April 2021 recap

Hello my lovelies! Can you believe I’m here for an April recap? What even is time and where is it going? I haven’t been around here much recently – sorry about that (why am I apologising? Nobody cares whether I blog!). You’ll soon see that I don’t really have much of a reason for that. As in I haven’t been too busy to post. Just not in the mood I guess. Anyway, on with the recap.

The month started with Easter. Actually Good Friday was 2nd April but I don’t have anything to say about the 1st. I was pleased to have a long weekend! Not that I did a lot. I went for 2 walks (Jan joined me for one) and I made hot cross buns. They took forever but turned out quite nice for a first attempt – maybe a bit dense.

ITV were showing all the Harry Potter films on Easter weekend and the following weekend and Jan decided her was going to watch then (if you know him in real life you’re probably rubbing your eyes in disbelief right now!). I watched with him and had fun spotting the scenes that were shot at Alnwick Castle and Durham Cathedral. I don’t normally watch that many films in such a short space of time unless it’s Christmas! We also watched a German film called Im Juli, which was weird, and I discovered Jan had never seen (or even heard of) The Lost Boys so we watched that. This discovery was make thanks to an answer on House of Games, which we’re still keeping up with, and I’ve also been enjoying Great British Menu. So much TV in April! This is very unusual for me!

I mentioned last month that my doctor had given me a referral for physiotherapy. I had my first session on the Wednesday after Easter. I chose a place that’s kind of opposite where I live which is so convenient! It literally takes me about 4 minutes from leaving my flat to being in the room. I’ve nearly finished my sessions now and my back is mostly better, although it still seems to play up at times.

It was not a good month for reading. I listened to an audiobook and it took dayssss. Me and audiobooks just don’t get on. Then on top that I only read 5 other books. I had hoped to finish another one but alas I only managed the first 130ish pages in April. I’m still working on it now almost a week into May!

Jan got his first dose of COVID vaccine. Yay! Our canton finally moved on from over-75s and “highest risk” to all chronic illnesses (Jan has type 1 diabetes. Since it’s well-controlled he isn’t considered high risk). He will get the second jab later this month. Vaccinations are still relatively slow here but starting to pick up now. And on the very last day of April the reported daily positive tests finally fell to below 2000 for the first time in weeks. Restaurants have been allowed to open their terraces since 19 April but I still haven’t been to one. And gyms also reopened on the same day but I haven’t set foot in one of those since I was about 16 😉 We did get take away a couple of times. One that lasted us for three nights in a row and one that we bought for lunch and had enough rice left over to reheat for tea. I made it without some frozen samosas (obviously I heated them) that I bought to try and turned out to be delicious so I will definitely get them again.

The last two months I have completely forgotten to mention that I’ve been trying to learn Ukrainian through Duolingo. I’m not great at it though – I can’t seem to get my head around the Cyrillic alphabet, especially since some of the letters that look similar to ours are pronounced (roughly) the same and some aren’t. So так is “yes” and it’s pronounced pretty much as you would expect (tak) but сестра (sister) is pronounced “sestra” because what my brain insists on viewing as a ‘p’ is pronounced similar to an ‘r’. And then the letter that does look like an r, albeit a backwards one, is pronounced ‘ya’, so моя сестра (my sister) is “moya sestra”. Aaargh!

I cannot think of anything else to tell you! I’ve still been going for my weekly walks, sometimes with Jan but most often alone. Here’s a photo of a squirrel we saw on one walk – it looks like it’s in a cage, but actually it’s some kind of structure that was apparently built to help it climb the tree. The tree was on the grounds of a school so we guessed the structure was probably part of some project there.

I hope you all had a good April. Check back on Tuesday if you want to know about the very few books I read last month.

Six degrees of separation – from Beezus and Ramona to…

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but once I saw the starting point I really wanted to join in. I used to get Beverly Cleary books from the library when I was about 7 or 8 – I remember choosing the first one because I was so excited to see that a real life author had my name! Obviously being British mine is spelled Beverley, like the town in Yorkshire.

So, the idea of this game is that everyone starts with the same book – in this case Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Clearly – then adds six more books, each of which links in some way to the one before it, and we see where we end up. The host is Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best and the link up takes place on the first Saturday of the month (yes, I’m a day late linking up).

So, as I have said, Kate’s chosen starting point this month was Beezus and Ramona – very fitting giving Beverly Clearly died not long ago. This is about two sisters – Beezus (real name Beatrice) is the older sister and she often finds it hard to deal with having a little sister like four-year-old Ramona, who usually means well but is quite a handful!

For my first link, I have chosen another story about a mischievous younger sibling. My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards. This one is a little old-fashioned now (it was first published in 1962) but still great fun to read, featuring such stories as the time the narrator’s naughty little sister fell in the stream and got all wet or ate all the trifle at her friend’s birthday party.

From one naughty girl to another… my next link in the chain is The Naughtiest Girl in the School by Enid Blyton. I loved Enid Blyton as a child and I found her Naughtiest Girl books fascinating – a school where the children mostly govern themselves with the teachers only stepping in occasionally? So interesting (to seven-year-old me).

Sticking with the boarding school theme, my next choice is The Chalet School series by ELino M. Brent Dyer… the first of which is The School at the Chalet. I first discovered a few of these books at my grandma’s house (they originally belonged to one of my aunts) and since I loved them so much she let me keep them. I then went on to collect as many as I could, mostly from second-hand book shops (although books 1 and 2 were published as a collection under the title “School Stories” so I got that one new for one of my birthdays). To this day, I absolutely adore this series about an English woman who sets up a school in the Austrian Tirol. It later moves to Guernsey and then a Welsh island because of the Second World War and eventually ends up in Switzerland.

I feel like I should add another book with a Swiss connection since I live there, so up next is Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Do I need to tell you what this book is about? Heid is an orphan who’s aunt sends her to live with her gruff old grandfather in the Swiss mountains. Just as she’s got settled in and come to love the place, her aunt turns up again and forces her to move to Frankfurt to act as a companion to a sickly girl named Klara. Will Heidi ever see her beloved mountains again?

Next, another book about an orphan who is sent to live with relatives – Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. Emily is slightly less famous than Montogomery’s other orphan, Anne (of Green Gables), but after reading this book for the first time last year I discovered I actually prefer Emily to Anne!

My final link is a little tenuous… but the title of the last book made me think of Emlyn’s Moon by Jenny Nimmo. This is the second book in the Snow Spider trilogy, another series I loved and adored when I was around 7. The Snow Spider was always my favourite of the three books, but I loved the main character in this one – Nia, the middle child in a large family who has always been led to believe that she’s the dull one who can’t do anything but proves she’s really quite special in this book.

