My Lifestyle Lately – March 2017

Style and Homeware

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The Bloke re-dyed my hair for me which took a much shorter amount of time than the first time. I just don’t get how some people get the depth of colour that they do!? This is a cruelty free dye from Star Gazer.

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My beloved biker boots have finally died after having the sole glued back on twice, just as I managed to find these as a replacement (after months of searching). I added the spike and chain strap which I bought separately.

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This adorable little fella is utterly impractical as a mug – right handed he’s facing away from me and left handed his horns hitting my glasses and he wont sit properly in the draining bored – but as I said, it is adorable!

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Sea for Yourself – sea inspired style and homeware post.

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Spring/Summer Cross Body Handbags post.

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Rainbow Accessories post.

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Its a running joke between me and the Bloke that when I suddenly realise something or I’m contemplating something I sound like I’m mooing, so he surprised me with this!

Food

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I was invited to Zouk Tea Bar and Grill to sample some of their new Spring/Summer menu. Me and The Bloke enjoyed, contemporary and classic Indian food, cocktails and of course mango lassi.

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Every morning I either have a smoothie or if I really need it, I’ll make a small milky coffee with vanilla essence. Banana and peanut butter smoothies are the bomb!

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Gluten and dairy free of course as are these…

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I found this pre-made meal at Coop in the open fridges. They also had a mushroom risotto to heat up the rice did not behave like risotto rice and it contained quinoa which gave it a very noticeable bitter taste. Total fail!

Here’s my Dairy Free, Veggie Goodies post.

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Here are the best naughty treats I’ve tried this month…

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Tiny bites of caramel, biscuit and milk chocolate heaven!

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Higgity! Higgity! Higgity! This Higgity feta and spinach pie is rather wonderful when heated up. Posh restaurants can save their silly feta reductions as far as I concerned.

Beauty

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I don’t know about you but my skin has been freaking out with this wildly changeable Spring weather. I was really pleased to review this Tea Face hydrating, calming and exfoliating tea treatment.

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Read why I love this polish so much here.

Decals (or y’know, stickers)

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Yeah, man. This went straight onto my laptop as did the one below.

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I put this one on my iPad cover. I love the simplicity of it!

Lifestyle/Personal Interest

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I wrote 20 Little Things to Appreciate in Life after the weather had been bad, my back had been bad and I’d not gone out much but I realised I was still relatively happy.

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“I’ll bing you flowers, in the pouring rain…” Great old school garage song by two Manchester lasses. Well, it was pouring and the bloke did bring me flowers.

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My own shot of street art by Tank Petrol in The Northern Quarter

And the award for longest tittle goes to: 10 Helpful Things Having Chronic Illness & Invisible Disabilities Have Taught Me About Life. I really wanted to make sure I didn’t just have a big old rant with this and tried to keep it balanced and upbeat in places.

Always nice having a cuppa (‘tea’ for my American readers) and a catch up. Chat to you again soon!

Chrissie

 

Sea For Yourself

Sea For Yourself

 

20 Little Things To Appreciate in Life

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  2. The sound of rain when you’re not in it
  3. Time to yourself to unwind
  4. Putting on your pyjama’s or tracky-bottoms after a long day
  5. A stranger gladly scootching up so you can get a seat
  6. A cup of tea and biscuits on a chilly day
  7. Rainbows
  8. A stranger flagging you down to give you back something you’ve dropped
  9. Music
  10. Fresh sheets and a bed made exactly the way you like it.
  11. Managing not to kill a pot plant and seeing it thrive
  12. Going out of your way to help a stranger who looks like they are having ‘one of those days’
  13. A friendly cat or dog coming up to you on the street for a fuss
  14. Being able to sleep in and not having to get up early
  15. A good story (even better if it’s read by Tom Hardy)
  16. When someone does something or gets you something something (small) that only they know you’ll really appreciate.
  17. The first wild flowers in the spring
  18. A new planner/journal/diary
  19. Cheese on toast
  20. A job well done, no matter how long it took

Which one’s are your favourites? 

