Read Around the Rainbow Web Ring

Read Around the Rainbow: Top 3 Non-Romance Reads

Read Around the Rainbow is a blogging project featuring yours truly, A.L. Lester, Ofelia Gränd, Holly Day, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector, Addison Albright, Fiona Glass, Lilian Francis, and Ellie Thomas. Every month, we pick a topic and then we blog about it. Check the other blog posts by clicking the RAtR widget in the sidebar, or the links at the bottom of this post.

The RAtR topic for August is “What are your top three non-romance reads?”


First of all, I want to let you know I’m going to break the rules and pick five favorite non-romance reads. Because that’s the kind of person I am, a rule breaker. Also because picking only three favorite books is impossible. Even five was difficult; I almost made it six 🙂

We’ve picked non-romance so you’ll get to know us a little better, learn who we are more than romance readers and writers. Because all of us in this webring are book lovers…which I believe is a requirement for authors, wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

But without further ado, here are my top five picks (in no particular order, all of them are number ones!)

Ronja Rövardotter (Ronia the Robber’s Daughter) by Astrid Lindgren

On the night Ronia was born, a thunderstorm raged over the mountain, but in Matt’s castle and among his band of robbers there was only joy — for Matt now had a spirited little black-haired daughter. Soon Ronia learns to dance and yell with the robbers, but it is alone in the forest that she feels truly at home.

Then one day Ronia meets Birk, the son of Matt’s arch-enemy. Soon after Ronia and Birk become friends the worst quarrel ever between the rivals bands erupts, and Ronia and Birk are right in the middle.

As a Swedish person, I’ve grown up on a steady diet of Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking, who’s probably our most famous author. I’ve read most of her books, and while I love Pippi, I love Ronja more. This book was released when I was nine and can’t even guess how many times I’ve read it. I’ve read it as an adult, too, and I still love it.

Ronja is a fierce heroine. She befriends Birk, the son of her father’s arch enemy, she knows right from wrong and isn’t afraid to speak up when she learns that her father actually steals stuff for a living, and she doesn’t hesitate to stand up to him when push comes to shove. She stands up for what’s right, she sides with Birk when her father forces her hand, and she doesn’t give up. He’s the one who crumbles first, he’s the one who comes to her and asks her forgiveness, not the 12-ish year old girl.

If that isn’t the best kind of role model any young girl can have, I don’t know what is. And that’s why I’ll read this book to my darling grandbaby when she gets a little older.


Dracula by Bram Stoker

Just like Ronja Rövardotter, I’ve read Dracula so many times I’ve lost count. It was my favorite novel as a teenager, and it was the book that made awakened my love of epistolary novels. I don’t really know what it is about epistolary novels that fascinates me so much, but I absolutely adore a story told through letters and newspaper clips like this one. Or emails, DMs, text messages, and everything other modern day equivalent to the classic letter you can think of.

But Dracula is also responsible for awakening my love of horror stories and making me a fierce defender of the vampire as the best supernatural being ever (yes, me and the hubby has had long conversations which is best: vampires or zombies), and it’s the reason I devoured every vampire book in existence for years and years. These days, I don’t read a lot of paranormal books, but I’ll gladly make an exception for a good vampire story. But I’ve honestly never found a better one than Dracula.


The Poems of Catullus

Odi et amo. quare id faciam fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio, et excrucior.

I studied Latin in high-school. It was one of my favorite subjects, taught by one of my favorite teachers ever. She loved Latin and old Roman history with a passion I envied as a teenager. She loved it so much that she made me love it, too. As someone who already read poetry at this age, I fell head over heels in love with classical Roman poetry. Especially Catullus.

The short poem above is my favorite and I can recite it in Latin. It’s about the woman he called Lesbia in his poems, who really was a married woman named Clodia, and the poems about her display a range of emotions from tender to sad to sarcastic as their relationship starts out happily then fizzles out and they fall out of love.

His poems are great. In fact, I think I’ll go find my copy and re-read them right now. Because what better way is there to spend a lazy Saturday (the day I’m writing this post) than with a good poetry book?


