books

Sunday Reading Wrapup

What are you currently reading?

M.T. Clanchy – From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307 47% read. I’ve said this before – this book was written to be written, not to be read. It’s utterly fascinating but it’s a serious slog
DK Publishing – SuperSimple Chemistry 18% read. I picked this up on the Libby app, I didn’t realise it was a bite-size revision guide LOL but I’ve been on a science kick lately and it looked interesting. It is.
Imogen Edwards-Jones – The Witches of St. Petersburg 65% read. I’m feeling a little meh on this one. It has some good bits but mostly interspersed with blah. I don’t really care about the characters but I’m kinda curious where it goes. Mostly reading to fill the Russia prompt on a Round The World reading challenge.
Claire Heywood – The Shadow Of Perseus 49% read. Picked it up from the library, and I am loving this, y’all. It’s being told from the women in his life, so far I’ve read Danae and Medusa, and moving to Andromeda. So much love!
Stel Pavlou – Decipher 40% read, still absolutely batshit and I fucking love it! grins a bit like Matthew Reilly’s Temple, it has all the best bits of crazy sci-fi & pseudoscience & pseudohistory, with just enough of the actual stuff… kind of Ancient Aliens. LOL
Matthew Reilly – Ice Station 35% read, not loving it quite as much as Temple but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable read. Maybe a little similar plotline-wise in places to Decipher but a very different approach.

I think my goal for the weekend is to finish either Witches Of St Petersburg or The Shadow of Perseus

What did you recently finish reading?

Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone – The Warlock of Firetop Mountain 4/5 Li and I discovered we both loved Choose Your Own Adventure & Fighting Fantasy books when we were kids, so naturally we checked this out of the library and had a super nerdy date night. It took us 4 attempts to get through – Li drawing the map of our adventure while I read the book out.
Raynor Winn – The Salt Path 4/5 This had been on my TBR for ages, I saw one of her other books in the library so checked to see if they had this one, which they did and it was bloody brilliant, I could barely put it down.
Janna Levin – Black Hole Survival Guide 3/5. Like I said, I’ve been on a science kick recently, this was actually one of Li’s library books but I ended up reading it as well. I understood about 60% of the actual science, but could follow what Levin was saying about 90% of the time. Throughly enjoyed my trip into a black hole grins
Kris Hallenga – Glittering a Turd 4.5. I picked this one up on Libby purely based on the title, didn’t look to see what it was about. And I’m glad I didn’t, because I probably wouldn’t have read this, if I’d known it was a memoir of someone living with stage 4 cancer. But it’s amazing and highly recommended!
Angela Kelly – The Other Side Of The Coin 4/5. Another random Libby read (I love the app for that LOL) but I couldn’t resist it. A memoir of the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer, filled with so many lovely anecdotes and fascinating details about what goes into dressing The Queen. And lovely never-seen-before candid photos. I thoroughly enjoyed it – and Li knows I did because of how much I read out loud to her LOL

What do you think you’ll read next?

Meik Wiking – The Little Book of Lykke
Katja Pantzar – The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu
Both books I picked up from the library based on how much I loved the Hygge books. I don’t know if I’ll enjoy them, but I’m curious and they’re due back next week so definitely moving to the top of the pile LOL

life · weekly wednesday blogging challenge

Documentaries I’ve enjoyed (and a quick life update)

To catch y’all up, I’ve been in a lot of pain for the last couple of weeks. There have been calls to 111 – the NHS non-emergency line. There has been a visit to a Minor Injuries Unit. And I’ve had to register as a temporary patient at my partner’s GP in Devon – where I’ve been stuck for the last month. I saw an Advanced Nurse Practitioner last Friday who did a full physical exam and diagnosed me with piriformis syndrome with sciatica, and trochanteric bursitis. She prescribed me a month’s worth of 10mg amitriptyline, 30mg codeine (not co-codamol this time, straight codeine) and 500mg naproxen. She tells me to rest, gives me ‘gentle’ stretching exercises to do, and she also signed me off work ‘for two weeks to start with’ – I’d honestly only wanted a letter or something that confirmed I was being treated in Devon, and couldn’t drive, but now I get to properly relax, let the drugs work and my body heal

When I’m just sitting, as long as I don’t move too quickly, it’s easy to forget that I’ve been in excruciating pain. With the pain pills, it’s mostly dialled down to a deep ache – with the odd muscle spasm and pins and needles in either my foot or my bum. And can I just say that that is a weird sensation in your bum, that point where when your foot has been to sleep, it’s waking up and about to tip into pins and needles? That, in your butt is weird.

I’d say when the meds are all worky and I’m being mindful of what I’m doing, the pain is at about a 3-4 (sometimes distracts me), but when they wear off or I forget myself, it’s at about a 5-6 (hard to ignore, interrupts some activities). Though when you consider 4 weeks ago it was a 9, and a week ago it was a 7, I’m getting there slowly. I’m still uncertain if I’ll be able to drive home next week or if I’ll be getting another sick note, but there’s a whole other week to go. The swelling in my thigh appears to have gone down though so I’m taking the small wins!

