Sunshine blogger award… again

I know I did this fairly recently, but I was nominated a second time by Confessions of an Irish Procrastinator WEEKS ago and I feel bad that I haven’t answered her questions yet.

sunshine blogger

The rules, in case you forgot already:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for a blog post and links back to their blog.
Thank you! I am truly honoured that you think my blog is worthy of this award.

2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
See below

3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

4. Display the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

Here are my answers:

  1. What’s your favourite animal and why?
    I like lots of animals. I’m going to be really unimaginative and say a dog though. They’re just so loving and seem to truly like their owners no matter what. Nobody is ever as happy to see you as a dog!
  2. If you had to be a character in any book who would you be?
    Oooh, that’s a good question… but also a difficult one. I think I would like to be Susan Sto Helit (aka Susan Death) from the Discworld books. She is, quite simply, awesome! Plus I would get to meet Death.
  3. What habit would you like to kick?
    Leaving things lying around. I need to make sure everything has a place and then put things in that place, even if it means taking a detour into another room.
  4. What would you like to achieve before the year is out?
    The main thing I want to achieve isn’t for the blog, so I’ll give another boring answer. I’d like to lose 2-3 kg.
  5. If you could live in any known fictional land (for example Wonderland or Narnia) where would you live?
    Aah, I want to say Discworld but that seems like cheating after picking a Discworld character for question one! Okay, Narnia. After the White Witch is defeated, obviously.
  6. What uplifting thought or quote you do you live your life by?
    Try to live by would be more accurate! “Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too!”. I don’t know if that’s actually a quote or who said it, but I bought a postcard with it on and stuck it inside my front door so every time I leave the flat I see it and try to act on it.
  7. Share one thing that makes you really happy.
    This is going to sound really weird, but the River Rhine in Basel. Even on a cold, grey, rainy, miserable day, walking across the Rhine never fails to make me feel happy and… hopeful, I guess? No matter what’s happening, at that moment I feel like eventually everything will turn out okay in the end. I don’t remember a place in Karlsruhe ever having that effect and it makes me really glad we decided to move here. See, I told you it was weird!

    The Rhine by night
  8. Share something you’re proud of.
    My Master’s dissertation. I wrote it about the translation of children’s literature and got 70% for it. (I actually got a higher mark for my Bachelor’s dissertation but I feel like a Master’s dissertation is more of an achievement so…)
  9. Do you have any unusual party tricks?
    Hmm… no. Not that I can think of.
  10. Who’s your favourite band?
    Finally an easy one. Green Day
  11. If you could fly or be invisible which would you choose?
    I think fly… assuming I could fly really fast over long distances it would be a useful skill for getting to England in a hurry if necessary.

I’m actually going to cheat and not nominate anybody because I’ve already done it once recently and can’t think of anyone else, but I will give you 11 questions and if anyone feels like answering them please feel free to say I nominated you for the award!

  1. What is your most treasured possession and why?
  2. What would be your dream job?
  3. What was the last film you watched?
  4. What was your favourite subject in school?
  5. What’s your favourite thing about yourself?
  6. Have you ever been told you resemble someone famous? Who was it?
  7. Do you snore?
  8. If you could learn to transform into an animal (but only one) which animal would you choose?
  9. What’s your favourite cartoon?
  10. What was your favourite film as a child?
  11. If there was a film about your life, what would it be called?

Feel free to pick one or more questions and answer them in the comments if you don’t want to do the whole thing 🙂


Thinking of 40 things to do before I turn 40

My birthday is creeping ever closer, and even though I’m definitely not going to complete all the items on my 35 before 35 list, I’ve enjoyed it so much that I decided to make a new list, of things to do before I turn 40 – even though the idea that my next milestone is forty makes me feel slightly sick. HOW CAN THAT BE? I am still very far from having 40 things on my list – it took me long enough to think of 35 last time never mind an extra 5! But I thought I would share with you what I have so far.