A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Tell me you love Shakespeare without telling me you love Shakespeare.

My daughter’s name is Ofelia. 😁

That being said, I prefer the comedies over the tragedies, so Hamlet is not my favorite Shakespeare play. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is.

It’s probably because I was in an amateur acting group in my late teens/early twenties, and I played the part of Titania when we played AMND. And my now husband, then crush, played Nick Bottom who Titania falls in love with (albeit under the influence of a love potion, but still). That meant I didn’t have to try to play it cool and pretend I wasn’t desperately in love with him; I could live out my feelings. Very practical. 😁

Acting was so much fun and for a while, I dreamed of a career as an actor. Not for movies or television, but for the stage. Me and some of the other actors lived and breathed theatre and plays (and movie adaptations of Shakespeare plays; I’m looking at you, Much Ado About Nothing!) for years, but then life happened and my acting dreams fizzled out.

But my love for Shakespeare didn’t.


Aednan by Linnea Axelsson

Aednan is the newest book on my list (it was published in 2018). It’s a Swedish novel-in-verse that tells the story of two indigenous Sámi families. The nomadic Sámi traditionally make a living by herding reindeer over vast distances, across country borders. They live up north, in the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and even in Russia. As many other indigenous people, the Sámi has been abused, violated, experienced racism (still do to this day), and has been forced to change their way of life.

The people in this book get to experience all that and more. They’re humiliated, deprived of their identities, ridiculed. Aednan is 760 pages long, but never has such a long book with so few words on every page made me feel so much. I ached when I read it, both because of what they are forced to endure, but also because it’s stunningly beautiful.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I wish I could tell you all to go read it, but it’s not translated to English, except for a few short verses I’ve found that I’ll post below.

The Swede’s fingers
all inside my mouth

clothing strewn
across the floor

Me thinking
it was because of my
bad teeth

that the traveling doctor had come

With hard tools
he measured me

learned men
in every nook

With razor-sharp
scratching pens

they went
through me

I could tell that the
short one
was taking shape
on their papers

Using royal ink
to draw
the racial animal

The shackles
of our obedience

unfastened
my home-sewn belt

My breasts hung
their distaste blazed

I saw how they
wrinkled their
slender noses

laughing
all the while

My friend beside me
was quick to help me
on with my kolt

Then she quietly translated
their questions
about what we did
when menstruating

Over the doctor’s shoulder
the minister

And I heard him
say in Finnish:

The way their men drink
makes God cry
and the Devil laugh

And the shame

took root in me

because of my dark hair
and my
dark eyes


That’s it. That’s my top five non-romance books. But don’t forget to check out the other posts on the topic. It’s always so interesting to read what my fellow writers come up with and I love that the same topic creates so wildly different content. I can’t wait to read what they’ve written.

Ofelia Gränd :: K.L. Noone :: Amy Spector :: Addison Albright :: Fiona Glass :: Ellie Thomas :: Lillian Francis

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: One Summer Night by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much for having me as your guest again, lovely Nell! I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical romance, and today I’ll be chatting about my new release, One Summer Night, written for JMS Book’s Night or Day story submission call.

When I chose to write about the option of Night in this story, I didn’t realise it would be such a contrast to my bright and breezy July story, Twelve Letters, written for JMs Books 12th Anniversary celebrations and concerned with the social life of the ton. Although these are both Regency stories, this one is centred around the political power base of London society. Martin, one of my main characters, is working as a clerk in Whitehall, and aristocratic Will, his love interest, is under the thumb of his wealthy and politically influential father.

Will is under so much pressure that something has to give, so it’s no surprise that his first meeting with Martin is no-holds-barred and passionate! These two first lay eyes on each other in an ordinary tavern (The Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, which is still a very popular pub). But when researching this story, I was fascinated to learn about numerous well-known meeting places for gay men in Regency London. As well as indoor locations such as bagnios (Turkish baths), certain coffee houses and Molly Houses, there were plenty of outdoor areas, such as Sodomites Walk on Upper Moorfield, where men could meet and hook up. Despite punitive laws, the Regency gay scene was thriving!

