sunday post

The Sunday Post: No spoons or fucks to be found

It has been a week y’all and I am completely done. I’m not planning on doing anything more strenuous today than walking between the kitchen and living room to get food/drinks etc.

So.

Monday at work I was dealing with the fallout of people not processing my Key Engineering Supplier invoices while I was doing Big Project Work. And it was one of those days where I processed… a LOT of invoices. One of the reasons I work slow and steady 90% of the time is that when the shit hits the fan like this, I have the oomph to post like 60 invoices in a day.

I also had a therapy appointment, we’re almost at the end of our sessions and we’re starting to work now on my Staying Well Plan. It’s not as scary as I thought it would to be coming to the end and not having Jeanett’s support which obviously is the entire POINT of therapy.

Tuesday I had a day off work because of a dentist appointment. I knew I had to have a filling and I knew I’d be no use to anyone after it was done. Except… it wasn’t just a filling. It was two fillings AND taking the first mould. I was not expecting that. I was very very glad the diazepam had kicked in before she took the mould because that was overwhelming and horrible. And my dentist was doing a new thing which REALLY helped. She’d be like ‘I need to do [XYZ] and it’s going to take me to the count of 10’, and then she would count out loud to 10. So there was this fixed end point to the current torture and then I could take a break. AND she lets me get up out of the chair and stim which is amazing!

Wednesday I continued plowing through invoices, but also had my introductory phonecall with my new tutor. She seems nice enough, specialises in Roman literature and we had a good chat about how she can support me with my ‘additional needs’, how best for her to communicate with me etc so that was really good.

And then yesterday I had my seasonal COVID booster jab. I was very very anxious about that. It’s at the local football ground and last year was… not good. The parking was very confusing, there was way too many people and I had a complete panic attack/meltdown which neither they or I knew how to handle.

This year I decided to walk – it was just over a mile – because that would ease the parking panic. Plus I sometimes find that walking, the repetitive motion of it, as long as my knees are behaving, is quite calming. So, headphones on and down the road I went. And there was no-one there. One person in front of me, two old people who were glaring at me behind me, and I was in and out in like 10 minutes.
I was actually really glad I walked in the end, I had so much adrenalin built up, and then it was almost anticlimatic so walking home again was a good use for that. Then I crashed, napped, and ordered myself a naughty KFC.

I get to do it all over again next week with my flu jab, so that’s going to be fun

Woke up this morning to the news that I won £89 on the Lottery last night. Treated myself to The Novel Companion which restocked in the week but I didn’t have the budget for. Very excited
I’d initially wanted next years Always Fully Booked planner but when I looked closer at the weekly planning pages, the layout wouldn’t work for the style of planning that’s currently working for me and it wasn’t worth getting just for the reading journal bits. So yes, I’m thrilled!

School also technically started again yesterday, but pretty much my only contribution to that was to tidy up my desk. It looks pretty awesome mind:


This week’s unit is mostly introductory work – information about the module, how the module is studied, links to the pronunciation guide and the study website. I’ve been chatting in the forums already and will probably spend a couple of hours on the intro stuff this afternoon.

Other than that, as long as I catch up on the dishes and read a chapter or so of A Brief History of Ancient Greece, then I’ll be happy.

Here’s to a better next week!

sunday post

Thank you

I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated towards helping cover the cost of getting Eliot’s brakes and my teeth sorted. Not going to lie, I sat here and cried. The cost of his repairs is sorted and I have about a third of the cost of my dental treatment covered so the costs are not going to completely wipe out my savings and credit which is incredible to know.

Y’all are AMAZING, THANK YOU SO MUCH

Eliot booked in for new rear brake pads and disks on Friday morning. And I have dentist appointments booked in September, October and November to continue my treatment.

So yeah, it’s been a hell of a week with all that happening: Dentist, the start of my autism referral and being booked in for a screening appointment, I actually made it not only into Tesco but did a real, in-person shop for the first time in a couple of years, Eliot’s brakes crunching, money worries… I’m hoping for a quieter week coming up, so that I’ve got the mental energy to read, play games -do anything, if I’m being honest. My brain is all fuzzy static. This heatwave isn’t helping. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love these temperatures but it’s the humidity that is fucking killing me. It is currently 32c (89.6F) which is glorious but it’s also like 40% humidity. Today is supposed to be the last day and we’ve got thunderstorms forecast. I do love a good thunderstorm.

