My Reading Week… | … and the art of the list

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3764I didn’t do a huge amount of reading this week as I was working on other projects, including learning how to use the new software package which is going to help me sort out all of my family history research gathered over decades (I think I started in the late 1980s) and which needs to be collated so that I can start to work on it again now that I am retired and have the time.

So let’s get into the details:

Currently Reading – at the moment I’m reading Currently by Sarah Mensinga which I mentioned in last week’s round-up. I’m about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying it; I just need to find a slot long enough for me to finish it in a single session.

New books – of course it wouldn’t be my weekly round-up without new books to add to the TBR pile – though it should be noted that in sorting some things out around the house I found another little pile of books to be donated to local charity shops, so I think there was no net gain on my part.

Anyway:

The Luminous Dead * Caitlin Starling – a pre-order – A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

Wicked Saints * Emily A Duncan –  a pre-order – A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

Wakenhyrst * Michelle Paver – a pre-order – In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father. When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone * Lori Gottlieb – non-fiction – As a therapist, Lori knows a lot about pain, about the ways in which pain is tied to loss, and how change and loss travel together. She knows how affirming it feels to blame the outside world for her frustrations, to deny ownership of whatever role she might have in the existential play called My Incredibly Important Life. When a devastating event takes place in Lori’s life, she realises that, before being able to help her patients, she must first learn how to help herself.

Heart Talk * Cleo Wade – I’m a support of Cindy Guentert-Baldo on Patreon and subscribe to her YouTube channel which covers art, lettering, planning and living with chronic illness. She is awesome, and occasionally hosts a book club. Heart Talk is her choice for April and is “A beautifully illustrated book from Cleo Wade—the artist, poet, and speaker who has been called “the Millennial Oprah” by New York Magazine—that offers creative inspiration and life lessons through poetry, mantras, and affirmations

Growing Pains * Emily Carr – Completed just before Emily Carr died in 1945, Growing Pains tells the story of Carr’s life, beginning with her girlhood in pioneer Victoria and going on to her training as an artist in San Francisco, England and France. Also here is the frustration she felt at the rejection of her art by Canadians, of the years of despair when she stopped painting.

Hundreds & Thousands * Emily Carr – Emily Carr’s journals from 1927 to 1941 portray the happy, productive period when she was able to resume painting after dismal years of raising dogs and renting out rooms to pay the bills. These revealing entries convey her passionate connection with nature, her struggle to find her voice as a writer, and her vision and philosophy as a painter.

The last two books on the list were bought as a result of my finishing L’art de la Liste by Dominique Loreau, a wonderful book which I absolutely loved. I have always been someone who makes lists, mostly of things to be done, packing lists, projects and to-dos, but this book takes the idea of a list further, and looks at it on a philosophical basis, as something that can help with spiritual and personal growth. The author is French but heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Much more philosophical than I had expected, this book gave me a lot to think about. Already considering the additional lists I am going to make!

And finally………

When your husband knows exactly what to get you as a belated extra birthday present 😀

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My Reading Week | 31 March

IMG_0818So here we are already at the end of March and another reading week has passed. How did I do?

Books finished = a big fat ZERO.

I set aside the book about Sandra Day O’Connor & Ruth Bader Ginsburg because constitutional law and politics in general is just stressful for me (as for many other people here in the UK) at the moment, but I will come back to it later in the year as RBG in particular is a remarkable and fascinating woman.

I gave the Jo Nesbo book the 50 pages test, and at that point realised that not only was I not enjoying the book, I didn’t care about any of the people or any of the events taking place, and as life is short and there are so many other books to read it had to stop. It’s going in the donation pile.

I’m currently reading two much better and more interesting books. Currently by Sarah Mensinga is a really good fantasy novel set in a world apparently inspired by early 20th century ocean travel; I’m enjoying it very much. L’art de la Liste is light reading of the best kind and I have marked up so many quotes in my Kindle app that it’s almost multi-coloured.

