Fortnightly Round-Up – May 28th

I’ve seen quite a few bloggers do a weekly round-up of their life and blog posts and I’ve found it a wonderful way to connect with them. Not only does it help me get to know them on a more personal level, not just via book reviews or blog tours, but I can catch up with any posts I might have missed during the week. If I am travelling for work, I seldom check in online, for instance, and sometimes certain posts don’t appear in my timeline or inbox, even if they are on the same platform as mine (i.e. WordPress). The mysteries of technology… no wonder people thought it was witchcraft initially!

All I can think about at the moment: icecream, from

I’m not sure I could bear to hear myself rounding up every week, however, so I’ll stick to a fortnightly schedule. Especially since this past fortnight has been one of the most positive ones I’ve had in a really long time. I’ve managed to get my anxiety attacks under control with some muscle relaxation exercises, worry diary and other suggestions from my Talking Therapies sessions. I’ve tried out some new sports, such as Nordic Walking, and continued with Tai Chi, walking with the Ramblers, weekly table-tennis and badminton sessions courtesy of Sport in Mind. Plus a little light medication. All this has resulted in better sleep (around 6 uninterrupted hours per night, which  makes a nice change from waking up 4-5 times throughout the night and a total of no more than 4 hours of sleep in total, which has been the case since about June 2016). So a big thank you to my GP and the mental health charities in Berkshire. I gather we shouldn’t take this for granted, as a friend who lives just across the river Thames, only a couple of miles away from me, in a village which belongs to South Bucks, has had a very different (and negative) experience with her local mental health team.

I’ve continued to experience rejections on both the job and the writing front, but I’ve also been informed that I’ve won 1st, 2nd or 3rd Prize in a poetry competition being judged by one of my favourite poets. I will let you know the details once I have them and am allowed to share them, but it’s a big boost after months of feeling my writing has gone downhill. It has made me return with renewed vigour to my old novel and I’m having fun editing it, even though I’ve just changed a third person to a first person POV and have given myself a LOT of extra work. And I’ve even managed to find 2-3 jobs to apply for which I might actually enjoy, not just what I am qualified for and capable of doing. So fingers crossed!

One final piece of family news: my sons have both done their GCSE French exam (early registration, they are not yet Year 11, but I was afraid they might forget their French by then). It’s been a hard slog getting them to put any work in, as they were convinced they already knew everything and 11 and 13 is perhaps not mature enough to take exams seriously. However, it’s over and done with now, they say it was quite easy, so I have high hopes of a good mark and one less worry when they have other GCSE subjects to revise.

My favourite reading position – for both me and my cat, it seems. Harder to keep up when it’s hot outside, though.

Blogging Round-Up

On Monday 15th May I wondered whether the pressure of releasing a book a year was to the detriment of originality and quality when it comes to crime fiction. The two books I reviewed, however, were both very good: Andrée A. Michaud’s Bondrée and Susie Steiner’s Persons Unknown.

I wrote a little poem about female friendship on the 16th of May and participated in the WWW Wednesdays meme on the 17th. And that week’s Friday Fun was dedicated to the wacky, colourful, joyous architecture of Hundertwasser.

This week I finally added another review to my #EU27Project with Andrzej Stasiuk from Poland and his travel journal through the lesser-known parts of Eastern Europe. I also embarked upon a new series of blog posts, after being reunited with some of the obscure books from my loft. I will probably be posting a weekly encounter with the most obscure books from my shelves, and the first instalment looked at my Virago editions.

Wednesday 24th brought a very short poem about insomnia, while on Thursday I compared two novels with post-modern tendencies which provoked very different reactions in me as a reader: Wolfgang Herrndorf’s Sand and Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories. My regular Friday Fun slot was dedicated to some covetable interiors, which make me sigh and dream (as usual).

I have a huge batch of books to read not just this Bank Holiday weekend, but also over the coming week (half-term holiday, so minimal work planned – the advantages of self-employment). Amongst them feel-good books like the Cazalet chronicles and The Enchanted April, poetry and essays/diaries, and of course crime fiction (Pierre Lemaitre, anthology of crime short stories, Annemarie Neary etc.)


