Jen reads... The Proof of Love by Catherine Hall

 By the time the summer holidays begin, Spencer Little is keen to put the events of the past term at Cambridge behind him and a remote village in the Lake District seems to offer the perfect escape. But it's not so easy to remain anonymous in a small community and, after striking up a friendship with ten year old Alice, Spencer also finds himself being drawn into other people's lives. As the summer heatwave intensifies and a web of complicity tightens around him, Spencer realizes that he will eventually be forced to choose between loyalty and truth, between logic and passion.

I have had this book on my kindle for a while, and I'm pretty sure that I bought it because it won the Green Carnation prize (for writers who are in the LGBT community), and... I probably heard somebody gushing about it on one of the book podcasts I listen to? Not sure. Anyway, it had sat on my kindle for a while, and the only reason that I ended up reading it is that I asked my husband to randomly pick something off my TBR list for me to read next. It turned out to be an excellent choice!

I loved the setting of the book. I read it just after reading The City and the City by China Miéville (which I really enjoyed!), which is set in... well, it's difficult to describe, but it's two cities that are superimposed on each other, and it took me quite a while to wrap my head around the setting, so it was a bit of a relief to get back to the English countryside, a setting that I am more familiar with. Although having said that, I've never read any books set in the lake district, so that was quite interesting! To be honest, even though I have met people from that area, it doesn't exist in my head as a place where actual people live (if you know what I mean). The countryside is beautifully drawn in the book, and the relationships between the people in the local area all felt completely real.

I really enjoyed seeing Spencer slowly find his place in this community, while also struggling with the demons he has been trying to escape from. Although I wasn't entirely sure what to make of him at first, as we find out more of his back story I came to really like him as a character, and as someone who is more often than not the newcomer who doesn't quite fit in I really sympathised with him. I love his relationships with everybody else in the book, and the way that he slowly comes to be more accepted by the community.

And then... I can't really talk about the other things that I loved, because they would be massive spoilers! But overall although this book is definitely a slow burner, it completely won me over by the time I was a couple of chapters into it, and by the time I had finished it I was so overwhelmed with feelings that I ended up feeling weirdly empty, like it was too much for me to actually be able to express anything. It was really beautiful and heartbreaking, and I really recommend it! I'm definitely going to go and track down her other books now.



...I really didn't mean to abandon this blog. I really didn't.

Things got a little bit crazy in October - I went to Australia for a friend's wedding (which was beautiful!), went to Fukuoka (where I used to live), and then moved house! Once I had moved house I ended up feeling a bit down for a couple of months (this happens every time I move), and I also apparently had whooping cough (despite having my vaccinations when I was a child) from August to the end of December. Fun times!

This year so far I've been pretty busy with work (I miss when I was just starting out and would have occasional weeks with no new work at all - now I tend to work at least one day most weekends, and only have the occasional weekday where no new work comes in), but I'm starting to adjust to my new life here and my workload now, so... hi again blog!

I have been reading a LOT recently so I'm excited to talk about some of the things I've been reading here! I think I'm also going to start writing more about things outside of books and reading.

Anyway, it's good to be back!


Things that made me happy this week #6

A little bit late with this but oh well! One of these days I will actually write this post on a Sunday.

1) Having my husband at home on both Saturday and Sunday!

Yes, recently he has been working at the weekend so much that this is actually a cause for celebration. We celebrated by staying in and doing nothing. Huzzah! (We both actually had to spend quite a bit of time working on Sunday, but we got to eat lunch and stuff together, yay!)

2) Establishing a proper skincare routine

Seriously my skin is so nice at the moment. If I could just stop picking at anything that looks like it might turn into a spot it would be even better! I spent years just using really cheap face washes/moisturisers etc., figuring that as long as my skin wasn't rejecting them outright it was fine, but having actually taken some time to research what would work well for my skin and actually spending a little bit of money my skin feels better now than it has in years! YAY. I have also been remembering to actually wash my face properly when I wake up, rather than forgetting and doing it around midday, haha.
If anybody is interested I might do a different post about what my routine actually is, I am always really nosy about other people's routines for this kind of thing, hehe.

3) Travel plans

I'm going to Australia next month for a friend's wedding, and I AM SO EXCITED! I sorted out my visa and stuff at the weekend (I can get a free one, but my husband has to pay for his. Mwah ha ha ha! Yay for being from Europe!) so it really feels like we're going now. Whoop whoop!

4) Actually cooking

Okay, so I do actually eat most of my meals at home, and there is SOME cooking involved in this, but normally I am only cooking for myself so I really don't try very hard or make proper food. But at the weekend my husband and I cooked lots of nice things and it was lovely. Yay! I just need to find the motivation to do this during the week too...

5) My shiny new camera

I FINALLY got a proper camera (as in, not a point and shoot one, and not my phone!) after wanting one for the last 10 years. Yayyyyyy! So I have been taking pictures of EVERYTHING, and realising how boring my house is. (I have actually had this for a few weeks, but I hadn't written about it on here and it's still making me happy, so whatever!)
I'm also really grateful to my dad and brother-in-law (who has a side business doing wedding photography) for giving me lots of pointers while I was in England and borrowing my dad's old DSLR. In fact, I am just about to go for a walk to my local park to see if there is anything worth taking pictures of there (and because my lungs finally feel up to walking!!! YAY!)


Things that made me happy this week #5

First things that made me happy post for a while! Yay!

1) Netflix coming to Japan

Japan really doesn't have that many (or any, really) cheap options for watching stuff legally, so I'm really excited that we have netflix now! I'm looking forward to watching lots of things, yay!