After the monumental book haul covered in my last post, we will all be relieved to note that only one additional book made it onto my Kindle this week:

  • My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing – the blurb asks in giant shouty capitals “HOW WELL DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE ONE YOU LOVE THE MOST?” Apparently, also according to the blurb, I might think I’ve read stories like this before but I would be wrong. I have taken this as a personal challenge.

In other stuff it’s been a quiet week with just one outing, which was once again to Sadler’s Wells. If you follow me on social media you will have seen me post a picture of my programme for Northern Ballet’s Victoria. This was a dark and intense work looking back at Victoria’s life via the process of her daughter Princess Beatrice reading, editing and in some cases censoring her mother’s diaries. Enjoyed it very much indeed.

So, here’s to another month of interesting books. Hope you have a great reading week!

Sunday Salon | 10 March 2019

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So, it’s a wet and very windy Sunday here in my corner of SW London and I’m here to tell you all about my reading week.

If my maternal Gran were still alive today would be her 100th birthday. She was a sharp and difficult woman of a type very recognisable in the West of Scotland, and although I got on with her reasonably well the one thing she would never ever do was buy me books for my birthday or Christmas. This was a bone of contention and probably helped turn me into the inveterate book purchaser I am today.

Books read this week

I made progress with a number of the books in my currently reading pile but only finished one, that being the very enjoyable The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz. I think I might be in the middle of one of my periodic crime-reading sprees, which I do not mind at all.

Started this week

I’ve decided to dump the currently reading section because a couple of the books on my sofa are really chunky and seeing the same names over and over can be irritating, especially when there’s a nice widget on my sidebar showing you my Goodreads Currently Reading bookshelf.

But, it’s worth noting that  have started two new books – Broken Things by Padrika Tarrant which is a very short collection of short stories but is already creeping me out, and Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert, a very classic crime novel in the excellent British Library series.

New Books

Pre-orders:

  • The Night of Fear * Murray Dalton – A Golden Age Mystery – A Christmas gathering of young and old in a great country house in England—a masquerade—and the lights are turned off for a game of hide and seek. Silence—then a man’s cry for “Lights!” The lights come on, revealing Hugh Darrow, blind since the War, standing in the main hall, fresh blood dripping from his hands and covering his white Pierrot costume.
  • Do You Dream of Terra Two? * Temi Oh – A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.
  • Ancestral Night * Elizabeth Bear – A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from the multi award-winning author .
  • Last Ones Left Alive * Sarah Davis-Goff – Raised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love and stories by the fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight.

Bought on spec:

Flowers Over the Inferno * Ilaria Tuti – In a quiet village surrounded by the imposing Italian Alps, a series of brutal assaults take place. Police inspector Teresa Battaglia is called in when the first body is found. Soon more victims are discovered – all horrifically mutilated – and when a new-born baby is kidnapped, Teresa’s investigation becomes a race against the clock. But Teresa is also fighting a battle against her own body, weighed down by age and diabetes, and her mind, once invincible and now slowly gnawing away at her memory..

Living on Paper: Letters of Iris Murdoch 1934-1995 * Iris Murdoch – This collection of Iris Murdoch’s most interesting and revealing letters gives us a living portrait of one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers and thinkers. The letters show a great mind at work – we see the young Murdoch grappling with philosophical questions, as well as feeling her anguish when a novel obstinately refuses to come together.

Lud-in-the-Mist * Hope Mirrlees – Recommended by Neil Gaiman via my good friend Silvery Dude – Lud-in-the-Mist – a prosperous country town situated where two rivers meet: the Dawl and the Dapple. The latter, which has its source in the land of Faerie, is a great trial to Lud, which had long rejected anything ‘other’, preferring to believe only in what is known, what is solid.

Six Wakes * Mur Lafferty – In this Hugo nominated science fiction thriller [ ], a crew of clones awakens among their own dead bodies. They’ve lost decades of memories, their cloning technology is sabotaged, and any one of them could be the murderer. Maria Arena and her five crewmates must fix the ship, their equipment, and address hundreds of years of secrets to uncover the murderer their motives.

