Self Care Sunday

Bullet point form because I’m feeling lazy and can’t be bothered with anything else

  • I have done substantially better with taking my Sertraline this week
  • Yesterday was a very busy but fun day and I got to meet a twitter friend for drinks. I think we’ll do it again and could be good friends
  • On the subject of friends I’m trying to arrrange to meet up with someone I’ve not seen in ten or eleven years. I’m not sure it’ll come off but I hope it will
  • I have treated myself to yarn that’s probably completely inappropriate for the project I plan to use it for but I really love – it’s fun looking.
  • I completely avoided the bookshops when I was in Reading. I did go in Smiths but mostly just to walk through as the road I normally walk down was being dug up.  Reading down my TBR seems to be going well.
  • And I’ve made some healthier food choices this week. Not enough but some.

Reading Down My TBR Pile (Week 1)

I’m going to update on Fridays about my progress in reading down my TBR pile.  I’ve read three books this week which isn’t bad going although I had hoped for four – I’d been planning to listen to an audiobook too but I only managed a few minutes of that.

Geek Girl – Picture Perfect by Holly Smale. Hardback, 407 pages, on TBR since last year.

I love the Geek Girl books. I was so excited for this one to come out but yet it took me months to get round to it (it was published last year) despite keep thinking “I’ll read that next….”  Funny, cute, enjoyable read. Really loved it, highly recommended.

Geek Girl – All That Glitters by Holly Smale. ebook (review copy) 464 pages, on TBR for one month

I won’t say too much because I’ve already posted a full review for this (click here) but I will say that Harriet Manners remains one of my favourite fictional characters ever.

Fractured by Dani Atkins ebook 289 pages

This is a bit of a cheat because with my Amazon Prime membership I get to borrow one free book from the Kindle Owners Lending Library each month and this was my February choice (it’s taken me a few weeks to get round to reading it.  I’ve been seeing Fractured and hearing about it for ages and wanting to read it.  I liked it t but it surprised me and was different to what I expected so I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as I had anticipated..  In places it was creepy but not scary and that worked very well. I did find the ending a little unsatisfactory however I’m glad I finally got round to reading this.

Favourite read of this week has to go as a joint prize to the two Geek Girl books by Holly Smale.

Geek Girl: All That Glitters by Holly Smale

The Geek Girl books by Holly Smale are ones that I may not have picked up had I not got the first one to review.  But it’s a series I adore and I’m so glad I did.

allthatglittersAll That Glitters is the 4th book in the series (plus there is a short book for World Book Day called Geek Drama) and I received a review ecopy of this. I’ll probably buy myself a physical copy for my shelf as soon as my book buying ban is over.  I think the Geek Girl books are the only ones I have had review ecopies of and gone on to buy physical copies of. In part because I love the feel of a physical book and as much as I love my Kindle Paperwhite (it’s still shiny and relatively new and I love it lots) a real book can’t beat it.  But also so I can foist them on to people – like my sister – and make them read it.

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.”

The fourth book in the award-winning GEEK GIRL series.

Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she’s a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that’s not necessarily a good thing…

Some book series got an old, tired feeling as more novels are released.  This is most definitely not one of them.  It’s as brilliant now as it was in book 1.

Harriet Manners is one of my absolute favourite fictional characters. I wasn’t a geek growing up in the way she is a geek but a lot of her experiences at school felt familiar to me even if they didn’t happen to me like that.

As a writer Holly Smale has a real talent for making you feel for her characters and believe they’re real. At one point I almost wanted to give Harriet a hug and tell her to stop before she got hurt because I had guessed what was coming.

When  my mum arrived this morning to do her usual Tuesday morning help with cleaning my flat I had very few page left of this – probably ten minutes worth of reading – I was torn between wanting her to go away so I could finish it and find out what happened and glad because it meant I could put it aside and delay finishing it. I really didn’t want it to end. When I did pick it up again I wished I had more left.  My only complaint about this book is I wish it was longer!

The Geek Girl books are perfect for a teen wanting a read they can relate to and a book for those tricky growing up years without being too adult.  They’re also great for a no longer a teen (like 33 year old me) wanting a feel good fun read that’s really enjoyable.

 

 

Self Care Sunday

I think next Sunday may well be the last of these Self Care Sunday entries. Every week for three months is a pretty good run after all. And I yet again feel like there isn’t much to say. I had been thinking about doing this through April though so I’ll play it by ear I guess.

