Posted in Musings

Afternoon Tea. (February)

Today the tea that I am drinking is ‘Cherry Rum’ from the Mystery Teahouse in Preston. If anyone’s nearby, I definitely recommend this magical place. I’ve loved it for a few years, but haven’t been for a long while. Ash and I met up the other day and went for lunch because we hadn’t been and because it’s amazing. They do SO many teas, they have an entire wall of them and you can of course drink them in the shop, and also buy them to take home. And so, alongside my vegan wrap with side salad, I had cherry rum tea and just had to buy some for my flat. Anyway, it was lovely meeting up with Ash and doing something calm and good that involved food. Especially as we both love the tea house so much and hadn’t been in so long. I think we’ll do it more. (We didn’t get cake while we were there, so we HAVE to go back…)

I’ve been meditating more lately, I’ve found that it’s helpful for my insomnia. I have an app called Stop, Breathe, and Think which I’ve been using. It has a few great guided meditations, and then you can buy a few more if you want (although you’re not prompted too) I like it, and it’s become a part of my bedtime routine. I want to meditate more in the mornings too, so maybe if I get on with that, maybe I’ll let you know how that goes in my next Afternoon Tea post. It’s part of my whole thing that I’ve been doing lately where I’ve been concentrating on being healthy. I’ve been doing one thing every day that is good for my mental health- sometimes they’re quite challenging, and sometimes more relaxing- and I’ve been doing exercises *most* days because I’ve been feeling very lethargic and wanting to get fit. It’s making me feel more positive too, I can feel myself getting stronger, and of course the happy hormones can’t hurt. It’s nice to be working on myself in a positive way, rather than doing it because of negativity.

Continue reading “Afternoon Tea. (February)”

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Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

January Book Chat

Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written and well plotted. I really liked how Bradbury questioned the worth of technological advancements and how governments use them to essentially brainwash the public. They didn’t want people to be educated and empathetic towards other people, so they discouraged reading to such a point that it became illegal. I write notes as I read these books, to give me something to look back on when I’m writing these posts, and this one got a lot of notes. Governments Image result for fahrenheit 451will never need to burn books so long as people continue to stop reading and being critical. We have a consumerist society and all of our media is getting shorter and becoming a constant bombardment. But there will always be those loyal readers, who think critically about what they are reading. This is what launches Guy Montag into the world on the other side of his fire thrower. After meeting Clarisse he begins to question things and remember things that he had not thought of in-depth before. It is as if he is dormant, waiting to be activated. Once he is we see a change in him, instead of being latent and without agency he becomes someone who makes his own decisions and takes risks. He begins to ask questions and deviate from the norm. One thing that I thought there needed to be more of was Beatty. Guy’s boss at the firehouse is clearly well-read himself, and yet he still condemns Guy for taking and reading books. In my copy of the book Bradbury has written an introduction, in which he explains that Beatty originally had more of a role in the book, but he cut those bits out during the editing process. He also mentioned that Clarisse should have come back at the end of the book, out in the wild, well and good. He wrote that he had considered revising the book after publication, but that he had too much respect for his younger self to change his work. It was reflective of who he was when he wrote it, which was actually one of the main points of the novel itself.

Slaughterhouse 5- Kurt Vonnegut

Image result for slaughterhouse five bookI found it really difficult to read this book for extended periods of time. Each time I put it down, I struggled to pick it up again. I’m not sure where I stand on this book, I think it was so not what I was expecting, to the point of meaning that I don’t know whether I like it or not. I did enjoy reading it, even if I found it difficult to keep picking it up. I liked that there is a question all the way through the novel about whether there is actual time travelling, or whether he is just remembering or dreaming, or ill, following the trauma of the war, or the head injury that he suffered.

I don’t really know what I think of it. I think I will have to read it again to figure out what I think about it and whether I like it or not. I don’t think that it’s actually science-fiction, I think that it’s a novel about PTSD and the after-effects of the war. But what I will say is that I don’t research these books before reading them, or writing about them because I don’t want that to influence what I think or feel about them, including spoilers! So I have no idea if I’m right about that or not. So it goes.

Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought about it, I’d be interested in hearing what you thought it was about.

Stoner- John Williams

This was January’s book club pick, so there was a post last week that went into more detail about what I thought, but I will say right now that I liked it. I thought that it was beautiful and sad. And that I will love it forever. Image result for stoner book cover

I will leave the blurb here:

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. Later, he becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.