Chrissie

Zouk Tea Bar and Grill – Manchester

I was invited to sample the new Spring/Summer menu at Zouk Tea Bar and Grill  and as you probably know by now, me and the Bloke adore Indian food so we eagerly agreed.

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Zouk has a warm, welcoming and contemporary feel, with a sheltered terrace area with seating and hookahs outside. Inside is a small bar area for anyone wanting cocktails, mocktails, lassi or tea, rather than food. I can attest to their amazing mango lassi and Spring Fling cocktails. We were not so smitten with a strawberry based mocktail which we both agreed tasted oddly like savoury tomatoes! The kitchen runs along one side of the interior with tables and large booths on the other as well as upstairs. I liked how spacious and comfortable the dinning area was as I find that can massively add or detract from the overall experience, especially considering my disability needs.

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I’m always impressed when I see a restaurant has an open kitchen as it means the chefs are proud of the manner in which they cook their food and don’t have anything to hide. It was also nice to be able to see a large amount of fresh produce being used and fresh bread being made.

P1000501I’m always interested to see how many vegetarian options are on the menu at any eatery which has ‘Grill’ in the tittle. The already existing menu has a limited amount of vegetarian options, with an odd lack of very popular paneer, mushroom, daal or saag based veggie Indian dishes. The Spring/Summer menu will be available from April and will hopefully include a larger range of interesting vegetarian options.

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For starters we had Channa (chickpea) Masala, which was for me, a nice change from Channa Daal (although the Bloke would have preferred Daal) as well as Vegetable Pakoras. The Masala had the right amount of spice and the yoghurt gave it a rich texture. We were surprised that the pakoras, rather than being a mixture of gram flour and vegetables, were in fact individual slices of vegetable coated in a spicy gram flour batter. I liked how light these were and thought they were perfect as a starter.

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For our main course we had Aloo Gobi and Bindi Dupiaza with rice subtly flavoured with cinnamon. Aloo Gobi, a mixture of cauliflower and potatoes in a Punjabi style sauce is an absolute classic and this did not disappoint. The cauliflower was cooked perfectly, not too al dente or too soft. Bindi Dupiaza is an ochra based dish in a garlic, tomato, onion and green chilli sauce. This is usually not a popular dish among vegetarians as it’s so easy for the ochra to be over cooked to a soft slimy consistency but not at Zouk. The ochra was cooked perfectly and the heat in the sauce did not overwhelm the flavour but added to it. As vegetarians me and the Bloke always have to pay more attention to where our protein will come from, not necessarily in our starter but always in our main course. Zouk’s veggie mains had no protein! Although we left feeling full and content I was a little hungry again three hours later and was glad that I’d had a glass of thick lassi with my meal. Maybe if we’d have had a larger portion of Channa (chickpeas) for our mains instead of just as a starter this could have been avoided.

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For desert we had Mumbai Mess; a lot of cream topped with beautiful sweet but sharp raspberry sauce and a tiny bit of crumbled biscuit but no overall substance. We also had cold chocolate brownies which were pleasant but would have been better and probably gooier in centre if served warm. We then tried the cinnamon topped churro-style sticks served with chocolate sauce which were utterly delicious! I was a little surprised and disappointed that there were no popular Indian deserts on offer, especially at the lack of pistachio kulfi.

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Zouk is a place I would look forward to visiting on a Friday night for their extensive range of cocktails. It’s a place we would be happy to visit with a group of friends if most of them ate meat. It is not a place we, as vegetarians would specifically choose to visit ourselves, unlike other restaurants in central Manchester which cater for both diets more successfully. We may change our minds when viewing the full Spring/Summer menu so I will keep you updated.

Chrissie

My Lifestyle Lately – February

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This is my new avatar I designed myself which I’m really pleased with.

Style

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I’ve wanted a pair of white snow boots since 1994 when I saw Mariah Carey wearing them in her video for  All I Want for Christmas is You. I couldn’t believe it when I saw these in the Easy Life catalogue with the Sunday papers! They go with so many more things than you would expect like wide leg tracky bottoms, cargo pants or boyfriend jeans (rolled up), skinny jeans, even casual skater type dresses.

