May short book reviews

Book on towel

13 Questions Problems (my mistake)– Agatha Christie: Deb and I went to Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon for the May long weekend (Rockhampton Airport had piped mooing, which was disturbing – particularly in the bathrooms) and I borrowed this from the activities hut. That’s a sketch of it on the towel above. I’d read it before, although long enough ago that I only had foggy ideas of what the twist was (litmus paper! 100s & 1000s!) but what’s not eminently suitable about reading Miss Marple solving anecdotal murders while sitting by a resort pool? It was also nicely complemented:

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James: Deb lent this to me. Beautiful worded, just dusty enough and thrilling in a way that is a lot of fun to read in a hotel room while wintery winds batter at the windows but leaves no ill effects afterwards. Good, short, weirdly disturbing stories which linger but don’t haunt – strangely proportioned rooms, whistles that call up the wind, trees that give an unhealthy air to the breeze through a window… I hadn’t read much horror of this era and it does give Lovecraft a bit more context. I also didn’t realise how economical and precisely worded James’ writing was until I pulled out another book of ghost stories to read to my dad at home and we got bogged in… Kipling I think it was, of all people.

How Language Works – David Crystal: Deb said she read this in two sittings and I don’t know how. It took me weeks, but I won’t rule out the possibility that it was because I feel compelled to sound out all phonetic passages (not recommended on public transport). Phonetics, anatomy, writing systems, language acquisition, sign language, translation, interpretation, language change and loss – a good broad introduction with greatly suppressed dry humour (English is a “vacuum cleaner of a language”). Not as much fun as his Words at Play or the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, but a good mental exercise.

Status Anxiety – Alain de Botton: Deb also lent this to me after we went to see him speak. My first Botton. I like the way he phrases his thinking, and the way his mind goes, although some of the generalisations & focuses pulled me out of it occasionally. His discussion of the relations between religion and status and love was particularly thought-provoking, but my favourite line is still the somewhat fatalistic, “Everything in any case is fated to disappear and New Zealanders will in time be sketching the ruins of our boulevards and offices.”

… I don’t think any of the books for June have connections to Deb!

Illustration Friday: Drifting

Illustration Friday: Drifting

Not quite what I was planning, which was a pen and ink picture based on photos taken of myself in a window. This is a quick Photoshop mockup based on the old Pan book cover below, which I acquired at the book-exchange-basket of a B&B in Melbourne, and love.

ETA: Foiled again! The topic has changed, but it is still Friday, and 4 minutes to spare. Ah well, perhaps the new topic will lend purpose to my tequila-sunrise prompted purchase of a Swedish bandolier.

Last minute (but still before midnight!) for reasons which involve packing to travel to the exotic locale of Oxley.

The Pan book of Sailing

Moleskine Exchange: Mice, for Jenn

42nd Moleskine Exchange: Jenn's moly

Mice wouldn’t be my first choice as pets. I have lived through mouse plagues when cars went off the roads because of sheets of mice. They ate through wood and Tupperware and books and if you went out to the shed, they would be running around the bottoms of drums. The cats pretended they couldn’t see them, the local boys earned pocket money building better mouse traps and little old ladies devised novel ways of reusing mousepaper (like fly paper, only for mice).

But even so, I always liked sitting quietly on the stairs of the veranda and watching them dart out, all quick and dark-furred with their tiny delicate ears and fiercely curious faces. There was an old piano on the veranda, and the mice inside used to slide up and down the strings, sounding tiny notes.

The quote at the top is from Rose Fyleman’s poem, “I think mice are rather nice”. The music is from one of my favourite films.

For Jenn’s moleskine for the 42nd Moleskine Exchange This is part of the international moleskine exchange (

Moly_x_42 closeup: mouse on notes

Kashelle and Andrew’s wedding invitation

Wedding invitation - final

I designed this invitation for Kashelle and Andrew’s wedding. The wording on the rough for this design was deliberately vague because I didn’t have the details, but they decided to keep it vague and print the details inside. The original background was pen and black ink.  The hand below (without the RSVP) was on the envelopes.


Illustration Friday: Unfold

Illustration Friday: Unfold

At sunset, the snails unfurl their shining wings and dip slowly over the surface of the pond.

Ballpoint drawing coloured and treated in Photoshop.

Oh, look – a writing post

Did I mention I had a story accepted by Andromeda Spaceways a little while back? I just received the contract and sent it back yesterday, so keep an eye out for issue 41! My story is The Splendour Falls, about blind love, and dreams, and summer in the city, and possums. Well, not about possums, but they are mentioned.

In other writing news… still doing at least 100 words a day, although not always coherently. Sending out a rebounding story about dressing up and telling tales. Editing another about green coats and urban sprawl. Eyeballing a recalcitrant old one about a country town, and flowering vines and a thing-with-too-many-legs.

Illustration Friday: Craving

I have a special dietary restriction when I travel. It is: I can eat anything I want as long as it isn’t something I would ordinarily eat at home.

These are some of the things I ate in Adelaide over the weekend (originally from my Adelaide sketchbook, posted here: Natcon Sketchbook):

Illustration Friday: Craving

From top to bottom:

  • TARDIS cookie
  • Frog cake
  • Haigh’s violet cream chocolate