I just took my sertraline for I think the first time since Monday. I deliberately didn’t take it Tuesday because I forgot first thing in my rush to catch the train and by the time I was back in the hotel I’d just had a glass of fizz (what I assume was prosecco but I didn’t see the bottle) and wasn’t sure the alcohol and meds combo was a good idea. No idea what happened Weds and when I tried to take it with my tea Thursday night I couldn’t findl the blister pack I thought was in my bag and never thought of it when  I got home. And I just haven’t since then. Good bad.  Good that I’ve taken it, bad that I’ve been so lax.

 

Not sure what else there is to say about this week. I enjoyed London and did something I wanted to do back in November but wasn’t able to do. I wasn’t able to see my friend I’d planned to and do what I’d planned to do this time which was very frustrating.  I may go back to London for the day and do that soon, probably by myself.  I’m not sure yet.

And I’ve been reading a fair amount and finally (yesterday) watched a film I’ve been meaning too for several week if not longer.

 

 

Reading Down My TBR Pile

I’m a bookworm. No surprise to anyone who reads that I know.

I have hundreds of physical books, three overflowing bookcases and more with no where to put them. I have hundreds of ebooks as well. Not to mention the 60 or so audiobooks I have on Audible. And I probably have 200 books that I’ve never read.  It’s a guess and it may be more but I doubt it’s very much less.

I really need to get my TBR pile under control. Really. Getting to the end of it is basically impossible it’s so bad. But what I thought would be possible is a deadline before which I can’t buy or request any more books.  I’ll check in here each week and let you know how reading down my TBR is going, what I’ve read that week etc.

Lately I’ve been reading Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley. It’s being released in a monthly sections. And I love it. But each section leaves me really wanting more. So I’ve decided to skip buying Part 3 when it comes out in April and buy parts 3 and 4 (the final part) at the same time when it comes out.  So I have set my realistic deadline as 7th May as Amazon tells me that is when part 4 comes out.. I’d really like to leave it until the beginning of June however.

Being that I started thinking about this on my way back from Sainsburys earlier, decided that it would OK to go on NetGalley and see if The Love Shack by Jane Costello was available for review but only that – and discovered that it was and so was a new book  by Lisa Genova who I love and requested that too, it’s not off to a great start and I doubt I can last until June.  But it doesn’t really count as derailing before it started because I hadn’t blogged about it yet.

I think my reading will probably focus on books that are on the 1001 books you must read before you die list because one of my goals for this year was to hit 200 books read from the list and it’s looking unlikely unless I put some serious effort in.

So here’s to reading down my TBR pile – are you joining me?

What Happened Next

Last year I wrote about some problems I had staying in a hotel.  (TL:DR, I stayed somewhere had access problems and things were sorted out but got a bit ridiculous and then discovered an upcoming stay at another branch of that hotel chain may have even bigger problems).

I never wrote about when I went to stay at that other branch of the hotel. I wrote about what I went to London to do but the hotel stay itself worked out absolutely fine with no access problems (there were two small unrelated to access niggles but they were easily and quickly resolved). So why take the time writing about it? Nothing interesting to say there, a blog entry that basically says I was worried – in fact I was so worried that having spent the day with a friend before going to the hotel she insisted on coming with me as back up – but it was fine is boring.

When I met with the research student from Oxford University last month she specifically asked me about that and what happened next. I told her and that would be that.

Then I returned to that same hotel this week. I stayed there for the Books and the City Spring Blogger Evening.

Again I booked an accessible room and rang to request one with a shower.

I wheeled in behind a big group of American tourists. Before I’d even got to the desk, said hello or that I was there to check in let alone mentioned my name the manager was there saying “hello! good to see you again, welcome back.”  He’d been instrumental in sorting out all the ridiculousness that went on before my previous stay and we’d met then. In November when he asked what I was there for I said a conference but a fun one and he asked this time if I was going to another conference.

But that was back in November and this is March so I was pleased by the good service and also thinking “you know you’ve got CP when…” and “you can tell I caused trouble when I was here before.” because god knows how many hundreds of guests he must have greeted since then. The staff member who helped me get my breakfast the next day also said he remembered me from my stay before as did the one who helped me get my bags on my chair and check out.

He offered me the same room I had before which I took him up on. Then (before I got to the room) he realised it would be a little while before it was ready. So he offered to have it made up. But it was going to be about 30 minutes and I needed to leave again for the blogger evening in about 45 and wanted to get changed.

