what I’ve read in 2017 so far

I know we’re now far past the mid-point of the year, but when Emma-Louise from Read, Write, Inspire tagged me in the Mid Year Freak Out tag I had to join in.  It’s a book tag, about what I’ve read in 2017 so far.  The only thing I love more than reading books is talking about them, so lets get cracking!

My prized possession is my book collection which dominates a corner of our living room. I keep most of the books I’ve read, unless I really hated them.  I also have well over one hundred books still waiting patiently on the shelves to be read, and that’s after a bit of a clear out earlier in the year where I got rid of unread books that no longer suit my tastes.  I have a serious obsession, and have had to ban myself from buying any new books as I have nowhere else to put them (or time to read them!).

But reading is my safe haven, my sanity saver and the way I switch off at night.  Through books I learn more about others, the world and myself.  You’re never alone when you have a book.  I don’t see me getting over my obsession any time soon.

I decided to use the Pop Sugar reading challenge to help me chose which books to read in 2017.  Forty books which fit into categories such as “set in war time” or “has a red spine.”  With a newborn thrown in to the mix since June, I know I’ll not get close to the target.  But I’ve made a good try, and am currently sitting at 23/40.  Hopefully I’ll get to at least 30 before the year is out, so look out for a post about the challenge then.

Without further ado though, here’s a bit of a summary of what I’ve read in 2017 so far.

read in 2017

 

Best books you’ve read in 2017 so far

read in 2017 - the handmaid's tale

I’ve been lucky, I’ve had quite a lot of good reads.  I don’t usually re-read books, but because the challenge asked for a book from childhood I re-read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken.  I also re-read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale after watching the tv adaptaion.  Both were just as good as I remembered.  But the best new (to me) books have been Life of Pi by Yann Mantel, Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love and Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

read in 2017 - go set a watchman

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017

I don’t usually read series of books, but this year I read the second book in the Miss Pereguin’s series.  It was ok, though I preferred the first book.  If it counts, I’d actually say Go Set a Watchman was a good sequal to To Kill a Mockingbird, although I think Harper Lee actually wrote it first.  It was cool to revisit Scout as a grown up, and to see Atticus in a different light.

New release you haven’t read yet but want to

I try not to look at other books, as I have so many of my own still to read!  But I did like the sound of See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt.

Most anticipated release in the 2nd half of the year.

I don’t tend to keep an eye on what’s coming out, for the reason I mentioned above.  I don’t even check if my favourite authors have got anything in the pipeline, the temptation would be too strong.

Biggest disappointment

Speaking of favourite authors…maybe not knowing what they’re up to isn’t awlays a bad thing.  I read Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last and was really underwhelmed.  I was a bit gutted, as she is one of my favourites and this story sounded like it was going to be so intriguing.  But there just seemed to be something missing in this book, it lacked soul. I really didn’t like how current it was either.  I know that sounds funny but I don’t mean current as in finger-on-the-pulse.  More like current in a way that was going to date it very quickly.

read in 2017 - the history of love

Biggest surprise

Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love.  This was given to me by a friend who was having a clear out, and he’s pretty hip so I couldn’t understand why he had such a chick-lit sounding book in his stash.  I only read it because it ticked one of the reading challenge categories.  But I’m so glad I did, I was under its spell from the first page.  It was not chick-lit at all, but raw and human and heartbreaking.

Fav new author

In line with my favourite books of the year it would be Nicole Krauss, Yann Mantel and Joanne Harris.  They were all new to me, and when I lift the ban on buying new books I’ll be looking to see if they have any others I can add to my collection.

Fav new crush

No character in the books I’ve read this year has made me think “I want to be loved the way he loves her.”  I was curious about Reuben in Clare Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days but the ending made me reassess that.

read in 2017 - the book thief

Fav new characters

Who doesn’t root for Pi, cast adrift in a lifeboat with a tiger?  Or Christopher as he tries to solve Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? Probably the one I’ll remember the most is Liesal Meminger from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, because even though I hated the ending of that story I rooted for her the whole way through.

Book that made you cry

The History of Love actually had me in tears by page 10.  And Toni Morrison’s Beloved had me crying at various points for various characters.  That book is full of pain.

Book that made you happy

Chocolat, and not just because of all the delicious images it put in my mind.  It showed that “good” can come in a whole range of guises, and I quite liked its feminist leanings too!

read in 2017 - our endless numbered days

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

I’ve not bought any books this year…at least not for myself!  But at the end of last year I changed jobs and my leaving gift was a very generous Waterstone’s voucher.  I bought about eight new books (a treat for me as I usually go second hand).  So if by beautiful we mean cover design, then Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller wins that.

What books do you need to read before the end of the year.