So, that’s my chain. All children’s books, all quite different, and all but one very much loved by tiny me.

If you want to see everyone else’s links, see Kate’s post here. And if you want to join in please do – I would love to see what you come up with (obviously don’t forget to link to Kate and also add the link to your chain on her post).

That’s all for today. I hope everyone is well and happy.

A photo an hour: 20 February 2021

Hi everyone! Today is a holiday in Switzerland and Germany, but it’s also a Saturday so we don’t even get a day off work for it, just an entire weekend with closed supermarkets and not being able to hoover… so kind of like two Sundays in a row. Rude! Anyway, I am here to bring you February’s photo an hour – and yes I am aware that it’s now May. I’m a bit behind, okay? Anyway, here’s what I got up to on 20th February.

10 a.m. Starting the day with a cuppa, as always.

11 a.m. Cross stitch. Working on a sweet sixteen card for a girl from Post Pals.

12 noon. Making the finished cross stitch into a card.

1 p.m. Time for a shower. On Instagram, I hashtagged this with “Who is the laziest of them all?” but given that Jan wasn’t even out of bed yet I’m going with not me 😉

2 p.m. Preparing to go for my weekly walk – these books are destined for a free public bookcase.

3 p.m. Town. Waiting for the people browsing the bookcase to leave so I can deposit mine. The photo shows the Wettsteinplatz bus/tram stop. (Look how blue the sky was! It’s chucking down today and I’m wondering whether to go for a soggy walk this week or hope for better whether tomorrow.)

4 p.m. After walking back home it was time for another cuppa.

5 p.m. Time to stick on some washing.

6 p.m. Starting to cook tea.

7 p.m. Lasagne in the oven! The washing machine also started beeping at that exact second, but luckily Jan went to sort that out.

8 p.m. On to my second helping of food!

9 p.m. I wasn’t interested in the film Jan was watching so I brought my book to the bedroom.

10 p.m. Got into my pyjamas… plus some fluffy socks.

11 p.m. Getting ready for bed. Face cream and teeth brushing.

So that was February’s… stay tuned for March and April. I bet you can hardly contain your excitement ;-).

What I read in March 2021

Hello! Happy Show Us Your Books day! Like every month, I’m linking up with Steph and Jana to tell you what I’ve been reading. There are a few to get through so I’ll just launch straight in.

Anxious People by Frederik Backman When a failed bank robbery turns into a hostage situation at an open-house apartment viewing, eight anxious people find themselves trapped in a room together. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers gradually begin opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths. As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.   I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book at first. It’s all a bit too weird and quirky. But somehow it was also fascinating in a way that wouldn’t let me stop reading. Even though it all felt a bit far-fetched (and I couldn’t believe anyone would act the way these characters did while being interviewed by the police!) I also felt like I just had to know how it all came together. It ends up being a very clever puzzle and the author did a good job of putting it all together, but the overwhelming feeling I came out with was melancholy. I feel like nobody actually knows what they’re doing and we’re all just wandering through life making a whole series of bad or sometimes slightly less bad decisions. There are some nice touching moments and I think the ending and the overall message was supposed to be hopeful but personally I came out of it just feeling kind of down – which I suppose is the sign of a good author, being able to manipulate my emotions to that extent. 4 stars.

The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne. For Farah and Dougan the only thing that makes life at Applecross Orphanage bearable is their friendship, which deepens into love as the years pass. Shortly after they seal their love in a “handfasting” ceremony at the ages of 10 and 13, the two are torn apart. Seventeen years later. Farah, now a clerk at Scotland Yard, where she is known as the widowed Mrs Mackenzie meets Dorian Blackwell. Known as the Blackheart of Ben More, Dorian is a ruthless villain – one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him… and will fight to the death to seize what he wants – including Farah. But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?   I enjoyed this. It was a fun read. It’s kind of predictable but honestly what romance isn’t? I really liked Farah – she doesn’t take anyone’s crap. I will most likely continue the series. 4 stars.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi. There are no monsters any more – or so Jam and the other children growing up in Lucille have always been told. But one night, Jam meets Pet, Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood. Pet has come to hunt a monster – a monster it claims is lurking in Jam’s best friend Redemption’s house. Jam isn’t sure what to think, but if there’s even a chance that Redemption could be in danger she has to find out the truth. And so she must fight not only to protect her best friend but to find the answer to the question: How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist? It seems weird to describe a book as both charming and dark but that’s exactly how it felt to me. Jam’s family and friends are so loving and accepting of her. It’s mentioned early on that she’s trans and not a single person batted an eyelid when she told them she was a girl (at age 3). She rarely speaks out loud and it seemed like most of the town learned sign language to communicate with her – not just family friends but even the town librarian. And her relationship with best friend Redemption is the most lovely, heart-warming thing I’ve read in a while. Even when he tells her something unbelievable he believes her immediately without question. Then there’s the other side. They’ve always been told that monsters don’t exist any more, but now a creature named Pet is telling them that not only are there still monsters but one of them has been right under their noses the whole time. The moment when Redemption realised who he thought might be the victim of the monster was heartbreaking. And the end took a very dark turn – I would definitely not let anyone under about 12 it 13 read this book. The whole discussion of monsters and how assuming/claiming there aren’t any could cloud people’s judgement so that they missed all the signs is thought provoking and very relevant to our times. How do you know how the monsters are if they look like everybody else? My one complaint about this book – and it’s relatively minor – is I would have liked to know more about the world. What happened to the monsters? Is it just Lucille that’s monster free or the entire world – and if there are monsters elsewhere now do they keep them out? Are young people’s monitored for signs that they might grow up as “monsters”? Maybe I’m just expecting too much of a children’s book. 4 stars anyway.

Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicholl. Cora has no interest in being dragged along to her brother’s work do. She certainly doesn’t expect to make a friend there. Then she meets Adrien, son of the intimidating CEO of Pomegranate Technologies, and the first person ever to understand how Cora feels being neurodiverse in a world that isn’t made for people like her (Cora is autistic and Adrien has ADHD). As she becomes part of Adrien’s life, she is also drawn into the mysterious projects at Pomegranate. At first, she’s intrigued by them – Pomegranate is using AI to recreate real people in hologram form, with the aim of eventually allowing people to speak with relatives who have passed away. Having lost her mother a year ago, Cora can understand exactly why people would want another chance to talk to a loved one. But as she digs deeper, she uncovers darker secrets… Cora knows she must unravel their plans, but can she fight to make her voice heard, whilst never losing sight of herself? This book is a roller-coaster! There were so many ups and downs. What Pomegranate Industries was doing is genuinely disturbing. I totally got Cora’s dad’s concerns even before Cora uncovered the truth. It was an absolutely fascinating plot though. I loved the characters – even the villain in a love-to-hate kind of way. Cora’s friendship with Adrien is just the best, and of course I LOVE the dog. I cannot recommend this book enough.It’s slightly lacking in world building/some explanations (e.g. it’s never explained why people aren’t allowed to fly any more – I’m guessing climate change but it’s never actually addressed) but I gave it 5 stars anyway because I genuinely enjoyed it that much.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London’s trendiest neighbourhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season’s must-haves. The only trouble is, she can’t actually afford any of it. Her job writing for finance magazine Successful Savings not only bores her to tears, it doesn’t pay much at all. And lately the bank has been chasing her, sending letters with huge red numbers that Becky can’t bear to even look at. She tries cutting back. But none of her efforts succeeds. Becky’s only consolation is to buy herself something … just a little something… Finally she stumbles on a story that she actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyses a chain of events that will transform her life – and the lives of those around her – forever. I remember when this came out (my first year of uni) and it was absolutely everywhere. Somehow I never actually got round to reading it though, so when I spotted it in a free public bookcase I decided to grab it and see what all the fuss was about. It’s a fast, fun read but kind of ridiculous. Becky really annoyed me at times. The ending is kind of ridiculous but it’s exactly what I expect from this kind of book. If I had actually read it back in the day I would have adored it. At nearly 38 I just liked it. I did have fun remembering early 2000s life though – not many mobile phones, no Facebook, etc. – but I won’t bother tracking down the rest of the series. 3 stars.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson. Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern town. But it’s okay – Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend Pennington College on a music scholarship, become a doctor, find a cure for the sickle cell disease that took her mother from her. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down… until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants less than to endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams… or make them come true? This is cute and fun even while dealing with some serious issues. I loved the characters – mostly. Liz’s friend Gabi kind of annoyed me at times and “mean girl” Rachel was sooo stereotypical. The ending was a little predictable and almost too perfect but that’s par for the course with this kind of book. My absolute favourite thing was the relationship between Leah and her brother – everything about their interactions was so heart warming. 4 stars.

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis. At sixteen, Emmie Blue released a red balloon with her name, email address and a secret she desperately wanted to be rid of. Against the odds, Lucas Moreau found her balloon and emailed her, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens. Now, on the eve of their shared 30th birthday, Emmie is desperately hoping that Lucas is finally about to ask her to become his girlfriend – but instead he announces he is marrying someone else. Suddenly all Emmie’s dreams are shattered and she feels like she’s losing the only person on her life she can rely on. But what if Lucas isn’t her forever after all? What if her love story is only just beginning… This book is cute with some great characters – Emmie’s co-workers Rosie and Fox are hilarious. I loved every scene they appeared in. Certain aspects of the plot were very predictable – not just in the way that romance is always predictable but as in the second the person Emmie was “truly” meant to be with appeared I knew it was him and I also totally guessed something else that was integral to their eventual relationship. So one star off for that but overall I did really enjoy it. 4 stars.

Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe. Charles and Laura are a young, happily married couple inhabiting the privileged world of Cambridge academia. One Christmas Eve, Charles sets off with their four-year-old  daughter Naomi on a shopping trip to London. But, by the end of the day, all Charles and his wife have left are cups of tea and police sympathy. For Naomi, their beautiful, angelic only child, has disappeared. Days later her murdered body is discovered. But is Naomi really gone? This book started off well – very creepy and atmospheric, but the second half was almost too convoluted. I would have preferred more of a pure haunting than the “twist” with a certain person taking a more active role (trying to avoid spoilers there!). 2.5 stars.

The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (The Last Dragonslayer #2). A long time ago magic faded away, leaving behind only yo-yos, the extremely useful compass-pointing-to-North enchantment and the spell that keep bicycles from falling over. Things are about to change. Magical power is on the rise and King Snodd IV of Hereford has realised that he who controls magic controls almost anything. One person stands between Snodd and his plans for power and riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice. Meet Jennifer Strange, sixteen-year-old acting manager of Kazam, the employment agency for sorcerers and soothsayers. With only one functioning wizard and her faithful assistant ‘Tiger’ Prawns, Jennifer must use every ounce of ingenuity to derail King Snodd’s plans. It may involve a trip on a magic carpet at the speed of sound to the Troll Wall, the mysterious Transient Moose, and a powerless sorceress named Once Magnificent Boo. But one thing is certain: Jennifer Strange will not relinquish the noble powers of magic to big business and commerce without a fight. If you think that synopsis sounds bizarre you would be right! I remember really liking the first book in the series. Admittedly it’s been a while but this one just wasn’t as enjoyable. It’s very silly but to me somehow lacked in imagination. I liked the characters but the actual plot just isn’t that interesting. It’s quick and fun though and I don’t regret reading it. 3 stars.

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen. Leelu, her mum and her older brother have moved from her warm, bright home country to cold, grey London. The neighbours are noisy, there’s concrete everywhere and Leelu struggles to fit in. Worst of all, they had to leave their father behind at home. But Leelu is not alone; someone is leaving her gifts outside her house – wonders which give her curious magical powers. Powers that could help her find a way home. In my opinion Leelu’s struggles with being in a new country and missing her dad was the best part of this book. Particularly the scenes in school where she felt out of place and scared were incredibly well written. And I loved her friendship with the refugee girl from next door. It provided a lovely spark of joy in an otherwise fairly dark book. The touch of magical realism was fun but I felt a little uncomfortable about her friendship with Bo – the old man neighbour. Obviously he ultimately turned out to be fine but I would have preferred if maybe her mum had met him first and he had become established as a trusted adult before Leelu went into his house. Maybe that’s me looking at it’s from too much of an adult perspective but I would not want my child thinking it’s okay to go off with random adults! 3.5 stars.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston. Amari Peters’ big brother Quniton has gone missing and she’s convinced it has to do with his mysterious job. So when she gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the idea that mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon. Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous. With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three try-outs, she may never find out what happened to her brother. magical book! It’s very much character and plot-driven – the actual writing is nothing special. But the world is fantastic. It reminded me of Nevermoor in many ways, but this one is closer to our world (in a similar way to Harry Potter as in all this magical stuff is right there but normal people can’t see it) and also has a Men in Black vibe. It could have used a bit more editing – within the space of a few pages there were a few mistakes (one was just they’re instead of their, but the other was missing word and it threw me right out of the story). Amari is bullied for being different and the main instigator was such a spoiled mean girl cliché that I had trouble taking her seriously. I definitely recommend this book though and will read the next in the series when it comes out. 4 stars.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream – a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Most people probably already know this book. A lot would have read it in school. I didn’t. Objectively, this is a good book. It’s well written. There’s a good message. Everyone loves it. Personally I liked it okay but I didn’t love and adore it like most reviweres seem to. It’s a quick enough read that I would say read it and make up your own mind. 3 stars.

