Chai And A Chat #163 #ChaiAndAChat

Hello, all! It’s me, and yet again, I am writing this with an air of some ailment or another lingering… (nausea and sore throat!) However, I cannot be unwell, now, we have two weeks of term left, and a nativity to get sorted!

Are you ready with your drink?

  • If we were having chai I’d tell you we still have the same issues at school, re: those SEN students. Until the system changes, nothing will change, but there have been at least 3 disruptions to learning due to them being unable to cope. I am just so proud of my team. With staffing shortages, and so much going on, they are just the best.
  • If we were having chai I’d tell you that we have started to practice the nativity we are perfomring (hopefully) for parents in the last week of term. We are doing one called ‘We’re going on a Baby Hunt’, written by a teacher who I came into contact with via Facebook! It’s short, and there are songs to the tunes of familiar nursery rhymes, so the children have found it easier to actually pick up the tunes and some songs are much easier to remember, than others, but they are doing fantastically! I do hope this new varient doesn’t end up messing things up. Fingers crossed we can have a covid secure performance with limited numbers!
  • If we were having chai I’d say that I tried to order presents for the class, being extra organised, and my colleague volunteered her mother to wrapp up the 60 gifts… only for the company to completely mess up the delivery, which shouldhave been next day! After over 45 minutes on the phone on Saturday, and a request that I wait 48 hours more (Really!), they suddenly turned up on Sunday. Well, at least they are here!
  • If we were having chai I’d mention that Friday couldn’t come soon enough! I was shattered, and knew it, seeing as I have been falling asleep every evening, way before my intended bedtime, then not sleeping all the way through the night! I ended up watching The Holiday with a huge bowl of Popcorn, and fell asleep at the end of that, too!
  • If we were having chai I’d breathe a huge sigh of relief and tell you that for me, cricket is done for the year, finally! Lil Man had his last evening nets on Thursday, so at least we can get home at a decent time, now!
  • If we were having chai I’d let you know that Lil Man had his second Covid jab, and it’s just Lil Princess who we are waiting for that second one for, now.
  • If we were having chai I’d tell you that Lil Princess and I went for a haircut, too. I am sticking with my no colour decision, and had it straightened for the day, (literally just the day – I woke up on Sunday with a halo of partial curls around my head!). She went for ‘curtain bangs’ and the rest long, and looks lovely!
  • If we were having chai I’d say that our handyman had his last visit out to us for the year. We now have an outside tap at the back of the property instead of at the front. (In the summer, when the kids wanted the pool filling, no word of a lie, we had to thread the hosepipe through bedroom windows, and Hubby Dearest’s office window, to fill it, as the hose wasn’t long enough to go around the house! That won;t be a problem nexgt summer, thankfully!) We also have some pretty smartbulbs in our hallway light fitting, and they are all multicoloured ones that I can change via an app on my phone! Very fancy! Also, old nail/screw holes have been filled/sanded and painted, so things are looking pretty rosy, right now! There are a few more bits and bobs to do, but we will leave them until the new year now. I think everyone would love a weekend with nothing like that pending! (I know I would! I never sleep well, the night before, and considering I’m not sleeping well every other night, either, that’s not a good thing!)
Bitmoji Image
Reflecting the slightly greying hair, now, with an updated Bitmoji!

This week there was meant to be a visit from the heads of the other school in our academy, which was a little stress-inducing, however, that has been cancelled… phew! But we still have a nativity to get sorted, and still got some staff shortages too. In my personal life, I need to get more organised for Christmas! I got my Secret Santa gifts for school etc, and the odd present for the kids, but nothing else! Oh, and still waiting on a little nugget of news that I might be able to share!

And while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list? I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

#RachelIsBack Book Re-Release tour! Rachel’s Holiday by @MarianKeyes @fmcmassociates

It’s not often that you get the chance to showcase the work of a writing LEGEND, and I am in that position, right now!

Writing powerhouse Marian Keyes had a book out, twenty five years ago, called Rachel’s Holiday. Now, it might sound like a bit of a fluffy read, a beach romance sort of thing, but no, Rachel’s Holiday is a much meatier read than that, and along with a bit of the comedic genius that Keyes always adds into her books, she delves into more serious issues.

Rachel and her experiences never left many readers, or Marian, herself, so, next year, a sequel is coming out, Rachel, Again.

However, before that, Rachel’s Holiday is being rereleased – a 25th Anniversary special – and I am honoured to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate this!

The Blurb…

Meet Rachel Walsh. She has a pair of size 8 feet and such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family has forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters – Dublin’s answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey – and it’s about time she had a holiday.

