So can we all agree that while January was a total write off (at least for me and my flu), February was also not one for the record books? Or maybe it was…in terms of weather. Because, yep, that’s all we Brits can talk about right now: the snow. I ended up stuck at home from Tuesday to Friday last week under almost 7in of snow – yes, I did take a ruler (and a cat!) out to measure it. Unfortunately our country pretty much grinds to a halt under that much snow and my country route to work was left entirely ungritted and uncleared. So it was 3 days working at home instead!
Anyway, luckily it meant I could have mindless TV playing in the background and snowy evenings spent reading inside under a blanket when Brownies and meeting friends was cancelled. So plenty to talk about still!
And just to add, I meant to publish this post right at the beginning of March but had a bit still to finish before doing so, but only got the chance today! So I’ve had a LOT of exciting things happen between the beginning of March and now, so I’ll save that for another post to protect everyone’s sanity at how long this one would be!
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert*
17 year old Alice has been on the move with her mother as long as she can remember, outrunning the bad luck that always seems to follow them to a new home. Her life has been punctuated with wonderings about her grandmother, who she knows to be famous author Althea Proserpine – she once wrote a cult classic books called “Tales of the Hinterland” then disappeared into obscurity. The book begins with the news reaching them that Althea has died, and Alice’s mother suddenly disappears mysteriously, with the only clues leading Alice back to her grandmother’s stories.
This was a summary that really appealed to me – the merging of the real world and fairytale, and it didn’t disappoint. The tales spun by Althea were fairytales that have never been heard before, and some more gruesome, such as Twice Killed Katherine and Alice-Three-Times – I’d love to read all the tales themselves in full! The allusions to well known fairytales throughout were fun to spot, and the adventure aspect of the story was fun.
I have to admit it took me a little longer than I expected to get through the book as it felt more convoluted than it needed to be in places – a little too YA (which is an odd complaint from me as I love YA and am not afraid to admit it!). I think it was just aimed at a slightly younger audience than me. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the second installment. (Also, just look at that beautiful cover!)
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter*
Abby Williams is an environmental lawyer working in Chicago who is drawn back to her small Indiana hometown, Barrens, where there have been reports that the local reservoir is contaminated. She and her team are tasked with getting to the bottom of this, whether the reports are true or not, meaning that Abby has to make peace with the place she left behind. But with one mystery that was never solved, that of Kaycee Mitchell, once her friend, then her bully, before she got mysteriously ill and finally disappeared, can she really make peace with it?
I really enjoyed the story behind this book, with a mystery to solve in the past and present as well as how it connects. The setting too was a major plus – I seem to really like novels where a character has to delve into their own past, particularly when that past is small town America with all its quirks and misgivings. The balance between solving the mystery and between Abby’s own issues with the situation she’s put in were just right for me and meant I really enjoyed reading it.
And a quick note – I noticed when reading the reviews on Goodreads that people were noting that they didn’t just like it because of the author – well, apparently I’m clueless as I’d never heard of the author, who is apparently the actress behind superheroine Jessica Jones, so let it be known that this didn’t influence by opinion of the book!
Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier*
Teen girl, Rain, has grown up living a life different to most – protecting and doing everything she can for her autistic twin brother, Ethan. Living alone with their mother, she has become a second parent to him and knows how to deal with the symptoms he experiences better than almost anyone else. Until the rules begin to change, that is. As a new romance comes into her life, she realises that there is change afoot with Ethan too, as her best friend takes interest in him. Learning to navigate this new relationship is just as tricky for Rain as it is for Ethan.
I’d call this a coming-of-age book, where our protagonist has to learn to deal with a new stage of life not only for herself but for her autistic brother, and it’s one that’s really interesting. I have absolutely no experience with autism, so for me, this gave a really interesting insight into what life is like for those on the spectrum and for those they have any sort of relationship with – whether family, friend or romantic. I’ve seen some reviews saying that it was far too stereotypical of autism, so that’s a shame if it’s true, but for those of us with no experience of it, I found it a valuable insight.
The story itself was fun and addictive to read – it was very easy to get into and I really liked the characters themselves. There were a couple of points that I thought weren’t really very true to real life (no spoilers allowed, but it was one of the main plot points!), but even so, still interesting and fun to read.
The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan*
The Shadow Hour is set across two timelines – 1878 and 1922 – one storyline following Grace, a new governess sent to Fenix House by her grandmother, and the other following Harriet, the grandmother herself who was once a governess at the same house. Grace has been brought up by her grandmother after her parents died in a train crash, and her whole life has been filled with stories of Harriet’s time, only a single summer long, at Fenix House. When an advert comes up in the paper for a governess at the same house, Harriet insists Grace take the position. She, expecting to find the place of her grandmother’s stories that she’s always dreams about, arrives at the house to find it entirely different from the stories, and are the stories themselves even true?
I loved the gothic undertone of this novel – even though it didn’t have any aspects of the paranormal or supernatural (or very few anyway!), it had that unnerving atmosphere throughout. It was obvious right from the beginning that there was a mystery as to what really happened in that enchanted summer of 1878, but it takes both stories coming together to bring that to light. It was a really gripping read that had me up late reading to get to the conclusion.
