June Things

Is it time for the second instalment of my monthly things already?  But I’ve barely done anything all month!

June has whizzed by, with my downtime spent mostly online researching my next holiday (New York, very imminently).  So what else have I done (*scrolls through Instagram and my bank account…)

My Garden
At the end of May, my Mum very kindly tidied my garden and planted some flowers, so I spent June worrying myself over them – are they getting enough sun, too much sun, are they thirsty, have I drowned them?  It’s a lot of pressure.  I have been rewarded with some gorgeous roses however, and am very much looking forward to adding to my garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show next month.  Is this middle age?

Reading
My Kindle was getting old and tired, ironic considering it’s named after my favourite robot from Humans, Odi who was also old and tired, so Husband kindly bought me a new one which I have named Mischa.  This month has seen me read a few blah books, and a couple of good ones including Eddie Izzard’s memoir and The Portable Veblen which I’ve been meaning to read for a while.  If you want to see what else I’ve been powering through, check out my Goodreads shelf on the left side of my blog.Footloose at Liberty
Watching the Backyard Cinema showing of Footloose at Liberty was everything it should have been – sand, deckchairs, excellent company.

Family Time
My Mum was in charge of my adorable nice one Saturday, so asked if I’d like to join them for some shopping in McArthur Glen in Swindon, which is pretty much my favourite shopping centre in the UK, so of course I said yes.  Driving the tiny blond one around in a one of those Little Tikes cars was so much fun – she’s such a joy to be around.  
The Election
I don’t understand this country.  I really don’t.

Book review 2015

Once again, I’ve tried to spend every spare moment reading, and have reached a tally of 81 books completed in 2015 (possibly a couple more if I can get them done by Friday).  I’ve read a few books this year that others raved about but I didn’t get at all – Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff being one and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline being another.  I just got irritated by them both.

I also haven’t shied away from weightier tomes, two of which made a lasting impression on me and are included on my favourites list.

A Little Life
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
I’ve already briefly mentioned this book before on my blog and I don’t think there’s really more I can add.  Every now and again, I remember a little detail, or something about Jude St. Francis and want to cry.  I was a bit intimidated by the length (720 pages ain’t no joke) but I am so pleased that I slogged through it.  Not that I had a choice really – once Jude, Willem (Beautiful Willem!), JB, and Malcolm found their way into my heart, I couldn’t possibly have stopped reading.  I will have to re-read it again.

Station Eleven
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
One of the first books I read this year (and oddly not the only one about travelling performers).  I love the dystopian setting, and found the writing very elegant, quiet, and subtle – I was completely sucked into the story from the beginning.  I love how the writer wound each of the stories around each other.  Just magical.

The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I’m a little late to Donna Tartt’s work having been convinced to read The Secret History by Husband last year.  I think I liked The Goldfinch even more.  Another monster of a book (881 pages – oof), I loved reading every second and truly loved Theo despite all his flaws.  I really hope they actually make the film adaptation (and make it well).

One More Thing
One More Thing by BJ Novak
I hate the UK cover of this book so held off buying it until I was in New York earlier this year (seriously – look at the beautiful cover above, and then click on the Amazon link.  Why have we got crap?).  Anyway, it was worth the wait, and I delighted in every one of BJ’s short stories.  He’s a wonderful writer.  My favourite, as I’m sure most people’s favourites is:

“If you love something, let it go. If you don’t love something, definitely let it go. Basically just drop everything, who cares.”

There were so many other books that have stayed with my this year but I didn’t give 5 stars to – A Man Called Ove, Why Not Me, All My Puny Sorrows, A Place Called Winter, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.  I had thought that this year wasn’t that memorable but I did ok.  Not sure what’s coming up next as nothing is grabbing me at the moment.  I need to dig myself out of a bit of a rut.

Book review 2014

I think I’ve upped my reading game this year, and have been buying less crap.  Actually, this is clearly a lie as you can see from my Good Reads account, but I have at least felt shame and regret upon completion of said crap books.  I finished my 77th book on New Year’s Eve (last year, I made it to 70).  Here are my favourites:

yesplease
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Of course this is on my list.  I feel like I had been waiting for Amy’s book to come out for ever and it didn’t disappoint.  Funny, honest, and charming – everything I hoped it would be.  Tearily reading her chapters on Parks and Recreation have just shown that I am not emotionally ready for the final season.  Plus, look at that cover – such a lovely bit of neon!

beside
We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Such a gloriously, beautifully unique story.  This was one of several books that made me sob at work on my lunch break and almost left me incapable of going back to my desk in the afternoon.  I did know the oddity to the story before starting it (I hesitate to use the word ‘twist’) but I don’t think that ruined my enjoyment at all.  I loved the narrator, Rosemary – a fully fleshed out character who wasn’t annoyingly quirky, and the end of the book was so subtle yet heartbreaking.  I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next.