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I’ve been searching for years for slim fit cargo pants that aren’t made of hemp or linen which creases so easily. I did find a lot of festival/harem pants with crotches down to knees – not exactly the look I was aiming for. Then I looked at the EMP online shop and found this subtle take on the classic 1980’s ‘bondage pants’ that punks/goths used to wear. I was thinking of getting the proper ones but figured with my expertise in co-ordination and spacial awareness that I might get looped around stuff or tangled up in general lol I’m going to get a long keychain for them though if I can find one.

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This is the comfiest top ever! The neck isn’t too low at the back (equalling freezing cold) or too high around my neck at the front (equalling strangulation) , the little cap sleeves keep my shoulders warm but aren’t clingy under the arms, it’s slim fit (so I don’t feel ‘lost’ in it) and long enough to tuck in at the bottom of my back so I don’t get ‘catch a draft’. All of my physical Sensory Processing Disorder traits are totally catered for basically. There’s lot of other Deadpool merch over at EMP as well.

 Recording Positivity 

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Struggling to get a diagnosis of Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome (a vastly misunderstood genetic connective tissue disorder) whilst struggling with all of the symptoms of it can be literally exhausting and very stressful. Attending endless hospital appointments and explaining things to people who should actually be explaining the specifics to me! Also navigating my way around friendships with all of the various needs and quirks that my disabilities and chronic illnesses bring. Most of which seem to be very confusing to people, even after repeated concise explanations and examples. That’s even before the chronic fatigue kicks in! So I decided to get a pretty diary and pens from Paperchase and write something positive in it every day, even if it’s a small-ish thing like getting my favourite takeaway or receiving a compliment. This way I will have around 30 positive things to look back on every month.

 Cute Things! ^_^

I’m Chrissie and I’m not ashamed to say that I adore quirky-cute things and have a slight obsession with stickers.

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The notebooks are from Box Monster, the stickers are from Red Bubble (apart from the Hendrix one which is from Afflecks) and the pins are from Box Monster and Punky Pins.

Veggie, Gluten and Dairy free Food

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Very similar in texture to falafel, these koftas are so versatile and can go with salad and dips, make a chunky burger or bulk up pasta or stir fry. The Moroccan ones are my faves as they are savoury, slightly spicy but also slightly sweet.

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I’ve recently gotten into salads full of protein and this bean salad with sweetcorn, red sweet pepper, red onion, chickpeas, little gem lettuce, cherry tomatoes, mint, olive oil and a tiny bit of mango and green chilli dressing (from the local world foods shop). It’s so quick to make and really light and refreshing.

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Finally I’ve found veggie sausages that are dairy and gluten free which have a lovely taste and texture. Sausage butties with brown sauce at last!

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I’ve started making my own falafel. Even on weak/fatigued days I can cook in my slippers and dressing gown (hair tied back, sleeves rolled up) and while I fry the falafel the Bloke can chop the salad which takes me an absolute age to do safely any way. Team work!

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More widely available snacks which I can eat! Quinoa Chips are available from LIDL and Coop, Proper Corn basically everywhere, Graze bags, Salt and Vinegar Crisps and Cheesy Natchos (not featured) from Tesco and Indian Saag cashews from Coop.

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The set up in my bedroom was not working for me, so I took the end off my bookcase to open up the space more and bought two new strings of fairylights. Moroccan style drilled gold metal hearts and mini rose gold flowers. This makes the room look a little bigger but much cosier. I also bought a string of perspex bats left over from halloween for a quid but I’m saving those, haha!

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The collard dovies who we feed have had another little egg which eats off the window ledge like it’s parents. It’s so skinny and cute!

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I’m so pleased with the mobility adaptations in the house now. Two rails to get me up the stairs, a grab rail on the landing to guide me into the bathroom so I don’t fall down the stairs instead and a chair in the shower, making taking a shower so utterly relaxing, rather than the exhausting – back aching nightmare it once was.

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Came across tulips in Coop and got two bunches because they are some of my favourite flowers and really brighten up the place.

