The Girl with all the Gifts

The girl with all the gifts
For 3 months I’ve been suffering from a reading-block. Not a single book could entice me, but not by lack of trying from my part. I don’t think it was the books’ fault, but mostly due to my state of mind.
Eventually, I forced myself to pick a book and stick by it. Therefore I picked one that I had been looking forward to for a while now: The girl with all the gifts by M.R. Carey. And boy oh boy, did that book surprise me!

Melanie is only 10, brimming with curiosity and absolutely in love with school, especially on Miss Justineau’s days. She’s extremely intelligent, has a photographic memory and a passion for Greek mythology.
Every morning she sits in her room, waiting for the two armed soldiers to escort her to class. One of them straps her arms, legs and neck to a wheelchair, while the other keeps a gun pointed at her. She thinks they don’t like her, so she tries to break the ice by telling them she won’t bite. They are not amused.

Warning! Spoilers!
It’s very hard to review this book without giving away an important plot element. I honestly believe it is better to start this book as unknowing as possible, without expectations or prejudice. So if you are planning to read this book, I highly urge you to not read the text behind the plus-sign below!

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Well, let me call a cat a cat. The girl with all the gifts is a zombie book.
If I had know this, I would probably have never even thought of picking it up. I love fantasy as much as the next person, but zombies are a bridge too far for me. Having said that, M.R. Carey’s zombies (the hungries) are, as opposed to other zombies, very believable. The how and the what of their unnatural state is explained very scientifically, which for me makes this book that much more creepy. I can really believe this could happen to us. And that is what made me finish the book, even after I realized I was reading a zombie book!

Honesty does compel me to admit that the scientific part that I loved, was also the reason I wanted to put the book down. The unavoidable bloody scenes are not absent from this a-typical zombie book, and the scientific and thus very descriptive approach of these scenes often left me nauseated. But hey, it is part of the genre and you could easily skip these parts without missing out on the story.

The characters also gave me this dubious feeling. On the one hand they are very cliché (the overbearing mother figure, the harsh soldier, the mad scientist), but on the other hand they are also very realistic and humane. More than once I caught myself being irritated by their stereotypic behaviour, to then be indignant when they did or said something unfitting for their stereotype.
I felt for them, cursed them, encouraged them and – even if I could not condone some of their actions – understood them; each and every one of them even if they assumed the role of adversary.

In short, for me the girl with all the gifts by M.R. Carey is a unique, original, unexpected, inventive, moving and heartbreaking book that – after the final scene – left me blank and slightly scared, as if it really was a vision of things to come.
An absolute must-read for those with an open mind.

Janne’s ripple blanket: Ta-dah!

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I’ve finished it for a while now, but I wanted to wait to show it here until I had given it to its recipient. I made this ripple as a special request by my god-daughter and Sunday I gave it to her on her birthday party. I can’t believe she’s 5 already!

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I had been tempted a couple of times to give the blanket sooner, because she kept asking about it. “Aunt Charlotte, have you finished my blanket yet?” Very tempting, yes.

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This is my second ripple and my first finished random colour project.
I’m not good at doing random, so I developed my own logical way to choose randomly. Can you follow ;) . If you’re interested, I’ll explain it one day.
In any case, I love how this random blanket turned out :D

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For the border I made sure my blanket already had a straight top and bottom, crocheted in the same colour. On both sides I also crocheted in the same colour, two rows of double crochet (US terms). That way my entire ripple was framed in the same colour. Then I crocheted another 7 rounds of single crochet (US terms) in 7 different colours, ending with a picot edge.

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And then I was suddenly finished, two weeks before Janne’s birthday party. And either she felt it coming, or she thought she had already waited too long, but those two weeks she asked about that blanket on several occasions.

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But I managed to wait another 2 weeks, because otherwise I had no tangible gift for her birthday. Her real present is a day at an amusement park, just her and me. But we all know children love presents, I kept this blanket for that occasion.

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I only had plain brown wrapping paper, so to embellish I used some of the same yarn as the blanket to crochet a large flower and a long chain in 5 different colours to wrap around the package.
And believe it or not, but that little extra was almost as well received as the blanket. Almost ;)

The details
Pattern: Adjusted Neat Ripple with 3 double crochets between waves and a straight wave at the beginning and end
Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK in Citron (57g), Sunshine (47g), Spice (46g), Pomegrenate (100g), Raspberry (61g), Pale Rose (47g), Lipstick (55g), Plum (49g), Magenta (46g), Grape (58g), Sherbert (64g) and Cloud Blue (38g)
Needle: 4 mm
Size: 86cm x 128cm
Starting chain: 144
Number of stripes: 60


Lately I’ve been completely mesmerized by clay.
I’ve always had a fondness for polymer clay. I can look hours at projects on Pinterest or watch countless videos on YouTube. There are some real artists out there.

The reason why I’ve never tried polymer is because you need to bake it in the oven.
Now, they do say it is not dangerous, but I personally see too many studies on dangerous substances through my work, that I’m highly suspicious about that claim. Thus I don’t feel comfortable about baking it in the same oven as where I prepare food in. Buying a separate oven to try it out, however seems a bit much too, in my opinion.

Then I read about air dry clay. This does exactly what the name says, it dries by itself, without needing to be baked.
There are different types of this clay, which could easily be bought from a craft store. The clay I’m most curious about however is porcelain clay.

Porcelain clay is a clay you can make yourself using easily available ingredients: corn starch, white glue, baby oil or other vegetable oil and vinegar or lemon juice.
As far as I’ve seen, there are two methods to achieve a clay with these ingredients. The first is just mixing everything until you reach the right consistency. The second method is the same, but adding a heat source like a stove or microwave oven.

I would really like to try this out, but I already have so much on my plate at the moment that I’m trying to restrain myself. I can’t afford another hobby, lol. When will they propose a 5-day weekend?? :)

Have you ever heard of porcelain clay? Or have you ever tried it out?