bodies
Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux
Another book that left me breathless – I picked this up at the airport not knowing anything about the story or the author, other than the fact that he’s Louis’s brother.  It’s science-fiction, but I would put it in the Heavy Knitwear Sci-Fi category which is a genre I LOVE.  It posed a lot of questions over what makes us unique and how easy we can be reproduced, which was particularly unsettling for me as I’ve kept a blog for almost 15 years.  Very haunting.

girl
The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
What an astonishing debut novel.  It’s another dystopian world which completely pulled me in from the start.  Another novel where I didn’t know anything about it.  I vividly remember standing in my kitchen, wooden spoon in one hand stirring my pasta, book in the other, as I just could not put it down.  There were parts of the book which made me feel quite nauseous, but even with the very graphic descriptions, I had to finish it.  They really need to make a film or TV show about it.

liars
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Tears, so many tears.  The book was filled with such an interesting set of characters and an incredibly powerful story which throughly broke me and I can’t believe I didn’t guess the ending.  It’s a book which seems to have divided readers and I found reading the reviews afterwards really interesting.  It also made me miss Massachusetts deeply.  One of the best YA books of 2014.

 

I already have two books on my 2015 Read shelf on Good Reads (Husband says they don’t count though) and have three books waiting for me; To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris; Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; and The Vacationers by Emma Straub.  All random Waterstones buys but I think it’ll be a very good start to the year.

F5

cropped-mainheader.gifI’ve had a mess around with my new glasses and my current favourite book to make a new header for my blog, and I’ve changed the colours about a bit.  I had a think about changing the theme, but I still really like my theme so I’ll stick with it for now.

The book is The Secret History by Donna Tartt which I am reading about 22 years late, but it doesn’t feel dated at all.  I cannot wait to finish to see how it ends, but what’s really nice is Husband has just finished reading it, so we’ve got like a little book club going.  He asks me every day where I’m up to and we have an indepth discussion about it.  It’s set at a Vermont college, and this particular page made me laugh as it mentions my job!

Book review 2013

I managed to get to 70 books for 2013, and yes, the majority of them have been forgotten already.  Logging them on Good Reads has been really useful and I’ve found some great recommendations through it, especially YA books.  Anyway, these are my favourites in no particular order, and largely without spoilers:

Allegiant

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My favourite YA trilogy came to a close with, in my opinion, a very brave move.  There was only one real way for it to end, and I know many people were disappointed, but I loved it.  I bought my copy in Vermont mid-way through my road trip (I had booked a hotel near a Barnes and Noble on the day it was released) and missed the lovely things Bennington probably has going for it whilst I read the whole thing in our hotel room.  I regret nothing!  Hurry up March, I want the film series to start.

Husband's Secret

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Oh holy crap, this was so good.  I really got into “women’s fiction” (ugh at the label) with a mystery element this year, and this book kept me guessing right until the end.  Everything was to tightly wound in grief, love, and betrayal that is almost left me breathless in parts.  I really love fiction set in Australia for some reason – I’m reading another Australian fiction book at the moment – there’s just something different about them.  This story stayed with me long after I finished reading.

Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
I truly didn’t know what to expect from this book when I started reading it, but I was immediately taken in by the warmth of the lead character, Bee.  It’s an incredibly touching and witty tale of family life, with an overly anxious mother (the Bernadette from the title), and a geeky father.  It’s told through emails and diary entries for the first part of the book, and there’s a little bit of a mystery to solve.  And just when you think the end is going to be sad, the author springs a surprise on you.

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
I debated about whether to put this or The Fault in our Stars on the list. They’re not similar thematically or anything like that, but both books affected me in similar ways.  Eleanor and Park took me completely by surprise though.  I was expecting The Fault in our Stars to leave me in tears, but I really wasn’t expecting it from this book.  It very delicately hit me right in the feels and I fell head over heels in love with both the characters.  Utterly beautiful.

I’ve also just read that this book is being called obscene by a bunch of crazy Christians in the USA.  THAT’S INSANE.  I’m completely outraged!  This is one of the sweetest books I have ever read, and that some people can find obscenity in it says more about the people then it does about the book.

The moment

The Moment by Douglas Kennedy
This book was incredibly intense to read, I almost couldn’t put it down as I feared for the characters at the end of almost every chapter.  I had just finished reading Five Days by the same author and found his writing style captivating, so I wanted to read more of his.  I was drawn to this book in particular primarily because it was set in Maine and I was about to visit the state, but also because of the Cold War Berlin setting.  It’s not something I would have read before, but I vaguely knew a little about the history of Berlin so thought it would make for an interesting story.  Which of course it did.  The ending was so heart wrenchingly perfect and I loved the whole thing.