The End of the F***ing World: Ben and I started watching this together as I’d seen a couple of people mention it, but he didn’t get on with it. I wasn’t totally in love with it, but I liked the short punchy episodes and the very different style to things I normally watch. I loved Jessica Barden in it, and it turns out she grew up round me, so that’s exciting! We don’t have many famous people from our corner of North Yorkshire!
Pretty Little Liars: Still watching, still enjoying!
Death in Paradise: This is potentially my favourite murder mystery series (especially since Midsomer Murders has kind of disappeared, anyone know what’s going on with it?!). It started up again in January and is perfect for warding off the wintery weather, being set in the Caribbean, but sadly it finished last week and I didn’t realise until we sat down to watch it! Considering Riverdale was on a mid-season break too, this was really hard to take.
Silent Witness: January and February are awesome for murder mysteries (see all my faves here) and Silent Witness is back too! This is more a crime drama but is excellent. We’re actually banking episodes of this and the two below to see us through more of the year because WHY do they all come on TV at once?!
Endeavour: Another crime drama murder mystery type one that I LOVE. It’s set in the early 60s and shows the younger version of Inspector Morse solving cases around Oxford.
Vera: And my final murder mystery that’s on at the moment is Vera. This is set in the bleak north east and has that brilliant sharp northern humour in an otherwise quite serious programme. Highly recommend.
Fifty Shades Freed: I had a cinema trip with two of my friends to watch Fifty Shades Freed as it had become a tradition that we watch them together! It’s not exactly the best film but makes for a fun girls night!
L & R Dreaming: This is a new-to-us Disney parks vlog that we’ve recently come across and is SO addictive! We’ve now got several regular Disney vloggers we watch, but L&R might be a new fave!
And That’s Why We Drink – I’m still binging these on my drives to and from work to catch up to their current episodes. If you can’t tell, I highly recommend!
What Page Are You On? – This is a new podcast run by Bethany and Alice where they talk about…books! Charlotte has been singing their praises so I decided to dive in and got addicted. I now have a massive list of books to read from their recommendations (I’m keeping track of these here on Goodreads) and have had to join the library to keep up!
February was a busy “wedmin” month! With less than 2.5 months to go now, we’re really buckling down on the final details.
First up, we had a meeting with our caterers with my parents in tow – we finalised the menu and timings for the day, as well as made some decisions on drinks. I’m SO excited for this part (as well as the whole day, of course!).
We also had a day with the venue where we took another look round the ceremony room and gardens in the morning then returned in the afternoon with our marquee company to discuss layouts for that.
I also had my dress fitting day with my sister and another bridesmaid – only those 2 and my mum have seen my dress so the other 3 will be surprised on the day! I went to the seamstresses recommended by the shop I bought my dress from and they were lovely. I fully trust them to get my dress back to me fitting well!
The next weekend, we met with Tash – she’s my sister-in-law-to-be’s (eek!) friend whose band is playing at our reception, so we talked through timings and set lists with her. We’ve also decided that she’s going to sing during the signing of the register.
Then finally my mum, sister and I met up with Jane who’s doing our flowers on another weekend. She’s my friend’s mum and is a wonderful florist! I had literally zero specific ideas aside from “…greenery and flowers?!” so it massively helped to have someone with so much expertise.
We’ve also booked internal flights for our honeymoon (between Florida and NY state) and booked ourselves a little minimoon in immediately after the wedding in the Cotswolds – more on that soon!
And finally we’ve now got our wedding rings, gifts for the wedding parties, the seating plan (almost done!), sweets for the candy bar, table names and a few more decorations sorted.
So, phew! There have been a couple more wedding related things since then, but I’ll save that for my next post!
In non-wedding related news, Ben had a few days in Amsterdam with work in early February which left me home alone for a little while. It meant I had time to do a bit more reading though and catch up on some writing, so I wasn’t too bothered by that!
On one of our non-wedding planning weekend days, we also had a meal out at a local Indian restaurant as a charity do – we’ve been to one of these before and they’re always really good, this was no exception!
Then there was the snow…and 3 days stuck working at home under 7in of the stuff. I think that’s enough said about that!
I also had a lovely day out with the friends I mentioned above – Helen and I have been friends since…well, forever! Our families knew each other before we were born and we started school together at 3. And Rosie, who joined our school when we were 8, and we still see each other all the time! We had a day out where we had afternoon tea and chocolate lollipop making at the Cocoa House in York (which was amazing and SO filling!) followed up with getting our nails done and mocktails in Lucia’s. The nails part was funny because it was the first time for all of us to visit a nail bar and we weren’t sure what to expect. I just wanted mine painting with gel polish, but when I sat down, they told me they were “too short” and I needed extensions – so I’ve ended up with really long nails that are currently tapping annoyingly on my keyboard!!
And finally, I needed downtime from all the stuff I’ve been doing recently, so my answer to this was a 1000 piece jigsaw that we brought back from Disney last year! It took me a few weeks (and a lot of cat telling off!) but I completed it last week. Now I don’t know what to do with it!