The Forgotten Girls is the seventh book in the Louise Rick Series. But don’t let this deter you. Although I had not read any of the other books in her series, this did not leave me lost. Louise Rick is a woman haunted by the past and haunted by secrets, both her own and the cases she investigates as head of a new Missing Persons branch. These secrets kept me turning the pages, searching for answers that tantalised me just on the edge of my vision. 

        The story is set in the very atmospheric forests of Denmark. Sara Blaedel’s mastery of this atmospheric setting lends a haunting and mysterious tone that sets the theme beautifully for this disturbing story about past secrets and the unspoken guilt that lies at the heart of these secrets. The plot reminds me of a puzzle box. The further you go into the story, the more layers of secrets you uncover, the more puzzling the mystery becomes. Just when you think you have the answers, another hidden box is revealed. 

        This is not a thriller that will have you looking behind the curtains or jumping at the strangest noises. But it is definitely a slow-burning, haunting and disturbing mystery. 

        * * * *

        I give it 4/5 stars simply because from the blurb I thought it would have more of a thriller vibe. This is a fantastic book to read around a camp fire in a dark forest or curled up on your favourite couch with just the light of a crackling fireplace and haunting soft candle-light.

        Author’s Website

        About the book, In the Author’s Own Words

        Buy The Book

        Add the book on Goodreads

        For The Forgotten Girls (Sara Blaedel) I recommend at least 4 large mugs of strong Cowboy coffee.
           

        The Recipe | Campfire/Cowboy Coffee

        • Use two tablespoons of fine grind coffee, (or auto-drip grind), per 8oz of water
        • *The finer grind will allow more flavor extraction in less time, and the finer coffee grinds will sink to the bottom easier than more coarse grinds that float more.
        • Pour your measured amount of water into the coffee pot, (just the water – no coffee yet), put the pot on the fire and bring the water to a boil
        • Remove from the fire, let sit 30 or 40 seconds to come off full-boil temperature
        • Add the measured coffee amount into the coffee pot – it will float on top so you will have to carefully stir the water to get the coffee to mix in
        • Let the pot sit for two minutes – really, the two minute part is important. In the end you want to have a total of only four to five minutes brewing time
        • After two minutes, stir the mixture again, re-cover and let sit two more minutes
        • Now you are ready, the coffee has had enough time for the flavor to brew, and the grounds have began settling. Now take a palm-full of cool water and sprinkle it into the coffee pot. ** this small amount of cool water will not make your coffee cold, but it will help the grounds settle quicker
        • It’s as easy as that. Now pour each cup slowly, trying to leave the coffee grounds in the pot.
        • Typical results; A much more flavorful and less bitter cup of coffee. The reason; You didn’t scald the coffee with too-hot water, and by simmering the coffee instead of re-boiling it you didn’t bringing out all the bitterness.
        • *Tip: A small pinch of salt in the pot, or a single quick shake of the salt shaker in a cup will reduce the bitterness of coffee. The keywords were small pinch and quick shake, you don’t want too much or it will taste salty.

        Missing Pieces | Heather Gudenkauf

        [Harlequin Australia, ISBN: 9781760374297]
        “A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband’s family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.

        Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for…”

        Missing Pieces is a book that will have you questioning how well you truly know the people you love. Can you truly know someone, including their dark edges, and still love them completely?

        This is the first book I have read by Heather Gudenkauf but it will definitely not be the last. From the first page I was transfixed by these characters. However, as brilliantly written as these characters are, the unspoken main character is really the small town of Penny Gate. On the surface Penny Gate seems just like another small town, but as the story unfolds we see a darker place being unmasked. A place of secrets that breeds a mysterious cast of characters. Sarah Quinlan, the protagonist, has no clue what to expect from her secretive husband’s hometown. From her very first impressions, Penny Gate and the Quinlin family and friends seem forbidding and darkly mysterious to Sarah. Within the first few pages of this story, Sarah is questioning everything she had ever known about her husband even so far as questioning the very foundation of their relationship. What is the truth and what is the lie and is there only a fine line between them?

        This story kept me transfixed through one complete reading. I literally could not put this book down. Sarah could be me, she could be you, she is any of us. I grew up in and around small towns like Penny Gate and Heather Gudenkauf has captured this small town atmosphere and the quirky, strangely dark characters perfectly. In this story, the reader is asked to question whether you really know the people you love, and do you really want to know all their secrets. 