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The Raven girl by Audrey Niffeneger is a beautifully illustrated fairytale about a girl who is half raven and longs to have wings of her own. It is gothic while also being contemporary and rather wonderful. The themes cover love, acceptance, betrayal, self discovery and scientific breakthrough.

Chrissie

Spring in Your Step!

Spring in Your Step!
Trainers can be a pretty and versatile part of your Spring wardrobe.

The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book Review

I’d gotten to the point where if I had to colour one more leaf (out of hundreds) I was going to throw my adult colouring book out of the window. Same with flowers. Also, daffodils are very pretty but everyone knows they are yellow, so exactly where is the creativity in that? When I received an email asking me did I want to review Natasha Itzcovitz’s debut The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book I was really excited for the opportunity to actually be creative again.

The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book

For me colouring is relaxing and a creative outlet, even on the days when I have fatigue and brain fog and lack the capacity to draw something myself. It’s a great distraction from any negative thoughts and a good exercise in mindfulness as unlike watching TV, which is incredibly passive, it requires enough concentration to keep you focussed.

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Mermaids are so passé, It’s time octomaids get the attention they deserve!

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The difference between using marker pens and colouring pencils has been a revelation! You can get so much variation in texture and depth of colour with pencils, which comes in handy when colouring fabric and hair.

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With 100 hand drawn illustrations there will be at least a few characters in here you will personally identify with and other styles covering many decades which you can let your imagination loose on.

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Another thing I really love about this colouring book is some of the concepts are rather bonkers, which suits me just fine, ha!

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There’s also a pirate, hipster guys and this cute skater boy.

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The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book by Natasha Itscovitz, rrp £8.99 available at WHSmiths and other retailers.

Chrissie

Trying To Make Your Home Hygge

  1. You have a ‘real’ wood fire. It takes an age to cut and dry the wood but it screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-23-00-22has the scent of nature.
  2. You have an over stuffed leather and wood sofa which takes a layer of skin with it in sticky Summer time and is freezing in the Winter but it looks so traditional.
  3. You place candles absolutely everywhere and then realise you stopped bothering with them as a teen because they are actually quite high-maintenance and possibly dangerous when forgotten about.
  4. You have the thickest hand woven rug imaginable in your living room, which everyone constantly trips over.
  5. You decide with friends to only exchange presents which you have hand-made yourselves for special occasions. You realise just how time consuming crafts actually are and that you are really quite crap at them.
  6. You buy a new wide screen TV (which you’ve sort of needed for ages and which looked reasonable in the shop) only to find it looks utterly absurd in your newly Hyged home.
  7. You have a basket of blankets for people to snuggle under but because they are so neatly rolled everyone is to polite to actually use them.
  8. Lots of your friends are coming around so you’ve put on a spread consisting of convenient comfort food such as cinnamon Danish pastries but everyone is either going gluten free or watching their weight.
  9. You are incredibly pleased with your folk lanterns but with minimal lighting everyone trips over that damn rug.
  10. You realise knitting is a worthwhile hobby but you can only knit scarves and sofa throws as they are rectangular and therefor easy. You note that the throw constantly slides of that damn sofa.
  11. You provide a range of spicy comforting teas for people but the most requested is “Builders tea, white, two sugars. Cheers.”
  12. You decide that wearing snow boots and the Scandi print dressing gown you got in the Primark sale really is channeling the spirt of Hygge anyway.

My Lifestyle Lately – January

I thought I’d start this up again as it’s a nice way for you to get to know the person behind the blog and it’s a nice way for me to remember what I’ve been up to.

Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen

Me and the Bloke celebrated new years eve by visiting Lotus a vegetarian restaurant in Withington which is often overlooked due to it’s location. We love it there, the food (which includes the most amazing mock meats) is superb. Then we came home and watched The X Files and Grimm and enjoyed an awesome firework display by a neighbouring family from the comfort of our sofa!

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The Bloke cooked us a New Years day meal which was even better than Christmas day’s with Quorn roast, al dente green beans, carrots, broccoli, sprouts, mashed potato, Yorkshire puds, stuffing, roast potatoes and veggie sausages.

