Thursday, 30 November 2017

Review - If I Wake by Nikki Moyes

Lucy is 16 years old. Her best friend - who she only sees in her dreams - is Will, someone she encounters at various periods in history.

Lucy lives for these dreams and times with Will, as in the real world Lucy is bullied at school, and somewhat overlooked by her mother.

Lucy's mother can't understand why Lucy will sometimes sleep for days at a time, but instead of talking to Lucy, her mother simply goes to the next doctor, and the next, looking for a quick fix.

However, it's not that simple, and when Lucy is hospitalised after a suicide attempt and is in a coma for a time, Lucy starts to realise that there might be more at stake.

I liked a lot about If I Wake - the dream sequences with Will that were grounded in real historical time-periods, Lucy herself and her struggle to just breathe some days - they kept me reading.

However, and it's a bit nitpicky, when Lucy was admitted to hospital - more than once over the course of the book - and she came to be released, it seemed the hospital let her go very easily even though on more than one occasion Lucy had suffered pretty serious injuries. But instead of dealing with that, the book would skip over them and Lucy would be back at school

Apart from that - and that was pretty jarring on occasion - If I Wake is a pretty good what-if YA romance/fantasy read.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Sunday Post 79, It's Monday, What are you reading? 64

The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and catch-up with other bloggers. It's hosted by Kimba, here:

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn, here:

First of all, thank you to everyone who left kind comments on my last Sunday Post about Sophie. I didn't respond individually, but I did read all of the comments and appreciate them greatly. So - thank you.

Now, let's see ... I'm largely settled in to a routine (I hope) with work and suchlike, so there's that. Now it's just the delicate balancing act which is so much fun. Which is why I finally caved and bought a crock pot - lol.

Other than that, things have been fairly quiet. Patrick had his first communion today - his choice, so we spent part of the afternoon at church. They also did a batch of baptisms and confirmations, so it was a LONG afternoon.

I did manage to write and schedule a couple of posts last week (yay me) and I'm going to do the same for this week - I have a couple of reviews to write. I also need to do some research for the next awesome ladies post, which is the 10th century artist Ende.

I'm back to reading the Alexander Hamilton biography at lunchtime at work, but other than that I don't have anything started, so I'm not entirely sure what's next.

What about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Friday, 24 November 2017

Awesome ladies - Wang Zhenyi

Wang Zhenyi was an astronomer, scientist, poet and scholar in 18th century China, under the Qing dynasty.

She was raised by her father and grandparents (the wikipedia article makes no mention of her mother) and, against the traditions of the time for women, worked to educate herself in maths, physics, astronomy and geography. She had a good academic grounding provided by both her grandparents, and her father, and was able to study a wide range of subjects.

Although Wang Zhenyi died young, at the age of 29, she made a significant contribution to the scientific community, particularly in astronomy.

Wang Zhenyi married at the age of 25, but had no children.

She also wrote poetry during her short lifetime, and mastered difficult mathematical theories. When she knew she was dying, she passed all of her papers on to a trusted friend.

She believed in equality between the sexes, which was reflected in her poetry:

It's made to believe,
Women are the same as Men;
Are you not convinced,
Daughters can also be heroic?”

A driven and passionate scholar with a wide range of academic interests and skills, some of Wang Zhenyi’s works survive, though some papers were believed to be lost after her death.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Short reviews

Working It by Christine d’Abo

Noah is ready for a new start after a serious traffic accident left him with severe anxiety and PTSD. He takes a job as personal assistant to the head of IT for a major company.

Zack has burned through his last four admin assistants, and doesn’t see why Noah would be any different. Noah, however, gets under Zack’s skin very quickly and the pair find they have more in common than first thought. Zack is trying to get his passion project - a battered old boxing gym - off the ground, and Noah - Noah is just trying to get through.

This is actually a pretty sweet M/M romance. Zack is kind of a butt at first, but he’s patient with Noah when Noah’s anxiety surfaces, and Noah. Listen. I will fight bears for Noah.

A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susannah Gregory

It’s 1348. At Cambridge University, Matthew Bartholomew is a doctor with revolutionary ideas about medicine and treatment. He’s also a teacher of medicine at the university.