26 thoughts on “Fortnightly Round-Up – May 28th”

      1. I meditate every day and I love it. I heard someone say once that we clean other aspects of our life on a regular basis so why don’t we clean our minds. It’s helping me a lot so really interested in Tai Chi 😊

  1. So glad things are looking up for you, Marina Sofia! It’s amazing, isn’t it, what enough sleep and a more positive outlook can do. I wish you well, both on the job front and with your writing! I hope you’ll keep us posted. In the meantime, that’s a lovely ‘photo with your cat.

    1. It is amazing how much more extra energy I have from sleeping better. And Zoe of course plays a significant part in my feel-good moments.

  2. Lovely round up. Massive congratulations to your sons – and their mum for getting them through it – they should be justly proud I am sure they have done well.
    Glad you have had some improvement in sleep- I had a spell of insomnia about four years ago which lasted about three months and was hideous. These medical services are so variable in different parts of the country – but it really shouldn’t be like that. Good luck in the poetry competition.

    1. Thank you, Ali. Yes, insomnia can be so debilitating – and sleeping pills tend to make one groggy during the day, so it’s a good job I can do without them. Glad to hear yours has gone now.

  3. I’m so pleased to hear that you have found something that works for you on the anxiety and insomnia front Marina.
    Great news for the poetry competition and I want to wish you much relaxation over half-term and hopefully those Cazelets will keep you good company!

    1. For some reason, I thought of you as I was reading The Enchanted April – it must be that profile picture against a beautiful summery background… Or perhaps the thought of going away to a lovely location with a group of like-minded ladies (OK, the ones in the book weren’t quite so like-minded at first, but still…).

  4. Thank you so much for your beautiful honesty on the good times and the bad, MarinaSofia. We can often feel so full of shame at the stuff we suppose we ‘shouldn’t feel, or shouldn’t be experiencing’ I think we are still so inclined to put a thickly layered mask on, to meet the world. And then we think that everyone else’s mask of ‘doing great, high achieving’ is real, whereas, most probably we are all hiding away the struggle and the pain. And its great to read your solutions coming through. It’s extraordinary what a profound difference breaking a cycle of not sleeping can do.

    I’m a huge believer (from personal experience) in embodied solutions. I know movement really works well for me, and walking, and particularly walking in nature, is a self-soothing mechanism, and a self-energising mechanism. The very very worst thing for me is if I allow an inner landscape of fear or despair , anger or grief, make me surrender to my natural impulse to hide away, or even, just a day where I sit tap- tapping at the PC, can create a kind of heavy lethargy in my body, which then becomes emotionally connected. Getting out the door and into the rhythm of walking, observing the natural world and us as creatures within it, does wonders.

    1. I so agree with you about the calming effect of walking and nature. Unfortunately, I sometimes forget that when I’m in the depths of despair, and, as you say, I am more tempted to hide under the duvet… and then go into a cycle of feeling guilty about not getting up, and without any endorphins to cheer me up or good daylight to mop away the cobwebs.

    1. Thank you, Cathy! It’s not one of the important, big prizes – may have a while to go until the Nobel Prize beckons – but it does come at the right time.

  5. So pleased to hear that the insomnia has been pushed back. I was dogged by it for some time and know how debilitating it can be. Long may the improvement last! Congratulations on the poetry prize, too.

  6. Glad your insomnia is receding for the moment – such a hard thing to cope with, since it affects everything else you do. Yes, cats don’t seem to understand that cuddles aren’t really helpful in the middle of a heatwave – Tuppence and I are barely on speaking terms, I’ve had to shove her off so often this weekend before I spontaneously combust… 😉

  7. Glad to hear all your good news, MS, especially about the restoration of a good sleeping pattern. I know how utterly debilitating insomnia can be.

  8. It’s nice to hear all your good news – the poetry prize, your sons’ exams, and the improvement in your health. I go through rough patches with my sleep, and am in one right now. Although I tried sleeping on the couch last night just for a change to see if it made any difference, and I really feel like I slept better last night. I have yet to find out if it was the change or just a fluke. Either way, I’ll take it for today!

    1. Thank you, Naomi, long may my sleep happiness (and all the good news) last. Sometimes a change of bed can help with sleep, but I hope it won’t give you back-ache.

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