But what Rachel doesn’t count on are the toe-curling embarrassments heaped on her by family and group therapy, the dearth of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – and missing Luke, her ex. What kind of a new start in life is this?

And, here’s my review!

Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, not having access to Goodreads, 25 years ago, what better time to post my review of a fantastic book, by a fabulous author, on the re-release of it?
I treated myself to a re-read, as well, all almost 600 pages of it, in one weekend, too!
This is quite a read, filled with comedic moments, however, the real subject is no laughing matter.
We have Rachel Walsh, our hapless heroine, who finds herself back in Ireland, incarcerated in Cloisters, a clinic for addicts, after an accidental overdose in New York.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Rachel.
Oh, no.
It was all a misunderstanding.
She can’t wait to get out.
But, the eight weeks she stays there, end up being the most poignant years of her life.
Rachel is the middle sister of five, in a loving Irish family. Well, as loving as you can get, with all that oestrogen running rife around the house. Many choices she makes in life are a direct result of how she felt, growing up.
And some of those decisions led her to drugs.
Addiction does a lot to you. You may feel you are gaining a lot, every time you feel that high from your chosen poison, but in reality, you are losing everything around you. And every one that really mattered.
Rachel’s Holiday explores this whole scenario, including the stages of acceptance, that you might, indeed, be an addict.
I loved this, and cannot wait for the sequel which is due out next year!

Can I say, I am a little excited at having read a teeny snippet of Rachel, Again, and I now can’t wait for that to be released, either!

A little bit about Marian Keyes

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes review – comic, convincing and true | Marian Keyes  | The Guardian

Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of oral story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write. Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon, published in 1995.

To date, the woman who said she’d never write a novel has published 13 of them: WatermelonLucy Sullivan is Getting MarriedRachel’s HolidayLast Chance SaloonSushi for BeginnersAngelsThe Other Side of the StoryAnybody Out ThereThis Charming ManThe Brightest Star in the Sky , The Mystery of Mercy CloseThe Woman Who Stole My Life, and The Break Her books have all been bestsellers around the world, with a total of over 30 million of her books sold to date in 33 languages. Anybody Out There won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugural Melissa Nathan Prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man won the Irish Book Award for popular fiction. Marian’s latest book Grown Ups is publishing in hardback and eBook in February 2020.

The books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but always written with compassion, humour and hope.

In 2009, Marian experienced the start of a major depressive episode, and had to stop any work. Eventually she found that baking cakes helped her survive; and in 2012, she published Saved by Cake, which combines recipes with autobiography.

As well as novels she has written short stories, and articles for various magazines and other publications. She has published three collections of her journalism, titled Under the Duvet  and Further Under the Duvet, now collected in one volume under the title Under the Duvet: Deluxe Edition, and donated all royalties from Irish sales to the Simon Community, a charity which works with the homeless. In 2016 Marian published a new collection of essays, Making It Up As I Go Along.

She was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire with her husband Tony. She includes among her hobbies reading, movies, shoes, handbags and feminism.

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 352 – Lil Grinch

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“In a world full of Grinches, be a Cindy Lou Who.” 

ANONs

Thanks, Spidey, for that festive one!

It’s the first Sunday of December, which means that the craziness of Christmas is finally upon us.

I usually put the tree up on the 1st of December, but this year we succumbed a few days early, as I felt like we all needed the little boost that the tree always gives.

But, in school, the tree went up in the classroom, interestingly, and lopsidedly, decorated by my class. Elfis the elf is firmly ensconced in there, too, watching the girls and boys so he can send his reports to Santa. We’ve started practising the songs for our little nativity, too.

Yes, Christmas is definitely on its way!

But, I appear to be living with a modern version of the Grinch!

Lil Man has embraced his mid-teen years by becoming a 16-year-old misery guts when it comes to the festive season! When the tree went up, he refused to enter the living room for a day! Lil Princess and I love a good Christmas song, and have the radio on, in the car, excitedly singing along (well, I do, anyway!) to the festive tunes playing. Lil Grinch? He sits and either asks us to change the station or stuffs his own earphones into his ears!

How did I give birth to something so against Christmas???

I’m still working on him. I wonder if he’ll be happy to wear a Christmas jumper this year?

So, do you know any Grinches? How do you handle them?