That public yet secret world informed so much of my story, with Martin and Will, unsure of the other’s feelings and intentions have to don a social mask in their everyday lives. This element of secrecy inevitably causes confusion until they have the opportunity to talk. Only then do they have the chance to transform a brief night of passion into the start of a true love affair.

In 1801, Martin Dunne spends his days as a hardworking clerk at the War Office in London’s Whitehall. One summer evening, after a drink in a Fleet Street tavern, he has an unexpected passionate encounter with a seducer who haunts his dreams.

But when they accidentally meet at a society function, the alluring stranger not only turns out to be the son of one of Martin’s superiors but also betrothed to a trusting young lady.

Martin’s hopes are dashed as he imagines the Hon. William Grant is a cynical rake of the worst kind. But has he misunderstood the situation? And might he allow Will to explain and give their fleeting connection a chance to develop into a fully-fledged romance?

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

Extract:

Feeling hot and tired by the end of the working day, Martin trudged home along Whitehall. Not having the luxury of a valet, once washed and shaved, he struggled into his evening clothes and combed down his thick dark hair. Then he practiced a smile in the spotted mirror, softening his serious expression, before setting forth on foot along the busy Strand towards Charing Cross. As he walked past his fellow citizens, the sticky evening made him uncomfortable in his constrictive evening clothes. At least it’s not raining, he thought, and he wouldn’t disgrace his superiors by arriving at a prestigious destination looking like a drowned rat.

Once at the palatial and newly renovated mansion, where no expense or extravagance had been spared, there was the usual endless queue on the stairs before the formality of announcements and resultant herding of guests into an already crowded reception room. Martin made small talk with some vaguely familiar faces from Whitehall who wouldn’t normally have deigned to notice him. He was anticipating when he might be able to escape when Sir Hervey was before him, smiling in gracious condescension.

“Enjoying yourself, Dunne?” He asked, and Martin replied with suitably muted enthusiasm.

“Met many people as yet?” The great man inquired, and as Martin demurred and started to say that he had been conversing with mutual acquaintances, his host turned to call someone forwards.

Martin felt a dull sense of obligation as Sir Hervey introduced a young lady in her early twenties, fragile and sweetly pretty in a simple white gown, the fashion for narrow skirts flattering her petite form. 

“Miss Imogen Ashley,” Sir Hervey intoned, as the young lady curtseyed, her eyes demurely downcast, “affianced to my son. I don’t think you’ve met my youngest, William, have you?”

Without waiting for an answer, he moved to one side to tap a young man on the shoulder. Martin’s first thought was that he was almost as fair and delicate as his intended, and then, as those all-too-familiar eyes met his, he realised with a jolt that this perfectly turned out pink of the ton, furnished with a dauntingly influential father and a winsome bride to be was the seductive stranger from the alleyway who filled his tumultuous dreams.

During the blur of introductions, that sultry gaze, so full of unspoken desire the night before, was blank, betraying no emotion after a flash of alarmed recognition. In such a crush, since neither of them reacted, no one noticed the sudden tension between them. Despite this, Miss Imogen moved a little closer to her betrothed, taking his arm as if sensitive to a change in his mood.

For the remainder of the reception, Martin could not have said who he spoke to or what he said, and as soon as he was able, he slipped away from the party unnoticed. On his way home, when he stopped off at a tavern for a tot of rum, all he could see in his mind’s eye was the shock in those speedwell-blue orbs. 

Bio:

Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/
Twitter: @e_thomas_author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas

Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation

I’ve been in a terrible reading slump lately. Nothing sounds good to me, not #Snarry fanfics on AO3, not re-reading old favorites, nothing. So I’ve been playing a stupid game on my phone, hating it but not knowing what to do when nothing sounds interesting.

So when I scheduled the New Release post on the blog for Holly Day’s July story, Love in an Elevator (this post if you missed it) and the blurb actually sounded interesting, I more or less begged Holly for an ARC. And since she’s one of the nicest people on earth, she gifted me one.

And I really liked it.