2) My chest starting to get back to normal

Since my last week in England I have had this pretty awful cough and a lot of chest issues... I'm still not quite right, but I am definitely improving! This is definitely a cause for celebration.

3) Going on a day trip with my husband

At the weekend my husband and I went up to Ibaraki prefecture (about 2 hours away from where we live by train) and it was nice to spend a day with him! Alas we weren't going to do fun things, but I love train journeys and we ate some nice food so yay!

4) Finally mastering my husband's potato salad recipe

I have tried many times over the years to imitate my husband's potato salad, as it is the nicest that I have ever had, but I have always failed to get it right. But I think I've finally done it! It only took me about 6 years of watching him make it, haha.

5) Planning a new blog

Because let's face it, I am a terrible book blogger. I barely update, and even when I write reviews they tend to sit in my drafts folder forever. I also never have anything particularly interesting to say (I'm not compliment seeking, haha). So I'm planning a new blog that will be more general and so will hopefully be updated a lot more (but of course I will still talk about what I've been reading!)

....Can you tell by this list that I have barely been leaving my house recently? Stupid cough! Also stupid horrendous weather! I am going to be less of a hermit this week though.


Good news everybody!

I'm back!

That was a slightly longer break than I intended to have, but never mind!

My carpal tunnel is a million times better than it was before. In fact, I haven't really had any associated pain or tingliness for quite a while. I went to the UK for a month and a half and really didn't use the computer much during that time, apart from to do work (yes I worked while I was back, so I didn't really have a random 6 week holiday. That would be nice though!), and I think that helped. I also changed my whole work configuration in Japan so I now have a nice ergonomic keyboard and mouse pad and am generally being much more conscious of how I sit and what my arms are doing while I work. So hopefully this will prevent it from coming back or getting worse!

If anyone reading this ever gets carpal tunnel or something similar, I really recommend acupuncture. I went before I went back to England and that made me go from pretty much constant pain and tingling to pretty much no pain and tingling, which lasted for a couple of weeks, so I would definitely recommend trying it! I was pretty sceptical before I went but it really worked!

I've been back in Japan for a week now, and I have to say that I really missed Japan while I was in England! I've never really felt that as strongly before, so maybe that's a sign that I've made much more of a life for myself here than I had before. Big changes are afoot in the next couple of months though so that may change. Oooh, mysterious!

One thing that I did not do while I was back in England was read a lot. I think I finished two books, for the whole 6 weeks that I was back. I was having a reading slump, I think. It happens! I did spend a lot of time with family and friends and that is probably better than shutting myself off with a book. It's a pity though because my parents have loaaaads of books so it would have been a good opportunity to raid their bookshelves. Oh well!

Anyway. I'm back, yayyy! I will try to be a good blogger and actually update fairly regularly.


This is just to say...

I may not blog properly for a while. Not that I'm that great at doing it anyway, but I have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel syndrome this week. If you don't know, that's a thing where one of the nerves that runs through your hands becomes compressed in the carpal tunnel (at the base of your palm), and it makes some of your fingers (thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger) become numb/tingly/painful, and that part of your hand and wrist too. It can get really really bad, and quite a lot of people end up having surgery for it. Luckily I only have it very mildly at the moment.

BUT I think probably one of the contributing factors to me getting it is using the computer as much as I do (it's the only thing I can really think of), so I want to cut down and rest my hands as much as possible. My job, which is pretty much 100% computer based, really has to take priority, so I'm probably only going to be posting here on days where I have little to no work. (If that, because let's face it, I'm hardly a prolific blogger in the first place!)

Hopefully once I've figured out how to manage my symptoms and have made my computer setup a bit more wrist friendly I will stop having issues when typing. In the meantime though I'm still going to be reading other blogs.

Now I need to find hobbies that don't involve me using my hands!


Things that made me happy this week #4

Ellie is off jetting around Europe this week so I doubt that she will be posting, but I thought I would write a happy things list this week anyway. I am finding this really helpful in making me appreciate the good, even when everything seems pretty dark and gloomy (like it did last week).


1) Beautiful sunsets

jimjamjenikoさん(@jimjamjeniko)が投稿した写真 -

I don't know what it was about last week but for whatever reason, on clear days the sunsets have been pretty spectacular. Plus, I have been able to see Mt. Fuji way more often than I normally can this time of year, which always makes me happy.

2) Walks in the park

Okay, I say walks, I've only really been on one.. but whatever. About 3 minutes away from where I live there is a pretty massive park which I went for walks in all of the time over the winter, but have avoided since it got hot out. But I decided that I was going to go for a walk after lunch today, sweat be damned! And I am glad that I did because it was BEAUTIFUL. There were loads of flowers out (mainly hydrangeas), and while I was walking I could hear Japanese bush warblers (鶯 (uguisu) in Japanese) chirping away (click here for a video of one. Awww), and honestly it was lovely. Even though I had chosen a slightly silly sock/shoe combination that led to getting pretty painful rubs on my ankles. It was TOTALLY WORTH IT!

3) Being in a feast month

Nothing to do with eating, but more to do with the amount of work I have to do! I had heard before quitting my old job that freelancing was a bit of a feast or famine kind of situation, and that is definitely true. I have actually been doing way better than I predicted I would, but there's still a little knot of worry in my stomach at the beginning of every month that I won't get enough work coming in (the nature of the kind of translation I do means that larger projects are few and far between, and most things come in suddenly)... but this month I definitely have enough already, with more work on the horizon. Huzzah!

4) Spending quality time with my husband

I think I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but my husband is working insane hours recently, and has also been going in at the weekends. This means though that I appreciate the time that I do get to spend with him SO much more, which is definitely a good thing! Hopefully this will only carry on until the end of July though...

I am super busy this week but hopefully it'll be a good one!