Like I said, it’s unlikely I’ll manage the 17 I need to hit the target of 40 books read in 2017.  But I’m at least hoping to get the following under my belt – Hotel World by Ali Smith, Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Francaise and The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.  I might also give Mark Twain’s  The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula a go too.

 

So that’s my thoughts on some of what I’ve read in 2017 so far.  I’m excited about the books that are waiting for me!  Have you read any good books this year?  Feel free to tag yourself in this, and let me know if you post about it.  I love to see what other people are reading.  Let me know if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned here, I’d like to know what you thought of them.

Continue Reading

little loves [ chocolat, person of interest + a baby shower ]

 

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve reflected on the things that have brought me joy, and I’m a bit late joining the party today but I wanted to take the chance. My blogging has been a little erratic whilst I finish up work and deal with late pregnancy tiredness, so I’m trying to make a point of writing when I have the time. God knows how erratic it will be once baby boy gets here!

I have three days left of work and then I’m on maternity leave. The midwife came out to our house yesterday to assess the place for our home birth. We’ve unpacked and washed all the clothes, nappies, bedding, steriliser and travel system. Things are getting real, but I’m actually feeling all the calmer for it.

It’s nice to take this chance to reflect on things other than baby and pregnancy though – as you can tell from my last few posts I seem to have a one track mind right now but there actually are other things going on too!

Read…

…Chocolat by Joanne Harris.  Oh, I loved this!  It’s been sitting on my shelf for years, since I saw the film.  I kept putting it off as I’m sure someone somewhere had said it was a difficult read.  I don’t know what they meant by that, as I didn’t find the writing or the subject difficult at all!  It was delicious – funny, captivating, thought provoking and was the literary equivalent of unwrapping and biting into one of the luxury chocolates straight off the pages.  The characters are all so rich, from the self-important and vile priest right down to the imaginary friend rabbit of little Anouk, and I loved the themes of friendship, inclusiveness and questioning of what really is good and evil.

I’ve also read a few blog posts about the BiB awards…which as a newbie blogger seems a million miles removed from what I’m doing.  But it looks exciting, so you never know maybe this time next year I’ll have enough experience to throw my hat in the ring.  If the reaction to my post about what I’ve learned about blogging so far is anything to go by, I’m learning things all the time.  I wish the best of luck to anyone who’s canvasing for votes just now (and to anyone trying to narrow down their favourite bloggers)!

 

Watched…

The last ever Person of Interest *sob*  Hubs and I have watched this since the beginning, and for me it’s never had a slow season.  I love the episode stories, where the team save people identified by a Big Brother-style surveillance machine, and also the overreaching storyline of the team who fight to protect the machine and carry out it’s missions.  There’s some really great female characters in it, which you don’t often see…I was obsessed with Root!  I’ll really miss the show.

I’ve also found myself sucked into One Born Every Minute for the first time in years.  Hubs knows to stay away when I’m watching, as I spend half the time shouting at the telly and the other half blubbing!

 

Heard…

Honestly, I think I’ve found a new addiction – adding music to my birth playlist!  79 songs and counting, which is silly because at the speed I pop my babies out I’ll never get to listen to all the tracks.  But I’m determined that this will be the labour which I finally get to listen to my music. My first was in a hospital and the CD player was broken, my second was so rushed that music didn’t feature, so this time I’m hitting play at the first hint of a twinge.

I’ve also been listening to my hypnobirthing sessions…when I remember.  I need to get more regular with that!

 

 

Wore

I notice I’ve verged back into pregnant/baby territory again…clearly my mind can’t be distracted for long!  But this week I wore a mum-to-be sash, as my wonderful girl tribe threw me a surprise baby shower!  And it really was a surprise – we arrived home from taking the four year old to a party and standing at the front door were my mum, MIL, step-daughter and eight of my friends…and I burst into tears!  Apparently it’s been planned since February, and even Hubs was in on it.  We had a great time eating cake and playing daft games (including a guess-what’s-in-the-nappy one which was pretty gross!), and it was just incredible to have most of my favourite women in the same room.  Some hadn’t met one another, so it was so special to introduce them.  It made me feel so blessed (sorry, can’t bring myself to hashtag).  It’s taken until my 30’s to find my little tribe, but it was worth the wait – I’m so lucky to have them all.

 

Made…

I struggle with this section every time!  I’ve not even cooked anything new this week, so I can’t claim that.  I have decided that one of my maternity leave projects will be to learn to bake, so hopefully I’ll have something to share here if the results aren’t too shameful.  I don’t know what it is about baking, but it’s something I’ve never mastered.  It’s like witchcraft!  But I’m determined to at least make a passable batch of brownies to win the approval of my boys.