Click here to go to the book club post.

Snotgirl vol. 1- Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung

I know that this received mixed reviews from people who read graphic novels more than I do, and I feel weird saying that I liked it when other people who know more than I do didn’t like it, but I say that I like what I like. And I liked this. I borrowed this off my friend Image result for snotgirl vol 1 coverTim who loves Bryan Lee O’Malley and I have to say that I liked it a lot. I liked that it took the piss out of its own vapid central character, and I actually quite liked that it has a bit of a slow burn for the story arc. I will say that I can imagine that if I had read it in its original five installments it may have been more frustrating, however, I read it as a volume and I didn’t think it frustrating at all. I thought that the mystery about what is happening to Lottie and what’s going on with this experimental medication was intriguing and I can’t wait to read the second volume later this year.

I also loved Leslie Hung’s art style. I loved the colours! It’s just gorgeous, and I can’t wait for more! (I’m definitely not an art critic, I don’t even know the right words to describe the aspects of it that I liked)

I also got most of the way through Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and I’m looking forward to finishing that and letting you all know what I thought of it at the end of next month. Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of all the books that I read this month!

Happy reading!

February Book Club Pick

Image result for the power book cover

The Power- Naomi Alderman

‘She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.’

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light.

What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

Posted in Book Club

January Book Club- Stoner by John Williams

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Stoner, by John Williams, is one of the best books that I’ve read this year. I know that’s not saying very much as we’re only just at the end of January, but bear with me as I tell you all about it!

William Stoner enters university to study Agriculture and ends up falling in love with Literature. It turns out to be a lifelong love, more long-lasting than any other love in his life. He becomes a teacher, marries the wrong woman, has a daughter that he loves but is distant from, and eventually dies.

I really enjoyed the writing style and thought that flowed effortlessly through the events of Stoner’s life. One part that I particularly liked was the depiction of the decline of his marriage. I thought that it was very realistic. Stoner was the sort of man that allowed life to happen to him. The only decision that he ever seemed to make for himself was when he changed his course of study. Which, turned out to change the course of his life. His marriage wasn’t something that he particularly wanted, and it was clear to the reader from the start that it would turn sour, or at least be unsatisfying for both parties as neither of them ever bothered to get to know their spouse.

but wait, there’s more!

Posted in Musings

Afternoon Tea.

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So here we are again, sitting down with a brew and ready for a catch up. I have determined recently to start drinking some of my ridiculous stash of teas, and so my beverage of choice for this afternoon is caramel tea. It’s been raining so much here over the last few weeks. It’s been cold too, I don’t know if that’s because I’ve got used to the milder weather here and now I’m starting to acclimate, or whether it actually has been colder this winter, but I have felt cold. I’ve spent most of my time wrapped in a blanket and wearing fluffy Miffy pyjamas and reading. It’s been quite nice! That’s not to say that I haven’t been doing other stuff too. I’ve been enjoying going to the pub a couple of times with my friends. It’s weird not seeing them as much as we used to because we don’t live in the same house any more, but it’s also been quite nice to not always be around them because I feel like we get on a bit better now. We have to make time to see each other, so when we do we appreciate it a bit more. That’s what I think anyway. I’m looking forward to raiding Tim’s library for graphic novels. I borrowed Snotgirl vol.1 from him the other day and really liked it, so I’m going to make more of an effort to get around to my graphic novels TBR list. There’s quite a few books on there so I’m going to try and work through some of the ones that I can borrow from Tim in the next few months. I’ve been reading a lot of new books in general, or rather, books that have been sitting on my shelves patiently waiting for me to get around to them for a while. So far this year nothing I have read has been a re-read, which feels quite refreshing. That may change soon though, as I managed to get a full set of the (original covers) Harry Potter books from a second hand book shop- next to my piercing shop- recently. (I also got a piercing…) So I may be reading those soon. Having said that, I haven’t quite decided as I do still have some unread books on my shelves and I’ve been enjoying reading new things. We shall have to wait and see which way my reading whims take us.

keep reading to find out about my book club’s first meeting…

Posted in Musings

Spilling the Tea?

