My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book – I love fantasy fiction and the plot delivered a fresh twist on the usual mermaid story.
I loved the way the author combined music and magic and some of the scenes were beautifully written.
I particularly enjoyed the character’s humour, which kept the book pacy and interesting as well as magical.
I am vegetarian. No, it’s not a disease. Yes, I chose this lifestyle.
Not a week goes by when someone I don’t know, or someone I’ve only just met, feels the need to address my dietary choices, usually in tones of disbelief. They castigate, they ridicule, they demand to know what on earth could possibly possess me to be so contrary as to refuse to eat meat. For some reason, they think it is socially acceptable to bludgeon me with mocking words or gory teasing to ‘try and get a rise out of the vegetarian.’
Lucky for me, I’m not squeamish. I’ve also come from an open-minded family, so I have zero problem with other people engaging with their meaty meals while I eat my vegetarian dish. Why is it that my tolerance of a carnivorous diet cannot be reflected back by others, as a tolerance of vegetarianism? For starters, it’s not like I’m actually hurting anyone by refusing to eat meat. In fact, if you look at the bare facts, I’m the only one at the table who hasn’t hurt something to get a meal.
Why can’t I demand to know why meat eaters eat meat? Picture this: every meal I share with a potential new client, or an acquaintance, or a new relation – should I put them on the spot, ask them to explain themselves to me? Of course not, it would be ridiculous. So why is it okay for others to do that to me?
I love dining out – the atmosphere of the restaurant, the freedom to try something new. Yet, despite the fact that over half the nations on Earth are vegetarian (through choice or necessity) and that as a result there are literally millions of tasty, interesting and varied vegetarian dishes to choose from I find myself faced with the same three options time and time again.
Why is it acceptable to call yourself a chef and yet only be capable of producing a goats cheese and sun dried tomato tart as the vegetarian option? Oh, my mistake. You’re capable of a mushroom risotto too. My, aren’t you clever.
Why is it socially acceptable to judge me on the fact that I want to take care of my body and the environment, at the same time? It is scientifically proven that modern man (and women) tend towards eating way more meat than is healthy for them to do so. The obsession with animal products making a meal has led to serious obesity issues throughout the first world. For health problems alone, I ask you to compare the average health and age of death in a meat-eating man and a vegetarian man.
Even regardless of personal health, has anyone noticed the weather acting up recently? Not all of it, but a tiny a portion is due to the massive demand for meat products. Animals require space that was previously taken by trees. No trees equals worse air quality. Animals, being organisms, have a tendency to create their own noxious gases, which further add to the problem.
Even if we ignore all the traditional reasons for vegetarianism – animal rights, poverty, religion – then there are so many overwhelming reasons to at least cut down on your meat consumption if you can’t give it up completely. (To which you should ask yourself, why are you so needy that without meat you don’t feel satisfied?) It’s a complicated social thing, banged into our minds after centuries of tradition and availability.
I’m not on a mission to convert you to vegetarianism. As I have said previously, I am open-minded enough to accept that people can choose their own paths through life. What I do ask, is for you to also accept some of that tolerance. Don’t interrogate your vegetarian friends or acquaintances. Don’t sigh at how difficult they are being at your dinner party simply because they won’t compromise their morals and eat a bit of meat gravy because you forgot to make onion gravy. If you don’t agree with their choice, fine. Do accept that it is their choice and they shouldn’t have to go on the defensive every time they venture into the world.
This week I’ve been on tenterhooks awaiting news I know won’t come through until next week at the earliest.
Ack. I am not a naturally patient person.
I have been occupying myself with some new dinner menus (an absolute trolley-load of vegetables at the weekly shop, yum), planning some home-made Christmas gifts, formatting my new book for Kindle and becoming addicted to Rules of Engagement which keeps playing marathons when I try and concentrate on anything.
I’ve got a few nifty projects planned for November, so exciting times ahead!
My attention was grabbed by this portrait of a lady and an ermine, of Cecilia, a mistress of the Milanese court in the Renaissance.
I’ve also pledged 50,000 words to NaNoWrMo 2013, so check out how I’m doing and consider it yourself – there’s still time to join!
I’ve signed up to NaNoWriMo this year after stumbling across the initiative at the end of November last year.
Basically, it’s a community you join, then pledge to write 50,000 words through November of a novel you have hanging around it your thoughts.
I am embarking on this trippy deadline to see if I can get a first draft of my next book sorted before the end of the year. I do like a deadline and I’m feeling good!
I’ll be keeping track of my word count on my author page, if you want to check it out.
It all kicks off at midnight on the 1st November, if you’ve always had an idea for a novel you can’t shake, why not consider signing up too?
Do you ever feel profoundly useless? Completely at odds with the world around you?
Last night, I had enjoyed a tasty dinner made with tomatoes I harvested from my own vine three minutes before roasting them. I felt smug. Having finished eating though, I was thrown into a quandry. Now what? I didn’t fancy watching TV, there was nothing on that sounded remotely appealing. Oh god, they’ve launched yet another Big Brother and really, who cares?
