I’m not really sure how often I plan to do these posts – I guess just when they catch up with me? It seems to be an almost-monthly basis at the moment but who knows whether I’ll keep up with that. Let’s just go with it ;D
*Books with an asterix were provided by the publisher for review.
Only Child* by Rhiannon Navin (to be published 8th Feb 2018) – 8/10
This was a completely harrowing book. It throws you right in the deep end of a school shooting from Zach’s seven year old perspective, one in which his brother is killed. The book continues from Zach’s point of view as he struggles to understand what the shooting means, knowing that his brother is gone but not quite knowing whether to be sad or happy about it, then feeling guilty, and feeling everything.
This sort of story is only too real for a lot of the world right now, but seeing it from a child’s perspective, particularly a child of the age that I look after at Brownies, made it seem all the more distressing. It was emotional and blunt, in the only the way a child can be.
Uncommon Type* by Tom Hanks – 6/10
That’s right, this was written by Tom Hanks himself! Uncommon Type is a collection of short stories, all quite different, but all with one common element – a typewriter. In some stories it’s the main theme; in others it’s mentioned in passing.
The stories themselves are okay – I wouldn’t call any of them bad or boring, but I just wasn’t enthralled by them, only a couple really caught my interest. Some stories are tales of relationships, between old friends and new; others are about time travelling, trips to the moon and bowling gone viral. It’s a mixture of everyday and verging on the edge of reality. The more surreal ones gripped me, whereas others were a little lacklustre. It was fun spotting the typewriter in each story though!
The Memory Chamber* by Holly Cave – 8/10 (to be published 22nd Feb 2018)
Set in the not-so-distant future, The Memory Chamber describes a world with life after death can be decided. Isobel is a Heaven Architect – she designs artificial heavens for her rich clients based on their memories in life. When a charming and handsome client walks in, she begins an affair with a man she knows is dying. Then when his expected death comes, there is something unexpected – he is a suspect in a murder that happened just before his death. And Isobel might be the only one who can solve it through an ethically questionable quest into his heaven.
I really enjoyed this book. I love near-future stories, especially when the new technology in it is something that’s explained so well that it’s believable. I was really enthralled in the story and it’s kept me thinking about the morality of it all and memories.
Peach* by Emma Glass – 4.5/10 (to be published 23rd Jan 2018)
A girl is brutally assaulted, manages to get home and her blood and bruises go unnoticed by her family. So Peach decides to just continue with life – stitching herself up, going to school the next day, meeting her boyfriend. But she’s plagued by the attack – the smells, the taste, the feel of it.
This was a strange one – it was completely different to what I expected. The writing is poetic and flowing, but jarring and exposed at the same time. Unfortunately, the metaphorical way it was written was just not my cup of tea. I was left feeling conflicted and a little confused at the end. It’s impossible to describe without reading it, but I imagine you’d know within the first few pages whether or not you’ll get on with it. There have been absolutely glowing reviews though and I can totally see why some people love it – sadly it just wasn’t my thing!
I’ve barely had time to watch much recently somehow aside from these two
I’m a Celebrity – this is one of those guilty pleasure shows! Because of the timing of it being on this time every year, it feels pretty festive – like the start of Christmas. And it’s really addictive.
Gossip Girl – and this is also addictive! So I’m only 10 years too late on this one. Friends have told me for years that I’d love Gossip Girl but I’ve never got round to it. But I’ve finally found the time and am obsessed!
Christmas Carols – I’ve never had a strong opinion of Christmas starting too early, but this year I started noticing that Christmas had essentially started as soon as Halloween had ended – perhaps thanks to all the Disney videos we watch on YouTube which focus on the Halloween and Christmas parties at the parks! And I surprised myself by wanting to get the Christmas decorations up towards the end of November. So I decided as soon as Thanksgiving was over (even though we don’t celebrate it in the UK) that I could start playing Christmas Carols and Libera’s Carol of the Bells is my favourite this year.
In Sight Podcast – I’m still catching up with And That’s Why We Drink, but I’m interspersing it with In Sight which is a true crime podcast.