After that, I decided to start subscribing to Scribd again (we have an on-again-off-again relationship, me and Scribd) and stumbled over Twelve Letters by Ellie Thomas. And since I’m a sucker for epistolary stories, I made a fist bump and said “Hell yeah!”, and started reading it.

And I really liked it.

So today, I’m recommending two stories by fellow JMS authors, all around nice people, fabulous authors, and friends.

Hayden Perry moved to Landown two and a half weeks ago. He was excited to get the event planning job he’d applied for, but apart from bumping into a cute guy in the elevator, things don’t pan out the way he’d hoped. His boss is an ass and his co-workers are idiots, but as much as he dislikes them, he can’t afford to quit until he has another job lined up.

Corey Hope’s school years sucked. With a crippling stutter, he was easy prey, and despite being grown up, his bullies still haunt his nightmares. After he left school, he gave up on trying to talk, and communicates solely through sign language and written text. It works great even though he wished he could say something when Hayden flirts with him in the elevator.

Hayden does his best to catch Corey in the elevator as often as he can, and he thinks they might have something, but it all comes crashing down when Corey sees him having lunch with his colleagues. Corey might be drawn to Hayden, but seeing him with his school bullies has old memories washing over him. He won’t let them hurt him ever again, and he’d rather forget about Hayden than risk Hayden hurting him.

How will Hayden convince Corey he’s nothing like his colleagues when Corey refuses to see him?

This book was just so darned cute. I love a good story with some kind of disability so I was eager to read how flirting with someone who doesn’t talk would work. But Hayden stepped up; he was persistent, he never gave up. He was borderline stalkerish, and yet not; he was just adorable in his eagerness. I admit I saw the “twist” coming a mile away, but I didn’t mind, because the way Holly resolved it was very satisfactory. The way Hayden acted was very satisfactory. Has anyone figured out that Hayden was my favorite character yet, or do you need more clues? 😀

When I finished this story, I had a huge smile on my face and I’m so grateful to Holly who got me to read an actual book and delete the stupid game from my phone.

I give Love in an Elevator my warmest recommendations.

Amazon :: JMS Books

In Regency London, Jolyon Everett is determined to dissuade his irascible friend, Captain Ben Harding, from fighting a duel. However, before commencing on the pressing business of defusing Ben’s misplaced anger, Jo writes two notes — one to Percy Havilland, his very demanding paramour, and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. With those trifles out of the way, he can concentrate on persuading Ben to reprieve young Edward Stephens, a newly qualified doctor, who Jo suspects has a serious crush on Ben.

But the best-laid plans can go awry, as do the letters. As well as a furious Ben, Jo finds himself at the mercy of an outraged Percy and an amorous tailor. Can he convince Ben not to shoot Edward after all? Will he soothe Percy’s ruffled feathers? And might Jo realise true love can be found under the most unexpected conditions?

You probably know by now that I like Ellie Thomas. She writes short and researched and lovely, and Twelve Letters was no exception. Even though it opens with a misunderstanding – and you all know how much I hate those – it worked. I could see it coming, but I was in a generous mood so I was willing to see where it went, and Ellie made it work and it didn’t bother me at all. Another thing I normally don’t like is more than one couple in one book, but Ellie convinced me on this point, too. It was really well written, really intriguing, and I loved it.

And isn’t that the greatest thing, when an author takes two of your least favorite tropes/themes, and writes them well, and makes you adore the story? So how could I not recommend this fabulous book?

Amazon :: JMS Books

Guestpost

New Release Spotlight: The Book Dragon’s Lair by Holly Day

Today, I welcome one of my favorite people, Holly Day, back to the blog. She’s here to talk about her latest release, dragons, bookstores, and romance. I don’t know about you, but that sounds awesome to me! So Holly, please, make yourself at home, and tell us more about your new book! ❤️


Hello, everyone! Thank you, darling Nell, for allowing me back on the blog again. This month, we’re celebrating Bookstore Romance Day. It has to be one of the better days out there if you ask me. Who doesn’t love a bookstore?