For a reading update I am currently:
76% of Anne Rice – Interview With The Vampire
71% of Mira Grant – Symbiont
18% of Peter Ackroyd – History Of England: Foundation

I am also planning on starting:
Natalie J Case – Thanátou
Kerry O Ferris – Stargazing
Matt Haig – The Dead Fathers Club

And, like I said, hoping for a much better week ahead!

book reviews · life

A Quick Catch Up

So, the news in brief and some reading roundups are

The not-COVID I had at the beginning of the month? Yeah, it turned out to actually be COVID. Li and I were both pretty sick for about 10 days, and completely exhausted for about another week. I still get fatigued pretty quickly but thankfully we were both triple vaxxed and survived in once piece.

I got my module result for this year of my degree – for A112 Cultures I received a distinction. 86%! As you can imagine, I am over the freaking moon. So that’s my first academic year complete, 120 credits. Only another 4 modules to go, starting in October with A229 Exploring The Classical World

I’ve been playing a lot of Stardew Valley, and Star Trek: Timelines. Li managed to bring home a Wii the other day, I rediscovered my Game Boy Advance, and we’ve also set up my old SNES. There has been much retro gaming and it has been wonderful.

Of course, a lot of gaming, a slight complete addiction to Pointless, and introducing Li to the Bridgerton Netflix show has meant I haven’t done a huge amount of reading lately. The bookx I have read recently:

Matt Haig – Reasons To Stay Alive
3/5, memoir, mental health, non-fiction, psychology
Bizarrely, as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the other couple of Haig’s books, this one didn’t gel with me. I found it a little too self-help-y, a little too twee. I didn’t connect with it and felt it bringing me down, rather than uplifting me.

Mary Beard – How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith
4/5, art history, history, non-fiction, philosophy, religion
Very interesting, would have liked it to have gone a little more in-depth in a couple of places but I do love her descriptions of the art and places she’s visited and writes about, and it helps bring it to life for me. Her passion also shines through

Mira Grant – Parasite
5/5, horror, medical, science-fiction, thriller
OMG y’all, I could not put this down. It had been on my TBR for ages, finally got it out of the library and sat and read the whole thing in one afternoon. I was reacting outloud and flailing and squeaking at Li… who picked it up as soon as I finished it, also read it in one sitting – falling asleep at like 1am!

My reserves of Symbiont and Chimera have just come in and oh yes, I will be starting Symbiont tomorrow!

Holly Black – Tithe
3.5/, faeries, paranormal, urban-fantasy, young-adult
This one is very much a case of ‘I liked it, but…’ – I was disappointed, really. It was enjoyable enough but there was something missing. It was a little predictable in places, the characters needed a little more rounding and the pacing was… hmm… uneven. And even though there are more books in the series, I don’t care enough to see if the library even has them.

Melanie Cantor – Life and Other Happy Endings
3/5, chick-lit, family, friends, library, read, romance

Such a weird read, and literally lost starts with every section of the story. So it started off as this great 5-star read about a woman who found out she had 3 months to live and was telling people the things she wanted to tell them etc… only then she wasn’t dying because of a test result mix-up, and she was back to being trodden over… only then she was pregnant and yawn. She was way more interesting when she thought she was dying!

Joanna Hickson – First Of The Tudors
4/5, historical-fiction

We’ve covered my love for all things War Of The Roses, yes? And this was no exception! The story centers around Jasper Tudor, his wardship of young Henry Tudor and his relationship with Margaret Beaufort, and the intricacies of the Yorkists, Lancastrians, Tudors, and Warwick The Kingmaker. I will be checking out more of Hickson’s work – she has other stories set in the time period.

Which brings me on to what I’m currently reading:

weekly wednesday blogging challenge · www wednesday

Weird Real Life Events and What I’m Reading Wednesday

Li and I are still both sacked out sick on the couch, watching nature documentaries on iplayer and napping. She’s sorting out embroidery thread, I’m tidying up my new website and reading – although I’m not entirely sure how much brain I have for doing it!

This week’s Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge topic is A real-life event that no one would believe and it has me wracking my brains. Li says the way we met counts – like, what are the chances of commenting on someone’s fanfic, starting a conversation, falling for her, and discovering she lives about half an hour from where I grew up?

But my favourite happening is a ghost encounter that happened at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. So my friend Natalie (who is a witch and a bit of a medium) and I were doing the second of our two tours of the place that day, we were standing with our backs against a wall listening to the tour guide tell us about how the house was built to confuse the spirits… and I just said to Natalie ‘There’s someone standing behind us, isn’t there?’ which she confirmed. You could tell the moment that spirit could tell we knew they were there, and they ended up following us for the entire hour and a half of the tour – which they spent pulling my jeans down. Now, these were skinny-fit jeans, I’d been wearing them all morning with no issues, and we’d done one of the tours already with my jeans staying firmly in place. And when the tour finished and we left the house? My jeans stayed up for the rest of the day. There was definitely someone tugging them down – no sense of malice, just mischief and playfulness.