Hope you all have a fabulous reading week!

 

 

 

Sunday Salon | 3 March ’19

img_0823It’s Sunday evening and Storm Freya is hitting the UK with strong winds, and although we’re likely to miss the worst of it here in my corner of London it is howling wildly outside my window – I love that sound! Anyway, let’s dive in to my reading week.

Books read:

I actually finished a couple of books this week – The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (the first in his Newbury & Hobbes series) and Night Season by Chelsea Cain (the fourth in her Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series) – one of the things I wanted to do this year is focus on series that I’ve partially read or wanted to start and I’m pleased that I’ve managed that this week. I enjoyed both of them very much and will review soon.

Currently reading:

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz; this is the second in a detective series where he himself features as a character – great fun.

Death in the Air by Kate Winkler Dawson – I mentioned this in my last post and although it’s still irritating me, the story of the deadly fog of December 1952 and the crimes of one John Reginald Christie have me hooked so I expect to finish this one soon

New books:

Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain – number five in the Sheridan/Lowell series I mentioned above – Archie Sheridan should be recovering from his past run-ins with serial killer Gretchen Lowell, yet he’s just as haunted as the day she let him go. But when a cyclist comes across a corpse in Mount Tabor Park on the eastern side of Portland, Archie suddenly has a new case to focus on.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold – very excited to read this new perspective on Jack the Ripper, focussed on the women he killed – Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie – A+ fantasy if the reviews are to be believed – Listen. A god is speaking. My voice echoes through the stone of your master’s castle. The castle where he finds his uncle on his father’s throne. You want to help him. You cannot. You are the only one who can hear me. You will change the world.

Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings – I love her so much as you will have guessed if you’ve read my non-fiction round-up post – In this honest and wry memoir, popular blogger, author, and former child actor Quinn Cummings recounts her family’s decision to wade into the unfamiliar waters of homeschooling – the fastest-growing educational trend of our time — despite a chronic lack of discipline, some major gaps in academic knowledge, and a serious case of math aversion. (And that’s just Quinn.)

So that’s it – hope you all have a great reading week!

Sunday Salon | 24 February ’19

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It’s beautiful sunny spring day here in SW London. The windows are open, the birds are singing and I’m having a relaxing day as I prepare to stay up all night to watch the Oscars; there is wine and there may be a small box of chocolates to see me through to tomorrow morning. But first, the books!

Books read

Since my last post two weeks ago I have finished Changeling by Matt Wesolowski (my review is here) and Thirteen Guests by J Jefferson Farjeon which I shall review alongside some other classic crime novels shortly.

Currently reading

Taking a break from Global Crisis and have set aside Our Tragic Universe as I’m not in the right frame of mind to give it the attention it deserves, though I will definitely pick it up again soon. So I’m 3/4 of the way through The Affinity Bridge by George Mann and in the early stages of Death in the Air. Thoroughly enjoying the former but not sure about the latter; will give it another couple of chapters before I decide.

New books – the speculative purchases

  • No Bells on Sunday by Rachel Roberts – I bought this second-hand having been reading about Roberts after watching her in Murder on the Orient Express; these are her journals interspersed with biographical details of her tragic life.
  • The Flower Girls by Alice Clarke-Platts – “THREE CHILDREN WENT OUT TO PLAY. ONLY TWO CAME BACK. The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose. One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity. Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing. And the Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…”
  • The Man from the Train by Bill James & Rachel McCarthy James – “Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Some of these cases—like the infamous Villisca, Iowa, murders—received national attention. But most incidents went almost unnoticed outside the communities in which they occurred. Few people believed the crimes were related. And fewer still would realize that all of these families lived within walking distance to a train station.”
  • The Sea Dreams it is the Sky by John Horner Jacobs – “They had escaped their country, but they couldn’t escape the past – a novella of cosmic horror”
  • The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett – “Few books are treasured. Most linger in the dusty purgatory of the bookshelf, the attic, the charity shop, their sallow pages filled with superfluous knowledge. And with stories. Darker than ink, paler than paper, something is rustling through their pages.”
  • The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald – “Abi Knight is startled awake in the middle of the night to a ringing phone and devastating news – her teenage daughter, Olivia, has been in a terrible accident.”