The meds are still making me a little woozy and wobbly. I’m making sure to keep moving regularly and I’m doing my stretches every day. I’m not getting a huge amount of reading done because my concentration isn’t great. I’m working through organising my tags on Dreamwidth and posting a bunch of memes. Mostly, I’ve been getting a bunch of colouring done – apparently, that’s the current hobby du jour

This week’s Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge is about A Documentary I Liked and I don’t know where to start. I watch a lot of documentaries – mostly (and I’m sure you’re shocked) history and science ones.

I enjoyed Alien Worlds on Netflix and Year Million on Disney+. American Ripper, which investigated the theory that Jack The Ripper & HH Holmes were the same person, was fascinating

BBC Horizon documentaries are just CLASS. I mean, BBC documentaries in general are utterly fantastic. There was a Chris Packham one about T-Rex which was brilliant, and there was one about the weather on other planets. So was The Genius Of Modern Life with Hannah Fry.

Li and I have been working our way chronologically through all the available David Attenborough shows available on iplayer and they have all been fucking fantastic. And so many of them completely groundbreaking for their day. That man is a national treasure and should be protected at all costs. Also, how does he clamber around in rainforests, jungles and deserts and his clothing still pristine white? Even the planet recognises his importance LOL

If you have any documentary recs, please feel free to share them!

weekly wednesday blogging challenge

Share one interesting fact you know

This week’s question over at the Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge is one that makes my brain go completely blank! Share One Interesting Fact You Know

I collect random facts like other people collect baseball cards but as soon as someone asks me to share an interesting fact, my brain just short-circuits and cannot think of a single thing. It’s the same as when someone asks you to share an interesting fact about yourself – I’m not that interesting – and then I second-guess what is interesting

There’s the obvious ones like France was still executing people by guillotine when Star Wars premiered, or woolly mammoths were still roaming the earth when the pyramids were built, but I feel like these are ones that most people know at this point

OK so did you know that a polar bear’s liver is toxic – even to another polar bear? They have so much vitamin A in them because it’s stored there from the blubber in their diet, it’s not easily flushed from the body because it’s not water-soluble. Bears and seals also have generally high levels of vitamin A but not as many as polar bears. The entire liver contains enough vitamin A to kill 52 adults!

Li offered that there is a species of tuna that has anti-freeze in its blood.

How about you – do you have any interesting facts to share?

top ten tuesday · weekly wednesday blogging challenge · www wednesday

The Sanctuary of Zeus, Bookish Characters, Extraterrestrials, and WWW Wednesday

I have finished doing the research for my end of semester assignment. I currently know far more about the history of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, and the metopes and pediments of the Temple Of Zeus than anyone could possibly want to know. I am now filing the information away and letting my brain cogitate on what’s relevant for my argument. Tomorrow, I start putting it on paper

But for now, it’s time for some blog hopping fun!

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 ‘Bookish Characters and I ended up doing from media in general, rather than just books, because there were a few I just couldn’t leave out when it came to this topic!

Hermione Granger – Is it even a list of fictional bookworms if it doesn’t have Hermione in it?
Hallie Winstone – Hallie wins her dream bookstore and and finds secret love letters in the books
Nina Redmond – Nina is a bookworm who, when her beloved library job ends…. moves to the Scottish Highlands to open a bookstore!
Robert Langdon – He writes and teaches symbology and… c’mon, he wears tweed! LOL
Cather Avery – Cath is a dedicated reader, fangirl and fanfic writer who fantasises about being trapped in a library overnight (is she me?)

Now… this is where I leave the world of books and travel to film/TV bookworms:

Belle – Again, is a list of fictional bookworms complete without Belle? I’m still jealous of that bloody library and it’s pretty muchdefinitely Life Goals
Aurora Teagarden – I absolutely love the Hallmark movies but didn’t get on with the books. Roe is a crime-solving librarian!
Eloise Bridgerton – The books are still on my TBR but I adore Eloise in the Netflix show. She much prefers reading to attending balls
Willow Rosenberg – I could ramble at length about my love for Willow and the amazing impact she had on my life But for the purpose of this list… she’s generally found in the library
Daniel Jackson – In my fandom, this is the geek! He’s an awkward, nerdy, passionate, archaeologist and linguist with allergies. OK, he takes a crash course in badassery, but never really loses the nerdiness.

Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge this topic is Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not? Absolutely 100% I do, and not just speaking as a sci-fi loving person. Considering how many exoplanets we’ve already discovered, and how many other stars out there that probably have planets we haven’t yet found, it seems baffling to me that we would be the only place to develop life. Do I think life on other planets would be humanoid, carbon-based or something we necessarily recognise as life? No. Do I think they’re travelling to us? I’m not sure. That’s a whole nother issue LOL But just look at some of the extremeophile organisms on this planet – acidophiles, halophiles, psychrophiles, and radiophiles. And then, of course, there’s tardigrades. So yes, I completely believe in aliens.

WWW Wednesday
What are you currently reading? Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Ancient Greece by Paul Cartledge.
What did you recently finish reading? Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
What do you think you’ll read next? I’m really hoping to finish some of the books I’m currently reading, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax, The Cruel Price by Holly Black and A Court Of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas.

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

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’