Groucho Marx

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.

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The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.

This feels like my first book review in ages!  Today I’m going to review the book I most recently finished; The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.

the housekeeper and the professor
I took my book down to the river Don and I read it in the sun…blissful!
He is a brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem – ever since a traumatic head injury seventeen years ago, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him.

Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles – based on her shoe size or her birthday – and the numbers reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her ten-year-old son. With each new equation, the three lost souls forge an affection more mysterious than imaginary numbers, and a bond that runs deeper than memory. (Goodreads)

This book was so interesting to read as I loved the incorporation of a memory impairment into the synopsis. I am a social sciences student, and I have studied cognitive psychology and impairments to cognitive processes – such as short term memory – in depth. I have never read a piece of fiction before that manages to incorporate amnesia into a character’s narrative, and I think Ogawa did a magnificent job at portraying a life or experience she has not experienced.

I loved the character of the professor. He is so complex and while on the surface he appears to be an eccentric mathematician who never stops talking about numbers; as the housekeeper (whose name we never learn) gets to know him alongside her son, Root, she realises that there is so much more to him, and that he is a thoughtful, analytical, warm, caring man who seeks comforts in numbers and who used them to rationalise and understand aspects of his life.

As for the mathematics aspect of the book, I loved it! I am terrified of numbers and am fairly bad at maths, however I found the professor’s passion for the intricacies of numbers to be endearing. The professor uses numbers and mathematical theories to express emotions, to cope with his memory loss and confusions and to build a relationship with the housekeeper and her son. I love that the housekeeper seeks to properly understand the professor through his love of mathematics, and she begins to find the beauty within it and the intricacies.

I adore that the housekeeper and Root form a strong, warm, familial relationship with the professor which manages to overcome memory. It is delightfully uplifting and endearing to me. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants a short read with a plot you’ll never have read before, with relationships which are deep and meaningful, and with great writing. For a piece of fiction that has been translated from Japanese, this book flows spectacularly well. Read it!

I hope you guys enjoyed this book review!

Teapigs: a brand review.

Hi everyone!

Posting something a little bit different today, this is a review of 12 different flavours of Teapigs tea.

For those of you who don’t know this about me: I BLOODY LOVE TEA. I am an avid tea drinker and I am obsessed with trying different kinds and finding different mugs and vessels to drink it from. Thus it came as no surprise when I was gifted a box of  Teapigs teabags from my best friend Hannah for my birthday.

teapigs
This box contains 12 different kinds of tea, with 2 teabags per type. It is a pick n’ mix  sample box (costing £15.99 plus postage) where you can select 12 out of 31 different options.

Click here if you’re interested in getting one of these pick n’ mix boxes for more information!

Now I have slowly but surely worked my way through all 12 flavours, and I have some thoughts on each flavour. If you are a tea fanatic (like myself), then why not go and make yourself a cuppa and then come back and read this post? I am drinking one while writing!

I must say before reviewing these teas, that this is based solely on my taste in tea and on my preferences, therefore just because I really like a certain tea or really dislike another it does not mean you will feel the same! I am primarily assessing these teas on their descriptions, what they are meant to taste like and the strength of flavour. I hope you enjoy!



Tea Temples

The interesting thing about Teapigs teabags is that they are shaped differently and made differently than regular teabags. What makes Teapigs teabags special is that they are biodegradable, mesh sacs containing whole leaf tea, with space for the leaves to infuse in the water.  Personally, I prefer these sorts of teas as I feel they have more flavour and it is lovely being able to see the loose leaf tea and what is going in to making your perfect cuppa!

An example of a Teapigs temple bag (teabag is the Green Tea Detox).

1/  Everyday Brew

Description: This is Teapigs’ signature blend, comprised of Assam, Ceylon and Rwandan blends. It is essentially Teapigs’ version of an English Breakfast tea. It is available in packs of 15 or 50 tea temples, and as a loose leaf tea. For more information click here!

Thoughts: This tea was destined to be my favourite, as I am a sucker for black tea. I adore strong, breakfast teas; my favourite black teas being Yorkshire Gold Twinings Breakfast Tea or Twining’s Assam. This is perfect with a splash of milk for the perfect, energetic cup of tea. I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys a quintessentially British cup of tea, and prefers black teas to anything fancier, fruity or herbal.

2/ Bolly Good

Description: This is a chai blend which consists of Assam tea (which I love!) blended with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla. It is available in packs of 15 or 50 tea temples, and as a loose leaf tea. For more information click here!

