sunday post

Sunday Post: The Queue, lots of cooking, and finally finishing something

The Sunday Post is a blog news meme hosted at Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things received.

It has been quite a slow, but also sad week. I haven’t mentioned anything about the death of The Queen here before but the monarchy is a special interest of mine, and while part of me has been enjoying watching history in action (and discovering I know the words to the Proclamation!), I’ve also been mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Part of me wishes I could have gone down to Westminster Hall to pay my respects, but while my agoraphobia is starting to ease, just seeing that many people in one place (and no one wearing a mask) is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

Then there’s The Queue. Yes, there’s an accessibility queue for those of us who are unable to stand in an 18+ hour queue (I sometimes struggle to stand long enough to do the dishes), it’s limited and available slots fill up quite quickly. I have, however, spent the last couple of days utterly fascinated by The Queue from a sociological perspective. I also think it’s one of the most British things we could do to honour our late Monarch, and personally find the number of people going to pay their respects to be incredibly moving.

It’s also been the 7th anniversary of my mum dying this week, so my emotions are all over the place.
For example, last night, I discovered the layout of a 2023 planner I wanted wasn’t going to work for me, and the level of sadness I experienced for that definitely felt out of proportion.

Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking again this week – which reminds me, I wanted to work on the layout for my cooking blog and properly figure out what I’m going to do with it.
Monday I made us Tomato & Courgette risotto
Tuesday was Crab & Lemon spaghetti with peas
Thursday was Slow Cooker Pork with cheesy mash
Last night we had tuna steak with a citrus rub and garlic butter crushed potatoes
I really love to cook!

I had some lovely Book Mail this week – I bought myself a paperback copy of Peter Ackroyd’s History Of England: Foundation when I realized I didn’t want to give the library their copy back. And I also got myself a signed hardback of Dan Jones’ Essex Boys – which was quite the dilemma, actually! I don’t usually like hardbacks, so I was planning on getting the kindle edition, then buying the paperback when it came out but then WH Smith had the signed hardbacks for £8.49

Speaking of books, I’ve actually managed to finish a handful of books, so there should be another round of mini-reviews coming this week. I’ve finished Anne Rice – Interview With The Vampire and Heidi Swain – Summer At Skylark Farm, and I’m on track to finish Mary Beard – Pompeii, Mira Grant – Chimera, Kate Kinsey – How To Be A Healthy & Happy Submissive AND Stephen Law – Philosophy next week!

I’ve also been listening to a lot of 80s/90s soft rock this week (forever my favourite genre) and I shall leave you with my song of the week which is Def Leppard – Photograph

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Back To School – Non-Fiction History Books

Firstly: Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.

This week’s topic is ‘ School Freebie (In honor of school starting up soon, come up with a topic that somehow ties to school/education. The book could be set at school/college, characters could be teachers, books with school supplies on the cover, nonfiction titles, books that taught you something or how to do something, your favorite required reading in school, books you think should be required reading, your favorite banned books, etc.). Since I’m about to start my second year of a Classical Studies degree and because I absolutely love history, I decided it would be my Top Ten Non-Fiction History Books

In no particular order we have:

Peter Ackroyd – The History Of England
Liv Albert – Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook
Bill Bryson – A Short History of Nearly Everything
Jessie Childs – God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England
Terry Deary – Horrible Histories

Patricia Fara – Science: A Four Thousand Year History
Dan Jones – The Hollow Crown. And The Plantagenets. And The Templars. Look, I like Dan Jones, ok? LOL
Ian Mortimer – The Time Traveller’s Guide To…  (and I’m trying super hard not to list all of Ian Mortimer’s Books too, I also really love 1415: Henry V’s Year Of Glory)
Roy Porter – Quacks: Fakers & Charlatans in English Medicine
Alison Weir – Lancaster and York – The Wars of the Roses. I love both her fiction and her non-fiction, not going to lie.

… and argh there’s so many that I feel like I’m leaving out, so I’m making this a Top Twenty!

Matthew Baylis – Man Belong Mrs Queen
Guy de la Bedoyere – Gods With Thunderbolts: Religion in Roman Britain
George Goodwin – Fatal Colours
Sean Lang – British History for Dummies
Nigel McRery – Silent Witnesses
Helen Morales – Classical Mythology
Mary Roach – Stiff: The Curious Life Of Human Cadavers
Alison Sim – Pleasures & Pastimes in Tudor England
Brian Switek – Written In Stone: The Hidden Secrets of Fossils and the Story of Life on Earth
Christian Wolmar – The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground was Built & How It Changed the City Forever

I tried super hard not to just make them all Wars Of The Roses or Tudor themed. I think I managed ok, but you can tell it’s my favourite era. And, to be honest, I could probably have done it with just Dan Jones and Ian Mortimer LMFAO

weekly wednesday blogging challenge · www wednesday

Fanfiction, A Day in the Past, Bookmarks & What I’m Reading

Today we catch up on the Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge because I’ve missed a couple of weeks and honestly, there’s a couple of topics there I’m looking forward to rambling about!

Thoughts On Fanfiction which can basically be summed up as I FUCKING LOVE FANFICTION!

