Three Days, 3 Quotes Take 2, Day 3

Today is the third and final day of my second attempt at the three days, three quotes challenge. This time around, I was nominated by She from This Door is Alarmed. Thank you very much for the nomination!

Here are the rules, which I have already broken:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days. (I am going to redesign ‘consecutive’ to mean ‘when you are able’ for my purposes.)
  3. Nominate three bloggers for each post.

For today’s post, I have chosen a quote from the Welcome to Night Vale novel (the first one, which is simply called Welcome to Night Vale). As we all know, Night Vale is a bizarre place (and if you don’t know what have you been doing with your life? Please go and listen to the pod cast!), but it’s people are just as human as any of us, with all the emotions, thoughts and communication difficulties that go along with that. So often what Cecil tells me seems to apply very well to our own, slightly less bizarre, world. Here’s one of my favourite lines from the novel:

Night Vale quote

It seems about right to me!

I’m not nominating anyone this time round as everyone I think might play has already done it. So if you would like a turn then please consider yourself nominated!

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Three Days, Three Quotes Take 2, Day 2

Yes, I do in fact know what “consecutive” means, but I forgot to schedule a post for yesterday then I was in the office all day and by the time I got home, ate, etc. I didn’t feel like writing one, so day two of this tag is a day late. Whatever, it’s not like anyone’s waiting to tell me off.

I was nominated by She from This Door is Alarmed. Thank you so much for thinking of me!

Here are the rules, of which I’ve already broken one and will be breaking another:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers for each post.

For today’s quote, I decided to pick something from one of my favourite books – Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. There are many quotable lines in this book, but I decided to go with this one:

Good Omens quote

It can be helpful to remember that, for the most part, people are just people – they all have flaws, but they also have good qualities. Very few people are bad through and through, just as nobody is perfect.

I am not nominating anybody this time round, as everyone I would have picked has done it already, but if you would like to play (again) let me know and I’ll nominate you tomorrow.

Three Days, Three Quotes Take 2

I have been nominated again for the three days, three quotes challenge – this time by She of This Door is Alarmed. I will be breaking the rules slightly this time though since I’ve run out of people to nominate! If anybody would like to do this (or do it again) let me know and I’ll nominate you tomorrow.

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers for each post.

I have seen the following quote around a lot (there was even a pattern to stitch it in one of my cross-stitch magazines!) but I can’t seem to find its origin. Some sources say it’s an Irish proverb, although I feel like anything that sounds profound is assumed to be an Irish proverb. Anyway, I should probably show you the quote:

life is like tea quote

Inspirational and involving tea… how could you go wrong?

Since I’m feeling generous, here’s another tea-themed quote. This one it seems actually is an Irish proverb, although it’s usually misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.

teabag quote

Basically you never know how much you can take until you actually face challenges… but with tea, which makes everything better.

I hope your day is like a perfect cup of tea (or coffee or gin and tonic, whatever you prefer).

Come back tomorrow for another quote.

10 more things to do before I turn 40

I recently posted the first part of a list of 40 things to do before I turn 40. Today, I want to show you the next ten items, appropriately 4 months to the day before the end of my 35 before 35 challenge.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

  1. Try 10 foods or dishes that I haven’t had before
  2. Take the funicular up to Rochers-de-Naye (thought to have been the inspiration for Rochers Neiges in Agatha Christie’s “The Labours of Hercules”) – thanks to Chomeuse for this one!
  3. Cook 10 recipes from cookbooks I own – I have loads that I rarely even glance at, so it’s time I made some use of them!
  4. Try an Escape Room
  5. Eat 5 or more portions of different fruits/vegetables every single day for a week (Monday-Sunday)
  6. Take the Glacier Express
  7. Visit a new place in Switzerland for each letter of my first name – thanks to Kezzie for this fabulous suggestion!
  8. Visit Pompei – I have wanted to do this ever since we learned about the volcanic eruption on primary school!
  9. Eat pizza in Naples (this one and the previous one can be combined in the same trip)
  10. See the Rocky Horror Show in the year of its 50th anniversary – I saw the 30th anniversary show when it came to Sunderland, then I went to see the show in German in what I only later realised was its 40th anniversary year. So it only makes sense to see it again in 2023 (since that will be the year I turn 40, if the actual show turns out to be after my birthday I will count this item as completed if I at least have the tickets!)

That’s 25 so far… I will post the remaining 15 within the next few months. Please feel free to give me suggestions in the comments.