Thoughts: This is a spicy blend and I actually quite enjoyed it! I didn’t leave the teabag in for too long as I prefer spicy teas to be slightly weaker, but it is tasty and the flavour wasn’t too overpowering. I’d recommend this for a winter night, or for people who want to drink tea but want something a bit more exciting than plain black tea. Add a bit of milk like I did and it’s a lovely drink that’ll warm you up from the inside.

3/ Melt Away

Description:This is a chocolate tea! Intrigue! It is a blend of black tea, cocoa beans and chocolate flakes. This is available in packs of 15 tea temples. For more information click here! 

Thoughts: This is not a very chocolate-y tea as suggested on the website, however I really like this blend! It tastes like a regular black tea, yet with a slightly sweet aftertaste. This aftertaste is not specifically chocolate, but it  definitely makes it easier to drink a black tea without milk or sugar. I’d recommend this to anybody who wants a bin of sweetness in their tea, but wants something subtle. I poured milk in after a few sips and I found I enjoyed that even more!

4/ Popcorn Tea: Fab Japanese Treat

Description: Toasted rice and green tea are blended together to create a traditional and nutty tea, known as Genmaicha. It is available in packs of 15 tea temples and as a loose leaf tea. For more information click here!

Thoughts: I am surprised at just how much I enjoyed this flavour! I normally do not like green tea blends, however the rice creates this aromatic, nutty flavour that reminds me of Sugar Puff cereal and which merges with the earthy taste of green tea. I found this one a surprisingly tasty -yet odd- flavour, and I’d recommend it to anybody who likes nutty and smokey flavours.

5/ Bursting with Berries: Super Fruit Tea

Description: This is a berry blend, which is full of anti-oxidant berries; namely cranberries and blueberries. It is available in packs of 15 or 50 tea temples, and as a loose leaf tea. For more information click here!

Thoughts: I like the taste of this tea, however it is not overly strong or sweet. I am not a massive fan of fruit tea, as I find that it makes me even more thirsty opposed to quenching my thirst. This, while tasty, left my mouth with a dry feeling after drinking it, which I’m not a fan of. I’d recommend this for anybody who loves fruit teas or berry flavours, but it just isn’t for me!

6/ Tea with Trimmings: Spiced Winter Red Tea

Description: This wintry blend is reminiscent of Christmas, comprised of redbush tea and a combination of orange peel and winter spieces such as cinnamon and cloves. It is available in packs of 15 tea temples. For more information click here!

Thoughts: This is like chai 2.0. It is incredibly spicy and the flavours are very strong and create an extremely aromatic and cosy cup of tea. However, I am not a fan of strong spice flavours, and while the chai is a bit more muted, this one is a bit too spicy for me. I would recommend this for winter nights for anyone who loves mulled wine or hot apple cider! It has all those qualities in a tea form, however is a bit stronger. It is nice to sip, however I could not drink a full cup.

7/ Lazy Days: Lemon and Ginger  Tea

Description: This is a commonly paired combination of lemon and ginger, containing liquorice, which is reminiscent of British summer days. It is available in packs of 15 and 50 tea temples, and as a loose leaf tea. For more information click here!

Thoughts:  This is not my favourite of the collection, however it is quite tasty. I am not much of a fan of ginger flavours in tea, however I felt this tea struck a good balance between lemon and ginger flavours, meaning the ginger was not too overpowering. I have heard that lemon and ginger tea is good for sore throats and for soothing purposes, and I’d recommend it is you like fruit teas, as well as spicy teas, as it is almost a combination of both.

8/ First Class: Darjeeling Tea

Description: Darjeeling tea originates from West Bengal, India and is commonly served without milk.  It is available in packs of 15 tea temples, and as a loose leaf tea. For more information click here!

Thoughts: I can’t put my finger on this one, but I didn’t like it very much. It had an odd aftertaste which I didn’t really like, and it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. However, I think that may just be me and my tastebuds, it just wasn’t my cup of tea (get it?), but it may be someone else’s.

9/ Grey with Attitude: Earl Grey Strong

Description: This is a combination of Assam and Rwandan blends, with Ceylon and Darjeeling and the necessary zest of bergamot which categorises this tea as Early Grey. It is available in packs of 15 and 50 tea temples, and as a loose leaf tea. For more information click here!

Thoughts: I love this! I don’t drink Earl Grey very often, however I actually really enjoy the fragrant flavour. This is quite a strong taste, however Earl Grey is not a tea that you drink for muted flavour. I really like this and it made me feel like a posh lady while drinking it!

10/  Snooze: Sleepy Tea

Description: This is a soothing blend of apple, lavender and chamomile; which is marketed to aid in a good night of sleep. It is available in packs of 15 tea temples. For more information click here!