The story I’ve written to celebrate is called The Book Dragon’s Lair, and I have to say it’s pure indulgence on my part. Interspecies couples are my jam. I love writing them. The differences, the slight misunderstandings and misinterpreted meanings, and so on. In The Book Dragon’s Lair, we have Egil who is human, and Ruy the Ravenous who is a dragon.

Most often, I pair my interspecies couples with a fated mates trope, but in this case, I didn’t. Dragons mate, but they have a choice in the matter. When they find someone they want to live their life with, they share the breath of life and tie their lives together.

Egil is unaware of this and believes he is mated to Draken the Dreadful, who is a dreadful dragon and his worst nightmare. He’s been taught dragons stay together for life and therefore see no escape from the abusive relationship he’s in.

Did I mention that on top of interspecies couples and fated mates, I do love a traumatised hero? Well, I do. The worse the past, the better. Poor souls.

When we first meet Egil, Draken has been called to the dragon realm because there is a war brewing. Egil can finally breathe without fear and spends his days running Draken’s bookshop. When he gets word Draken has been injured and is on his way home, his world falls apart.

But it isn’t Draken who comes back. The dragon entering the bookstore claims to be Draken, but he’s not.

Ruy saw Draken die, and since he wanted to go to the human realm, he switched out their belongings and pretended to be Draken. Once in the human realm, it’s harder to pretend. For one, Egil doesn’t believe him, and two, he knows nothing about books. Who in their right mind wants to be a book dragon? 😆

As you can see, pure indulgence – dragon shifters, traumatised hero, bookstores, and a slow-burn romance building among the bookshelves.

Blurb:

Egil Olsen is running The Book Dragon’s Lair, a bookstore on Dragon Row, while Draken the Dreadful, his mate, is away fighting a war on the other side of the veil. The relief of not having Draken around is great. For the first time in years, Egil doesn’t have to watch every move he makes. When word reaches him that Draken is on his way home after having been injured, he considers running away.

The dragon stepping over the threshold to The Book Dragon’s Lair isn’t Draken, though. He claims to be, but Egil knows his mate, and while all dragons are dangerous, the male standing before him is nowhere near as cruel as his mate. Ryu never wanted to be a book dragon. Books don’t sparkle, but if it’s the price he has to pay to be in the human realm, he will pay it. He’ll take over Draken the Dreadful’s treasure, and he hopes he can take over his mate, too. Egil doesn’t want to be mated to a dragon, but without a mate, he’d be homeless and without a job.

A few hours after having met Ryu, Egil thinks being mated to him might not be too bad, but how will they be able to fool the people around them into believing Ryu is Draken? And what will happen if the real Draken comes back?

Gay paranormal romance :: 33,671 words

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

Excerpt:

Egil was shaking so hard he feared the bookshelf would fall over from the vibrations. There was something wrong with Draken. He didn’t dare look at him properly since he was scarred, and if he caught Egil staring, he’d beat him bloody, but he was bigger than Egil remembered. Could dragons grow? Or had his memory failed him?

His skin tone was darker. Draken had never been as fair-skinned as Egil, but now his skin was a richer brown. He didn’t know if they could choose what they looked like in human form. Maybe he’d been fighting in dragon form, and when he shifted back to human, this was how he appeared. Maybe this was his true self, and the way he’d looked before was a conscious choice.

He grimaced. No. If he could choose how to look, he’d have hidden the scars. Dragons were vain, and Draken was the vainest of them all. He’d never let anyone see him scarred if he had any control over it.

Who was in the room with him? Shit.

“I’ll put on some coffee.” He hurried out from behind the bookshelf and dove for the stairs. The kitchen was on the third floor. It was small, and Egil hardly had anything edible at home. Money was tight. He didn’t dare take more of what the bookstore earned than he did when Draken was around. He only took what he needed to cover his expenses; the rest went into the bank. Business was better when there was a dragon in the building. They attracted the tourists, but Draken had been away for months, and word had traveled fast. He feared Draken would be disappointed in what he’d accomplished while he was gone. A disappointed Draken wasn’t something he wanted to think about.