What I read in March 2018

Good morning lovely people. It’s that time of the month again (no, not that time)… today is Show Us Your Books day with Jana and Steph, so here I am showing you my books. March ended up being a surprisingly good reading month – surprising because I didn’t think I would read very much with Anna Karenina to plough through. I guess all the much-needed breaks from it paid off (not that I hated it, it’s just hard work… but more on that below).

show-us-your-books-2016-300by300

Anyway, I have 16 books to review today, so I’d better get on with it. Starting with those for Erin’s challenge.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (481 pages, read for the category “A book featuring a character with a debilitating physical illness). I feel like people have been going on about this book for yeeeears. When did it come out? *Checks Goodreads* 2012, so it probably has been literally years. Anyway, I had it on my bookcase – although I have no memory of how it got there – and it was the only book I owned that had been previously chosen for this category. Before I start my review, I should say I took a break from Anna Karenina to read this, which may have influenced my opinion slightly. Anyway, this is an easy read and the story really sucked me in. I didn’t cry though, and I am definitely the type to cry at books. The ending made me mad more than anything. Gah! Not without its flaws but a solid enough read. I gave it 4 stars.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (837 pages, read for the category “A book with a character’s name in the title). I have so many books with names in the title, but somehow this was the only one that had been previously chosen for the challenge. It took me over a month, but I actually finished this book! It had to come to Dijon with me and into the office twice, but I got through it. All this makes it sound like I hated it, but I actually didn’t. was more readable than I expected and interesting to read about Russian society. I even enjoyed some parts. But there were parts that just draaagged. In my opinion, it could have been at least 200 pages shorter without missing out any of the actual story. Whole sections dedicated to the act of ploughing a field manually. What was that all about?  And then the Levin character… I quite liked him at first but by the end I was so annoyed with his preachy tone. 3.5 stars. It would have been four, but the last few chapters really annoyed me.

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian (352 pages, read for the category “A book that takes place mostly on a form of transport”. The category I got to choose!). Again, this was the only previously-chosen book I owned. What is it with people choosing books I don’t have? 😉 I actually had no interest in this book – the only reason I owned it is because it’s on the BBC Big Read list. Neither war stories nor naval stories are my kind of thing. That said, I liked it more than I expected to. I actually liked the character of Dr Maturin, although I feel like he was mostly in the book to provide someone who knew nothing about ships so that the author could explain things to the reader without patronising them? If that was the case, it actually worked. (Although I recognised some of the terms from my time in sea cadets.) I will definitely not be reading the remaining 19(!!) books in this series though. One’s enough! 3 stars.

And with that I finished Book Challenge by Erin 8.0!

Now for the non-challenge books I read.

The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop. This is a cute children’s book about a girl who was abandoned in a bookshop when she was 5. The owners – a woman and her son – didn’t manage to find her parents, so she stayed and lived in the bookshop with them. Although she really loves her life there, she has a huge secret: she can’t actually read. They then win a competition and the prize is an amazing bookshop called The Montgomery Book Emporium. Of course, they win the competition, but when they move in all is not as it seems… This is such a fun little book and I really want the Book Emporium to be real! If only my adult brain hadn’t kept asking awkward questions like “how do you just get to keep a girl who gets left in your bookshop without any authorities getting involved?” and “why do neither of those kids go to school or have any form of home-schooling?”. Surely they would have realised she couldn’t read if they’d ever actually tried to, you know, have her do lessons? And it’s not like it’s set in the distant past when these things wouldn’t have mattered! I’m sure children won’t care about those things though. I gave it 4 stars.

Vanish by Tess Gerritson. Dr. Maura Isles is about to leave after an exhausting day at the morgue when one of the “corpses” opens its eyes. Later, the woman who had been presumed dead shoots a security guard with his own gun and then takes a number of people hostage, one of whom is pregnant detective Jane Rizzoli who is about to go into labour at any moment. I was expecting an ordinary crime/thriller, but there was actual a conspiracy theory kind of plot going on, which bothered me a bit. The writing is amazing though! The description claimed that “Only Jane, trapped with the armed madwoman, holds the key to the mystery,” which was misleading – I was waiting the whole time to find out what she knew about the mysterious not-dead woman. Jane did solve the mystery in the end, but not because she “held the key” as far as I could tell. This is the 5th book in a series, but I read it just fine without having read the others. Overall it’s a decent, fast-paced crime/thriller but not one of my favourites. 3 stars.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. I had been wanting to read this book for ages, so finally I just bought it. Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumour that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. But when her best friend’s boyfriend, Drake, kisses her, she actually remembers it! So when an e-mail from Drake seems to suggest she should meet him in Norway, she decides it’s the perfect opportunity for her reclaim her life and sets off on a mad adventure. I love Flora! I love that she’s mostly positive, despite everything. Some people were annoyed by the repetitiveness, but I wasn’t. Hey, enough normal teenagers will go on and on and ON about how they kissed a boy, at least Flora has an excuse 😉 There is a twist, of course – memory loss books always have a twist!  This one has kind of been done before, but it wasn’t entirely what I expected, and didn’t stop me from really enjoying the book. 4 stars.

