Book Review – This Woven Kingdom

This is my spoiler free review of This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi. 

Alizeh stitched in the kitchen by the light of star and fire, sitting, as she often did, curled up inside the hearth.

Alizeh, the lost princess of a Jinn Kingdom – is hiding in plain sight, working as a house maid and seamstress to keep off the streets in a kingdom where her people are feared and unwanted. Kamran, the crown prince – witnesses an altercation between a street child and a servant girl, not realising that his next choice of actions will set in motion a cascade of life altering events that leave Alizeh hunted and Kamran questioning everything he knows. From the moment these characters catch sight of each other the story is full of misunderstandings and assumptions which twist our characters view of the world around them and has them questioning who they can trust.

I found the main characters believable, relatable and well rounded. Alizeh and Kamran have hopes, dreams and flaws that drive them through the story and affect the world around them. The dual point of view helps us build an understanding of how different the world is for our two main characters, my heart ached for both of them as the story unfolded.

‘I haven’t the slightest idea what we’re doing’ he said softly. ‘Though if you mean to take me captive, you need only ask. I would come willingly.’

For lovers of a slow burn, forbidden romance – this book does not disappoint. Alizeh and Kamran are drawn to each other despite everything that should keep them apart. Their interactions are full of emotion and you long for them to live in a different world where nothing is in their way.

Tahereh Mafi’s poetic writing conjures up sights, sounds and feelings that suck you into the world. I found myself stopping, closing the book, holding it to my chest with closed eyes and seeing myself standing in the kitchens of Baz House or on the streets of Setar or Yent. 

At first I wanted to describe the pace of the story as ‘relaxed’ or ‘on the slower side’. But, on reflection, given the time frame under which the events unfold, that would be unfair. I felt like I was moving through the hours with the characters, experiencing their days as they were.  We don’t see fast paced action scenes in every chapter, but by the end of the book I felt like our characters had been through a whirlwind. In just a few days their lives have been completely turned upside down. The final few chapters are a wild and exciting series of events that left me unable to do anything but close my book, turn to my husband and say ” I love this book so much”. The ending was a perfect balance of a satisfying conclusion and an intriguing set up for the first book in the trilogy. I’m excited to see where the story goes from here.

I give this book 5/5 stars and if I could give it more I would.

Have you read The Woven Kingdom? Let me know your views down below. (Beware of spoilers in the comments!)

Please research this book for Trigger Warnings before reading. 

The Sunday Subject – Teddy Bears

Good morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy The Sunday Subject. This week’s subject is Teddy Bears.

My first teddy was actually a rabbit, called Bun.  I still have it, of course, and when I went to photograph it I was a little disgusted at how dirty it is! Might have to pop it in the wash… We believe it was from Mothercare and I think it originally had a ribbon to hang it from a pram or some such.  Bun was always a favourite and fairly well cared for, except the the time I thought it needed a belly ring so used an earring to give my rabbit some bling.

I always assumed that teddy bears had existed since the dawn of time, that cave dwelling children were handed animal skins shaped like little rabbits and bears. So I was surprised to learn that – where as I’m sure some incarnation of soft toys and comforters existed before the official teddys – teddy bears as we know them now have only been “a thing” since around 1902 and we can thank President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt for the adorable name. He gained the nickname when, on a hunting trip, he refused to shoot a bear that had been captured and tied up, claiming it was unsporstmanly. Morris Michtom, inspired by a cartoon by Clifford K. Berryman of Roosevelt sparing a little bear cub, made a bear and sent it to the president. Within 5 years of this first ‘Teddy’s Bear’ being created Michtom started a toy company which later become the largest doll-making company in the US.

Do you have an old or well loved teddy that needs some TLC? Did you know there are teddy hospitals!? Or if you want to try your hand at making your own toys there’s courses across the UK.

I’d love to hear about your first or favourite teddy.  You can tell me it’s story down below or send me pictures on Twitter or Instagram.

The Sunday Subject – Succulents

Good morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy The Sunday Subject. This week’s subject is Succulents.