WWW Wednesday
What are you currently reading? Mary Beard – Pompeii, Bill Bryson – Troublesome Words, Joanna Hickson – First of the Tudors
What did you recently finish reading? Mary Beard – Civilisations and I DNFed Quadrivium by John Martineau
What do you think you’ll read next? Holly Black – Tithe or Mira Grant – Parasite

book reviews

Book Review: Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Photo of the book Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig on an orange backgroundTitle: Notes on a Nervous Planet
Author: Matt Haig
Dates read: 01/05/22 – 07/05/22
Rating 4.5/5

Publisher: Canongate
Number of pages: 310
Fiction or non-fiction: non-fiction
Subject or genre: health, mental health, philosophy, psychology

Book blurb:

The world is messing with our minds.

Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.

How I discovered or acquired this book: I picked it up off my betrothed’s bookshelf after reading The Comfort Book.

Notable quotes “Reading isn’t important because it helps to get you a job. It’s important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you’re given. It is how humans merge. How minds connect. Dreams. Empathy. Understanding. Escape. Reading is love in action.”

My thoughts I have anxiety, I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember and for the second time in a decade it has tipped into agoraphobia. Pretty much the whole world is making me anxious. So what better to pick up and read?

I read Haig’s ‘The Comfort Book’ the other month and found it really calming, so picked this one up off my betrothed’s book shelf because it seemed quite fitting. And I found it very helpful. It’s not preachy or claiming to know how to ‘fix me’, like so many mental health memoirs can be. Again, I found it very calming, little nuggets of wisdom about the world, about Haig’s experiences, suggestions on ways to work with the world, with technology and social media because these things are needed but with ways to stop them stressing us out. I find his voice soothing and there were so many great ideas that I’ve made a note of to try, to remember… to be.

4.5/5, I really loved it, wouldn’t necessarily read the whole thing again but would dip in and out of it as/when needed

monthly wrap up

April Wrap Up

April has been incredibly stressful, I’m not going to lie. My mental health hasn’t been great but I’m powering through and y’know, I’m still alive and kicking so there’s that. I’ve started therapy which is much more work than I thought it was going to be and we’re already working a few things out… but it’s exhausting.

I have been pretty consistent with reading – even if not blogging about it quite as regularly as I would like. I’m contemplating maybe pre-writing some of the weekly link-up answers, I don’t know. But I am pleased with myself for keeping going for four months and have bought myself a domain name as a reward. My betrothed is going to host me (and maybe design me a layout) and we’re hoping that should happen later this month.

But the books I finished in April were:

And I’m impressed seeing it laid out like that, I read more than I thought I had. Go me!

I DNFed:

I spent a great portion of the month reading but not finishing:

but I’m on track to finish reading in early May

Looking back at my April goals:
finish 4 books I finished 5, hurrah!
submit assignment 5 – due on the 7th, 800 words of plan for my independent investigation I submitted it on the 6th April and got 96% which, as you can imagine, I’m thrilled about
lose 6lb I did lose weight but not that much, just under 4lb – I comfort eat and I’ve been stressed. I’ve been pretty good at getting out and walking though… just need less chocolate!
sort out my morning routine. Hah! Nope, not at all. I’m still not sleeping great so I’m struggling to get out of bed – I eventually fall asleep around 3, so when the alarm goes off at 7, I hit snooze, sleep until just before 8:30, roll out of bed and start work. Although, frustratingly, I do know that sorting out my morning routine can help with the sleeping thing.

My goals for May
* Write, edit and submit my End Of Module Assignment – 2500 words on ‘How can the study of ancient places help us to better understand religion in ancient culture?’ I’m using Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia as examples, and arguing that the lived experience of religion was the same across poleis.
* finish 4 books
* lose 4 lb
* start practising daily mindfulness and gratitude
* figure out using tiktok

How was your April and do you have any goals for May – bookish or otherwise?
book reviews

Drive-by Mini-Reviews, the second

I keep telling myself I’m going to get better at writing proper reviews as and when I finish a book but… it’s not going very well. I’m still not completely confident at writing them, if I’m being honest, but I can already tell I’m improving when I look at the difference in my post about The Lost Apothecary compared to some of my earlier reviews.