Wilf the Mighty Worrier Saves the World by Georgia Pritchett. The story itself is cute. It’s about a little boy called Wilf who worries about everything and what he does when the self-proclaimed “Most Evil Man in the World” moves in next door. It would probably appeal to younger boys, especially those who have a tendency to worry about things themselves. But can someone PLEASE explain to me why a book set in Britain by a British author uses “vacation” and “mom”? At first I actually thought it was supposed to be set in America, until it became obvious it wasn’t and I had to look the author up  Did I somehow get hold of a copy that was adapted for the US or does the author think Americanisms will help her book sell faster? Kids maybe wouldn’t notice but it really annoyed me! (I have no problem with books set in America using mom, etc by the way, but British children go on holiday, not vacation!). There’s a whole series of these books but I won’t be reading the rest. 3 stars because the story was quite good, it’s just the Americanisms that put me off.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. The new ship is more modern and much faster, so will be able to catch up with her although she is still moving. Over the months that the new ship is travelling towards her, the two communicate by e-mail and gradually Romy finds herself falling in love. I really, really liked this book. I usually say I don’t like science fiction, but that isn’t strictly true. I don’t like science fiction where the sciency stuff is the entire story. The storyline of this one didn’t go where I thought it was going – or it partly did, I had an inkling about “J”, but only when it was quite close to the end. I’m sure other people would work it out much faster though. Romy is a really believable character and at times I felt genuinely anxious on her behalf. 4.5 stars for this one.

The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen. Sometimes I read a book just to see whether it’s something I could give to my younger brother (who will be 12 this year). This was one of those books – as was the Wilf one, actually. In The Everything Machine’s case, I can definitely say he will be getting it for his birthday in September. I loved it! Basically, a boy called Olly accidentally receives a machine that can make absolutely anything he wants. His siblings quickly find out and hijinks ensue. But is getting everything you’ve ever wished for all it’s cracked up to be? I can’t say too much more without spoiling things, but I will say I really enjoyed the fact that Olly’s 14-year-old sister is really intelligent and into science, and she’s portrayed really positively, showing that a) girls can be scientists and b) science can be cool! The sibling relationship was really realistic too. Olly uses a swear word at one point, which may be something to be aware of before giving this book to your child. A great kids book, 4.5 stars.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. In 1976, when Peggy Hilllcoat is 8-years-old, her survivalist father takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has gone, and her mother and everyone she’s ever known is dead. That isn’t a spoiler – we know this from basically the start. The story is about how and why she makes it home. For some reason, I was under the impression that this book way YA – maybe because of the protaganist’s age? It really, really is NOT though. It’s shocking, heart-rending… and the ending is devastating and awful. Peggy is obviously an unreliable narrator, but I really want her version of events to be real, because I just can’t cope with the ending being true. I gave this 4 stars, but it is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Alice and the Fly by James Rice. This one actually is marketed as Young Adult, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it to most teenagers. Certainly nobody under the age of about 16. I had no idea what to expect from this book when I started and I ended up being totally stunned. The synopsis doesn’t do it justice. It’s about phobias, love, obsession, families, loneliness, being an outcast, mental illness.  It’s dark and disturbing and heart breaking but I honestly could not put it down! 5 stars.