Thoughts: I was extremely excited to try this tea as I often take a really long time to fall asleep, as my thoughts are most intense right before I go to sleep. I drink a lot of caffeine too and so I was excited to see how this tea would succeed as a replacement for a cup of Yorkshire Gold before bed. I was not disappointed!

The taste is definitely not for everybody, as the lavender aftertaste is definitely quite different. However, I loved it! I realised that the act of having a hot drink before bed is just as comforting regardless of the blend, and I actually felt a lot better for having a tea without caffeine before my bed, and I felt I was in a cosy and comforted frame of mind before falling asleep. I would recommend this if you are a fan of chamomile already, however if you are not keen on floral scents or flavours I would suggest opting for something different. While it says there are hints of apple, I did not pick up any apple flavours, but this could possibly be due to the strength of the lavender. I definitely want to purchase more of this!

11/  Clean n Green: Detox Tea

Description: This is a combination of green tea, lemongrass, ginger, coconut and dandelion leaves. It is means to be a refreshing, detox tea that can be served iced or hot. It is available in packs of 15 tea temples. For more information click here!

Thoughts: I actually enjoyed this more than I usually enjoy green tea (I really don’t like plain green tea). This is a great alternative for those who don’t like the taste of green tea but want the health benefits. It is sweeter, however lemongrass and ginger are somewhat overpowering. I was looking forward to the taste of coconut, however it did not come through. That being said, this is definitely more drinkable than plain green tea, and it feels very fresh.

12/ Up Beet : Energy Tea

Description: This tea is a blend of beets, spices and hibiscus and is meant to give you energy when you drink. It is available in packs of 15 tea temples. For more information click here!

Thoughts: I was extremely nervous about this tea, as it is primarily beetroot, which I don’t really like eating. I enjoyed this tea, however it is not a favourite. It has quite an earthy taste, which I normally don’t enjoy (spoiler alert: I don’t like green tea that much!), but I found this easier to drink. I would recommend this to people who like green tea, as it is not a very sweet tea and is definitely quite a strong flavour. As for the energy benefits, I can’t say that it gave me any more energy, however I find drinking tea of any sort to be a somewhat rejuvenating act.


 

tea gif

I hope you guys enjoyed this extremely in depth tea review of Teapigs teabags. I hope I have inspired you to try a new flavour, or to stock up on a trusty favourite. I love Teapigs and despite not loving every single flavour or type of tea, I applaud Teapigs for making such high quality teas in such an array of blends, there is truly something for everybody.

My favourites of the collection were:

Everyday Brew

Popcorn Tea

Snooze : Sleepy Tea

Check out Teapigs to have a browse, to shop by mood or even by blend of tea. I hope your next cuppa is as good as you deserve!

 

Birthday book haul!

Hi!

I turned 21 on the 18th of May and was lucky enough to be surrounded by the most amazing people and I can safely say it was the best birthday I’ve had in years. While I was not gifted any books, I received two extremely literary birthday cakes, and I received a gift card for the mothership, Waterstones! And thus, I have a book haul for you guys!

Let’s start with the birthday cakes though…because….cake.

liam birthday cake
Look familiar? My wonderful boyfriend Liam made me this fantastic cake inspired by the cake that Hagrid makes for Harry in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!  “Afraid I might have sat on it at some point but I imagine it’ll taste fine just the same!”

lauren birthday cake
My best friend Lauren had this cake made for me for my birthday. To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite book of all time and I could not believe my eyes when I saw this cake. I got very emotional and did not enjoy cutting through it with a knife. It was too pretty to eat!
Now that I’ve made you all hungry (sorry!), shall we talk about the books I bought? Yes? Okay!

P.s. If you are interested in any of these books and would like too purchase them for yourself (I don’t blame you), I have linked to their pages on Amazon.

book haul 1
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (published by Vintage, translated by Stephen Snyder).

He is a brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem – ever since a traumatic head injury seventeen years ago, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him.

Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles – based on her shoe size or her birthday – and the numbers reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her ten-year-old son. With each new equation, the three lost souls forge an affection more mysterious than imaginary numbers, and a bond that runs deeper than memory. (Goodreads)

Funnily enough, when I was perusing the shelves in Waterstones this book stood out to me for the title. I read the title and automatically (and quite wrongly) assumed that this book was going to be some sort of trashy romance novel. However, when I picked it off of the shelf and sceptically read the synopsis, I bought it without question and took it home and began reading instantly.

I am fascinated by memory and I have recently been studying amnesia and cognitive impairments to memory at university. I also am extremely interested in and love reading about intergenerational friendships and relationships of any sort, as I find these books immensely heartwarming and important, as I myself love socialising and learning from older people. I am 50 pages into this book so far and I adore it!