 

…& Finally

I’m tempted to force Hubs to paint my toenails, as I can no longer reach my feet.  But after hearing my friend’s story about when her hubby painted hers in pregnancy (apparently it looked like he’d basically just dipped each toe straight into the pot of polish) I’m a bit scared.  Wish me luck (and pretty tootsies!).

 

 

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat
Continue Reading

little loves [ oitnb, earworms + microsoft band ]

 

 

Oh Friday, here you are!  You’ve taken your time getting here this week, I’m knackered!  Maybe that’s the fault of the ridiculously late night I had on Saturday celebrating a friend’s birthday (who knew you could party until gone 3am, stone cold sober and 32 weeks pregnant?!), or the fact I had four days in the office dealing with frustrations, or because Hubs has been away for work all week, but I’m glad the weekend is nearly here.  The only thing we have planned is helping out at the nursery to tidy up the garden (to be fair, I don’t think I’ll be getting my hands as dirty this year), so I plan on doing a whole lot of chilling out.

But before then, I want to celebrate the little things that have helped me get through the week…

Read…

…The Weekenders: Travels in the Heart of Africa – a collection of writing about Sudan published back in 2001 when a group of authors and journalists visited the war-torn south of the country.  They then wrote inspired by their time there and published it to raise funds and awareness.  I’m not sure I can say this book has taught me anything more about the political side of the conflict, which still wages on even now, but to be honest I’m more interested in the human aspect and I feel this book has struck a note in that respect.  I’ve never read a short story or writing collection – especially when it’s been written by a number of different authors – and been blown away by every single piece…but to be honest I’ve not really been all that excited reading any of the pieces in this book.  It started off on a high note with Alex Garland’s very short story, but other than that it’s been a bit bland.  I think its mission is stronger than its individual components, which I suppose is fine in a charity effort, but it’s not going to end up on my favourites shelf!  I’m still glad I read it though, as I feel it taught me something.

 

Watched…

Hubs and I have a lot of series that we watch together, and I don’t have many that I watch on my own as our tastes are pretty similar, but I’ve enjoyed having control of the tv this week!  Orange Is The New Black is a show Hubs just wasn’t interested in (although I think he’s kicking himself now that he’s seen the odd bit!).  So I took advantage of having the telly to myself and finished season three this week, which I know means I’m at least two years behind everyone else, but that’s nothing new!  I love OITNB, it’s so funny but it tackles some really important issues.  And, y’know…Alex Voss #girlcrush.

 

Heard…

I’ve been in the office a lot this week, and when I am I treat myself to a cappuccino from our café.  But with that, I run the gauntlet of the dreaded earworm.  God love ’em, I think the women who work in the café are wonderful…but their taste in music is fucking horrific.  I come away from the counter clutching my yummy caffeine hit (don’t judge, one hit a day is my only pregnancy vice), but invariably with a 70’s disco classic lodged in my brain.  This week’s highlight low point has been Yes Sir I Can Boogie

 

Wore

My wardrobe is very limited by pregnancy, but for the party over the weekend I wore a denim-look maternity dress I bought from Asda way before I even started showing.  I’ve only worn it a handful of times – I bought it for work but it creases in quite unflattering ways which made it look a bit scruffy.  But in the dimmed lights it was fine, and I got a lot of compliments from my friends which is always nice!

 

Made…

I always struggle here, with food being the only thing I really make…and I’ve not even done that this week!  With Hubs being away and the kids always being fed by their grandparents when I’m in the office, I didn’t really have incentive to cook.  I was just going to have eggs every night, but my mum has insisted on feeding me instead.  So I suppose you could say I’ve made appreciative noises?!  It’s always nice when someone cooks for you.

 

…& Finally

Clearing out my storage at work in preparation for maternity leave (four weeks to go!), I found the charger for my Microsoft Band.  I’ve been looking for that ruddy thing for ages!  After fighting with it to connect to my new phone, it’s now strapped back on to my wrist…and I’ve been appalled at how inactive I am during the day.  Although I’ve kept up my exercise during this pregnancy, I’ve been moving less during the day as walking is really uncomfortable.  Not much I can do about that now, but I’ll be interested to see how my stats change once I’m out walking with the pram every day!

 

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat
Continue Reading

#littleloves [ toni morrison, nearly naked feet + a cute food diary ]

I love that Friday has come around again.  Plus, I have a three day weekend ahead of me once I finish up tonight.  Admittedly that weekend does contain a play date, a kid’s birthday party and a swim meet, so neither restful nor my idea of bliss, but at least it doesn’t include work and takes me one step closer to maternity leave.  I’m now past the 30 week mark!

After all the fun of London and Legoland last week, this has been a routine and not very exciting seven days.  But that isn’t to say there haven’t been some highlights, so check out what Little Loves have brightened my days this week…

Continue Reading