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This year we are ending the Assorted Beverages with Alys series. I’m bored of the ridiculously long name, and the struggle to think of different drinks that I drink. It will be replaced with something that will be almost the exact same content, but with a different name. The whole idea behind the original thing was that it would be as though we were sitting down for a chat and a cup of tea (or whatever it was that I was drinking when I wrote it) so maybe it will be just called Tea Time with Alys. Or Spill the Tea? What do you think? Spill the tea isn’t really a phrase used in the UK, and although it seems an appropriate phrase, I’m not sure as everything I’ve read about it seems to suggest that it’s used in the context of gossip and bitching about people, rather than just having a chat. Anyone who is in the US, lemme know! This is the first one, so if I’ve decided on a series title by the time this is published, you will know it, but if I haven’t then you can let me know what you think it should be called.

I moved back to uni yesterday and it was lovely to walk through the door to a tidy flat, thank you to past me, who cleaned up before she left. Of course, it’s a mess now, because I am SO lazy about unpacking suitcases, so it’s just open on the floor waiting for me to want the things inside it and the motivation to unpack. On the plus side, only one of my plants died in the last two weeks, and I was expecting it to already as it wasn’t doing too well before I left anyway. So that’s definitely a plus. Most of them are actually doing really well and I’m so happy. I know that it sounds a bit silly to say that my plants make me happy, but it’s true. It’s good to have other living things around, especially as I’m not allowed to have any pets in my flat. (The mouse that lives in the walls doesn’t really count as a pet, no matter how much I’d love for it to be my little friend.)

I suppose we should talk about new year’s resolutions.

keep reading!

Posted in Book Club

Reading 101 (2017)

I only aimed to read 30 books this year, keeping it realistic of course, but I got to 43 so I’m really chuffed about that! A lot of the books that I read this year have been mentioned in my monthly book chats, so if any of them take your fancy, click on through to find out more about them.

1. The Amber Spyglass- Philip Pullman (13/1/2017)

2. Lost at Sea- Jon Ronson (19/1/2017)

3. Quidditch Through the Ages- Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K.Rowling) (14/2/2017)

4. Sabriel- Garth Nix (19/3/2017

5. Lirael- Garth Nix(3/4/2017)

Image result for the amber spyglassImage result for lost at sea jon ronsonImage result for quidditch through the ages original coverImage result for sabrielImage result for lirael

6. Abhorsen- Garth Nix (25/4/2017)

7. Clariel- Garth Nix (29/4/2017)

8. Goldenhand- Garth Nix (1/5/2017)

9. The Beautiful Cassandra- Jane Austen (1/5/2017)

10. The Fall of Icarus- Ovid (7/5/2017)

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11. The Name of the Wind- Patrick Rothfuss (15/5/2017)

12. The Wise Man’s Fear- Patrick Rothfuss (25/5/2017)

13. Frogkisser!- Garth Nix (31/5/2017)

14. Sapiens- Yuval Noah Harari (13/6/2017)

15. Monkeys with Typewriters- Scarlett Thomas (29/6/2017)

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keep reading!

Posted in Assorted Beverages With Alys

Maltesers Mocha with Alys

Since I last wrote I visited Chester and had a lovely time, I ate my advent calendar one chocoloate at a time (and on the correct days), came home for Christmas, went to Ikea, and you know, did Christmas. It’s been a nice little holiday. For the last few months I’ve really been struggling with my mental health and particularly with feeling guilty for not being better. I find it difficult to accept that although I fought really hard for my place at university and succeeded, I am most likely going to fail the year because of my mental health. It makes me feel guilty because I know that other people worked really hard and vouched for me to stay at uni, and yet here I am failing anyway. In hindsight I should have suspended for another year to let myself get better, but I didn’t think that I needed it. I thought that I would be okay with just the summer, but alas, it is still a problem. But I have to remember that I HAVE got SO much better. It just takes more time than a few months! I haven’t had a panic attack in such a long time now though, so I’m definitely making progress. I suppose that I have to stop feeling guilty for prioritising my health, because when you phrase it like that it seem obvious that that’s exactly what I should be doing.

keep reading!

Posted in Book Club, Book Reviews

December Book Club- Brick Lane!

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I usually endeavour to avoid spoilers in my Book Chat posts, but this is a new thing. This is December’s Book Club, and therefore there will be spoilers in this discussion of the book. If you want to join in the fun next month we will be reading: Stoner by John Williams.