He gave me two choices – a room that met my needs on a different floor or an adapted room that didn’t meet my needs to change and leave my stuff in and then go into the room I had before. I took that option (because on getting out of the lift I had to go right by the head of the stairs and manuever through a door that opened towards the stairs which was fine but faffy and having the room I had before avoided doing that too often being on the same floor as reception and the restaurant).  I let them know when I was leaving and they moved my stuff when the room was ready.

So that’s the story of what happened next. And what happened the next time after that.

Books and The City Spring Blogger Evening

Tuesday found me on a train back to London, this time to attend the Books and The City Spring Blogger Evening (Books and The City is part of Simon and Schuster).

I had a great time. I saw several of the friends I made at the creative writing masterclass and enjoyed catching up with them.  I also got to talk to a few people I hadn’t met before. Ideally I would have liked to talk to a few more of the people I only know from twitter but it wasn’t to be and it didn’t matter because we do have twitter.

I got several compliments on my blog which was great – apparently people loved my recent entry about the train to London and it made them laugh. I feel more confident now.

There were snacks and drinks and fizz. And there were five authors there who all read parts of their latest books. We got given a chapter sampler at the end which had the first chapter(s) of each of current books and I got it signed after. I also picked up entirely too many books and had the chance to talk to each of the authors some only whilst they were signing for me, some in more depth.

Jane Costello read from her soon to be released book The Love Shack.  I’m really looking forward to reading it, the bits she read were pretty funny and it sounded great. Hearing her talk about it made me think of my sister Sophie because The Love Shack is about a couple who move in with his mum to allow them to save up to buy a house. And Sophie and her partner James recently moved in with my parents for a few months for similar reasons. I doubt my own mum is as difficult as the mum in the book sounds though. Jane Costello written several other books and I’m not sure if I’ve read her before or not but I picked up several of her back list at the event.

Iona Grey read from Letters to The Lost which is coming out in April. I read it a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it.  Hearing her read it made me want to read it again. I saw on Twitter earlier that one of my friends also has a review copy and started it today. I’m a little jealous, I must be honest that she’s getting to discover it for the first time.  Iona made a point of telling me how glad she was to meet me and how much she loved my review. She was extremely lovely and said some great things about my writing which was pretty “wow!” and a great boost.

I’ve had a copy of The Two of Us by Andy Jones on my shelf for ages (it’s already out in ebook and will be out in paperback in May) but have been putting off reading it after hearing it has a subplot about the MC’s friend who has a terminal illness (One of my friends is terminally ill and I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to read it).  I liked the extract he read. And watching Andy and Claire Hey his editor dance around trying to avoid revealing a major twist in the book whilst discussing it really intrigued me, sending it flying up near the top of my TBR pile.

Watching Heidi Swain present about her book The Cherry Tree Cafe which is being released as an ebook in July was a great moment because we met at the creative writing masterclass, got to be friends and have kept in touch since. Watching her progress with her writing since that day has been inspirational.  It features crafts and cake and sounds like my sort of read. Must admit I’ve been on to Amazon and clicked “pre order” on that today – and I basically never preorder books.

Last up was Milly Johnson reading from Afternoon Tea at The Sunflower Cafe. I love Milly Johnson books and she’s a brilliant speaker. Afternoon Tea at The Sunflower Cafe sounds sure to be another hit full of feel good and happily ever after and having heard an extract I do not want to wait until June to read it!  I picked up several of her backlist and thought it meant I’d now got all of hers but having looked when I got home I’ve ended up with a duplicate or two and I still need at least one. Trying to resist ordering that right this minute.

Self Care Sunday

I have for the most part had a good week.

I’m not sure I’ve done too great at the taking care of myself part but I have taken my antidepressant everyday except one where I went to take it and couldn’t remember if I had or not. I was pretty sure I hadn’t but not sure. Anyway after much faffing  I decided to take one because I used to be on 100mg rather than the 50mg I am now so if I had taken two (slim chance) it wouldn’t matter. But I forgot to do that.

Yesterday afternoon I felt very low  about a very small thing- but I kept reminding myself that I was exhausted after spending the morning with family and the entirity of the day before in London so that wouldn’t have helped me deal with it properly.

When I was in Sainsburys yesterday lunchtime I saw that a book series I love had a new one out. It was in hardback and usually I wait for the paperback (even if I get it on Kindle) but I treated myself to the Kindle version and I’ve been enjoying reading it.

And (this is going to get it’s own blog but just in passing) I pushed myself to be brave do something I’ve been wanting to despite the “I don’t know if I like this” moment I had when I got there.  I was really glad I did because I enjoyed it.