When the Master of Michaelhouse dies unexpectedly in an apparent suicide, Matthew finds himself drawn in to intrigues and conspiracies. And all the while, the Black Death stalks the streets.

I love a good medieval mystery and A Plague on Both Your Houses doesn’t disappoint, although it gets a bit wavery in the middle, story-wise. It’s also the first book in the series, however, and I have high hopes about the rest.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice has a bad fall at the gym, hits her head, and somehow loses 10 years of her life. Instead of the 39-year-old divorcee with two children, Alice believes she’s 29 years old, blissfully happy with her husband and about to have her first baby.

Alice has to navigate some very choppy waters, including the fact that her ex-husband seems to hate her, she’s an obsessive gym bunny and she has no idea where to start.

What Alice Forgot takes a bit to get going, and I found myself getting oddly impatient with Alice at certain parts of the book.

Overall a good read, though.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire.

I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. I mean. Um. Jack and Jill (twins) are characters in Every Heart a Doorway, the first book in the series, and Down Among the Sticks and Bones - a standalone novel in the series - tells their story; of the Moors that they ended up in when they took the stairs that suddenly appeared in their house.

It’s a short book at less than 200 pages, but the punch is a whack around the head. It’s just. It’s so good. Jack is great, and Jill … knowing what happens with the twins in Every Heart a Doorway gives Sticks and Bones more emotional impact, and let me tell you, it’s pretty impactful on its own.

Book three - another standalone, I believe, is coming out in January and I cannot WAIT.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Sunday Post 78, It's Monday, what are you reading? 63

The Sunday Post - a chance for a chat and catch-up with other bloggers - is hosted by Kimba, here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn, here:

Let's see. I have a Sophie update, here: and I hope you will all understand why I don't want to go into it again.

That happened on Monday, and on Monday night I spilt sauce on my wrist from the crockpot so had to go to A&E. Bandage on till Thursday. I went to the doctor on Thursday to get the dressing changed, and the burn had virtually disappeared. Which was good, because it means I don't have to go back to get the dressing changed again.

What else. Work is going well. I'm apparently done with the induction phase (yay) but still in limbo for a bit because work needs to install new desks. So I'm nomadic for a few more weeks - lol.

Our Sky (cable) was cut off because I fell too far behind on the bill - it's good to be working again but it's going to take a while for everything to stabilise. (And by everything I mean money). But it's been ... not terrible. I read two books this weekend - lol. We have Netflix, which is awesome, and mostly I want Sky back for recording purposes anyway.

I'm on the hunt for crockpot recipes/ideas because working 9-6 means my shiny new slow cooker is going to get a work out.

I have a couple of posts done and lined up - a short reviews post, and, finally, an awesome ladies post that I'll hopefully remember to put up this week.

I'm still reading Relics by Tim Lebbon, and I started The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan today as well.

I think that's all I have for now ... how about you? What are you reading? How's your week?

Friday, 17 November 2017

Dear Sophie

We adopted you from the SPCA nearly five years ago. You climbed up on to my shoulder, and, I like to think, chose us.

You were tiny, eight weeks old, black and white, and you looked like someone had spilt a bottle of black ink down your front.

You did all of the normal kitten things - playing, pouncing, sleeping ... but as you grew, we realised we had a rather ... unique cat on our hands.

I don't know if it was that you never learned how to meow properly, but you sounded exactly like a seagull. You were scared of everything, and when you went outside, you did nothing but hide until we called you back in, and you would loudly proclaim your distress at the OUTSIDES until you got back inside.

Even though you only ever went outside voluntarily.

You were not a traditional lap-cat. You did, however, crave attention, and somehow worked out that one way to get that attention was to land on a human and start chewing clothing. We never could break you of that habit.

One of your favourite spots to get the attention you believed was your due and right (and it was), was on my desk, between me and my keyboard, so I often had to type or game with my arms carefully stretched around you. For you, this was the best of all possible worlds. Attention, a place to stretch out, AND a human to inconvenience, all at once.