The only book that I read this month was Brick Lane and although I have read it before, it didn’t diminish upon re-reading. I’ve loved this book since the first time that I read it, and for many reasons. The writing itself is actually impeccable. I find that I can be very picky about immersion. So, for example, when I go through a slow reading period, as I did this month, it cna be very hard for me to stay ‘in’ the story. Being able to put down the book and then when I pick it up again and be instantly immersed in the world that has been created, is a wonderful quality that is actually rather rare. Obviously this is highly personal, but I am quite distractable and tend to read a book in as few sittings as possible so as not to lose interest, but with this book I find that it is so easy to keep reading, even when it takes an entire month to get through. My reading slump is no reflection on the quality of this book!

The story is about Nazneen, a Bangladeshi woman who has her marriage arranged for her by her father and moves to London with her husband Chanu. Chanu is a good man, older, well-meaning and flawed, but good. Nazneen knows that she is lucky that her father chose well and that she is lucky to have the life that she has. Her sister, Hasina, ran away from her arranged marriage and married for love in Bangladesh. Her life is not as lucky as Nazneen’s and as the novel progresses we see snippets of her life through her letters to her sister in England. We are invited to compare their lives and the opportunities that they are afforded due to their different circumstances, and indeed, countries. As we follow the course of Nazneen’s life we see the ups and downs that she encounters. The death of her child is where we see that she begins to grow from a young girl into a woman. She matures and changes as the years pass. I like to think of this book as a coming of age story, or a coming-to-self story. Nazneen is very much the dutiful wife upon her first arrival in England and this is perpetuated by her not knowing a lot of people, and being unable to speak English. As the years progress we see Nazneen coming to herself. She begins to make changes in her own life that perhaps Chanu would not have expected, but essentially supports. She gets a job, when it is necessary for her to support her family. In this context, in Nazneen’s life, this is revolutionary. She has been raised to believe that the wife and children must be supported by the husband/father, as they were in her own childhood. But she changes these things when she sees that there is an opportunity for her to support her family and change things. Her own mother was never in control of her life, and she grew up watching this. I think this is one of the main points that I liked to see the difference between Nazneen and her sister. Hasina also grew up in that environment and wanted to change things for herself. The difference between the two is that Nazneen allows her fate to guide her, whereas Hasina sets out to change her fate. She ends up living in Dhaka in a textile factory, then as a sex worker, and after a long hardship she finds herself in as a nanny in an expensive home.

Keep Reading!

Posted in Assorted Beverages With Alys

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate with Alys (I became a model)

Autumn is on its way out and Winter is coming! I did try to resist the Christmas spirit, but I actually don’t care anymore. It’s Christmas! (nearly) and this year I don’t feel like waiting until December to get festive. So my fairy lights have been set to Twinkle and I am happily eating a mince pie while I write this.

The best thing about this time of year is the food. I love Chrsitmas food. Lebkuchen, stollen, speculaas, apparently all the german food. Mince pies are pretty good too, and all of the food that you eat when it’s cold. Stews and soups and pies and all of that good stuff. It makes you feel all warm and snuggly inside. I’ve probably been overdoing it a bit on the Christmas food since I last wrote, but I don’t care, it’s tasty and festive and I can eat what I want.

I went on a visit to York for Alex’s grandad’s 90th birthday, which was lovely. We went for a meal and then I stayed for a while. It was nice to have a break and see everyone again. We went around the Christmas markets, which are deceptively small in York. I remember going when I was little, and it seemed so much bigger then, but perhaps that’s because I was much smaller! I bought some lovely handmade gloves on the market, which was great because that’s actually what I went for. They’re lovely and warm, knitted gloves with fleece lining. I like them a lot. They go quite well with my yellow scarf, that I am still very much in love with, even though it deposits fluff over everything that it ever comes into contact with. I suppose that’s the price of having a soft scarf. I’ve been knitting a new scarf aswell, it’s a beautiful purple colour and it makes me happy to see it growing as I spend more time on it. I’ve always liked knitting things that are simple like that because I don’t have to worry about incresing or decreasing stitches, that’s where I usually make mistakes as my concentration slips. It can be almost meditative to knit scarves, even cable knit ones like the one I’m making. It’s nice.

Since I last wrote I became a model for a day!

Continue reading “Cinnamon Hot Chocolate with Alys (I became a model)”