It was my sister’s birthday in November, so her and my mum came over to Ripon where I work for lunch, and I took the afternoon off to take some time exploring town with them. It was lovely as I normally only have an hour for lunch so I could take my time! They brought Lottie the dog who was actually allowed in every single shop and who took us (by force, literally!) into the pet shop!
A couple of weekends ago, I was asked to photograph the wedding of my uncle’s friend, so my Saturday was spent on that. It was a smaller wedding and they didn’t want a really expensive photographer, hence why I got asked. It was quite nerve-wracking so I turned up with 2 cameras, 4 lenses, 5 memory cards and 4 extra batteries, just in case! We were actually treated more like guests though than photographers normally would be as it was family friends, so we had a really good time! I’ve just finished editing up the photos and am really pleased with how they turned out. I don’t think I’d ever go for a career in wedding photography though – it’s exhausting, spending your Saturdays away from home and the rest of the time editing.
My sister and I also had a day out Christmas shopping in York. We do this every year, but this time I decided to take some photos while we were there as York is so pretty at this time of year – I’ll hopefully share these photos and some tips in a post soon 🙂
We had our first snow of the year last week! Our town is quite low-lying compared to the area around us which means that my family often have snow when we don’t, but we got a good few inches on Thursday evening which was very exciting and marked the start of a Christmassy week and weekend!
On the Wednesday evening before the snow, our Brownie pack was invited to the switching on the town’s lights, so we stood in the bitter cold with battery operated flickering candles and sung carols around the tree before the switch was flicked – it was lovely!
Saturday was Small Business Saturday and the switching on of the lights in Helmsley, where my family bakery business is based. I’m in charge of all their social media and blogs, so we headed over there for the day. There was a bit of a mix up with timings so I wasn’t really needed, but I managed to wander the shops with my mum and sister where we bumped into Ben’s mum in a new vintage shop (who knew Helmsley had one?!) so shopped for a bit with her. We ended up going back to my mum’s for lunch then coming back in the evening for the light switch-on where I met up with my friend Helen and her little girl Evelyn. I crashed their family outing and accompanied them to meet Father Christmas in his grotto in Helmsley before Julian Norton from the Yorkshire Vet (I mentioned this in my first Reading, Watching, Listening, Doing) switched on the lights.
It was a busy day because in the evening I was my sister’s “chaperone” (as my mum put it!) and designated driver to her work Christmas party – she works for the family bakery business and since I worked there when I was younger, I know a lot of people there. I was feeling kind of poorly from yet another cold and we’d planned to leave early but once the Christmas music started, we got dancing so stayed until later than we thought!
December is a busy, busy month for everyone and I find it generally quite stressful and anxiety-inducing, so it was perfect timing that Laura, Hannah and I organised a spa day for early December. I took the afternoon off work on Monday and we went to Imagine Spa at Dower House in Knaresborough. We’d got a deal that was £35 per person for an afternoon in the spa, a 30 minute treatment and coffee and cake. We all went for the body scrub treatment which was awesome – I felt super soft afterwards.
Then in the evening, I went straight from the spa over to the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds where Charley had got us free tickets to see The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. This was truly amazing – very magical (and Christmassy!) plus some stunning uses of fabric and lighting in the sets. If you get a chance to watch this, I’d highly recommend it.
And finally, cough cough, I’m sick! For the fourth time in just over 2 months. I’m actually no longer sure where one cold ended and another begun now. I’ve literally been ill since we came back from Disneyland Paris, but this last one has really knocked me. I woke up feeling awful on Saturday morning then promptly fell back to sleep on the sofa fully dressed when we were supposed to be going out. I managed to power on through the weekend and felt a bit better on Monday, only to wake up today feeling like mush. It’s mostly just a horrific cough and temperature, but the result of coughing so hard and so much is that the muscles all over my body ache, particularly my neck, and I’ve had a constant headache for 4 days. Annoying as I don’t usually do headaches. I’ve also woken up at 3-4am every morning for about a week literally shivering with cold. Our bedroom isn’t normally warm, because as Ben says, he’s “trained” me to like a cold bedroom! But this is a whole other matter – I’m waking up absolutely freezing and unable to get warm at all. So please cross all your fingers for me that this is gone soon as I’ve had to cancel a night with friends tonight!