So, essentially, I’ve been writing fanfiction since before I knew what it was. As a child, I used to make up (and act out) my own stories about the Famous Five and The Hardy Boys, into my teens The X-Files and Star Trek. Then in my late teens in the late 90s, I came online and discovered fanfiction for Savage Garden, the Vampire Chronicles (yup, got my C&D from Anne Rice, thank you) and Star Wars.

I’ve been involved in online fandom, various different fandoms, ever since. I’ve been in online fandom, reading and writing fanfiction, going to cons, for my entire adult life – and I cannot see that changing anytime soon. Most of my friends I met through fanfiction. I’m writing less fanfiction than I was, mostly because of studying, but I’ve been active in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis since 2013 and still love playing with those characters.

I’ve mentioned before that I met my fiance through her fanfiction. I started commenting on her fics on A03, then we started chatting on Tumblr, firstly about fanfiction, about kink in fanfiction, then kink in real life, there was some awkward flirting going on. But we’ve been together now since January 2021, got engaged in January this year and are working on moving in together and getting Not Married.
All because of a series of Stargate SG-1 fanfic!

I write slash, gen and het and if you’re interested in reading any of my stuff, my AO3 account is BADFAlcon

Where would you spend one day in the past? Explain Argh! Ask a history nerd like the hardest question possible why don’t you?!
OK, so I’d love to like see a dinosaur, visit ancient Greece or Rome or Egypt, see Stonehenge being built, visit the Library at Alexandria, meet Elizabeth I (or numerous other members of the royalty), spend time in Renaissance Italy, listen to discussions during The Enlightenment, see Shakespeare being performed at The Globe… the options are literally endless. There is SO much I would love to experience.

But the one thing I would really love to be able to do would be to travel back to the mid-late 80s, and spend a day with my parents. My dad died in 1993, my mum in 2015 – I knew my mum as an adult, but I was 11 when my dad died and he’d been sick for many years so being able to have a proper conversation with him would be just incredible.

Bookmark, scrap paper or dog-ear? Dog-ear? dog-ear?! Do I look like some kind of fucking heathen to you?!
I have a huge pile of bookmarks… somewhere. And I keep buying new ones. Sometimes I can find them when I need them, and god knows I’ve probably accidentally donated dozens to my local library LOL. So bookmark when I can find them, when I can’t it’ll be anything that’s to hand – receipts, post-it notes, scraps of paper, empty chocolate wrappers. But NEVER dog-ear the pages!

WWW Wednesday
What are you currently reading? Marian Keyes – Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, David Attenborough – Adventures Of A Young Naturalist & Peter Ackroyd – History Of England: Foundation
What did you recently finish reading? Mira Grant – Symbiont
What do you think you’ll read next? Natalie J Case – Thanátou

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:

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

book reviews

Book Review: Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern by Mary Beard

Title: Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern
Author: Mary Beard
Dates read: 27/12/2021 – 09/01/22
Rating 3/5

Publisher: Princeton University Press
Number of pages: 392
Fiction or non-fiction: non-fiction
Subject or genre: art history, history

Book Blurb From the bestselling author of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, the fascinating story of how images of Roman autocrats have influenced art, culture, and the representation of power for more than 2,000 years

What does the face of power look like? Who gets commemorated in art and why? And how do we react to statues of politicians we deplore? In this book–against a background of today’s “sculpture wars”–Mary Beard tells the story of how for more than two millennia portraits of the rich, powerful, and famous in the western world have been shaped by the image of Roman emperors, especially the “twelve Caesars,” from the ruthless Julius Caesar to the fly-torturing Domitian. Twelve Caesars asks why these murderous autocrats have loomed so large in art from antiquity and the Renaissance to today, when hapless leaders are still caricatured as Neros fiddling while Rome burns.

Beginning with the importance of imperial portraits in Roman politics, this richly illustrated book offers a tour through 2,000 years of art and cultural history, presenting a fresh look at works by artists from Memling and Mantegna to the nineteenth-century African American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, as well as by generations of now-forgotten weavers, cabinetmakers, silversmiths, printers, and ceramicists. Rather than a story of a simple repetition of stable, blandly conservative images of imperial men and women, Twelve Caesars is an unexpected tale of changing identities, clueless or deliberate misidentifications, fakes, and often ambivalent representations of authority.

From Beard’s reconstruction of Titian’s extraordinary lost Room of the Emperors to her reinterpretation of Henry VIII’s famous Caesarian tapestries, Twelve Caesars includes some fascinating detective work and offers a gripping story of some of the most challenging and disturbing portraits of power ever created.

Published in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

How I discovered or acquired this book: I’ve been a fan of Mary Beard for a while and had just finished doing a classical studies unit in my Open University module. I’d also watched recently watched an online lecture Mary gave about Nero.

My thoughts: This wasn’t quite the book I was expecting it to be. Perhaps if I’d looked more into it before checking it out the library, past ‘ooh the library has the new Mary Beard, ooh the 12 Caesars’ I wouldn’t actually have read it. I was expecting it to be more of a history of the Twelve Caesars. I was expecting classical antiquity, the twelve Caesars, Roman politics, revolutions, and wars. I was not expecting a trip through art history. It started off pretty interestingly, looking at sculpture, paintings, engravings and coins but it got a little repetitive if I’m honest – a lot of telling us how much we don’t know about ancient art and discussions on different art historians thoughts on the authenticity of pieces. Which, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not my thing and wasn’t what I was expecting to read.