New books – the pre-orders

  • The Plotters by Un-su Kim – continuing my interest in Korean crime fiction – Reseng was raised by cantankerous Old Raccoon in the Library of Dogs. To anyone asking, it’s just an ordinary library. To anyone in the know, it’s a hub for Seoul’s organised crime, and a place where contract killings are plotted and planned. So it’s no surprise that Reseng has grown up to become one of the best hitmen in Seoul. He takes orders from the plotters, carries out his grim duties, and comforts himself afterwards with copious quantities of beer and his two cats, Desk and Lampshade.
  • The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders – January is a dying planet – divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the wastelands outside.
  • The Revenant Express by George Mann – Sir Maurice Newbury is bereft as his trusty assistant Veronica Hobbes lies dying with a wounded heart. Newbury and Veronica’s sister Amelia must take a sleeper train across Europe to St. Petersburg to claim a clockwork heart that Newbury has commissioned from Fabergé to save Veronica from a life trapped in limbo.
  • The Buried Girl by Richard Montanari – When New York psychologist Will Hardy’s wife is killed, he and his teenage daughter Bernadette move into Godwin Hall, a dusty, shut-up mansion in the small town of Abbeville, Ohio.Meanwhile, Abbeville Chief of Police Ivy Holgrave is investigating the death of a local girl, convinced this may only be the latest in a long line of murders dating back decades – including her own long-missing sister.
  • Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech – Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught. Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers. Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P Djeli Clark – Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.
  • Master of Sorrows by Justin Travers Call – The Academy of Chaenbalu has stood against magic for centuries. Hidden from the world, acting from the shadows, it trains its students to detect and retrieve magic artifacts, which it jealously guards from the misuse of others. Because magic is dangerous: something that heals can also harm, and a power that aids one person may destroy another.
  • The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor – One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, after 48 hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.
  • Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce – Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
  • The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch – London, 1853: Having earned some renown by solving a case that baffled Scotland Yard, young Charles Lenox is called upon by the Duke of Dorset, one of England’s most revered noblemen, for help. A painting of the Duke’s great-grandfather has been stolen from his private study. But the Duke’s concern is not for his ancestor’s portrait; hiding in plain sight nearby is another painting of infinitely more value, one that holds the key to one of the country’s most famous and best-kept secrets.

I am probably going to try to avoid speculative purchases next month, though I have quite a few pre-orders on the books. We shall see 🙂

Hope everyone has a wonderful reading week!

 

 

 

Sunday Salon | 10 February ’19

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Missed another Sunday blog but never mind, here we are with a round-up post. This week has been quiet on the reading front as I seem to have been more focussed on watching films (five in February so far!), but that hasn’t stopped me buying more books. Yes, more since posting my recent haul, what are you implying?

Books Read – reviews will follow

  • The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams
  • The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
  • Convent on Styx by Gladys Mitchell
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
  • The Big Ones by Dr Lucy Jones

Currently Reading

Still continuing with Global Crisis – I’ve finally started the Stuart & Civil Wars chapters, in the early stages of Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas for Mount TBR, and more than halfway through Thirteen Guests by J Jefferson Farjeon (I started this last year, set aside because I wasn’t in the mood and now picked up again).

