Sunday 3 January 2016

Sunday Summary: Happy New Year

Wasn't it just last week that I was bemoaning the lack of hoverboards in "the future" of 2015? And now the future is in the past, and there are things that people will insist on calling hoverboards on sale in Maplins, and causing accidents everywhere and being banned from public places but they are not hoverboards! Give us the real thing or go home, will ya?

Anyway, 2015 is over now, for which I think we're all grateful. It was a pretty rubbish year all round I think. Personally, I think I'm in a better place mentally than I was a year ago; I survived turning 30, continued with my writing, and mostly quit whinging about my life and became content with what I've got, the people, the opportunities, the freedom (and the books.) So there's that to be said for 2015, anyway. But for the most part, I'm glad it's behind us and although I know it's just a date, it's good to have a day to say "the future hasn't been written yet, so make it a good one" once a year.

I haven't made any specific new year's resolutions this year, just to be kind and to continue with my writing, but I have started keeping not one but TWO journals: one is for Ali Edwards' "One Little Word" project - you choose a word and ponder and write/scrapbook/create things about how that word will be significant throughout the year. I chose "Peace." And I've also made a variation of the "happy jar" where you write down good things that have happened and put them into a jar - or in my case, onto my page-a-day colouring calendar, which I stick into another notebook. If at the end of the year I find myself thinking again "nothing's happened," I can look back over all the good things I've done or experienced through the year and prove the opposite. (In theory, anyway...)

Christmas was a good, but quiet one. My sister came home for about ten days, and although I was working all week (the joys of retail!) I still managed to find time in the evenings to relax, watch films, eat lots of food and spend time with family and friends.

My presents:

From my parents:
DVDs of Marvel's Agent Carter (which I have been wanting to see ever since I heard it existed, but circumstances conspired against me) and season two of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. 
Microwavable slippers! These work when nothing else will to banish cold feet forever!
(Not pictured: a new coat, laptop case, Thornton's chocolate Santa.)

From my sister:

Books: The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry and The Geeky Chef Cookbook which has recipes for Butterbeer, Lembas, Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and 1-Up mushroom cupcakes, among many other nerd-culture-inspired recipes. A fancy candle, and a Thunderbird 2 t-shirt. (When I was about 7 I really wanted to be Thunderbird 2 when I grew up. Not fly it. Be it.)

From Hanna:

Our little group of bloggers did a Secret Santa again this year, and Hanna sent me some amazing presents: the Tolkien's World colouring book, two YA novels: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness and Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher, and an absolutely gorgeous infinity scarf/snood/whatever these joined-up scarves are called with a space pattern on it. I've been wearing that nearly every day since Christmas; I love it!

From other friends:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - the illustrated edition, from Judith. I think most of my bookish friends have received copies of that this year. It's beautiful! She also got me some presents from the Literary Gift Company: a red tote bag with a quote about paradise being a library, some "Banned Books" matchbooks, a folding out "Gorjuss" photo box, and some amaretto-soaked sultanas from Hotel Chocolat. (These did not last long.) Sammy and her family bought me lots of bath and shower smellies, and two Funko Pop figures: Zoe Washburn from Firefly (taking on a dragon on my bookcase in the picture above) and a mini Eleventh Doctor on a keyring. From my uni friends I got several small things: a box of bookish pencils, a knitting brooch, some bookmarks and a little leaflet filled with writing prompts for coffee shops, which I've tucked into the back pocket of my handbag-notebook so I've got it with me wherever I go.

Bout of Books

Bout of Books

Now that Christmas and New Year are over, the rest of winter is stretching out long and grey before us (at least, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.) So, now that things are quietening down, what better than to snuggle up with a big mug of coffee (tea, hot chocolate or other beverage of choice) and a good book? And the Bout of Books readathon returns just in time for that tomorrow. Hurrah! I don't exactly need an excuse to be a book-dwelling hermit, but it's nice to have company (on the internet, not in the room) while doing it. So I'll be eagerly taking part and making my way through my January to-read pile. 4 books in a week is my usual readathon target, and the rest of the pile should take me through to the end of the month (although as always subject to what I feel like reading at the time.)