Waking Gods by Sylvain Nuevel (Themis Files #2). As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day. Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers – and even more perplexing questions. Now human-kind faces a deadly nightmare – can Dr Franklin and her team unlock the final secrets behind Themis before it’s too late? I’ve tried to make that synopsis as vague as possible to avoid spoiling the first in the series for those that haven’t read it! I didn’t like this book quite as much as the first one. It answered some of the questions from the first book but a lot of the answers were kind of underwhelming. The format again made it a relatively quick read but I felt like I couldn’t fully connect with the characters. The addition of some personal diary entries helped a bit bit for the most part I still felt like I didn’t fully understand their motivations. I will finish the series though because I want to know where it’s going with the way it ended. 3 stars.

Tell No One by Harlan Coben. Eight years ago David Beck was knocked unconscious and left for dead,and his wife Elizabeth was kidnapped and murdered. Everyone tells him it’s time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. Then an image of Elizabeth appears on David’s computer screen, and suddenly he is taunted with the impossible – that somehow, somewhere Elizabeth is still alive. The messages come with a warning: tell no one. And he doesn’t. But soon Beck himself is being hunted down… This book is certainly action-packed. It pulls you in at the beginning and just doesn’t let up. It ended up being a little too convoluted for me though and a few things were a little too convenient. Plus the final twist at the end just didn’t make sense. I also got so tired of hearing about what an angel Elizabeth was. Nobody is that perfect! A good way to pass the time but far from being a new favourite thriller. 3 stars.

For the third month in a row, I read 14 books and four of them were by BAME/BIPOC authors. I really need to up my game, but it’s difficult when I’m trying not to spend and most of my owned books are by white people. I should make more use of Scribd!

TL;DR: I ended up enjoying Anxious People but it’s a strange book and definitely not for everyone. I LOVED Show Us Who You Are. Pet is thought-provoking and interesting. You Should See Me in a Crown and Dear Emmie Blue are both cute with great characters (the first is YA, the second adult contemporary). Amari and the Night Brothers is reminiscent of Nevermoor and Men in Black. I recommend it if you enjoy books for their plot and characters and don’t mind so much about amazing writing.

That’s it for this month. Tell me what you’ve been reading recently. And don’t forget to visit the link up for more book reviews.

March 2021 recap

Hello, hello!
I had plans to write blog posts last month then I ended up with backache that made me not want to be anywhere near the computer when I wasn’t working. It’s better now and I’ve also started physiotherapy (thanks to my GP for the referral) so hopefully it will finally bog off completely (ha, channelling my inner Tracy Beaker there). Anyway, here is a slightly belated recap of what I did last month.

March kicked off with Jan’s birthday, which was on the 1st. Last year we went out for a meal which ended up being almost the last normal thing we did before everything shut down. Basel’s Fasnacht (carnival) had just been cancelled and I remember the waiter saying they were wondering what to do with all the extra beer and sausages they had bought. Little did anyone know that would be the last of their worries… Anyway, this year we were both working but I finished early and baked a cake, then we ordered burgers for tea – that came with so many chips that we ended up reheating them for the next two nights as well!

Speaking of birthdays, cards had to be stitched. A friend’s son turned 5 and another friend’s daughter turned 1.

I sent Easter cards to all the Post Pals families. I had bought some but not enough so I also ended up making about 15.

It was Mother’s Day in the UK – I sent my mum a card and present via Moonpig – and a couple of days later it was the two year anniversary of what would have been my due date with the twins. How is it even possible that it’s been two whole years?! But at the same time how has it only been two years? In some ways it feels like another lifetime. I can’t even imagine what life would be like now if we had two toddlers. I’m guessing messier but way more fun.

I’m genuinely struggling to remember what else happened in March. I had to take time off to use up three days from last year. On the first of those days we went to look at sofas  (we thought being a Friday there would be fewer people around so we could keep our distance better). We didn’t find anything we liked though. The second day off was originally planned as a blog post writing day but instead I went to the doctor with back ache and on the third day off I had an early appointment then came home for a nap and spent the rest of the day alternating between lying down and walking since sitting hurt my back the most. On the 31st I called my doctor again and got a referral for physiotherapy.

I continued going for a walk at least once a week (doctor’s instructions were to walk as much as possible so I actually walked home from my doctor’s appointment).

I didn’t read much in the first half of the month then took part in a 48 hour readathon and read 7 and a half books in one weekend. Book day is tomorrow so stay tuned for that. We watched Richard Osman’s House of Games every week day  – the current series ended but then they continued with repeats from previous series. Luckily we only discovered it last year so we haven’t seen most of the old ones. It’s so weird to see the contestants sitting so close together!

What else? Shops reopened at the beginning of the month but I still haven’t actually been into any other than supermarkets and chemists (which have been open all along) and the aforementioned furniture shops. At the same time museums and galleries reopened and zoos and botanical gardens were allowed to open their outdoor areas. We briefly thought about going to the zoo but then it rained for that entire weekend.  The number of people who are allowed to meet outdoors also increased from 5 to 15. Indoors stayed at 5 to begin with then went up to 10 in the middle of the month. And after having 1000 reported cases per day at the start of the month we were up to roughly 2000 per day by the end. Hands up who’s surprised by this? Meanwhile in the UK my mum got her second dose of COVID-19 vaccine and my brother, sister and dad all got their first. Progress! Switzerland remains slow – my canton is still working on over 70s and highest risk groups.

I guess that’s all. Apparently I didn’t manage to take a photo on even one of my walks so I can’t even give you that. I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe.

What I read in February 2021

Hello! It’s somehow book day again… time is going fast! I forgot to write a draft of this post to add to throughout the month so now I’m having to type the whole entire thing during my lunch break (and partly after work because I didn’t get finished at lunch time). As you can see from the title, I am linking up with Steph and Jana to tell you what I read in February.