And, once again, my habit of reading too many books at a time (back up to 15 again!) means I’ve finished a bunch all at the same time. So you get another round of mini-reviews of them

A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
4/5, fae. fantasy, romance, young adult
This… this is not my normal sort of book. I hold up my hands and say I don’t like fantasy. But this is one of those books that EVERYONE loves. It’d been on my TBR for a while, probably a couple of years, but I wasn’t prepared to buy it, in case I didn’t love it. But then this year I’ve started using the library again, signed up for Libby and was able to get the book that way. And… and OH! Yes, I can absolutely see why everyone loves this book. The world-building didn’t feel all encompassing but actually just part of the story, we discovered the world as Feyre did and because we were seeing it through her eyes, there weren’t 7 pages about a blade of grass, y’know? I loved how the vivid and tangible Prythian feels and the characters are very real – interesting, annoying, frustrating, with genuine interpersonal relationships. It didn’t go where I was expecting it to and I ended up loving it more because of it. I got A Court Of Mist and Fury straight out of the library!

The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown
3/5, health, memoir, non-fiction
I picked this one up from the library because the title and summary intrigued me – a memoir of a doctor working in some of our most infamous prisons. I mostly liked it. Some of the anecdotes and stories she told were moving and heartbreaking – and some funny. But I was getting a sense of ‘holier than thou’ from her tone, she felt a little preachy in places and there was a lot of time spent reiterating how wonderful all these hardened violent criminals thought she was.

Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook by Liv Albert
4/5, history, mythology, non-fiction
I love Greek Mythology. I have loved Greek Mythology for well over 30 years at this point, and I’m currently doing a Classical Studies degree. I also have friends who love mythology and recommended Liv’s podcast to me. I’ve listened to a few episodes but sadly podcasts and I are not friends – I think it’s my ADHD, I just zone out when people are talking at me. But when I heard she had a book, based on what I’d heard, I knew I had to have it. I was right. It’s a great overview of the characters and stories that feature in the mythology – just enough information to give a good feel for each one but without being overwhelming. The art is stunning (seriously, I want a print of the Zeus artwork) and the book has a informal, friendly tone.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
5/5, biology, health, history, non-fiction, science
I don’t know where to start with writing about this book. I fucking loved it. I adore Bill Bryson’s style of writing and human biology/anatomy/physiology has been a fascination of mine since school biology lessons. I definitely wasn’t let down. It wasn’t a deeply scientific book but it also didn’t talk down to the reader and was filled with fascinating anecdotes and trivia that I had to share with my betrothed as I was reading – and our tagline became ‘but we don’t know why’. It’s both fascinating and horrifying how damn much we don’t know but at the same time, I loved re/learning the history of how we discovered what we do know.

I am still trying to read about 15 books (trying to get it down to 8) but mostly focusing on 5 of them:
Holly Black – Cruel Prince
Sarah J Maas – A Court Of Mist & Fury
Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Certain Dark Things
Heidi Swain – Summer at Skylark Farm
Ruby Wax – A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled

monthly wrap up

March Wrap Up

I’m not going to lie – March hasn’t been the best reading month for me. Well, no, that’s not quite true. I’ve read most days but because I’m trying to read ALL THE THINGS, I haven’t done very well at actually finishing things.

But the books I did finish in March were:

I DNFed:

I spent a great portion of the month reading but not finishing:

but I’m on track to finish reading at some point in April.

I’ve already finished two books in April so… yeah, March wasn’t great LOL

I think I’m starting to find a rhythm with blogging. I’m definitely enjoying it and feel like I’m getting more confident with writing reviews.
I also love linkups like Top Ten Tuesday, Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge and Book Blogger Hop that allow me to also enthuse and flail about the books I love.
I want to figure out how (if?) I’m going to use instagram alongside the blog.
And I want to try and get over my fear of tiktok/my hatred of how I look and sound on video to join in with the bookish side of things over there – I watch and enjoy so many booktokers and it looks so much fun!

Healthwise, I’m still struggling with my mental health (depression, anxiety, agoraphobia) but have received a date to start ‘intensive CBT’ later in April. I’m still waiting for a date for my adhd/autism assessment but have been told if I don’t hear from them by the end of April, to give them a call. I’ve been managing to get out for walks with my betrothed 3-4 a week (thank the Gods for Pikmin Bloom), I’ve been cooking and eating well at least 5 nights a week and I’ve lost 5.6lb in weight

Schoolwise, I had a creative writing assignment – short story of 900 words based on a provided first line from an existing book and a 300 word reflective piece. Absolutely thrilled that I got 98% on it and my tutors comments were absolutely fantastic!

My goals for April:
* finish 4 books
* submit assignment 5 – due on the 7th, 800 words of plan for my independent investigation
* lose 6lb
* sort out my morning routine.