New Books

  • Murder Theory by Andrew Mayne – Book 3 in The Naturalist series – Computational biologist and serial-killer hunter Dr. Theo Cray receives an off-the-record request from the FBI to investigate an inexplicable double homicide. It happened at the excavation site where a murderer had buried his victims’ remains. In custody is a forensic technician in shock, with no history of aggression. He doesn’t remember a thing. His colleagues don’t even recognize the man they thought they knew. But an MRI reveals something peculiar. And abnormal. What on earth made him commit murder
  • A Chill in the Air by Iris Origo – an Italian War Diary 1939-40 – With piercing insight, Origo documents the grim absurdities that her adopted Italy underwent as war became more and more unavoidable. Connected to everyone, from the peasants on her estate to the US ambassador, she writes of the turmoil, the danger, and the dreadful bleakness of Italy in 1939-1940.
  • Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge – because Christopher Fowler recommended it – When Master Georgie – George Hardy, surgeon and photographer – sets off from the cold squalor of Victorian Liverpool for the heat and glitter of the Bosphorus to offer his services in the Crimea, there straggles behind him a small caravan of devoted followers; Myrtle, his adoring adoptive sister; lapsed geologist Dr Potter; and photographer’s assistant and sometime fire-eater Pompey Jones, all of them driven onwards through a rising tide of death and disease by a shared and mysterious guilt
  • Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – because it was recommended by blogger The Intrepid ArkansawyerHow do you conjure a life examined? Give the truest account of what you saw, felt, learned, loved, strived for? For Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the surprising answer came in the form of an encyclopedia.
  • Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman – the March selection for the new  Non-Fiction Women Book Club – the fascinating story of the intertwined lives of Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first and second women to serve as Supreme Court justices.
  • Figuring by Maria Popova – I support Maria’s site brainpickings.org and this is her first book – Figuring explores the complexities of love and the human search for truth and meaning through the interconnected lives of several historical figures across four centuries – beginning with the astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, and ending with the marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who catalysed the environmental movement.
  • Figuring led me to The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd – In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.
  • And also to Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez – Lopez’s journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes.
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? by Lee Israel – we saw the film version last week ( a really great film, by the way) and I had to read the memoir on which it was based)
  • You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian – a pre-order placed in october 2018 – a collection of short stories from the creator of Cat Person – the first short story to go viral – comes You Know You Want This, a compulsive collection about sex, dating and modern life. These are stories of women’s lives now. They also happen to be horror stories. In some, women endure the horror. In others, they inflict it.

Other stuff

Albert Finney passed away on Friday which was the perfect excuse to re-watch for the umpteenth time his Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express from 1974, my absolute favourite Christie film – if you want to know what I think of it here’s the last time I talked about it!

I also caught up with an astonishing documentary on Netflix – Abducted in Plain Sight – real gobsmacking stuff about child abduction and the impact of a master manipulator on one family. Worth watching knowing as little about it as possible; your reaction is likely to be WTF?

Hope you all have a fabulous reading week!

 

 

 

Sunday Salon – 6 January

img_2218Welcome to the first Salon of 2019. Which I managed to type correctly the first time, surprisingly, so yay me! It’s been a quiet week but none the worse for that. So what have I been up to, bookishly?

Books read:

I sneaked another book under the wire on New Year’s Eve, finishing The Hanging Tree in one final push. Very enjoyable; you can read my thoughts here.

I also continued to read Global Crisis and had confirmed what I already knew – the Thirty Years War was a Very Bad Thing Indeed.

Books bought since my last Salon post, so includes a couple from the very end of December):

  • An American Story by Christopher Priest – “A powerful meditation on loss and memory seen through the prism of 9/11, by one of our greatest authors.”
  • Currently by Sarah Mensinga – “Set in a unique fantasy world inspired by the ocean travel of the early 1900’s, Currently is a sometimes funny, sometimes gritty exploration of how to survive when you’re surrounded by power but have none yourself.”
  • Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart – “High in the rugged Pyrenees lies the Valley of the Storms, where a tiny convent clings to the beautiful but lonely mountainside. Jenny Silver arrives seeking her missing cousin, and is devastated when she learns of Gillian’s death following a terrible car accident”. But……
  • Changeling by Matt Wesolowski – “On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found.”
  • The Old You by Louise Voss – “Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words.”

Currently reading:

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams; my first read for the Mount TBR challenge. I’ve apparently had this for almost 10 years without reading it, which is not unusual and a very good reason for taking part in this challenge 😀

A good start to the year I think. Hope you have a good reading week.