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford. Sequel to Greenglass House. It’s the Christmas holidays again and Milo is looking forward to spending his school-free time with his family, but once again they end up with a whole house full of guests, both familiar faces and new ones. There are fresh clues to uncover as Milo and his friends search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul. I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as the first one. It’s just as charming and there are some fantastic characters (I would love to see Milo and Marzana’s friendship continue to develop) but it did feel a bit too similar to the first book at times. i really enjoyed the aspects of Nagspeake folklore and getting to know something about the world outside the inn. 4 stars.

The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Mila and her sisters live with their brother Oskar in a small forest cabin. It’s been winter in their village for 5 years – so long that Mila’s youngest sister doesn’t remember anything else. Their mother is dead and their father is gone. One night, a fur-clad stranger arrives seeking shelter for himself and his men. But by the next morning, they’ve gone – taking Oskar with them and, as they later find out, all the other boys in the village. Mila is determined to find her brother and bring him back, so with the help of Rune, the Mage, she sets out to do just that. This is well-written, and the beginning in particular is very atmospheric, but the story felt a bit vague. It’s based on folklore and very reminiscent of a fairy-tale but it lacks detail. It’s all a bit simple and most of the characters felt a bit flat – particularly Mila’s older sister Senna and Rune, the Mage. I would have liked to find out more of his back story and motivations. I did really love Mila’s little sister Pipa though. 3 stars.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson. 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. She was found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby and has always felt drawn towards the forest. When she wakes up one morning to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off on an adventure with her house weasel Mousetrap to discover who she really is. Along the way she is joined by a motley crew of animals, all of whom have a lot to teach her about friendship and belonging. This is a wonderful adventure about family, friendship and discovering who you really are. I loved the stories interwoven throughout and the characters Yanka met along the way. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as The House With Chicken Legs though. Yanka is a great character but I somehow didn’t feel as attached to her as I did to Marinka. One thing I did like better in this one was the Yaga house – I want it to be my friend! 3.5 stars.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. Vasilisa – known as Vasya – the youngest child of Petyor Petrovich, is wild like her mother was. The family lives on the edge of the Russian wilderness (although at that point it’s not Russia yet, but Rus‘), where winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. Vasya spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. But then her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honouring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. In a village caught between a pagan past and the Christian church, Vasya is perhaps the only one who can save her people from what’s coming. This is really well written and I found the Slavic folk tale elements absolutely fascinating. I love Vasya and the various creatures/guardians. However it felt pretty slow at times – it seemed to take forever for the “real” story to get going. I will read the next book because I want to know where Vasya ends up going. 3.5 stars.

Boy, Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. When Boy Novak turns 20, she flees the home of her abusive, rat-catcher father – ending up in Flax Hill, Massachusetts, simply because it’s the last stop on the bus route she took from New York. There she meets Arturo Whitman – craftsman, widower, and father of Snow – a beautiful, cherished child who Boy is instantly smitten by. If Snow displays a certain inscrutability at times, that’s simply a characteristic she shares with her father, harmless until Boy gives birth to Snow’s sister, Bird. When Bird is born Boy is forced to re-evaluate the image Arturo’s family have presented to her and Boy, Snow and Bird are broken apart. There are a lot of themes in this book. Identity… what it means to be white/black, male/female. Appearances versus reality. There is a LOT to discuss and I feel like it would be a perfect book club book. It’s also really well written. But the plot kind of lost me. I felt like I was missing the whole point of the book. Then a few serious issues came up at the end that weren’t really explored at all and made me feel like I was missing something. The final twist at the end was handled fairly badly (to say how would be a spoiler though) and the book then ended abruptly without the reveal either being tied in to the rest of the plot or the author explaining what she was trying to do by putting that twist in there and having Boy react so badly. I’m not sure what the comparison with Snow White is about either. Sure there’s an obsession with mirrors and beauty but comparing the plot to Snow White seemed very far-fetched to me. 3 stars – maybe more 2.5 now I think about it.

The Floating Admiral by The Detection Club (various authors including Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers). In 1931 Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and 10 other crime writers from the newly formed Detection Club collaborated in publishing a unique crime novel. In a literary game of consequences, each author would write one chapter, leaving G.K. Chesterton to write a typically paradoxical prologue and Anthony Berkeley to tie up all the loose ends. The result was this book. Inspector Rudge does not encounter many cases of murder in the sleepy seaside town of Whynmouth. But when an old sailor lands a rowing boat containing a fresh corpse with a stab wound to the chest, the Inspector’s investigation immediately comes up against several obstacles. The vicar, whose boat the body was found in, is clearly withholding information, and the victim’s niece has disappeared. There is clearly more to this case than meets the eye – even the identity of the victim is called into doubt. Inspector Rudge begins to wonder just how many people have contributed to this extraordinary crime and whether he will ever unravel it… I love the concept of this book and it was interesting to see where each author took the story and what they added to it. Inevitably some chapters were better than others (or possibly more to my taste than others). I found the prologue by G.K. Chesterton surprisingly dull considering I like the Father Brown stories. Agatha Christie’s chapter was good, as could be expected. There were a few other chapters I enjoyed as well, some by authors I didn’t know, and I was impressed with how the last person managed to tie everything together. I had read this before but I was maybe 13 at the time so I obviously didn’t remember the solution! I do recommend it if you’re a fan of classic crime/mysteries – it’s definitely not the greatest detective mystery I’ve read but I still found it fun to see what people managed to do with someone else’s plot. 3 stars.

Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens. A collection of short stories from the world of the Murder Most Unladylike series – including the Detective Society’s first ever mystery, the Case of Lavinia’s Missing Tie. There are also tips from Daisy and Hazel on how to found your own Detective Society, a story from “rival” teen detectives (but actually friends) The Junior Pinkertons, and some discussion of real-life unsolved mysteries. It’s cute but ultimately unnecessary. The tips for setting up your own detective agency and writing in code are fun and there are a couple of new stories in there – I enjoyed reading about the Junior Pinkertons case. But ultimately I didn’t think it needed to be a whole separate book. One of the stories is actually included as a bonus at the end of Mistletoe and Murder and I felt like the same could have been done with the rest of the content. Also, I had felt that Daisy was getting better in Mistletoe and Murder, but reading from her perspective in this book she came across as an awful person and horrible friend to Hazel. She’s so possessive of their friendship while at the same time constantly putting Hazel down and treating her like an idiot. And when she’s giving her tips for setting up your own club she also talks directly to the readers as if they couldn’t possibly be anywhere near as clever as the amazing Daisy. Ugh! 2.5 stars.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. When Sydney Green takes part in a walking tour of the Brooklyn neighbourhood she’s lived in for almost her whole life, she is frustrated to find that the tour guide prefers to tell stories of the white people who lived there hundreds of years ago rather than the amazing African Americans – some of whom are actually still living there. Challenged to create her own walking tour if it means that much to her, Sydney decides to do just that, finding assistance from an unlikely – and unwanted – corner, one of the many new arrivals to the block – her neighbour Theo. As more and more FOR SALE signs pop up and the people Sydney has known her whole life gradually disappear – even while Sydney herself is literally battling to hold on to her own house – Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbours may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised. When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other – or themselves – long enough to find out before they too disappear? From reading the synopsis I could not figure out what the actual plot of this book was, I just knew it sounded interesting (and I had seen some high praise for it – I think actually through SUYB). It starts off fairly slow but by the end I was hooked – staying up until the early hours of the morning to finish it. I still have a few questions but overall it was a great read. Not a thriller in the traditional sense but certainly chilling and eye-opening. 4 stars.