The plant of choice for anyone who loves the life that plants bring to your home but is totally incapable of remembering to water the damn things.  Having said that, I killed my first succulent with love, over watered it and it rotted, most unpleasant.

Succulents usually come from a climate where water is scarce and have adapted to survive under these conditions.  Their thick fleshy leaves are designed to store water giving them the ability to thrive where only mist or dew is a regular source of liquid. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap. Technically (or more accurately, horticulturally) there is a difference between cacti and succulents  but I think in the world of ‘having a little plant friend to call your own’  you’d be forgiven for grouping the two together.

There are over twenty five plant families that contain succulents and some of those of those families have well over two or three hundred succulents in them. I’m not sure I’ll have room for them all on my dining room table but I’m prepared to give it a go.

For some further reading on succulent cultivation, here’s a list of articles from World of Succulents or maybe you’d like to learn everything there is to know about succulents and Cacti, in which case perhaps this 8 lesson online course is for you!

Send me some photos of your plants! Succulents, cacti or maybe just a bunch of cut flowers, I’d love to see any and all!  You can do this via Twitter (@BeccyMundy) or via a DM on Instagram (beccy_mundy)

The Sunday Subject – The Notebook

Good morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy The Sunday Subject. This week’s subject is The Notebook.

No, not the 2004 film starring Ryan Gosling. The notebook, every stationary lover’s obsession.  I myself have many (many) notebooks scattered around my home, some beautiful, others practical, most totally empty because they’re just too nice to spoil with pencil or ink!  Notebooks bring me a scene of productivity and organisation, two things I often find I lack.

From a cheap and cheerful ring bound pad from Wilko, to the sleek and stylish Moleskine. The uses of a notebook are innumerable. Whether you’re a writer, artist, parent, student or astronaut everyone has a use for a notebook.

Maybe you make your own.  During the 17th and 18th century notebooks were made at home as and when they were needed by folding together pieces of paper.  Children were taught how to make them in school because information management was so important.  It wasn’t until around 1890 that notebooks started to be made and sold.  Scraps of paper were stitched together to make a small pad.  These quickly evolved into the ‘Legal Pad’  that we have today.  As with all things the notebook developed over time and the production processes changed to include, glueing, covering, spiral binding, ring binding and of course in the 20th century we were introduced to the practical, if less pretty, electronic note taking world.

I have to say, that even with the benefits of digital note taking, I don’t think I’ll ever fully switch from paper and ink to pixel and key.  Notebooks are a work of art, there’s so much character in a well used notebook, you just can’t beat it.

If you’re interested in learning how to bind a notebook here’s a list of UK based classes and The Book Studio in Norfolk offers courses during the winter months.

Or maybe you could just fold together a few sheets of paper…

I’d love to see your notebooks, whether home made or shop bought.  You can share them with me on twitter (@BeccyMundy) or send me a DM on Instagram (beccy_mundy).

 

Top 5 Places to Eat Lunch – Norwich

Norwich is fantastic for food.  I feel like there’s always somewhere new to try.  I’ve tried to pick a few different kinda of eateries to put into my top 5. They are in no particular order.

Wild Thyme
Smashed Avocado on Toast; Organic Yogurt with Fresh Fruit; Peanut butter, Banana and Blueberry Pancakes and a Spiced Turmeric Oat Milk Latte.

Wild thyme – Nestled behind a row of shops with a cute courtyard outside.  You enter up a set of stairs into a smallish room very simply styled.  It’s a veggie/vegan restaurant with an extensive menu, from breakfasts to curries and something for all tastes. Although probably suited more for older guests as I don’t believe they have a children’s menu.  Personally I consider Wild Thyme to be a planned meal out kind of place rather than a drop in for a bite to eat.  It’s a little higher in price than the other places on my list but the food is well worth it.  You can read about my brunch if you like! *Just to note, due to a fire in the shop below, Wild Thyme is currently closed.  Keep an eye on their website for more details.