Playing Dragon Age now just won't be the same without you. I'll be able to reach my mouse, and see the keyboard keys, and not have my arm scratched, or my cardigan slobbered and chewed on.

I can't imagine it.

Week before last, you were in pain. On the Thursday night, you growled if we touched your stomach. J took you out to the emergency vet, who gave you painkillers and sent you back home.

By Saturday you weren't eating or drinking, and we were worried but more, "how much will this cost to make you better" worried and not, "I hope this isn't life or death for you" worried.

The vets admitted you, and did x-rays, and took blood samples. You were constipated. Uncomfortable yes, but surely an easy fix.

Last Monday morning, the vet rang as spawn and I were leaving for school and work. "Oh, good," I thought. "She'll be ringing to say we can bring Sophie home." You had perked up the day before, and starting eating.

But. It was not the conversation I ever imagined having. The vet was calling to say that you had passed away just that morning in front of her - unexpectedly. I was in shock, and went on autopilot, so I could get through my day. I called J at work to tell him, let spawn's teacher know that he would likely have a rocky day, and asked the vet if they would do a necropsy so we could find out what happened.

Dear Sophie, you had a twisted intestine. With the best will and most amazing vets in the world there would have been nothing that we - or they- could have done for you. It's a rare condition in cats, Sophie, and you were most certainly a rare cat. Scared of everything, and not quite sure HOW to cat, but you were loving and sweet in your own weird way.

There is a gap on my desk where you should be right now, rolling around and squawking at me if I dare to move the wrong way, and there is an even bigger gap in the centre of my heart where your spirit lives now.

The cold consolation with your cause of death is that I'm not left with any "if-onlys". Taking you to the vet earlier wouldn't have helped, nor would any level of attention or care we could have given you changed this outcome. It's not something that will show up on an x-ray, dear Sophie, and I am very, very sorry.

You should have lived to be old and curmudgeonly, taking your rightful place on my desk, between me and my keyboard for many more years, but it was not to be.

Know that, wherever you are now, Sophie, I will miss you forever. Even as I'm sitting here typing this out part of me is waiting for you to jump on my desk and insist I make room for you.

I will always have room for you.

Rest well, Sophie. Rest gloriously.

You were loved.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Sunday Post 77; It's Monday, What are you reading? 62

Well, that was quite the break, wasn't it? Completely unintentional. Moving on.

The Sunday Post is a chance for a chat and catch-up with other bloggers. It's hosted by Kimba, here: and It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn, here:

Let's see ... I've been in the new job for about three weeks now. So far so good. I'm still in training, which is reassuring to be honest. It's very different from what I did before, and getting my head around completely new work and work practices is going to take time. Luckily the company recognises that, and lets people learn at their own pace. With, I believe, a polite push now and then when needed.

What else has been happening. Work ... um. We're all still settling into a new routine, I think, as J and I are both working fulltime for the first time at the same time. Spawn struggles with it a bit, as he's going to after-school care for the first time, but I think he'll adjust and be okay. I make sure I talk to him when he's looking a bit down, and try to make sure we do something together at the weekends if possible.

As a surprise last Saturday I took him to see Thor: Ragnarok, which was an excellent choice - lol. The movie was great, great fun and Taika Waititi's Kiwi sense of humour was all over it. Highly recommend that one.

My reading has been a bit rocky, but I did read Down Among the Sticks and Bones yesterday, the second book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. It was really, really, really good. I loved Every Heart a Doorway, but Sticks and Bones was GREAT. I'm trying to get into a more regular reading pattern, but I'm not going to stress. I'm massively behind on my Goodreads goal and I'm probably not even going to hit 50 books for the year, but these things happen.

Right now I'm reading Relics by Tim Lebbon, a kind of urban fantasy/crime thriller. So far so good.

We had a scare with one of the cats last week as well - Sophie suddenly started acting growly and strange. J took her to the emergency vet but they essentially just gave her painkillers and sent her home. She wasn't eating at all so we took her back to the vet on Saturday morning - and she's constipated. They admitted her to get fluids in to her and to take x-rays and bloods, and she's blocked up the poor thing. She's still there, but hopefully we can bring her home tomorrow.

What about you? What's been happening? What are you reading?