How was your March and do you have any goals for April – bookish or otherwise?

book reviews

Book Review: How To Sleep Tight Through The Night by Tzivia Gover & Lesléa Newman

Title: How To Sleep Tight Through The Night
Author: Tzivia Gover & Lesléa Newman
Dates read: 15/02/22
Rating 4/5

Publisher: Storey Publishing
Number of pages: 64
Fiction or non-fiction: non-fiction
Subject or genre: health

Book blurb: Whether it’s bedtime or the wee hours of the night, this sweetly illustrated nighttime companion is filled with practical ways to help young insomniacs, ages 5 to 9, with reassuring nighttime routines, creative visualisations, and kid-friendly activities and techniques for addressing bedtime reluctance, managing fears and anxiety, easing nightmares, and inviting pleasant dreaming and positive associations with sleeptime. Whether it’s fear of the dark or worry about the day ahead that is interfering with a good night’s sleep, How to Sleep Tight through the Night offers creative solutions for soothing children’s bedtime anxieties and developing healthy sleep habits. This collection of 30 kid-friendly tricks and techniques by sleep and dreaming expert Tzivia Gover and award-winning children’s book author Lesléa Newman is complemented by the dreamy illustrations of Vivian Mineker. From playing an alphabet game to slipping a wish under a pillow, the book is filled with practical, engaging prompts that are accessible to all and easy to implement, using creative visualisation, mindfulness techniques, and playful, fun strategies for easing bedtime struggles and welcoming sound, restful sleep

How I discovered or acquired this book: I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a review

My thoughts I will preface this with say I don’t have kids. Now, you’re probably thinking ‘Cassie, why are you reading and reviewing a book about bedtime for kids?’ which is fair. But I have chronic insomnia and nothing else has worked so… I figure a different type of tip might help (It’s not going to hurt, right?).

I love the look of the book. The illustrations are bold, colourful and fun. The tone of the writing is straight-forward, informative, and easy to understand, but without feeling like it’s condescending or talking down to the reader. I love the mix of sleep ideas – both how to get to sleep and what to do when waking up from a bad dream. They were all very different ideas, much more practical and interesting than the insomnia advice you get for adults. I think my favourites are falling in love with my bed, listing things from ‘A to Zzzz’ and imagining myself walking down the street and everything I see. Will definitely be trying those to see if they help!

There were a few formatting errors which made a couple of the pages a little tricky to parse but overall it was a cute, fun, interesting, read

book reviews

DNF: Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control by Barbara Ehrenreich

Title: Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control
Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Dates read: 18/01/22 – 23/01/22
Rating DNF

Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 256
Fiction or non-fiction: non-fiction
Subject or genre: health, science

Book blurb: Bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich explores how we are killing ourselves to live longer, not better.

A razor-sharp polemic which offers an entirely new understanding of our bodies, ourselves, and our place in the universe, Natural Causes describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about what is inevitable. One by one, Ehrenreich topples the shibboleths that guide our attempts to live a long, healthy life — from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture.

But Natural Causes goes deeper — into the fundamental unreliability of our bodies and even our “mind-bodies,” to use the fashionable term. Starting with the mysterious and seldom-acknowledged tendency of our own immune cells to promote deadly cancers, Ehrenreich looks into the cellular basis of aging, and shows how little control we actually have over it. We tend to believe we have agency over our bodies, our minds, and even over the manner of our deaths. But the latest science shows that the microscopic subunits of our bodies make their own “decisions,” and not always in our favor.

We may buy expensive anti-aging products or cosmetic surgery, get preventive screenings and eat more kale, or throw ourselves into meditation and spirituality. But all these things offer only the illusion of control. How to live well, even joyously, while accepting our mortality — that is the vitally important philosophical challenge of this book.

Drawing on varied sources, from personal experience and sociological trends to pop culture and current scientific literature, Natural Causes examines the ways in which we obsess over death, our bodies, and our health. Both funny and caustic, Ehrenreich then tackles the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end — while still reveling in the lives that remain to us.

How I discovered or acquired this book: It was on the recently returned shelf in Wellington library, and the title and cover appealed to me. A quick read of the blurb and I was pretty interested in what the book had to say

My thoughts I DNFed it about 30 pages in. It takes A LOT for me to DNF a book (see The Autobiography for Mr Spock which I bitched about the whole time I was reading it). It was very hostile in tone, felt very preachy in an ‘my way is clearly the only way you should do things’ kind of manner and essentially harps on that the entire medical field is a hoax, everyone in it is a greedy sadist, we shouldn’t have medical testing because that’s why all the rates are going up and hey, you’re just going to die anyway. She did raise some good points about the corporate greed of the US medical system but I was so annoyed with the way she was talking at me that I actually slammed the book shut and went ‘nope’