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder. I read this one immediately after finishing Anna Karenina because I needed something a bit easier. A children’s book featuring dragons fit the bill perfectly.  It’s about a dragon named Miss Drake whose human pet Amelia, who she calls Fluffy, has recently died. Now she has a new pet, Amelia’s great-niece Winnie, who seems to be under the impression that Miss Drake is her pet. Ridiculous! As always, where magic is concerned, not everything goes to plan for Miss Drake and Winnie… Aah, this book is so cute. I adore Miss Drake and especially Winnie. She’s a bit cheeky at times, but so bright, mature and resourceful that I just had to love her. I will definitely be getting book 2, and I can’t wait for my godson to be old enough to read it. 5 stars.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. I ordered this as a potential “debilitating illness” candidate because, at the time, I didn’t feel like reading a book as long as Me Before You. But then I ended up reading the other one before this arrived. Anyway, this book is really well written and I enjoyed reading it, but I’m honestly not sure what it was actually about! Obviously I’m not clever enough for this book? Basically it’s about a woman named Sofia who brings her mother, Rose, to Spain in a final attempt to find out what’s causing her (the mother’s) mysterious illness. But I’m not actually sure whether the mother really was ill, or a hypochondriac, or if the daughter is somehow imagining things? Such a weird book. 3 stars.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I had actually been reading this book on and off for nearly two years, so when I only had about 100 pages left I rolled my eyes at myself and decided to finally just finish the damn thing! I think it’s supposed to be philosophical, but basically it’s the story of a man called Tomas’s sexual exploits with almost everyone but his wife, Tereza, and also the story of his lover, Sabina, and her lover, Simon. All set against the backdrop of the invasion of the Czech Republic by the Soviet Union. It’s all very odd and the narrator keeps directly addressing the reader, explaining things, giving away future events, waxing philosophical. This is another book that I don’t feel “clever” enough for, although I did mostly find it interesting while I was reading. 3 stars.

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange. It’s 1919 and Henrietta, known as Henry, has moved to the countryside with her parents and her baby sister, all of them still reeling from the death of her older brother a year before. This book is just beautiful. Magical, but without any actual “magic”. It reminds me of all the classics I read as a child. Henry is a fantastic character. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

The Guardians by John Christopher. I started reading this book in school in year 9, but then moved before we finished it. I’m surprised I didn’t read ahead actually – I can only assume the book was kept at school so I only got to read it in class with everyone else? I only had a very vague recollection of the plot, and it’s only now, through the power of Google, that I’ve managed to work out what the book actually was! It’s amazing what you can find by searching for “dystopian children’s book where a boy living in the city escapes to the country by crawling under a fence”.  I remember being fascinated by this book when we were reading it in school, and it still was pretty fascinating. In this dystopian future, the world has been divided into a huge city with all modern technologies, known as the Conurb, and the countryside where people have reverted to using horses and carts, known as the County. Only rich people and servants live in the country. I enjoyed reading it,  but the ending was so abrupt… HOW does it just end there? I wonder if the author intended to write a sequel but never got around to it because it seemed to just stop in the middle of the story. Based on the rest of the book it would have been four stars, but I’m disappointed enough to only give it 3.

And that’s it for March. 16 books finished is pretty good, even if 3 were really short, quick children’s books and I only had 100 pages left of another. I think finishing Anna Karenina is my achievement of the year, so far!

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my assessment? And have you read anything good recently? Check out the link up if this massive post wasn’t enough bookishness for you! And if you have a post about what you’ve been reading recently, why not join in?

Okay, I’m stopping. If you’re even still here, I’m sure you’ve had enough by now…

The Eyes Have It

blue eye
Image source: https://openclipart.org/detail/27538/blue-eye

Inspiration is a funny thing. The other day, while smearing anti-wrinkle cream under my eyes and humming The Beautiful South’s Prettiest Eyes, I thought of a poem – hey, if they can write about crows feet why not me? I thought I would share that poem with you now.

The Eyes Have It

My whole life
Is mapped below my eyes.
Bags of sleepless nights,
A line for every laugh,
And every tortured thought.
All my regrets and recriminations
My sorrows and my joys
Writ large,
For all to see.

All comments appreciated, even critical ones (but constructive criticism please – don’t just be mean!).

If I were a book character…

I have recently seen two things going around Twitter: a thread in which female authors describe themselves the way a male author would, and a counter-thread in which female authors describe themselves the way a woman writer would… so I guess describe themselves the way they would if they were a book character. In that second thread, I spotted this tweet:

She was quiet; not for lack of things to say but for lack of knowing how to say them. She thought too much about everything and it often left her unsure. It was hard for her to express herself because she had been hurt too many times before and didn’t want to be hurt again.

See the original here. I responded to it with “Uhh… are you me?!” – very articulate, I know 😉 Not being an author, I didn’t want to contribute to the Twitter thread, but I thought I would have a go at describing myself as though I were a book character here.

Her hair, once somewhere between chestnut and copper, had faded to a dull brown, the hint of red visible only in the right light. Her eyes appeared blue or grey at different times. In social situations, she was generally quiet. Too many friendships that had turned out not to be had made her wary of strangers, and she had learned she would be thought weird whether she opened her mouth or not. Best not to let the things she had to say out; they usually came out wrong anyway. Better to leave no impression at all than risk being hated. She didn’t mind, really. Most of her favourite people lived on the Internet anyway.

Well, clearly I’m not cut out for Twitter… I could never have fit all that into a tweet 😂.

How would you describe yourself if you were a character in a book?