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Moorish – You can find Moorish in one of Norwich’s busy lanes, Lower Goat Lane to be precise.  If you go during lunch time hours then you might have to wait a while because this place is always busy.   Moorish is a falafel bar with a focused menu – there’s 3 options – but when they do it this well, be glad you don’t have too much choice.  You have the option to customise with added toppings and sauces, so you can make your wrap, pitta or salad just how you like it.  Plus they do lemonade that’s to die for.  And for an added bonus they are part of Norwich’s Last Straw Campaign and are selling reusable metal straws!

Pono
Poke Bowl; Smashed Avo on Toast and a Berry Breeze Smoothie.

Pono – I visited Pono twice in two days, it’s bright, clean and simply beautiful inside. During these warmer days we’ve been having Pono’s menu is the perfect thing. Another place that’s picked a few meals to offer and is doing them well.  Customise your own salad bowl, choose from three ‘Smoothie Bowls’, go for a classic ‘Smashed Avo on Toast’ or try a twist on a traditional ‘Poke Bowl’.  The fresh smoothies are divine, I always go for the Berry Breeze.  And to add to the summer vibes, they have just started doing iced coffee. Yes! I think they sum themselves up pretty well on their website ‘We are a superfood bar inspired by Hawaiian culture, selling healthy, nutritious food without feeling like you’re making sacrifices’. 

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Saporita – A favourite of mine and my dad’s.  If we get a chance to meet for lunch in the city this is normally where we go.  They have a wide selection of Italian street food including, focaccia, panini and pizza slices.  Saporita is a family run business and is homely and friendly.  I don’t know if the woman behind the counter actually recognises us when we go in, but we are greeted with a big smile and warm hellos that make us feel like we’re returning to a friend.  There’s a lot to choose from and they offer a good selection of vegetarian and a vegan option.  While scrolling through their menu I’ve noticed they offer a Tiramisu in the desserts section and I’ve fallen even more in love with this place.  Anyone want to meet for lunch?

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The Waffle House – If you haven’t been to The Waffle House, then have you really been to Norwich?  This was one of the first places my dad took me just after he relocated here nearly 10 years ago.  What can I say about The Waffle House that’s not already been said in it’s long (and interesting) history? They serve waffles, the best in Norwich.  Ok I’ve not had many waffles in Norwich other than these, but why would I when there’s The Waffle House!?  There is something for everyone, and they can offer options if you have dietary requirements.  I’ve seen queues outside before it’s even opened and I’ve stood in that queue many times and I imagine I will stand it in many times more.  “Waffle House?” is a question with only one answer. “Hell yes!”

Minimising my life

Minimalism is a hot topic at the moment,  people are looking to reduce stuff and increase enjoyment.  It’s a fantastic idea and one that I’m adopting in my life for a number of reasons.

I’m going to be uploading a few videos and blog post about what I’ve been doing and hows its already started to make a difference to my life.  I started with something easy, books.

You can see my video below about why I’m switching for paper books to kindle books.

Greatest Works…

Frequently I will write really great blog posts. Only, I don’t actually commit them to any kind of physical form. And so, as the day goes by, I forget what I had to say and the words are lost forever.  Some days I write blog posts in a physical medium, they might not be as good as the ones I write in my head, but it’s better to write them down and post them, right?

In terms of connecting with people and sharing my stories with other like minded people, yes, it is better to physically write something for people to see, but sometimes is the act of private creation not more important?

In order for me to post something I have to be the first person to like it and, to be honest, generally I feel that I’m the only person who has to like it. I only ask my husband to read it to make sure it’s comprehensible (there is no hope of other people liking it if they can’t even understand it).

By “writing” blog posts that never get written I’m developing my style, my voice. And even though I’m hugely disappointed when I have the feeling that something great has been lost, it gives me confidence to sit down and write anyway and occasionally I’ll run to the computer fast enough to get the post down.

I carry a notebook with me, I’m trying to get better at making quick and detailed notes to look at later and sometimes ideas make it to the pages but I still  find the posts I write in the shower or while I’m carrying shopping are much better than the ones I manage to get down on paper.  By writing them down I cease to continue developing them in my head and when I come to write up the post the moment is gone.

So as I sit and write this, with wet hair that possibly still has some shampoo in it,  I realise that maybe I don’t need to learn to write better notes: I need to learn to run faster.