Click here for more information!

book haul 2
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami (published by Harvil Secker, translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen).
Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic. (Goodreads)

I have only ever read one book by Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart,  and I thoroughly enjoyed his writing and am eager to read more by him.  The title of this book intrigues me, as I think it could be very poignant and shed valuable insights on society and on the relationship between genders, showing this through its absence. This book was released this month and so is only available in hardback at the moment, but I love the cover!

Click here for more information!

book haul 3
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (published by Sphere).
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination, but an answer.


In heaven, five people explain your life to you. Some you knew, others may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?” (Goodreads)

I have wanted to read this book for some time, as I am extremely taken by this idea of five people who may have been constant or strangers in a person’s life being so integral to retelling their story. I am interested in different perspectives on afterlife and the idea of heaven, as while I don’t necessarily believe in heaven, the notion is both interesting and comforting. I am excited to read this and see if it moves me in the way I expect it to!

Click here for more information!

book haul 4
Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway (published by Arrow).
First published in 1927, Men Without Women represents some of Hemingway’s most important and compelling early writing. In these fourteen stories, Hemingway begins to examine the themes that would occupy his later works: the casualties of war, the often uneasy relationship between men and women, sport and sportsmanship. In “Banal Story,” Hemingway offers a lasting tribute to the famed matador Maera. “In Another Country” tells of an Italian major recovering from war wounds as he mourns the untimely death of his wife. “The Killers” is the hard-edged story about two Chicago gunmen and their potential victim. Nick Adams makes an appearance in “Ten Indians,” in which he is presumably betrayed by his Indian girlfriend, Prudence. And “Hills Like White Elephants” is a young couple’s subtle, heartwrenching discussion of abortion. Pared down, gritty, and subtly expressive, these stories show the young Hemingway emerging as America’s finest short story writer. (Goodreads)

I hate to confess it…but I have never read any Hemingway before, which is shocking! I love American literature and American classics, and I thought a short story collection may be the ideal place to start with Hemingway. Also, this book has the same title as the Murakami book I purchased, and I am eager to read them back to back to establish whether Hemingway played a significant role in inspiring Murakami’s work. Can’t wait to read this, plus it is a short book, a quick read.

Click here for more information!

book haul 5
Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum (published by The New York Review of Books, translated by  Basil Creighton).
A grand hotel in the center of 1920s Berlin serves as a microcosm of the modern world in Vicki Baum s celebrated novel, a Weimar-era best seller that retains all its verve and luster today. Among the guests of the hotel is Doctor Otternschlag, a World War I veteran whose face has been sliced in half by a shell. Day after day he emerges to read the paper in the lobby, discreetly inquiring at the desk if the letter he s been awaiting for years has arrived. Then there is Grusinskaya, a great ballerina now fighting a losing battle not so much against age as against her fear of it, who may or may not be made for Gaigern, a sleek professional thief. Herr Preysing also checks in, the director of a family firm that isn t as flourishing as it appears, who would never imagine that Kringelein, his underling, a timorous petty clerk he s bullied for years, has also come to Berlin, determined to live at last now that he s received a medical death sentence. All these characters and more, with all their secrets and aspirations, come together and come alive in the pages of Baum s delicious and disturbing masterpiece.” (Amazon)

I love the sound of this book! I love books set or written in the 1920s, and I have never read anything that would be considered a German modern classic. This sounds mysterious, interesting and decadent. I can’t wait to pick this up.

Click here for more information!

book haul 6
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (published by  Fourth Estate).
Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways.

This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new. (Goodreads)

I read Americanah by Adichie this year and I absolutely adored it. Her ability to create flawed but realistic characters and to immerse you in a story is like no other. I love her work, as it is extremely empowering and feminist, as well as just incredibly beautiful to read. I am so excited for Purple Hibiscus, and I am excited to read more about Nigeria and the circumstances of Nigeria in this story.

Click here for more information!


I am extremely pleased with the books I have purchased and I can’t wait to read them all over the summer months. I have a variety of books from a diverse group of authors, and I am pleased to say three of the six are pieces of translated fiction! I am looking forward to reviewing each one as I read them. I’m going to be busy!

 

Hi.

Hi.

I have not written or published a blog post in about 3 months, which is upsetting. There are several reasons for this (namely a wild couple of months, some upsets, poor mental health, and a lack of time management) but I’m not going to dwell too much.

I love blogging and I love reading, however life has steadily been getting in the way of my reading, making book blogging slightly tricky. However, I am trying my hardest to put time into the things that make me most happy, and reading is one of those things. I am writing this blog post as a reminder to myself to dedicate more time to things I love and care about, and I want to start posting regularly again. While not all posts will revolve around books, I am excited to get back into writing again, I hope some of you will stick around!