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

November 2021 Books #AmReading

How did it get to November, already? Now, I warn you, November is pretty much written off for me, in anything other than school, with Parents evenings, training, and the run-up to Christmas things happening in school… Will I ever finish that ARC list, and get some of my other books read?

peacefully reading

Sunny by Sukh Ojla
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I requested this arc with much anticipation, as I have seen the author in her stand up comedy shows a few times, and she has always hit the nail on the head about being a young, British Asian, single woman.
The premise of Sunny, is a thirty-year-old British born Indian woman, struggling to fit in with the stereotypes of the East/West background she has grown up in.
Add to that, the pressures to feel like she should look a certain way, act a certain way, live her life a certain way.
But it’s the double life she struggles with and those pressures above? Doubled.
Sunny wants to be like those friends of hers, settling down with their partners of choice, finding that intimacy that you only have with your soulmate.
She also wants to keep her parents happy, and not overstep any mark that might bring disrespect to her family, or her parents in particular.
Cue trying out all the dating apps, kissing many frogs, but not finding her Prince Charming, then clambering back into her ‘home clothes’ and wiping her make-up off before getting home, to where she is living, again, with her parents. And going out with her friends, with that ’emergency kit’ forever with her, to mask any activity her parents would disapprove of.
At home, life is so much simpler, until Mama comes in, with her wanting Sunny to find a suitable boy, and settle down,
What follows is a story filled with so much laughter, as you relate to some of the situations that Sunny gets herself into, including hesitantly allowing her mum to get involved in her online dating, even letting her look at ‘Tindles’!
But there is more at the heart of this.
Sukh Ojla deals with much more than the funny side of bagging a man so you can have that Big, Fat Indian wedding. There are unspoken expectations about how a girl should look, what she should say, how she should behave, and how these weigh heavily on someone mentally and emotionally. She touches on mental health, and the hidden depths of depression that can hit someone who is loaded with the pressure of expectation from all sides.
Being a resident of Gravesend for the last twenty years, I can vouch for the authenticity of how my marital hometown has been described, from the local Indian sweet shop to the town centre, the gurdwara to the promenade!
Sunny is a fantastic character, in herself, but the cast around her are equally amazing. I love her Mama, who is that quintessential Indian Mummy (Gravo style) complete with the samosa making skills, and Yoga class friends who are forever gossiping. Her Dad is equally wonderful. Quiet, unassuming, but a pillar of strength, regardless.
Sunny manages to find some real pieces of work, on her hunt for Mr Right, but she also learns a lot about other friends she has, and the new ones she makes.
(There were times I wanted to slap certain ‘friends’ of hers!)
Most of all, she finds herself, and I absolutely loved the ending!
I can’t wait for another from this author!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing on 3rd March, 2022

Impossible

Impossible by Sarah Lotz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a bit of a roller coaster of a read, wasn’t it?
Bee receives an email, unintended for her, and what is revealed through the course of her and the sender, Nick, is pretty impossible to believe.
I don’t want to add any spoilers, but this really is an ‘Impossible’ love story, and it sure takes you through the ringers!
I enjoyed reading it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 17th March, 2022

To Love and Be Loved

To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, Amanda Prowse, you’ve done it again!
I was hooked on the story of Merrin from the moment I started reading. She was born and has lived in the same Cornish Fishing village of Port Charles, her whole life, and intends to spend the rest of it, there, too.
On the cusp of beginning the next chapter of her life, Merrin is convinced her life is headed in exactly the right direction.
Until the one thing she never expected to happen, happens. Filled with humiliation, Merrin flees her beloved hometown to forget her sorrows, but with a huge sense of regret at leaving her family behind.
Nothing can convince her to come back, not even the death of her grandma… Nothing, until her sister gets married.
Where do I start? Merrin is a beautiful character, full of hope, romance and life. It broke my heart to read how she crumbled, along with all her dreams, on that fateful day.
And feeling that she was never going to find anything close to the love she had felt at the time, the story grows, showing how she hardens her heart to feelings too intense, pushing away so many people who love her, romantically, and otherwise.
However, life does move in mysterious ways, and despite losses, she finds her perfect ending.
I loved Merrin’s best friend, Bella, a lot. What I wouldn’t give to have a Bella by my side!
A consuming read which I finished in a day.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 11th January, 2022