Toblerone cheesecake
Cake just seemed like an appropriate photo…
  1. Go to the festival of lights in Lyon
  2. Beat Jan at mini golf – he always wins, but just once I would like to beat him
  3. Make flour soup (a staple of Basel Fasnacht)
  4. Watch 10 films in German – I hate watching dubbed English films, so this will probably also mean finding 10 German films!
  5. Read the rest of the books from the BBC Big Read Top 200 – I’m not going to finish this by August, but I do want to read them all so I’m rolling it over to my 40 before 40.
  6. Learn basic Ukrainian – get to at least level 3 on Duolingo
  7. Visit Ukraine – this was on my original list, but I changed it due to safety concerns. I’m hoping in the next 5 years things will calm down a bit…
  8. Go out for afternoon tea
  9. Build a snowman – surely at some point in the next 5 years there will be enough snow for me to do this?
  10. Visit Auschwitz
  11. Look for dwarfs in Wroclaw
  12. See the leaning tower of Pisa – it’s probably not even that impressive, but I just want to see it
  13. Read 25 non-fiction books – apparently 50 was too ambitious last time, but 25 should be doable, right?
  14. Read a book published in each year of my life, so one book each from the years 1983 until 2023 (I don’t have to read them in order!)
  15. Give at least 100 pounds or euros to three separate charities

I do have a couple more, but I think 15 is enough for one post. I don’t havy anywhere near 40 though, so please let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas for things I could do. I will at least consider anything that isn’t bungee jumping!

What I read in February 2018

In my February recap, I said I had read 16 books but I miscounted and it was actually 17. Yay. Erin’s challenge is still going on, and I started the bonus round in February but didn’t finish it – partly because some of the books I chose turned out not to be long enough so I had to wait for replacements, partly because I kept getting distracted by non-challenge books and partly because Anna Karenina is just so damn long! But let’s just get on with it shall we… this post is going to be long enough without me blabbering on.


Challenge books first, then the rest.

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel (352 pages, read for “a book originally published in another language”; originally Danish). This can basically be categorised as Scandanavian crime – although I hadn’t read a Danish before. The body of an unidentified woman is found and nobody seems to know who it is, until someone comes forward saying she used to care for her in a state mental institution many years ago. The only problem is the girl and her twin sister supposedly died more than thirty years ago. The case ends up taking Louise Rick who is in charge of the investigation back to her childhood home, which she isn’t too happy about due to traumatic events in her past. I mostly enjoyed this book, although some parts seemed a little disjointed. I wonder if that was a translation issue? I would like to read the next one because there seem to be some secrets relating to Louise’s past that intrigue me. 3 stars.

Us by David Nicholls (396 pages, read for “a book with a red cover). This seemed to take me a weirdly long time to read, possibly because of the short “sections2 (not really chapters). I would think I had read loads, then see it was only a few pages. Douglas Petersen’s wife, Connie, tells him she wants a divorce, but she still wants to go ahead with their holiday, touring Europe with their almost-18-year-old son before he leaves for university. This is the story of their relationship and the tour, which Douglas hopes will help him win her back. This book started off slow but I ended up enjoying it. There are some funny moments and some touching ones. Poor Douglas just wants everyone to like him (although there were times I wanted to tell him to stand up for himself). I hated Connie though – she was basically horrible to Douglas all the time. 4 stars.

Everlost by Neal Shusterman (320 pages, read for “a book with a plot twist). Two teens, Nick and Allie, die in a car accident, but instead of going “where they’re supposed to” (presumably heaven) they end up in a sort of limbo halfway between life and death – they’re still in the real world, but the living can’t see them. An interesting take on the afterlife and what happens after we die. The characters were well written and mostly interesting. The writing style seemed younger than the sometimes very creepy and odd themes though, which threw me off a bit. The “twist” involves some of the people they meet and characters maybe not being what they seem. I didn’t love it but I liked it enough to want to know how the story continues. 3 stars.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Blunt (355 pages, read for “a book with house/home in the title). Fourteen-year-old June Elbus feels like the only person who ever understood her was her uncle Finn, so when he dies of AIDS she’s understandably devastated. When she begins spending time with another person who was close to her uncle, she starts to realise she isn’t the only one who misses him. This is a beautiful, emotional book about grief, feeling different and what it means to be a sibling. 4 stars.

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner (401 pages, read for “freebie”). A politician has an affair. This book is described as the story of what his wife and two daughters do in the aftermath of the “betrayal”, although really it’s more what his wife does. At least one daughter’s story was shaped by events that happened way before the affair. Anyway. This book was okay. It’s an easy read and I got through it quickly enough, but most of the characters are boring – except the elder daughter, Diana who’s just a total bitch, but at least does something. 2 stars.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. Lina is forced to spend the summer in Tuscany because it was her mother’s dying wish. She doesn’t really want to be there, until she’s given an old journey of her mother’s and starts learning about the year she spent in Italy and various secrets surrounding it. A cute, fluffy YA read that I read in an evening. I loved the descriptions of Florence. Lina was supposed to be 17 but she seemed younger – I would have happily believed it if she was 14! But I suppose then she wouldn’t have had as much freedom to explore on her own and find things out. It passes the time well enough. 3 stars.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (428 pages, read for “an author whose first and last name start with the same letter). This is the second book in the “Peculiar Children” series and I feel like I should have re-read the first book before starting this one… it’s been a while and I had forgotten most of what happened. I liked the way the peculiar parts ate intertwined with the reality of World War 2 and I was definitely not expecting the twist. I will read book 3. 4 stars.