Wool

Wool by Hugh Howey
THIS BOOK.  My goodness, this book was amazing.  From the very first page, I was memorised by this rich, dystopian future that the author created.  I honestly don’t think I’ve read anything like it before.  It was another book I didn’t want to put down – I would have quite happily stayed awake until I finished it, if only I didn’t have to go to work.  Curses.  I bought the second book Shift straight away which was a prequel of sorts, and whilst the second book gave some answers, I loved that there were still so many more answers left.  I am waiting for the paperback of the third, only because Shift was a bloody heavy book and didn’t really fit in my work bag (no, really).  February can’t come quick enough.

What’s even more amazing about Wool is it’s told from the point of view of an amazing female character.  I loved Juliette, and it was so nice to see such a three dimensional female character written by a man.

Also, I’ve seen Hugh Howey comment on reviews of the series (on the Guardian for example) and he comes across as a really lovely guy, an absolute sweetheart.  He deserves all the success he’s received, and I sincerely hope that a TV show or film is made of this fascinating world.

Spectacular now

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
I’m including this on the list not because I enjoyed it, but because I was supposed to enjoy it and yet it took me two attempts to get through it.  I really disliked both the main characters, and I would have given up if it wasn’t for the film and for Mild Concern encouraging me to finish it.  Sutter Keely is a douchebag and I hated every single thing he did.  I couldn’t find anything to connect with him and I wanted to punch his fictional face every time he spoke.

I don’t like being negative, but I don’t understand what I’m supposed to like about him, and I don’t get why this has been made into a film, although good for Shailene Woodley for getting herself into three YA film adaptations.  I will see the film when it gets a proper release over here as I’ll be interested to see how they make Sutter ACTUALLY RELATABLE /rant

I’ll continue ‘logging’ the books I read for 2014 on my Good Reads account, which you can find through my little widget on the side of my blog.  I’m already really excited for what 2014 holds.

It’s just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture

Boxing Day

Our Boxing Day walk

I unashamedly love Christmas.  I love getting gifts, I love giving gifts, I love the food, and I love being around my family.  And I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty great Christmases.  This year was no different.

We stayed at my in-laws Christmas Eve and opened our first gifts there when we woke up on Christmas morning.  And the gifts didn’t stop when we got to my parents for dinner (which was YUMMY.  Well done my Mum).  My parents tend to get Husband and I joint gifts and then other individual gifts.  We got a fancy knife set for our new kitchen which is much needed as we’re pretty much using one knife for everything at the moment.  Husband got lots of things for his travels and I got many many Ollie and Nic items.  WOO!  Plus very cute slippers, a woodland animal scarf and a fluffy snuggly top thing.

I got to open two presents from Husband at this point – a solid state hard drive (yay?  In all fairness, my Macbook does need a new one) and a beautiful drusy ring by Rachel Pfeffer.  I’d mentioned drusy jewellery years ago, and he’d obviously noted it down.  It’s so pretty and sparkly!!  And also impossible to photograph with the lenses I have.

Druzy ring2

With flash

Druzy ring1

Without flash

I need to stop looking at Rachel’s site now because I want everything.

We spent the afternoon watching Alpha Papa which I had bought my Dad for part of his present, and when my Mum started to get bored of watching the Blu Ray extras, we went back to the in-laws for MORE presents.

Husband and I finished swapping presents, and he surprised me again with a Tatty Devine lobster.

Tatty Devine Lobster

RED GLITTERY LOBSTER!

I love it. It’s flipping glittery!  He saw it online and thought it would be such a great present, especially seeing as we spent a few days in Maine a couple of months ago.  Can’t wait to wear it.

He also got me a hard case for my Parrot Zik headphones and hardback copies of the Hunger Games.

Books

My in-laws bought me Be Awesome by Hadley Freeman and Shady Characters by Keith Houston.  They also got me some Lush and Beauticology gift sets so I have some amazing baths to look forward to, a Ciate velvet manicure set, some pretty tights, and other assorted goodies.

Another favourite gift came from my Brother-in-law and his wife – a gorgeous set of lights from Brighton based Cable and Cotton.  They’re stunning.

Cable and Cotton

Off…

Cable and Cotton on

On!

I’ve wanted these for so long, now I just need to figure out where they’ll look best.  These are the Rainbow Drops set, but all of their sets are gorgeous and I would quite happily have them all around my house.

Sales shopping has been a bit hit and miss, and I’ve had more luck online than the high street.  I managed to get myself some more Snow Fairy (the only exception to my Lush ban, and only when it’s half price), some more beauty gift sets from Beauticology and Cowshed, and I am super excited to have bought an advent calendar.  Yes, an advent calendar, which is filled with a nail polish behind every door.  I was tempted by the Ciate Mini Mani Month when it was full price, but it’s even more of a bargain now it’s half price.  I was considering opening one every two weeks for the next year, but I’m not sure if I will manage to last out that long.

Minimanimonth

I still have another week off work, and at the end of the week we’re off to Brighton again for another visit to the Coalshed and another stay at the Old Ship Hotel.  It’s going to be bloody windy, but not even the weather can spoil Brighton.