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson. When rookie policeman Ari Thór Arason is given his first posting in Siglufjörður – an idyllic (and remote) fishing village in the very north of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel – far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik, he isn’t expecting much beyond routine small incidents. But then a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, and Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. This is very atmospheric – you can really feel the claustrophobia of the small town, basically cut off from the rest of the world by snow and ice. The story itself is verrrry slow, which isn’t always necessarily a bad thing but unfortunately something about the writing style just didn’t jibe well with me. It felt choppy. In fairness to the author it’s possible that something was lost in translation, although I would think the translator would have tried to accurately represent the original style. I also didn’t like Ari Thor very much – he needs to learn to communicate and stop assuming he knows how other people (his girlfriend) feel. Towards the end things started to pick up and there was a bit of action, which bumped this book up from a 2.5 to a 3 star. I probably won’t bother reading book 2 though.

Cinderella is Dead by Kaylynn Bayron. It’s been 200 years since Cinderella found her prince but the fairy tale is over. Siyteen-year-old Sophia knows the story off by heart though. She has to. Just like she and every other teen girl has to attend the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are “forfeit”, leaving the kingdom never to be heard from again. Sophia doesn’t want to go to the ball though. She doesn’t even want to get married – or not to a man anyway. She would rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend. When Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb, where she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all – and in the process, learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew. I enjoyed this book. I do agree with the reviewers who said they would have liked more world-building, but if you view it through the lens of a fairytale of sorts it makes sense in a way for there to just be a kingdom and a forest. I liked Sophia but I would have liked to see her reasons for wanting to change the system developed a bit more. Obviously wanting to defeat the evil and get equal rights for everyone is a good thing – I’m not questioning that. But why does Sophia in particular choose to fight back while others prefer to follow the rules and try to conform no matter how much it hurts them? We are told it has something to do with Sophia’s grandmother, who also rebelled and was taken away, but I would have liked to be shown how her grandmother shaped her thinking. Maybe a scene with Sophia reminiscing about something specific that happened with her grandmother instead of her just constantly telling everybody “my grandmother told me the king is bad and must be stopped!”. The king himself is almost a caricature of evil – towards the end there was a point where I actually had to laugh because it was just getting so ridiculous! (It reminded me of a scene from Death Becomes Her). The twist on the fairy godmother was awesome and she was probably one of the best developed characters in the book to be honest. The romance felt very rushed – I felt like Sophia got over Erin very quickly. I did enjoy the experience of reading the book though and despite its flaws I flew through it, so I’m giving it 3.5 stars.

We Are Giants by Amber Lee Dodds. Sydney thinks her mother Amy is the best mum in the world – even if she is a bit different from other kids’ parents. As Amy explains it, when she was a girl she got to 48 inches tall and then stopped growing right there. It’s the perfect height, in Sydney’s opinion: big enough to reach the ice cream at the supermarket, but small enough to be special. And though Sydney’s dad died when she was only five, her memories of him, her mum’s love and the company of her brave big sister Jade means she never feels alone. When Sydney’s mum is forced to sell her furniture shop and the family moves away from London, things get tricky. Sydney and Jade have to fit in at a new school, make friends, and deal with growing up in a strange town. And the last thing Sydney wants to do is grow up! For such a short book this manages to pack a lot in – family, grief, growing up, dealing with changes and fitting in/making friends – but somehow it doesn’t seem crowded. Sydney’s voice felt authentic (to me – who has no children and clearly hasn’t been a child for a long time!) and I even teared up at one point. Jade’s teenage rebellion felt a bit cliché but still realistic. It’s a great little book for children who are worried about growing up or are struggling to cope with changes. 4 stars.

Secrets of the Henna Girl by Sufiya Ahmed. Zeba Khan is like any other sixteen-year-old British girl: enjoying herself, waiting for exam results and hanging around with friends. When her parents decide on a family trip to their home country of Pakistan Zeba isn’t exactly thrilled, but she goes along with it. Although she finds it a bit weird that her parents seem very stressed in the run-up to the holiday, she doesn’t really think much of it. It’s been a long time since they went home after all. Then they arrive, and her future is threatened by an unthinkable – and forced – duty to protect her father’s honour. This is a thought-provoking read. I liked that the author made it very clear that arranged marriage and forced marriage are two totally different things, and that forced marriage is actually frowned on in Islam as well (although it still happens). Zebra frustrated me at times – I wish she had just communicated when she had the chance. There is a surprisingly sad part in the middle. Most of the characters were well developed apart from Zeba’s mum, who just follows her husband in everything. I know that was the point – she’s supposed to be traditional and think men know best – but I didn’t understand how she could show literally zero emotion about her own daughter, even when the husband she was supposedly obeying was very obviously upset about what he felt he “had” to do. Zeba’s grandmother was fantastic and I loved how the author showed that the people you would expect to be most traditional in their thinking (the older generation) are perfectly capable of having minds of their own. The ending is a little too predictable and straightforward, but I can’t see how else it should have ended either so I suppose it makes sense. 3.5 stars.

A Wolf for a Spell by Karrah Sutton. Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans – especially witches – but when her family is threatened, she finds herself with no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing, and before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut – and Baba Yaga’s body! Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all. This is an absolutely magical book. The beginning gave me Red Riding Hood vibes, then it changed into something else. It has a definite fairytale feel, which isn’t surprising given it’s based on Slavic folk tales, but it also goes deeper than your traditional fairytale, which I liked. I loved all the characters, but my favourite was actually one of the supporting characters – I loved the raven with all his snark! One thing that didn’t quite work for me was the villain – he felt a bit flat and evil just for the sake of being evil. I guess he wanted power but that didn’t really come through. That’s a relatively minor complaint though – I definitely recommend this book. 4 stars.