That was all my challenge books for this month. Categories still to go: A book with a character’s name in the title (Anna Karenina… I will finish you!), a book that takes place on a form of transportation and a book featuring a character with a debilitating physical illness.

Now for the non-challenge books.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This is a pretty short book and I read most of it while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. It read a bit like a self-help book disguised as fiction, or maybe a biblical parable. At first I was enjoying it and found a few quotes I really liked, but after a while it got too preachy. If it weren’t so short and on the BBC Big Read list I doubt I would have bothered reading it all. 2 stars.

The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff. This is a cute little book about growing up, friendship and how it feels to be “different”. Georgie has dwarfism and the beginning of each chapter there’s a little paragraph that asks the reader to do something and then explains that Georgie can’t do that very thing. This is a great way to gently show children that even people who look different are just the same as everyone else on the inside. Wonder is a better book along the same lines, but this is a nice one for younger children. 3 stars.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness by Ian Whybrow. This book is so fun! Little Wolf is too well-behaved, so his parents have sent him off to Cunning College to learn the Rules of Badness from his Uncle Big Bad. The story is told in the form of letters that Little Wolf writes home during his journey to school and once he arrives. I enjoyed the references to familiar fairy tales, and I’m sure young children will too. I will definitely be buying this for my Godson at some point. 4 stars.

The Dance in the Dark by Sophie Cleverly. Book three in the Scarlett and Ivy series, in this one someone is sending nasty letters to pupils and staff, and then “accidents” start to happen. Is somebody out to get the school? This book was better than the second one. I found Scarlett less annoying this time round. She came across as feisty and determined rather than spoiled and stubborn. After starting off slow, the middle and end of the book were action-packed. I wish a series like this had been around when I was 10! 4 stars.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I wanted to read this as my plot twist book for the challenge, but it turned out not to be long enough. I decided to still read it anyway though. I absolutely loved it! It’s so wonderfully creepy and gothic. 4 stars.

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach. This book is so strange! I read it while waiting for a train – it didn’t take me long since half the pages are just photos of seagulls. Jonathan Livingston is a seagull who believes it is every gull’s right to fly. In doing so, he ends up being ostracised by his flock, who claim a gull’s entire purpose in life is to find food. It’s 95 pages of pure weirdness. 2 stars.

Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French. I thought this was the last book in the Freida Klein serious – after all, Sunday is the end of the week – but it seems there will be another one, which really will be the last. That’s good because I still need answers and I’m not ready to say goodbye to the characters yet! I can’t really say much about this book without spoiling the others, so I will just say read this series! Book one is Blue Monday. 5 stars for this one.

What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles. This one had been on my to-read list for a while so I finally decided to just read it. A boy named David has committed suicide, and his brother, Kyle, decides to take revenge on the person he perceives to be responsible (Cass) by burying her in a box underground. The only way for Cass to survive is to keep Kyle talking. This was an incredibly intense story and I could not stop reading! Not perfect, but certainly gripping. 4 stars.

Sophie Someone by Hayley Long. Sophie Nieuwenleven is English, but she came to live in Belgium with her family when she was four or five years old. Now she’s 14 and still isn’t quite sure why they moved to Belgium in the first place. One day she discovers something so shocking about her family that she can’t put it into words, so instead she uses a special “language” to tell her story. The aforementioned “language” actually just involves replacing some words with others – so people are pigeons and parents are parsnips, for instance. At first I found that really confusing, and I actually thought Sophie had something wrong with her that made her mix up her words. It was quickly obvious that even people she met for the first time weren’t confused, so I soon realised that was her supposed “language”, and once I got used to it I could read it fine. I really liked this book and loved the character of Sophie. Her parents need a good shake though – her dad at least ends up paying for his actions, but in my opinion the mother is just as bad. No spoilers here, so if you want to know what they did you’ll have to read it 😉 4 stars.

