‘Someone Else’s Skin’

Well hello there, what a delight to see you! I’ve just put the kettle on if you fancy a cuppa…

It’s been a beautiful spring day here but unfortunately my day has largely been spent indoors attending to various tasks, including a declaration of war on pests and a victory over technology.

A few cheeky ants have managed to breach my kitchen today, much earlier in the year than usual and certainly not by the back door where I’m used to tackling them.  They seemed to magically appear by my sink with no warning, no obvious direction of approach and no fanfare – one at a time, they’re randomly just there.  Rincewind and I spent an obsessive 25 minutes keeping watch before I left to stock up on my tools of war and in that time he only noticed one to run away from (honestly, he’s such a coward!).

My victory over technology involved making a printer submit to my technical wizardry when I set it up today.  Alright, wizardry is perhaps too strong a description for my skills;  maybe sheer luck and pleading is a more honest description!  It may not sound much but given how I usually wail in frustration and call someone to help me when it comes to these things, I’m rather pleased with myself.

And now on to my review of a book that I finished reading earlier this week.

Someone Else’s Skin was Sarah Hilary‘s debut novel which follows Detective Inspector Marnie Rome as she finds herself at the scene of an attempted murder in a women’s refuge, opening the door on a trail of lies, deceit and domestic violence.

The book challenges some assumptions society can make about domestic abuse and this makes for some interesting plot developments along the way.  Although cool and collected most of the time, DI Rome’s frustration is palpable as she hovers between professional conduct and a darker temptation to get results for the victims by any means necessary.  The reader also sees her gentler side and her battle to understand a horrific incident from her past.

As the novel progresses, a niggling feeling develops that something isn’t quite adding up in the situation with two key women from the refuge and the true picture remains tantalisingly close but just out of grasp until the climax of the story.  Intertwining the past and present lives of the characters gradually builds a realisation of manipulation, fear and abuse in often unexpected ways.

Like a gothic horror movie, Hilary only allows the reader a glimpse around the corner, never revealing what’s really happening, increasing the sense of unease.  Each time I was sure I had it all figured out, another curve ball was thrown, leaving me grasping once again in confusion as I tried to make sense of the new reality.  At one point towards the end I thought it was all over then realised that with several chapters to go, I couldn’t relax yet.  The ending did not disappoint, with surprises right up to the last page.

This skilfully woven plot serves as a caution that ghosts of the past can haunt someone’s present and with the right (unfortunate) combination of toxic circumstances, can lead them to feed on this darkness to become the nightmare that will later plague others.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book even if you are not a crime fan;  the theme, twists and characters make it a riveting read.

As a final note, I should perhaps mention here that I grew up next door to a family who suffered at the hands of the man of the house.  Everyone knew what was happening when the wife, I’ll call her Claire, wore dark sunglasses even in winter and had yet another sprained wrist from “falling over the dog.”  The police were called on countless occasions when the screaming and thuds became ever louder but in the late 80’s, they said their hands were tied unless this man attacked his wife outside of their front door.  Eventually he turned his attention to his 13 year old stepson and this gave Claire the strength to leave.  The man was never charged.

I truly hope that anyone reading this who has suffered or is suffering from abuse in any of it’s devastating forms is able to seek support and be safe.

And now to lighten my mood, I’m off to make another cup of tea and try to convince Rincewind to move away from where we saw the ants.

My ‘Bookywook Book Book’

It’s been a relaxing bank holiday today, which is great considering I blame the talented Sarah Hilary for keeping me up into the wee hours when I couldn’t put down her book, Someone Else’s Skin, last night (review to follow tomorrow)!

Whenever I finish a book, I write the author and title in my ‘Book Book,’ pictured above.  This is something I started doing on 1st January, 2006, after one of my friends on Boxing Day 2005 asked me asked how many books I get through in a year since I seem to have one attached to me at all times.  I had no idea so decided to keep a log for the year to find out.  I read 53 books in a range of genres and enjoyed looking back on my reading choices so much, I decided to keep the log going.

The books I was drawn to throughout each year tell their own story of what was happening in my life;  I’ll share some of the literary highlights and the occasional anecdote in some future posts.

I sometimes wonder if I should add a rating system to the ‘Book Book’ but the novels really enjoyed (and the ones I forced myself to continue reading to the bitter end) tend to jump off the page immediately.

The little stationery devil sitting on my shoulder sometimes entices me to buy one of the bespoke book journals which are available.  The stationery angel, with his practical approach and sensible shoes, reminds me of how my ‘Book Book’ has been with me through thick and thin over the last 11 years, so I have managed to resist upgrading so far.