I also read The Crowns of Croswald by D. E. Knight. Since it was from Netgalley, I’ve reviewed it separately here.

Total books read: 14. Books by BIPOC/BAME authors: 4 (not good enough!).

TL;DR: All the children’s books mentioned here are great – I particularly recommend The Girl Who Speaks Bear and A Wolf for a Spell if you like middle grade fantasy. If you (or your children) prefer more realistic stories then We Are Giants is also great. When No One is Watching is fantastic but don’t go into it expecting your typical thriller. I really enjoyed the experience of reading Cinderella is Dead but for me it lacked depth. None of the rest are terrible but they aren’t my new favourites either. Read them if they sound good to you.

That’s all from me. Visit the Show Us Your Books link up for more book reviews!

February 2021 recap

Hello, hello! Can you believe we are four days into March already? Time seems to be flying by again. For me at least. Maybe not for you.

So, it’s the start of another month and that means another recap post. I sometimes wonder why I still bother writing these. Like everybody else I can’t really do much at the moment. But then I think it might be interesting to look back on them in a few years and remind myself of how I got through the pandemic. Will WordPress still exist in 10 years time I wonder? Maybe I should download my posts and keep them somewhere safe.

Anyway… February. The month started with an egg retrieval. If you read last month’s recap you will know we were doing a stimulation round/I was in the midst of daily injections. At the beginning of February, my follicles duly reached the right size and my hormone levels were where they needed to be, so I gave myself the trigger injection (which is actually two injections – one on either side of my stomach – and whatever solution is in there burns while I’m injecting it! I actually took a photo of my stomach with the red rashes that appeared after the trigger injections plus the bruises from some previous injections that decided to bleed loads but I don’t think anyone wants to see that). 15 eggs were retrieved, 12 fertilised and we ended up with 6 that reached the stage where they could be frozen. So with the one we have left from the first time we have seven embryos. Seven more tries. If it doesn’t work with those that will be it. No more stimulation. No more IVF. Don’t be expecting a pregnancy announcement any time soon though – apart from the fact that I’ll be terrified to announce anything until I at least get past 16 weeks and 4 days (when I lost the twins), I have 2 months of treatment to go through before we even try another transfer. So, that was that. Moving on.

5th February was our anniversary. Of getting together that is, not wedding anniversary. We’re not married – I know some people assume we are, so sorry to disappoint you, I guess? Also if you’re bothered by the fact that we’re a) living together and b) trying for a baby without being married then this really isn’t the blog for you. Anyway… we’ve been together 17 years. In other years we’ve celebrated by going out for a meal but you know. Pandemic. So I cooked. Lamb, roast potatoes, orange carrots (roasted using some orange flavoured olive oil I was given for Christmas). Then the next day we got a car and took a trip to Stein am Rhein. We took disinfectant and kitchen roll and cleaned every surface we might think of touching in the car, then disinfected our hands. In Stein am Rhein everything was obviously closed so we just walked around. It was cloudy and cold but the town is still pretty. One restaurant had set up a grill outside so we got a sausage each then some hot apple punch (alcohol free) from another place. It was nice.

It snowed. And then it got really cold and all the snow froze over. On Valentine’s day we went for a long walk into town (the closest we’ll ever get to celebrating) and the Tinguely Fountain (or Fasnachts Fountain) was all frozen over! A week after the photo below was taken it was suddenly spring and 16°C during the day!

Fasnacht – the Basel version of Carnival/Mardis Gras – was cancelled for the second year in a row but there was a Fasnacht walk with various stations around town, including this giant “confetti” by the river.

On another walk a few weeks later we saw loads of storks and herons in a field – storks are not that unusual, there are lots of them here, but I’ve never seen that many herons at once! Here are some of them (I hope you can make them out):

I made cards for Post Pals – a 4th birthday card for a blind girl and a Sweet Sixteen card for one of the older pals. I also made a few Valentine’s cards for pals – I think about 6.

16th February was Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday in the UK. Obviously we had pancakes for tea. Savoury ones with mince and vegetables then sweet ones with sugar and lemon/sugar and cinnamon. No photo… I didn’t take one and they never look that great in pictures anyway. They tasted good though.

What else can I tell you? Not much. I read some books – 14 if you’re interested. More about that on Tuesday. We continue to regularly watch Richard Osman’s House of Games. I feel like we watched a film as well, but I can’t remember what it was. Jan constantly has the TV on (when he’s not working) but I don’t always pay attention. I also did some decluttering, sorted out loads of craft stuff and put a box outside the building’s front door marked “Gratis” (free) – a very common thing in Switzerland. It’s still down there. Most of the stuff is gone but soon I will have to bring what’s left back upstairs. Sigh. Work has been kind of slow, but should pick up again from next week – I have a couple of things planned in that are yet to arrive.

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland are stagnating at around 1,000-1,200 cases per day (we’ve yet to drop back below the 1,000 mark and numbers seem to be rising in some cantons). Meanwhile vaccination is going at snail’s pace. Actually that’s unfair to snails. Some places are doing better than others but as far as I’m aware every canton is still only vaccinating over 75s and those categorised as “highest risk”. Jan is part of group 1 b (people with chronic illnesses who are not classed as highest risk) and currently he can’t even register for an appointment! The cantons blame the Federal Government, the Government blames the manufacturers. Or the approvers. Or possibly the cantons. And so we go round in circles with hardly anyone actually getting vaccinated. Pfizer and Moderna are currently approved here. Astra Zeneca won’t be approved until Easter at the earliest, and now the Government are saying Switzerland won’t even need it and talking about selling on what they’ve ordered to another country. I’m sure it all makes sense to someone, somewhere…

That’s all I’ve got for you this month. I hope you are all happy, healthy and somehow managing to keep yourselves occupied!

Happy TARDIS birthday Kezzie!

Hello lovely readers. I am doing something a little bit different today.

It’s the lovely Kezzie‘s 40th birthday (HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEZZIE! I hope you have a wonderful day) and since she can’t have a celebration she has asked her blog readers to join her in an online fancy dress party.

Kezzie takes part in something called TARDIS Tuesday, which involves cosplaying as characters from Doctor Who and then posting the pictures each Tuesday. So Kezzie asked whether her followers would be willing to take part in TARDIS Tuesday. Now, obviously you will have noticed that today is not Tuesday. She wanted us to publish our posts a few days early to give her a chance to gather all the photos and put them in a master post on actual TARDIS Tuesday.

The idea was that we would try to imitate something from Doctor Who using items from our own closet – so now buying anything specially. After ages and ages of scrolling through photos from all eras of Doctor Who, I finally found an outfit I thought I could copy.