Deceived by Julie Anne Lindsey. Gabriella, or Elle, has been moving around the country constantly for as long as she can remember. For her senior year of high school she finally convinces her dad to let her go to boarding school, but then weird things start happening and Elle wonders whether she’s losing her mind. I enjoyed the plot of this one. I guessed some of what was happening before the end, but not everything. I didn’t particularly like the characters though. Gabriella/Elle alternates between boring and ridiculously naive. I did want to know what was happening though and read it all in one sitting. 3.5 stars.

And that was all for February. As mentioned above, I started Anna Karenina but I’m stillll not finished. We’ll see if I get to include it in my March review.
Sorry this post is so long – I tried to keep my individual descriptions/reviews brief but I didn’t succeed as I would have liked! I’m linking up with Jana and Steph, of course. If you still need more book talk, check out the link up.

Have you read any good books lately?

Friendship Blogger Award

Good morning everyone! I am ashamed to say it’s taken me a few days to write this post. It feels almost ungrateful, which is the literal opposite of how I feel. I struggle to make friends in real life (as evidenced by the fact that I’ve made a grand total of two friends in Switzerland… and I’ll have been here 3 years at the end of April!), so it’s amazing to think my fellow bloggers actually like me! Chomeuse with a Chou nominated me for this award (umm, it occurs to me that I don’t actually know her name – yes in blog land you can be friends with people and not even know who they are…). Thank you so much!

The Friendship Blogger Award was invented by: Novus Lectio

friendship award

“This Award is for those we cherish in WP and to show them affection and to offer them our friendship.” – how lovely is that?


  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in your blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the Award (Novus Lectio) and its purpose.
  • Nominate other bloggers to receive the awards.
  • List the rules and display the Friendship blogger award logo in your post on your blog.



Alison aka Fat Dormouse

Dubliner in Deutschland

Kristen from See You in a Porridge

Heather goes Deutsch

Lyndsay from Our Girl in Zurich

I would also like to add Erin to this list, although she is currently not blogging. She is the wonderfully supportive creator of the book challenge I never shut up about 😉

You are all ace!

How long will you take to finish your to-read list?

I found this fun little tool at Fill in the form with how many books you currently have on your to-read list, the number of books you read last year and your age, and it will tell you how long you will need to read all those books. Obviously it doesn’t take into account that I can read some books in half an hour while others take months, but I decided to give it a go anyway.

unread books
Unread books… although I’ve actually read a few from these selves and added new ones since this photo was taken

I didn’t want to go and physically count all the unread books on my shelves, so I took the ones I’ve marked as “want to read” on Good Reads (1395 for the record) then added 25 to account for the fact that not all the ones I own are actually marked as to-read on Good Reads – which is probably an underestimate, but oh well. Here’s my result, assuming I never add another book to my list 😉

Reading all 1420 books will take:

13 years and 7 months

You will finish your TBR pile on:

October 31, 2031

And you will be:


I may have a slight problem. (“Hi, my name is Beverley and I’m a bookaholic”)

How long will it take you to finish all the books you currently want to read? Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s going to need literally years

Recent doings #26

Wow… can you believe it’s the first Thursday of another month already? Once again, the year seems to be flying by. Today is actually Jan’s birthday, but he’s a weirdo who never wants to celebrate so I’ve got him some gifts and I’ll cook a slightly nicer meal than usual later. For now, though, I’m linking up with Kristen and Gretch to tell you what I got up to in February.


Eating. Porridge – sort of. I don’t have time in the morning to make proper porridge, so I defrost frozen berries by poring boiling water over them then mix them in a bowl with maple syrup, oats and boiling water. It would be nicer with milk, but since we don’t have a microwave boiling the kettle is the best I can do. Apart from that, I’ve been making broth a lot. Warm, comforting food for the cold weather we’ve been having – it was -7°C here on Monday!

Drinking. Matcha latte. It comes in a packet and you just add boiling water. Probably not very healthy but I like it!

Reading. I completed 16 books in February, which I will tell you about soon. Apart from that I’ve been plodding my way through Anna Karenina. It’s taking foreverrrr.

Watching. Pointless and Eggheads. We also watched the first episode of Young Sheldon. It’s cute.

Celebrating. Our anniversary (of getting together – clearly we’re not married). Sort of. Jan had choir practice on the actual day so I cooked a slightly nicer meal the next evening and we actually ate at the table for once. Then on the Saturday after we went to Aarau, walked around the town a bit and had lunch. I gave him a card, he gave me nothing. And that was the extent of our celebration.


Travelling. To Dijon, for a day and a half. Turns out it’s really close to us. You can see part of our day in Dijon in my February photo an hour post.