        The secrets in this book are at the heart of this story but it is the evocative mysterious small town of Penny Gate and the people who grew up here that truly are the haunted soul of this story. As Sarah unfolds the past and unearths her husband’s dark secrets, she is pulled into the heart of an emotional storm that threatens everything and everyone. Is she really willing to risk everything to unmask the truth?

        * * * * *

        This is a solid 5/5 stars. If you like your thrillers with a dose of a dark realism and taut with emotion, then Missing Pieces is it.

        Author’s Website

        Buy The Book

        Add the book on Goodreads

        For Missing Pieces (Heather Gudenkauf) I recommend at least 5 decadent mugs of Bicerin.

          

        The Recipe | Bicerin

        • It’s important to use a clear glass; you need to be able to see all three layers.
        • To make a bicerin, warm one cup (250 ml) whole milk in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 ounces (90 gr) of chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Whisk the mixture until it begins to boil, then let it boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly (the chocolate mixture will foam up a bit.)
        • Afterward, remove it from the heat and set aside. 
        • Make a small pot of very strong coffee, or good Italian espresso.
        • Fill the bottom third of a clear, heat-proof glass with the warm chocolate mixture. 
        • Pour in some coffee or espresso. (If you want to help it create a definite layer, pour it over the back of a spoon, into the glass.)
        • Top with a nice swirl of sweetened, freshly-whipped cream.

        The Poison Artist | Jonathan Moore

        [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 9780544520561]
        A gripping tale of obsession and deadly mystery, where the secrets of salvation and the most devastating desires are all written in blood

        Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he’s out drinking whiskey when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

        As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial-murder investigation. The police have been fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One of the victims vanished from the bar the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information, nor does he tell them he’s been secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, study the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. The search for the killer soon entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

        From the first pages up to the haunting, unforgettable denouement, The Poison Artist is a gripping thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape…”

                  “An electrifying read… I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” —Stephen King

                  “Patient, stylish and incredibly suspenseful”—Lee Child

                  “Magnificent, thoroughly unnerving…I dare you to look away.” —Justin Cronin

        This is a story that will grab your imagination, twist it into something unrecognisable and spit you out wondering whether Wonderland exists and are you Alice or the Mad Hatter.

        Jonathan Moore has crafted a tale that is wholly original, spine-tingling and deeply unnerving. On the surface it is a serial murder investigation but in this story, everything that is up is upside down and everything that is on the surface is just a mask. 

        Dr. Caleb Maddox is the protagonist of The Poison Artist. We meet him at one of his lowest points and as the tale takes him and you, the reader, further into this mad wonderland as he sinks lower and lower. The only light at the end of his downward spiral is the mysterious, ethereal and darkly seductive Emmeline. As he falls under her spell in one brief meeting, she disappears and he is obsessed with finding her again. This obsession drives the story and drives Caleb towards the destruction of his truths even as it brings him into the cross hairs of a serial murder investigation.

        This is a story that would not let me go. I finished it in one breathless sitting and simultaneously wanted to immediately both push this book away and dive back into the strange world of Dr. Caleb Maddox and the seductive Emmeline. This is one of the most perfectly executed psychological thrillers I have ever read. The characters are exceptionally compelling, so compelling you cannot look away from them even if you truly want to. The setting of San Francisco, mysterious fog- covered San Franscisco, is the perfect setting for this twisted tale of murder and destruction. This is a strange and twisted tale whose surface keeps on changing, always keeping you guessing, never knowing what is the truth and what is the lie. 

        * * * * *

        I give The Poison Artist a perfect 5/5 stars. If you want a psychological thriller that will, in equal parts, both disturb you and seduce you, then read The Poison Artist.

        Author’s Website

        Buy The Book

        Add the book on Goodreads

        For The Poison Artist (Jonathan Moore) I recommend at least 5 shots of the illicit and decadent Bronx Bomber.

          

        The Recipe | Bronx Bomber

        • Fill a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
        • Add 1/8 ounce of absinthe.
        • Add 1 ½ ounces of gin.
        • Make a double shot of espresso, preferably a Columbian roast, pour over the ice and shake briefly.
        • Pour liquid, straining out the ice, into an eight ounce glass
        • Drink and repeat process as desired.

        Tell me, what books can’t you put down this month? And what’s your caffeine poison of choice?