Good things in October – book club, breadmaking, and fluffy blankets!

It’s the last day of October and time to think about what happened during the last month. These posts used to be about new products I’d tried, but I wanted the month review to be more inclusive than that – a real snapshot of what was good about the last 30 or so days. And also I think this gives a more rounded view of the person behind the blog!

My post yesterday about being blind and unable to drive got a lot of comments on social media – my disability posts often do – but that’s not all of who I am! I’m just an average woman in her 30s who gets excited about autumn, organising her wedding, finding orange twirls, reading a good book, and planning her next trip to the spa or to see miniature donkeys! I’m happy to share my thoughts on the disability topics, and I think they’re important, but there’s much more to me than that!

Flu jab

Ok, not usually something to get excited about, but that’s what my first weekend in October was all about! I qualify for a free one now because of my health issues in August, but even if you don’t, they’re only around £15. Some of my friends have been really ill with the flu already this winter, and if I can do something to avoid that I will. Partly because being self-employed = no sickness pay, but also some people haven’t been right for two or three weeks. So I’m glad I could get mine!

Anyway it was an excuse to snuggle on the sofa and get the fluffy blankets out. Did I mention I love autumn? Walking through the woods, feeling the fresh autumn breeze, then snuggling up with a hot drink in the warm.

Making bread

I dusted off my old school recipe folder and we made tarragon bread! I don’t often make my own bread, but it always tastes better fresh, and I like the way that the tarragon gives it a different flavour. I’ve lost touch with the friend who gave me the recipe in year 11 at school, but she was good to me at a time when things were really tough, and chomping into it reminds me you never know who you’ll meet, or that help can come from unexpected places!

Apart from that, there’s something really satisfying about kneading dough!

Books

In my usual all or nothing fashion, I’ve been reading a lot recently. I finished all three of the Millennium series (The girl with the dragon tattoo). I’ve seen the film for the first one and decided to read the books. Described as Swedish crime novels – which would usually put me off because after working in the justice system, it frustrates me how people get it so wrong. But I’d seen the film and knew it wasn’t just another unrealistic detective drama.

I read the first book in English, but there was something about the writing style that didn’t flow as well for me. I imagine this doesn’t happen with the original, but I can’t read Swedish! So I read books two and three in German and enjoyed the writing more.

The books deal with some unpleasant and difficult topics, so anyone about to read them should be aware of that. I won’t put any spoilers here, but I found myself wanting the best for Lisbeth Salander, and the series raises some important questions about violence against women, and the people that the system fails.

Book club

On a lighter note, I joined in with the online book club for the second time this year. Each month we get a different book to read and then there is a discussion in the Facebook group at the end of the month. The books are varied – last month’s was an animal story that was autobiographical in nature. This month was young adult fantasy.

I like the book club for a number of reasons. It introduces you to new books that you otherwise might not have read. It’s accessible because you can take part from the comfort of your own sofa. You don’t stand out for being the only one without a glass of wine. You can explore ideas with other people who’ve read the book too.

Module results

I got a distinction in TM112, the Open University module that I finished in September. I plan to write a post about it for my mature students’ series, but I actually enjoyed this one more than the first, mainly because it was more about using an accessible programming language and less dragging stuff about with a mouse! Anyway I enjoyed the module and was happy with the result.

2 new modules started

This academic year is different because I’m doing two modules at the same time. I’m still part-time – I wouldn’t want to do full-time job and full-time university – but they don’t run one after the other as they did last year. This means I’ll have a longer break in the summer.

I’m doing another IT module – we’re writing programmes for robots at the moment, and the other one is about language and culture. I chose the second one because I couldn’t bring myself to do a whole module of maths.

Present that keeps giving

It’s the second time that I’ve had a subscription as a gift. The first time was when S bought me an Audible subscription. My Mum got me a Pip Box subscription for my birthday. You can read about the September box here and I may do one about October too. It’s not one of the subscription boxes that you hear so much about, but some of the others have got really samey of late, and I also wanted to try some more natural, cruelty-free skincare products. It’s also nice when you keep getting birthday presents long after your birthday lol!

Orange twirls

Yay we finally found them! S had been out hunting for them a few weeks ago when I read about them online, but he didn’t find any. By chance he saw some last weekend! If you like orange chocolate and you like twirls, snap them up! They’re a special edition, so I’m not sure how long they’ll be around for!

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4 books from March

So, it’s time to look at the books that I read in March. A bit of a mixture again!

As always, I’ll try to provide links to audio books as well, as that’s how I read most of my books. If I read a book in German, I’ll look for the English version too! 3 out of the 4 books were in German this time, but they’re all available in English as well!

Der Krieg der Zwerge – the war of the dwarves

By: Markus Heitz
I read it from the library, but you can also get it in hard copy, ebook, and audible formats from Amazon.