Of the many reasons I decided to grow my own tomatoes this year, one of the most pressing was my need to save some money against possible house purchasing sometime in the future. Now, the trouble with saving all your spare pennies is it makes spending money seem wasteful, because hang on, if I buy that now…I’ll have to wait another month until I can stop with all this hardcore ‘saving’ stuff.
Thus, my problem; no wish to watch TV, no money to buy a book, all the free magazines I get (friends pass them on to me because they know I love them and would be sad if my money-saving efforts equaled no magazines at all for a year) focus on buying things and to top it off, it is raining which means to go somewhere other than home, I would have to buy a drink, or a meal, or a cinema ticket or something to be allowed inside. The only activity I could come up with was embroidery or board games and frankly, I couldn’t find a needle and it was a bit late by then to embark upon a game of chess.
Trouble is, far from appreciating the luxury of free time in which to thoughtfully meander through possible pastimes that are both enjoyable and cost effective (read: free), I just felt an overwhelming uselessness. There are people all over the world who do not have the privilege of turning their nose up at the TV, at books they have already read, at the knowledge that you do, in fact, own specialised sewing, embroidery and upholstery needles but you can’t be bothered looking for them and that your personalised chess set is moldering under the bed.
Instead of galvanising me into action to bring these pleasures to a wider audience of grateful people, or to even do something to help in general, it just made me feel more useless – because to help means donating money – which I don’t have – or giving my time in a particular place…which costs money to get to in the first place.
What a mad circle of circumstance!
Aw nuts. I just entered a 5k run for Race for Life. Why would I do that? I hate running. In fact, if we’re being brutally honest, I’m not a fan of physical effort at all.
*EDIT* Please sponsor me and my team to help beat cancer! http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/twls
I’ve always been sporty (yes, I know, direct contradiction) but the last two years has seen me settle into an office job, a two hour car commute from my stair-free flat and a horror of getting cold and wet.
(To be fair, I’ve always had a horror of getting cold and wet. My mother is constantly saying I should have been born into a Mediterranean climate).
To be sure, going outside in England, at any time of year, there is a 94% chance that you will end up;
c) Both the above.
(Stats not formally validated. Ahem).
Thus, with my aversion to the native weather preventing me from voluntarily going outside, physical activity of the type which gets your heart racing for about 30 minutes a day has been a tricky goal to attain. Luckily, my office has four flights of stairs.
Add to this my lack of, shall we say, ‘movement’, in recent months and the prospect of an enforced bout of exercise filled me with dread. Then I started thinking. Really, how bad could it be? Even if it was awful, it would only last an hour or two. I’m not that unfit. Really, I’m not.
So, when I logged onto Facebook earlier, I was apprehended by my boyfriend’s mother inquiring if I would be interested in pledging my running feet, and by way of necessity, my legs, torso, arms and head, to the cause of Beating Cancer. Who can say no to that?
And anyway. It’s only 5k.*
*I believe this falls under the category of famous last words?
*EDIT* Please sponsor me and my team to help beat cancer! http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/twls
You know what? We all have down days, where things seem a little blah. Sometimes, those down days can go from blah to hopeless and that’s where you either need someone who can bring you back to yourself, a never-fail laughter producer or a list of happy things to remind you that it’s not all grey skies and drizzle out there.
My lovely boyfriend never fails to make me feel better, but not only is he not always around, but it would be unfair to depend on him in that way.
My never-fail laughter producer is this website, Damn You Autocorrect. Hilarity will ensue should you click that link.
So here’s a selection of things from my happy list!
1) Daffodils – a bunch of daff’s cost less than new nail varnish (also a mood booster trick of mine), last for days and days if you take care of them and never fail to brighten up a space with their cheery yellow trumpets. LOVE!
2) A glossy mag is a guilty pleasure you can curl up on the sofa with, get cosy and page through. Read the features, check out the new fashions, get ideas for new websites to visit, new books to read, fun events to visit in the future. I love InStyle for the fashion features and Marie Claire for the news bulletins and articles.
3) A chat with someone – face-to-face, on Twitter, on Facebook – there is nothing to beat a good bit of back and forth with a human being. I love a good debate, but I’m also practicing my general conversing skills by starting up conversations with people I’ve never talked to before (which Twitter is awesome for!).
4) Music! You can change your mood completely with a bit of upbeat music and a hearty singalong. I have a special playlist with songs from Burlesque, Marina and the Diamonds, Carlos Santana, Jesse J, Beyonce and others. A sing and a dance is the ultimate mood medicine!
5) Making and eating something tasty, pretty and good for you – I get a real kick out of cooking and putting together dishes that are going to taste amazing, look great on the plate and that you know is packed full of good stuff. It can be soothing to zone out and just stuff ravioli, or simmer a sauce, or create a salad.