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You know those thrifty programmes where they tell you to look in your parents or grandparents loft (attic) where you will almost certainly find hidden treasure? Well not exactly anything of value but I did find this vintage rucksack which would be perfect for festivals. Weirdly, no one has a clue how it got there!?

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I’ve added to my collection of the weirder kind of Funko Pops and bought Deadpool, The Cheshire Cat and Alien. As you can see Deadpool is the only person looking figure in my little collection.

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 I love it when it gets all foggy at night and makes everything under the street lights look all eery.

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I was emailed by vegetarian restaurant 1847 offering 50% off, yup half price! So obviously wanting too support Manchester veggie eateries we thought it rude not to book a table.

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The Bloke managed to get these cool shots of the beautiful super moon and I (using the same model of camera) managed to take a big fuzzy orange blob which I won’t bother showing you lol

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I’ve been trying to drink only gluten free beer lately but my local Coop run out so I bought this Brewdog beer (which isn’t one of their gluten free ones) instead. It’s the most fruity and refreshing beer I’ve ever had. Such a shame it isn’t one of their gluten free offerings.

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I’ve discovered an online shop called EMP which apart from stocking some amazing rock chick apparel also do Funko Pop! and other random cool stuff. I’ve been in need of a mug for ages so bought this kawaii version of Deadpool.

So to some up my purse is a bit lighter and my belly is a lot fatter ^_^

Chrissie

My Reading List for 2017 (Sci-fi, Drama, Fantasy, YA, Humour)

True to the promise I made to myself I’ve ordered a pile of books. I’ve actually been wanting to read some for several years! I’ll be reviewing them all at some point so here’s what will (eventually) be coming up…

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Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger is a beautifully illustrated fairytale about a raven trapped inside the body of a girl who longs to be free.

Bossypants by Tina Fey her autobiography/collection of essays and other random thoughts.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a very unique reimagining of the old fairytale. Cinder is a gifted mechanic in New Beijing and also a cyborg. Hated by her step mother and blamed for her step sisters sudden illness her luck starts to turn around when she meets a prince where loyalty, freedom, betrayal and temptation collide.

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher about a teenager with a terrible secret who decides to confide in a man on death row.

The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas about a young woman who comes across a very old a rare book which she has heard will curse anyone who reads it. This has elements of ‘real world’ time travel (as apposed to the sci-fi kind) so I was sold on that.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor about a student who also happens to be an errand girl to a monster who is basically like family to her. The door too the other world is closing and so it’s time to choose between the two.

What the F*** is Normal?! by Francesca Martinez who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of two and has obviously heard many times and in many ways just how not normal she is. But what the f*** is normal anyway? Sure, I’ll identify with this a little from my Dyspraxia/Hypermobilty/(something like) MS point of view but more for the fact we are average women (in my opinion) of similar ages, who cannot understand why the society we live in is so judgmental and so obsessed with this elusive and somewhat bizarre standard of ‘normal’.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I love traditional fairytales and folk tails so I’m really looking forward to reading this story about a mysterious child who appears at a remote homestead in Alaska and the couple who wonder whether to take her in or not.

The Humans by Matt Haig. I used to chat to Matt a long time ago on Twitter just by chance and vowed to read one of his books so now I’m finally getting around to it. I’m about a quarter of the way through and I can tell by the specific things he chooses to satirise about the human race that we are fairly similar people, except in this story his protagonist is an alien on a mission.

The Diabolic by S.J Kincaid is about a humanoid created to protect the girl she has grown up with, a senator’s daughter. She will give her life and take the lives of others in order to do so. When she goes undercover as the girl things really start to kick off in a rather ruthless manner basically.

Every time there has been a large gap in between me reading books I have to start off with the lighter or at least funnier one’s first so that it doesn’t feel like hard work. Thanks to Dyspraxia and sometimes ‘brain fog’ in general I have to concentrate a lot more than most when reading so as not to skip words or read them incorrectly as other similar words, therefore becoming rather confused. I’m glad I chose The Humans to read first as Haig’s writing style is so accessible I’m just flying through it!

Have you read any of these and what’s in your reading pile?

Chrissie