Making. Birthday cards for Post Pals children. Like every month. I feel like this category is getting boring?

Cross stitching. Birthday cards for the sons of two friends. One had a birthday in February, the other’s is next week.

Attending. The fire parade in Liestal (see last year’s post for explanation) and the Morgestraich part of Fasnacht (Basel’s carnival – the link is to 2016’s).

Playing. I bought Jan a Discworld board game called The Witches for Christmas. We played it once in February and I actually won! (When he first got it we played several times and he won all but one of those times).

Buying. Books, obviously. Jan’s birthday presents. I can’t think of anything else.

That’s all for today. How was your February?

Well, that’s a first

Yes, it’s another tag post… I totally stole this one from Audrey of Life as Louise, who in turn got it from Stephanie (who I believe was actually the original creator). It’s all about “firsts”. So, let’s just get straight into it.

What was your first word? My baby book says it was “Dada”.

Do you still talk to your first love? What do we consider first love here? The boy I thought I was “in love” with at 10 went to a different secondary school and I haven’t seen him since. The first person to break my heart and the person I really liked throughout my entire teenage years are both my friends on Facebook but neither actually interacts with me, ever.

What was your first alcoholic drink? Apart from trying sips of my parent’s wine/beer (and hating them!) probably a glass of Babycham at Christmas. Do people even still drink that?

What was your first job? Does babysitting count? I didn’t get paid for taking care of my siblings but some of my mum’s friends paid me. Otherwise it was giving tours of my university to potential future students. We got paid 10 pounds per tour, 50p of which was taken off as National Insurance contributions.

First pet? A cat called Rocky (short for Little Rock). He was actually my uncle’s but we looked after him for about a year.
Here’s a (blurry!) photo of me aged 4ish with a pet who was not mine:

B and Cindy
Me, aged 4ish, with my grandma’s dog

What was your first car? Ha! I can’t drive.

Who was the first person to text you today? I haven’t received a text today.

Who was the first person you thought of this morning? Jan. The thought was along the lines of “either snooze your alarm or turn it off, but please make it stop!”.

Who was your first grade teacher? I have no idea! My mum might know.

Where did you go on your first aeroplane ride?  (Sorry, had to change it to British spelling!). I’m assuming it was when we moved to Northern Ireland, so Belfast.

Who was your first best friend and do you still talk? A girl called Jennie. She was my mum’s best friend’s daughter so we were kind of brought up together and forced to be best friends. We occasionally communicate via Facebook but I haven’t seen her since I was about 15.

Where was your first sleep over? I imagine it was at Jennie’s. We were at each other’s houses all the time. Unless I slept over at an aunt’s when I was really tiny? Both sets of grandparents lived 6 hours away so it wouldn’t have been there.

What was the first concert you ever went to? I have no idea! Possibly Boyzone? (Let’s not talk about how I had weird taste in music at 13!).

What was your first broken bone? I’ve never broken a bone.

What was your first piercing? Ears, on holiday in Wales. I think I was 7. I know it was a birthday present anyway.

What was the first foreign country you’ve gone to? Is that even correct grammar? Anyway… it was Greece.

What was the first movie you remember seeing? Beauty and the Beast with my grandpa, the year we moved back from Northern Ireland. (Wait… does this even mean at the cinema? Audrey answered as if it did, but the question just says “first” and I’m sure I watched Alice in Wonderland on video before that!).

When was your first detention? Ooh, I don’t know! I can’t remember if I ever got detention before I moved to my dad’s, but I had a few at the high school I went to up North. Mainly for not doing homework, once for talking in Maths (even though I was telling somebody to leave me alone! The teacher was really strict and awful.).

Who was your first roommate? Umm, nobody. The only person I ever shared a room with was my sister. And people I shared a flat/house with are not roommates whatever Americans might think!

What was the first sport you were involved in? I played netball in year 4.

What is the first thing you do when you get home? I work from home 😉 On the days I have to go into the office I come home, grab my mail (if there is any) and collapse on the couch.

When was your first kiss? It was in Northern Ireland, so I was probably about 7. I was with the aforementioned friend Jennie, who talked me into it. I don’t remember the boy’s name, but he was older. After that I never had another “real” kiss until I was 13.

This post doesn’t have many photos, so here’s one of me in my Brownie uniform at around the same time:


Okay, that’s it. Tell me some of your firsts in the comments… or if you decide to do the entire thing let me know and I’ll come and check out your post.