Reading, Watching, Listening, Doing #5

So January has been somewhat of a complete and utter write off for me. I went back to work in the first week and pretty much immediately got ill…again. I feel like I’ve been constantly poorly since summer – in fact, I got a cold at the end of September when we were in Disneyland Paris then just jumped from one to another until the end of the year. But this most recent one really takes the cake. Considering the 4 days I spent in bed and the fact that I’m still not better, 3 weeks later, I’m pretty sure it was flu. Now I’m just trying to shake off what feels like either an ear or throat infection resulting from it. Eurgh.

It’s especially frustrating as I’ve got a lot of blog inspiration right now and a lot of wedding planning to be on with, but I’ve barely been able to keep up with my work as it is. Nevertheless, I’m still pushing on, so hopefully I’ll be feeling right again soon.

January 2018 book reviews

Reading

The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart*
Five teenagers discover a mysterious stone box hidden in a forest one hot summer when they’re all thrown together on the small island they live on and decide to all make a sacrifice to it, one which they hope will keep them as friends. But there are rules: never return alone; never return at night; and never take back the offerings. Four years later, they’re returning to school and are more strangers than friends. But weird things are starting to happen. Someone has broken the rules, but who and how can they stop it before it’s too late?
I enjoyed this book – it was a fun ride, but a little bit all over the place. I imagine it more as a B rated film – it had an interesting premise, some good characters and a pretty good storyline, but it dragged in places then jumped in quick motion in others. While it wasn’t outstanding, it was still a pretty good read.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell*
This is a collection of 12 short stories, each very unique and slightly bizarre, all inspired by folklore and fairytales but with modern and unusual twists. I have to be in the right mood for short stories, and fortunately I was for these – I really enjoyed them. I won’t detail each one, but here are a few of the ones that stuck with me:

  • The first story Animals: this is set in a world where animal hearts are easily transplanted to keep people alive, but also gives the transplantee a new personality from whatever animal the heart comes from. A man keeps his wife alive by choosing new hearts for her based on what he wants from her – a new look at the concept of consent.
  • In the Dark: this was particularly short and random, but a man walks into a woman’s kitchen one evening, doesn’t say a word, eats and leaves. It’s odd but entrancing.
  • The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night: this gives its name to the whole collection and was the one that made the most impact on me. It was sad and heartfelt but funny and personal. In the middle of the night, a couple discuss what beginnings are and what they mean, but there’s more to it than that as the story ends. Everyone knows that feeling of late night talks about nothing and everything.
  • Aunt Libby’s Coffin Hotel: this was probably the most fun story of all – a woman and her niece run a hotel filled with coffins where people go to experience death for a night. It was slightly predictable, filled with fun mythological references and probably the easiest one to read from the collection.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall* (to be published 3rd May 2018)
Verity and Mike are a couple that are different to everyone else – they understand each other better and have their own game to prove this: the Crave. She draws in another man, he runs in to save her. But this time it’s gone further than usual – she’s getting married.
I picked this book as it was recommended by Gillian Flynn, one of my favourite authors who is brilliant at plot twists, so I hoped this would have the same kind of feel, and to quite an extent it did – a main character with a dark mind, a plot that keeps turning back and forth, and a reader that can’t make up their mind what to believe! Told form Mike’s point of view, it’s truly a psychological thriller – one that there aren’t all that many of any more. I really enjoyed this one!

Everless by Sara Holland*
Set in the fictional kingdom of Sempera where your life is measured by the time in your blood and exchanged as currency, Jules is a normal girl trying to get by in life. She and her father were cast out of the Everless estate where the Gerlings rule and where they were once servants, but now her father is struggling to pay their rent with his blood so Jules is forced to return to the palace to earn their keep and protect her family.
I really liked the world that was built in this novel – the idea of blood being currency and your lifeline was really interesting – and the history behind it was brilliant too. It was fantasy without being too out there, mixed in with a bit of YA. I believe it’s part of a series so I’ll look forward to reading the next!

*books provided for review by Netgalley.

Watching

Gossip Girl: only 10 years behind, I started watching this at the end of last year and got obsessed! I’ve just finished the last episode and really wish I could start again – I’m not going to though as it’s sadly going off Netflix soon so I’ll be annoyed if I can’t finish it again before it goes!

Pretty Little Liars: I needed to fill the Gossip Girl shaped hole in my life, so I moved onto Pretty Little Liars which a couple of people recommended to me, as did Netflix. I’m only a few episodes in but I’m loving it so far – definitely worthy of filling that hole!

Listening

Aside from my (still!) current fave podcast And That’s Why We Drink, I haven’t really been listening to much else recently!

Doing

Aside from being ill, not a huge amount!

The night before I started feeling really poorly, we went out with our “Florida crew” (my parents, sister and family friends) for “Yorkshire tapas” at a restaurant in York: Mr P’s Curious Tavern. We’d been there before and it was awesome, and it was just as good this time. We had about 15 dishes to share between us so we got to try a bit of everything – I highly recommend it!

I’ve also spent some time with friends recently. I mentioned in the last one of these posts that we’d had some bad news over Christmas. The news was that one of my best friend’s mums (and actually, one of my mum’s best friends too – we grew up together) was suddenly taken into hospital and she passed away in early January. Her funeral was in mid-January so it was a really difficult time, but I spent some time with that friend around it. We’ve also got plans to go out again soon which I’m really looking forward to. I also had an evening with 3 of my bridesmaids (my “book club” – even though we haven’t read a book in a while!) and had a Sunday lunch out with Charley and Frankie to catch up with them too.

We also popped down to IKEA last weekend to buy a rail for me to hang my pretty lingerie on (because I was sick of it getting squashed in drawers!), but we also picked up an amazingly priced rug for £40 for the living room. We didn’t need one – we actually already had a rug there – but this one was bigger so fits the space better and was a really good price, so we’re really pleased with it. We also got the obligatory IKEA hot dog, of course!

And in the time I’ve not been trying to sleep off flu or staring mindlessly into space, I’ve done a bit of wedding admin (#wedmin, eurgh!). Invitations are (mostly!) out, flower girl dresses are sorted, groom’s and groomsmen’s suits are on the way (no help from them, I had to sort them out!) and a few other bits and pieces are done. We’ve basically now booked up almost every weekend before the wedding now with meetings – we’ve got catering meeting this weekend, dress fitting next weekend, venue and marquee the weekend after…the list goes on! I’m now starting to feel a little bit stressed by it and am starting to have wedding dreams (/nightmares!), so that’s fun. I feel like I should have done a lot more in January and being so ill has just set me right back with it, so frustrating. Anyway, onwards though – if everything doesn’t get sorted, so be it!

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