You Know You’ve Got CP When…

…you get the sort of “reasonable adjustmemt”  or “making it easier for our disabled customers” type treatment you’d never have dreamed was possible or thought to ask for. So much so you’re almost scared to say yes to it.

 

I got to Reading yesterday and one of the assisted travel guys got me off the train from Didcot, walked with me across the station and got me on to the train to Waterloo.  The guard came over and asked where I was travelling to saying “don’t worry if they aren’t right there with the ramp at Waterloo, I’ll come and check on you.”

Then there was an automated announcement “can the guard contact the driver” and he did from a thing right by the wheelchair space I was in.  There was a problem with the track right outside Reading and we would be delayed.

This went on for a while and I was just waiting and texting the friend who I was meeting in London that I’d be a bit late and what have you.  The train that had gone out before mine came back and we kept waiting. It was getting on for half an hour late and I was hearing all the people complaining about how little time it was giving them to get to their final destinations and how they’d be late and just glad that I travel with a lot of spare time.

Then the guard came back over to me and said it looked like trains would get moving again soon but that the one I was on would likely be cancelled because it was nearly time for the one after. Before I even had a chance to say anything about sorting help to get me off the train and over on to the next one (on a different platform) he added that he was trying to make special arrangements for me.

Because the train was going to Waterloo even if it was cancelled. So he’d asked if he could escort me to Waterloo on that train no matter what to save messing with ramps and the like .  I was like “What?!” and he held a finger up and said “ssh!”

Eventually it was announced it was cancelled. And he came back to me and said I was going to Waterloo on that train regardless. I asked and he said he’d stay with me (I would have been too panicky to sit by myself) so I agreed.

He went off to clear the train and we started moving. I was worrying about that but he came back after a few minutes.  I read my book, he flicked through his paper and we chatted and joked a bit.  A few places it stopped or paused and you could see people at the station looking confused to see us on the “out of service” train. We considered waving but gave it a miss.

We got to Waterloo about ten minutes quicker than the stopping time and much sooner than the passenger train everyone else took which left after ours did.

And I had a great time in London.

The journey home however was really disappointing. It wasn’t the level of service I’d come to expect from South West Trains.  There were other passengers on it and it stopped at stations other than Waterloo and Reading.

You Know You’re a Knitter When…

…you spend a long time being ranty about the difference between knitting and crochet.

I was sent a review copy of The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah.  It’s being released today (12th March) and it was a good read with an interesting style that felt different and refreshing.  I don’t want to say I enjoyed it because it was a tricky subject matter and whilst not upsetting it wasn’t particularly comfortable.  It did make me think and was skillfully done which avoided it being an upsetting book.  Plus it managed to surprise me unexpectedly at the end.  I have seen other reviews saying it made people cry but frankly I’m not a big crier at books.

When I was sent the book I was told that a key part of the plot involves a blanket that’s been made for the main character.  And as a part of the publicity for this I was sent a learn to knit kit (I knew how to knit already though) to make a square and send it back.  The idea being that people would read the book, review it and knit a square then send them back to the publishers.  The squares would be made into a blanket and the blanket would go on the book tour.  Or something. I made a square and sent it off but I’m not sure what’s happening with that.

So anyway I was on the train yesterday on the way to go collect my new glasses.  And I’m reading the A to Z of You and Me.  I’m liking it but I’m very aware that having just reading the amazing Letters to the Lost as good as The A to Z of You and Me is (and it is) it’s a pale comparison.  If I’d read it first I may well have been a bit more wow about it.

Then I got to a bit where someone is crocheting and I’m thinking “hmm crochet?” and a bit confused because knitting had been mentioned to me. But I figured well, maybe she does both (I do after all).

Then a bit later the blanket is introduced.  And it sounds like an absolutely amazing blanket.  The sort of thing that (if it were real) I’d not have the patience to make, let alone the skill.  Although to be completely honest my lack of patience is a big part of why I lack skills.

But this amazing blanket is actually crocheted. And I swear at that point I had to stop reading for a few minutes and be ranty in my head about knitting versus crochet.  I thought it several other times too.  I found The A to Z of You and Me to be quite a fast read because of it’s style which broke it down into small (letter based) chunks.  It probably would have been a quicker read if I’d not for my knitting versus crochet rantiness.

That’s not to say that it ruined the book because it didn’t.  Or that it’s not worth reading because it is.

My point basically is it’s a good book but in a unrelated tangent that; seems unexpectedly to be very important to the crafter to me, crochet and knitting are different things.  And after seeing yarn bombing moments in the book I’m sort of tempted to do some of that but I don’t think I have the nerve.