I love seeing that Book Boy has started keeping his own book list too, albeit on a scrappy piece of paper which seems to attract all manner of inky fingerprints and sticky patches.  Perhaps it’s time to add a Book Boy ‘Book Book’ to his life so we can sit in 11 years time and reflect on his reading journey too…

 

 

Breezes, Battles and Bullets

Happy Sunday everyone and a rather breezy one it was here.  Fooled by the glorious sunshine I set off for a walk in the nearby park this afternoon.  Unfortunately the April wind, keen to put in a farewell performance before May takes the limelight, insisted on snatching the breath from my lips only to replace it with my hair which was repeatedly whipped across my face.  So much for my plan of reading in the sunshine…  I scurried home to immerse myself in Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary (I’m really enjoying it and will share my thoughts when I’ve finished).

Apparently I wasn’t the only one disgruntled by the weather today; Rincewind is a bit of a [whispers] cowardly cat, similar to his Discworld namesake, and can regularly be seen dashing towards or away from things, depending on his anxiety levels.  A considerable amont of his time was spent running from room to room whilst voicing his complaint about the wind, jumping at every noise as unseen objects rattled and rolled around outside.  Unfortunately he was not pacified by my explanation that I can provide many things for him in life (food, shoelaces, Cat TV channels if I’m feeling generous) but a mute button for the blustery gusts is not one of them.

Perhaps it was Rincewind’s poor opinion of my customer service standards or his disrupted cat naps but something compelled him to pick a fight with Greebo.  And I don’t mean the usual play fighting or a that-was-my tail-you-just-pounced-on-not-a-shoelace induced squabble; this was a battle which raged through the entire house.  With flying kicks, paw punches, claw slashes and biting, it was as if they were hosting an ultimate fighting championship for cats.  Greebo has a broken miaow and his fractured squeaks betrayed how upset he was getting.  After all, one minute he was enjoying a nap in his radiator bed and the next he was assaulted by a Tasmanian Devil impersonator.  Eventually I waded into the fray and separated them, which I don’t usually have to do.  Five minutes later I found them snuggled up together, fast asleep on my bed.  Their feud had seemingly been settled and they are back to being the best of friends again.  Hopefully this will be a rare occurrence but I will watch with interest what happens the next time it is very windy outside…

My cat refereeing duties over, I settled down to a task which I have been planning for a month now but never seemed to get round to.  After discovering the art of losing time browsing on Pinterest, I was drawn to a trend which apparently has been passing me by: the bullet journal.  I’m not sure if it’s just me that this concept is new to or if it’s still quite novel in the UK as a whole but the mixture of planning and creativity is intriguing.  Search for “bullet journal” on the web and you will find a plethora of images and ‘how-to’ guides, ranging from the purist symbols and spreads created by Ryder Carroll, through to artistic embellishments and additional journal pages which ooze positivity.  During my searches I have read a whole host of blogs which seem to endorse the system and claim it has had a life-changing impact on them.

Taking my rose-tinted glasses off for a moment, I’m not sure if this is anything other than the latest fad; a post modern approach to time and task management using the vintage methods of pen and paper rather than an app.  However I have been looking for ways to use the left side of my brain more since my job demands a strategic and analytical approach which can often quash my creative nature, so I’m willing to give it a go.

Although I’m starting part way through the year, this has not stopped me putting together my yearly, monthly, weekly and daily spreads along with the goal oriented, positive mental attitude pages which have been adopted by others.  From tomorrow my bullet journal will be my guide although I’ll be adding the doodles and embellishments over the course of the month since I’ve only plotted the essential information in so far.  I genuinely hope it helps, particularly as in this day and age our senses are overloaded by so many emails, tasks and to do lists that it’s amazing we actually achieve anything.  I’ll report on progress periodically as I go and aim to progress from writing in it with pencil to pen by next week as I keep finding ways my layouts could work better for me.

And now the pull of ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ is becoming too strong to ignore. It’s time for me to retire to bed and accompany DI Marnie Rome as she battles the scars of her past while trying to make sense of the shocking twists and turns of her investigation… goodnight all.

 

 

 

Blogging, Books and a Furry Bomb

After peeping suspiciously several times at my phone, I gingerly plucked up courage to open up WordPress and attempt to customise my blog.  I lost track of how many times I accidentally clicked to go back to the theme selection, losing any editing I had completed but eventually here we are… Ta daaaah!  A big achievement for a newbie like me 🙂

My little book worms spend a week with me and a week with their dad as part of our custody agreement, so I had today to myself.  After getting rather excited at how well my new cordless Dyson sucks things up (I know, I bore myself too at times), then wrestling one of Book Boy’s Lego figures out of it, I went for a wander into town.  I could talk here about the sights I saw along the way but it would all be lies.  You see, dear reader, I have succumbed to Pokemon Go.