  1. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke. I bought this for my dad years ago and have been meaning to borrow it back for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed the BBC adaptation last year, and it was very strange for me to be the only person in the room not to have read the book it was based on - especially when it was a particularly Katie story.
  2. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
  3. Upstairs at the Party - Linda Grant
  4. The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King. I had a mini-splurge in Waterstone's a couple of days after Christmas. I read The Gunslinger, the first book in King's Dark Tower series. I had a bit of trouble with the first book, but enough people (especially Laura and Judith) rave about the series as a whole, and I know just enough about it, that I want to continue and see what all the fuss is about. Apparently it brings together all sorts of elements from King's entire canon, which is odd as it seems to take place in a different world (but with just enough specific details from ours to be confusing, such as "Hey Jude" in a setting reminiscent of America's Old West.)
  5. Silence is Goldfish - Annabel Pitcher. I don't know much about this book except that it deals with either elective or selective mutism. I really loved Pitcher's first book, My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, although I found Ketchup Clouds pretty forgettable. I have high
  6. The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness.  What about the kids who aren't the Chosen Ones when Things Start To Happen?
  7. Disclaimer - Renee Knight. I found this one in a charity shop and had been pondering it for a while. It was supposed to be "for people who liked The Girl on the Train, but I wasn't madly in love with that one; it was okay but I expected more, considering how massive it's been. (It's been out for a year and no sign of a paperback yet. And there won't be, while people are still prepared to pay for the hardcover.) But Disclaimer has an interesting premise: someone realises that the book she's reading is based upon her own life. But who knows enough about her secrets to turn them into a novel?
  8. Career of Evil - "Robert Galbraith." J. K. Rowling's third pseudonymous crime novel about private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin. I had to get that in hardback to match the first two in the series. J. K. Rowling proves herself an expert weaver of plots in every genre she's turned her hand to, and I look forward to being ensnared in her web once more.
  9. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen. I am long overdue a Jane Austen reread, and actually, because I know it so well through the many adaptations and variations, Pride and Prejudice is probably the book I've read least. 
  10. Our Mutual Friend - Charles Dickens. My Grandma passed on her complete Dickens set to me a few years ago, when she moved out of her house into a flat, and again, it's been a while since I've read any of his work. (The complete works of Dickens don't really count as part of the to-read pile, as they will probably take decades to get through. But I do intend to get through them all eventually.)


  1. That scarf/snood is beautiful! I got an Alice in Wonderland colouring book for Christmas which is great. Colouring forever! So relaxing.

    I'm so excited you're doing One Little Word too, and my word is Breathe which I'm interpreting in a pretty similar way to yours I think :-) here's to 2016 being great and lots more meet ups!

    1. I've seen that Alice in Wonderland colouring book and was very tempted by it, but so far have resisted.

      At the moment I'm using my "peace" word in two ways: to try to de-clutter my brain from all the noise and things that annoy or upset me when they really don't matter in the grand scheme of things (which articles to avoid reading, for instance, and STAY AWAY FROM THE COMMENTS - blogs excepted of course) so that I have space to care about the important things. And also to think about what's the best way to avoid or diffuse conflict with other people.

      Looking forward to the bookshop crawl next month!

  2. WAAAAAAAITAMINUTE. What are these microwaveable slippers of which you speak? My mum always has cold feet, she would LOVE a pair of those for her birthday. More information, per favore.

    I've been looking at this epic page a day colouring book calendar diary thing, but I don't think I'd complete the colouring part every day and it's the size of a phone book, so I'm holding off for the moment. There's always time to catch up if I change my mind in the next few days! It's so stupid, I keep telling myself I'll read more and cut down my online time and stop finding other stuff to do, then I'm like, "You know what I need? Enforced colouring for 365 days in a book the size of War and Peace". *sighs*

    Bout of Books! Tomorrow! Bring it on! Wheeeeeeeee!

    1. They're from a company called Zhu-Zhu, I think, and they are SO snuggly. They're filled with wheat or something, and you just microwave them for a minute and a half and give you toasty-warm feet. I find if my feet get cold only a hot bath or a walk warms them up - or now these wonderful inventions. My uni friend had some and I decided they could work where even fluffy slipper boots failed. You can't walk around in them as they feel like you've got beanbags strapped to your feet, but they're great for sitting in front of the telly or with a book.

      I doubt I'll get to fill in every colouring page of my calendar, although there is only one page for the weekend so really you only have 6 to do each week. And then there are the other 4 colouring books on my shelf too. But it's there if I need it and I've found it does help to take my mind off things (though it can eat away at an afternoon or evening.)

  3. I really like the idea of a happy jar. Or happy notebook, or whatever really. Sometimes on the days I feel down, it would be nice to look back on some positive memories, as a black cloud can taint your view of things at the time.

    I'm really glad you like your joined-up-scarf thing. Yeah, I don't know what they're called either :)

    I actually preferred the adaptation of Jonathan Strange to the novel, I think. It was alright-ish, but it just did NOT need to be that long.

    1. I've filled several pages already. It doesn't have to be a major event, just going out and doing something is enough. The other day I went to the big second-hand bookshop and spent about an hour in there. Little pleasures, anything that marks a day out as different from the everyday (so "ate a lot of chocolate hobnobs" or "spent the day reading" wouldn't qualify.)

      I LOVE the scarf. I'd been looking at some leggings online with a similar pattern. It's so ME. I haven't read The Rest Of Us Just Live Here yet, but I really liked Silence is Goldfish, and the Tolkien colouring book is awesome.

      I'll be interested to see how the book compares to the series. Cold winters are good for getting stuck into a doorstopper, although I'm partway through my Pride and Prejudice reread at the moment.


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