This is the second book in the fantasy series that I started earlier in the year, following the life of Tungdil Goldhand and his friends. Will they be able to protect their land from the creature that is trying to drive out evil, but which also is hungry for power and not bothered about who gets hurt in the process? Is it possible to work with your enemies if you both want the same thing? Whom can you trust when nobody knows what’s going on? Yes, there are scenes of fighting, but there is also a lot about friendship, love, what motivates us to do the things we do, and the need for different races to work together.

For someone who until recently never picked up a fantasy book, I’ve found that I enjoy this genre!

Altered carbon

By: Richard Morgan
This was our March book from Audible. I’ve posted the direct link to the book and if you haven’t tried Audible before, you can get your first book free – details are at the bottom of the post with links for readers in the UK and Germany.

We watched the TV series about this first on Netflix. I think this is possibly one of the few cases in which I actually preferred the series. I’m usually the “book was better” kind of girl. But that’s not because I didn’t enjoy the book – more because I really liked the female police officer’s character in the TV series and she didn’t stand out for me as much in the book.

Anyway – it took me a while to get my head round how things work in this civilisation set in the future, where, as long as their chip is intact, people can be put into different bodies, make clones of themselves, and be put into storage if they commit crimes. So people aren’t always who you think they are and you need to keep track of them. Life takes on a whole new meaning. Physical bodies are disposable, as long as you have the money to buy a new one, and there are some quite disturbing scenes.

Basically it’s about a guy who was contracted by a billionaire to find out who murdered his last body, even though all the evidence points to it being a suicide attempt.

I thought this was a stand-alone book, but on looking up the link found it was the first part of a trilogy. Probably not something I would have picked up if I hadn’t seen the TV series, but if something I’ve watched was based on a book, I like to read the book as well. It goes to show that whatever changes in terms of technology, basic human nature doesn’t change much!

Der Nachtzirkus – The night circus

By: Erin Morgenstern

This was our March book in my book club. I got it from the library, but it’s also available in a range of formats from Amazon.

Where do I start with this book? Basically it’s about two wizards who embark on a horrible contest to see which of their students is the most powerful. The students have no idea what the rules of the contest are, or who their opponent is. They eventually fall in love, which is a problem, because at the end of the contest, only one of the competitors can live.

Only a small number of characters know about the competition. Everyone else just sees the circus of dreams, which appears suddenly and only opens its doors in the nighttime. Then it disappears as mysteriously as it arrives, after people have been captivated by the many unusual and magical tents. For most people it’s a wonderful experience and they are completely unaware that the circus is the stage for something more sinister.

The story is written from different perspectives and jumps around quite a lot, moving backwards and forwards in time. The time shifts did confuse me a bit, but they fit with the general idea of nobody being quite sure what’s going on.

There is a lot of descriptive writing in this book. I think this works, because it really helps you to imagine what everything looks like – but if you just want action or dialogue, this probably isn’t the book for you!

Kein Kuss unter dieser Nummer – I’ve got your number

By: Sophie Kinsella

This was my chick lit for the month – kind of predictable, but still amusing and a light-hearted read! I got it from the library, but it’s also available on Amazon.

Poppy is about to get married, when she loses her engagement ring and shortly afterwards her phone as well. She then sees a phone that someone chucked in a hotel bin, and she decides to “borrow” it for a while. The owner of the phone isn’t happy about that, but rather than calling the police, agrees to let her keep it for a few days in exchange for doing some PA tasks. The old PA had just disappeared without giving notice. After that follows an unlikely but funny series of events involving the two main characters, but also the spoiled fiancé, the in-laws who aren’t what they seem, the evil ex, the crazy wedding planner, and various business associates.

I’m not sure whether we’re supposed to relate to Sophie Kinsella’s chaotic, good-hearted but far-too-open-for-their-own-good female characters! I have to say I related more to Sam, who thinks that not every email needs to be answered and just because someone wants something from you, it doesn’t mean you have to drop everything immediately to go and do it! Anyway, I could see that opposites attract and the characters were good for each other as they tried to help each other get their lives sorted out.

The end was a bit predictable, but who doesn’t love a happy ending?

How about you?

So, have you read any of these books? What have you been reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

Your chance to get a free audio book from Audible

If you’re in the UK or Germany, you can get a free ebook if you sign up for an Audible subscription. Whether or not you continue with the monthly subscription, you get to keep your audio book, and you can choose from 200,000 titles on a wide range of subjects. You can then download the Audible app on your phone and take your book with you wherever you go! (Books have to be purchased on the website – you can’t do it on the app).

Link for the UK
Link for Germany

1. This offer is open to people in Germany and the UK. Remember to use the correct link for your country.
2. You are eligible if you haven’t had a free audio book from Audible in the last year.
3. If you don’t want to pay, you must remember to cancel your subscription within the first month. You will still be able to keep your free book.
4. If you like the service, you will continue to receive a credit each month, which can be used to buy a book. Buying books on subscription is often cheaper than buying them individually.

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