The outfit I am trying to copy is on the very right – that’s Susan Foreman, The Doctor’s granddaughter. As you can see, it’s in black and white – this episode was broadcast in 1964. The man on the left, William Hartnell, is the very first ever Doctor of Doctor Who! So, Susan is wearing a blouse/shirt – presumably white – a pinafore dress in a dark colour and knee high socks that also appear to be white. I then managed to find this DVD cover in which the dress is blue. So this is the outfit I eventually came up with.

I don’t have white knee socks (in fact, the only knee socks I own are highlighter pink with luminous* yellow and green patches, a joke Christmas present years ago!) so I went with white tights instead. My white blouse is different to Susan’s but I think it works and the dress is fairly similar if we ignore the rainbow! I couldn’t find a single image from The Sensorites online that actually showed Susan’s shows, but based on what you can see of her feet in the image above and looking through the galleries on the three episodes from series 1 of Doctor Who we own (episodes 1-3) she seems to be wearing the same shoes as here:

I also tried to tie my hair back in a way that looks short – although not as short as Susan’s!(Story interlude: many years ago, when I was about 11-13 years old, I had my hair cut really short. I then moved schools and was asked numerous times “Are you a boy or a girl?” by people who obviously thought they were original/funny. Since then I’ve hated the way I look with short hair!)

If you want to know where the clothes I am wearing came from, here’s a breakdown: the label in the blouse says “Clockhouse”, which is C&A. I think I bought in when I lived in Austria in 2005/2006. The dress is by Run & Fly. I bought it two years ago and they don’t seem to sell it any more but they do have some other amazing pinafore dresses, including one with a dinosaur print! The tights were most likely C&A or H&M and the shoes came from New Yorker about 10 years ago (and what you can’t tell from the photo is they’re absolutely destroyed!).

OK, that’s all from me. I will add the link to the fancy dress party once it’s up so you can see everyone else’s outfits. For now please pop over to Kezzie‘s blog and wish her a very happy birthday! Oh, and let me know what you think of my attempt at being Susan!

A Photo an Hour: 16 January 2021

Hello lovely readers! Yesterday was February’s photo an hour date, which of course reminded me that I hadn’t actually written my post for last month’s photos yet. And so here I am attempting to catch up. The chosen date for January was the 16th. As usual it wasn’t the most exciting of days, but here it is anyway.

10 a.m. The day always starts with tea.

11 a.m. Time for a shower.

12 noon. Went down to collect the mail and was very excited to find this book had been delivered.

1 p.m. Putting on a load of laundry (having taken an identical photo yesterday I suddenly realise just how boring my life is!).

2 p.m. Quiet time is over so the hoover can come out.

3 p.m. Sat down to read for 15 minutes while I waited for the washing machine to finish.

4 p.m. On the way back from taking away the organic waste and recycling. As you can see, we had snow.

5 p.m. An appropriate candle for the whiteness outside!

6 p.m. Time to make some food.

7 p.m. Tuna pasta bake is ready!

8 p.m. Watching Green Book.

9 p.m. The film finished!

10 p.m. A spot of reading before bed.

11 p.m. Bedtime with Eeyore.

And there you have it. Another boring lockdown Saturday* Hopefully I will get this month’s post up faster!

(*Disclaimer: we are not actually in “lockdown”. Although shops (other than supermarkets/DIY stores/flower shops), museums, zoos, galleries, restaurants, bars are closed we can go out and meet people if we want to, hairdressers are open, public transport is running. We can’t do much but we are not in lockdown. And personally I don’t want to go to crowded places anyway.)

Book Review: The Crowns of Croswald by D. E. Night

Hello! Ages ago, the publisher of this book (Stories Untold) contacted me on Instagram to ask whether I would be willing to read and review this book – which I thought meant they would give me, it turned out I had to sign up Netgalley and request it with the guarantee of approval. Then I had to download an app to my tablet so I could actually read it, the first one I tried kept asking for authentication but wouldn’t actually let me set a password. And once I found one that worked it took me far too long to actually read the book because I discovered I hate reading on my tablet. Basically I’m saying my days as a Netgalley reviewer are probably over before they’ve really started because who will ever approve me again? (Plus the whole reading on my tablet thing…).

Anyway, since this is a Netgalley review, I thought I’d better give it its own post instead of just adding it to me February round-up. So here we are.

Plot: Ivy Lovely was found as a baby and has spent 16 years working as a Scaldry Maid (I may have spelled that wrong) looking after the scaldron – a special type of dragon that is used in the castle to produce heat for cooking. Ivy is blessed with the ability to remember her dreams, a photographic memory and the ability to perfectly sketch whatever she sees – all traits of a type of magic-wielder known as Scrivenists, which is everything Ivy dreams of being. But her castle is hidden among the slurry fields – a substance that suppresses magic. After a series of unfortunate events leads to Ivy and a scaldron (who she names Humboldt) leaving the slurry fields, she is whisked away to the Halls of Ivy, a school where those with magic learn how to use it. When Ivy’s magic – and her life – is threatened by the Dark Queen, she quickly has to uncover the mysteries of her past and save her friends and all of Croswald before the truth is swept away forever. This is book one in a series of currently 3 (I don’t know if any more are planned).

My review: This is a fun book but I found parts of it confusing and other parts obvious(view spoiler). The pacing is all over the place. Sometimes a lot happens very fast and then at other times you turn a page and it’s somehow the end of year ball when I swear the year had only just started? Parts of it definitely reminded me of Harry Potter – mistreated young person (girl in this case) who has no idea who she really is gets an invitation to attend magic school and discovers powers they never knew they had. Even the shop where Ivy bought her school supplies wouldn’t have been out of place in Diagon Alley! But the magic system and powers are different enough for her to have managed to make it her own. I feel like the characters could have been fleshed out more – I never fully felt connected to Ivy while she was running around doing whatever and as for the other students, all I know is one is mean and snobbish, one likes to eat butter, and Fyn is mysterious and constantly shows up wherever Ivy is but I can’t work out whether it’s just because he fancies her or there’s more to it. Rebecca, Ivy’s room mate/supposedly best friend seemed like a fun character but all I can really tell you about her is she apparently doesn’t want to be royal and can’t control her magic. I assume some things will be cleared up in book 2 but it’s a little disappointing to reach the end of a book and realise that 90% of the characters are entirely forgettable. There were aspects of the book I really enjoyed though and overall I liked it but it’s far from being a new favourite.

☆☆☆ – 3 stars