It’s ok, I’ll bear with you for a moment while you either roll your eyes or you sit up excitedly at the thought of yet another adult who shares your enthusiasm.  Ready?  Sure?  Alright, let’s continue.

It might help to explain that it started off as curiosity when someone at work came back from their lunch break talking about the Pokemon they’d caught on site.  After a few ordinarily professional staff got excited by this and wanted to know where these seemingly rare specimens had been lurking, I couldn’t resist asking what they were talking about.  Before I knew it, a tutorial had been arranged for me after work to initiate me into the Pokemon craze.   It was a great hit with my kids and as they don’t have mobile phones yet, our walks were punctuated by cries of, “Quick mum, get the Pidgey!”  If I found that I switched the game on when they weren’t with me, I told myself it was merely maternal love compelling me to help them amass more Pokemon and hatch the eggs they were incubating.  Pretty soon though I couldn’t deny it any longer.  I was hooked.

My guilty pleasure has brought about some surprising discussions: one day as I waited for a meeting to start at work, a normally serious director opposite me punched the air in excitement and announced that they’d caught a Jynx on the table!

Discreetly checking my phone as I walked indicated a Teddiursa nearby and I walked along a street I don’t often go down in hot pursuit of the virtual creature.  As I smugly caught it, I pocketed my phone again and looked up to see a huge table of books outside a charity shop, whispering to me temptingly to come closer and see their delights.

And what a delight it was.  I was spoiled for choice at the wide range of novels on sale but confined my purchases to a Jacqueline Wilson book called “Cookie” for Book Wizz, a “Disgusting Poems” anthology for Book Boy and “Eeny Meeny” by MJ Arlidge for myself, which I will read and review next week.   I will definitely return again in the future to delve through the rest of the books and see what other gems I can find.

So that’s the Blogging and Books of my title covered but what about the Furry Bomb?

I’ll have to refer you here to my blog picture, for which I set up books, a cuppa and some flowers to depict some of my favourite things.  Can you see what’s odd in the picture?  I didn’t notice an additional prop at the time but as I cropped the photo to upload it to WordPress, I saw a black and white furry face peering out from behind the flowers.  Yes, I had been photobombed by Greebo.  He isn’t usually a photogenic feline, turning away when I take his photo or flashing his nether regions as he decides that a photoshoot is the ideal time to clean himself.

I’ve decided to leave Greebo in the picture, especially as he is named after a fictional character in one of my favourite book series (more on that in another blog post).  If I can figure out how to do it, I’ll add a photo of his brother, Rincewind, who employed the seven second rule this afternoon and made himself comfortable in my reading corner when I went to get a drink.  It’s only fair; I would hate for him to accuse me of favouritism.

Creeping into a brave new world…

Wow, I’ve finally done it – I’ve crept out of my metaphorical technophobe bunker, blinking at the bright screen light, and started a blog!  Putting aside excuses – no time, I’m tired, the cat ate my laptop (it could happen…?) – no more procrastination for me.  Unless we’re talking housework… ok, let’s qualify that with no more procrastination about my goals in life.

So what is this rambling blogger all about (describing myself as a blogger feels like seeing my married name on mail for the first time!)?

Well, I figure I should stick to what I know.  Ever since I could read, I have had my nose in a book.  I have an eclectic taste in genres from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to George R.R. Martin’s epic Game of Thrones series;  Peter James’ Roy Grace crime novels to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum adventures; research based novels like Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong to modern chill out reading like Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic books.

What you’ll find here is my thoughts on various books I’m reading, to musings about novels or their authors I’ve read in the past.  Any reviews are entirely my own opinion although if one of my mini bookworms has a thought about  the latest Jacqueline Wilson novel or Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants adventure, I will note their review by proxy 🙂

I’m a busy, working mum of two primary school aged children (who I shall call Book Boy and Book Wizz).  Soon to be divorced and a new long distance man in my life plus two fluffy fiends, sorry, cats all keep me on my toes.

I’m also a budding writer and am currently attempting to pen my first novel.  I’ll be reading other blogs about writing with interest since there seems to be so much guidance (both helpful and hindering) that the mind truly boggles…

There may be little bits and pieces about life in general here, such as the battle against my sweet tooth, and general musings.

So to sum up, I’m new here – feel free to come in, make yourself a cuppa and settle in for a read…