Em & Me

Em & Me by Beth Morrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so, although it took me a little time to read, (life, not the book’s fault!) I truly loved this new release by Beth Morrey.
Delphine Jones is a relatively young woman, in her late twenties, already with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Having been a teen-mum, reeling from the loss of her beloved mother and caring for her grief-stricken father, as well as looking after her twelve-year-old daughter, life hasn’t dealt her the best cards, but she’s trying to make the most of it.
She keeps things afloat with a waitressing job, and a long term cleaning gig for an old friend of her mother.
Thing is, there was always meant to be more to the life of Delphine Jones, or Fifi as her dad calls her.
This isn’t a romance, though there is so much love within the pages of this book.
I was immersed in the story of Delphine, as she slowly begins to bring back the unravelled threads of her former self, and starts to reach for the dreams she had all but given up on, in order to keep existing.
Fifi was a bright student with so much to look forward to until she fell pregnant at sixteen. Then all the confidence seemed to have been knocked out of her.
I loved how the different people around her built her up, in their own ways, so each part of her life starts to make sense.
Her ‘teacher’, Ros, who encourages her to study again.
Letty, her elderly French companion, who teaches her to take every opportunity while she can.
Dylan, who shows her she is not dead inside.
Sanjay (and Dylan, again) who brings music back into her life.
Her father, who finds his strength again, through her, then becomes her support.
Selassie and Abrihet, who taker her into their little restaurant, and treat her like their own daughter, giving her encouragement, and nourishment she didn’t know she needed.
And Em. Beautiful Em Jo, her daughter, who is her whole reason for living and being.
A story filled with soul and hope.

3rd February, 2022

The Keeper of Stories

The Keeper of Stories by Sally Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a beautiful book!
I was hooked by the cover and the blurb definitely reeled me in – that’s what it’s supposed to do, and it did its job!
Janice is a cleaner, who, over the course of her ‘career’ has collected the stories of many of her clients. She is a firm believer that everyone has a story. Except her.
But, fate works in mysterious ways and meeting a couple of very different people, and a dog, through her job, and her daily travel, prove to her that everyone does indeed have a story, including her.
I was rooting form Janice from the off, especially after learning about her waste-of-space husband. Here’s a woman with a heart of gold, and so much to give to the people around her, yet he sees her as ‘just a cleaner’.
The added characters of Euan, and Mrs B (I LOVED her!) really gave the story a kick, and Decius the dog was an added bonus!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 3rd February, 2022

Rereleasing Soon! Special post coming on 6th December!

So, not a total washout. I can say that I did get my arcs down to 1, but the list is back up to 5! I just can’t help myself! So, any that caught your eye? What have you been reading?

Chai And A Chat #162 #ChaiAndAChat

Well, hello there, Peeps! How are you? What a week… (I apologise if sny of what I type makes no sense, as I am writing this, tired, and with a bit of brain fog – might be related to that booster jab I had on Saturday…)

Are you ready with your drink?

  • If we were having chai I’d tell you that I feel done in. School is tough. I can’t even really explain it. But what with Covid Rates going up, and staff members dropping lile flies, it’s not an easy place to be, right now. We are supposed to be thinking about the nativity, but something tells me we won’t be able to do one, again, this year… I just can’t… But, in other Covid related news, I had my booster jab, at least!
  • If we were having chai I’d tell you that once the week finished, we ended it with an evening of putting the Christmas tree up! Yes, I know it’s not quite December, and usually, I refrain until at least the 1st, but this year, it feels like we all need that extra bit of happiness, so, here it is!
  • If we were having chai I’d say that I also managed to reach this milestone, this week… Seven years! Wow! You guys put up with me for that long!
  • If we were having chai I’d update you on Project House. The handyman was in, again. Yup, the jobs are never ending! This time we got a new bathroom heater installed, and some stubbord wall fixings removed, as well as curtain poles put up. Still a few bits to do, but we are getting there!
  • If we were having chai I’d have to mention that we got our first snow in the new house, too! While some parts of the country were getting battered by a storm, we awoke to a smattering of snow!
  • If we were having chai I’d say Pops is doing really well after his surgery, though I think he is already getting antsy about not being able to do everything yet! Poor Mum is being Florence Nightingale, and trying to stop him overdoing things. I really wish I was closer, so I could help! But, it’s good to hear Pops so much happier. Thank goodness.
  • If we were having chai I’d tell you that I spent the weekend reading a behemouth of a book (nearly 600 pages!) ready for a book tour, and it was a paperback, so I found a great solution to aching arms!
  • If we were having chai I’d share with you that Sonu Singh had his scan, and blood tests, and thankfully, all is clear! Phew! He’s still on reduced food rations, and is still not very pleased with us!
Bitmoji Image
Reflecting the slightly greying hair, now, with an updated Bitmoji!

This week I feel like I don’t know what is going on… My mind feels a little foggy. However, I might have some interesting news to share, come the next update! There is a vastly understaffed school to attend, as well as meetings, and a little cricket, still, along with a beautician’s visit, too…

And while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list? I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

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