When Draken had been gone for three months, he’d considered breaking into one of the rooms on the second floor and selling one of his valuable books. If he picked a book Draken wouldn’t notice was missing, it could have given him money he could spend, but he hadn’t dared to. He didn’t know what they were worth.

Now he was glad he hadn’t done it. It had been seven months since Draken had left, and he’d had to scrape by on what little he dared take from what the bookstore earned. He’d survived, and Draken couldn’t accuse him of stealing.

The bottom floor was new books only. Draken had no interest in new books, so Egil was the one ordering, shelving, and displaying. It was the only part of his life he loved. He could have any book he wanted, could display them as he saw fit, and there were so many pretty books.

He wanted to have a corner with a coffee machine and some easy chairs so people could stay and read, but Draken had refused. He didn’t want humans to linger longer than they had to. He didn’t like when they leafed through books or spent too much time looking at them.

Egil put on the coffee, and since Draken hadn’t joined him on the third floor, he ran up to the fourth. Their bedroom was in the tower. There was only the bedroom and a bathroom, and the cold, stone walls were curved. There was a hearth, and Egil quickly pulled his thin mattress off the bed and placed it next to it. It was as far from the bed as he could come and still be in the room. It wasn’t far enough to protect him from Draken’s desires, but it was where he spent his nights.

He then opened the chest by the end of the bed and pulled out clean bed linen for Draken.

With a mournful look at the bed, he exited the bedroom. He’d loved sleeping in a bed these last months. The stone floor was freezing even in the summer, not to mention uncomfortable with only a thin mattress pad to sleep on.

A yelp escaped him as he caught sight of Draken halfway up the stairs. His heart drummed so fast he feared it’d give up. Thank heavens he’d had time to make it look like he’d slept by the hearth the entire time. He squeezed his eyes shut as he waited for Draken to get closer.

The rustle of his clothes as he moved had Egil holding his breath, but there were breaths. Egil frowned. Draken was panting. He never panted. How injured was he?

He cleared his throat but kept his gaze on his scruffy shoes. “I can move the bed if the stairs are too hard on you.”

He waited for a blow, or at least to be shouted at, but all Draken did was grunt. “I need the exercise. I’ve been on my back for too long.”

He dragged himself up the last bit of the stairs and looked around as if he’d never been there. A knot formed in Egil’s belly, and the voice in his head told him the reason he looked around as if he’d never been there was because he hadn’t. The new Draken was a stranger.

“Do you, erm…” He swallowed hard and moved down a couple of steps so he wouldn’t fall as far if Draken hit him. “…remember what it looks like up here?”

The sound of soft footsteps was followed by a long silence. Egil couldn’t breathe. Why had he opened his mouth? Stupid, he was so stupid.

“I was thinking I should wash up.”

Oh… “Of course. Do you need… eh… Your clothes are still in the closet and there are clean towels on the shelf in the bathroom.” He slipped down another step. “I’ll eh… erm… prepare to open the shop.”

About Holly Day

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter

About Nell

Goodbye July

July sped past at light speed, and now August is here. To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind. While I love summer, I long for the fall season. I want steaming tea, crackling fires, yellow-orange-red leaves, and crisp air, and August is one step closer to that utopia. So while it’s a little scary that time flies past so fast, I’m good with August. We’re going to be friends, August and I.

But before we leave July behind, I have a few pictures to show you of what I did. I had 3 weeks of PTO in July; in Sweden all employees are guaranteed at least five full weeks of vacation time per year, and I took three of mine in July. Here’s a few glimpses of what I did.

Let’s start with the best part, shall we? My beloved grandbaby W, my ray of sunshine, my little bumblebee, was visiting for almost three weeks: first ten days at the beginning of my time off and then they came back the last weekend before I got back to work, and stayed for whole other week. Which meant I came home from work and was greeted by a sunny smile and lots and lots of babbling from little W, I was served dinner cooked by my son-in-law, and was treated to hugs and closeness and conversations with my darling daughter. “Lovely” doesn’t begin to describe it, and I wish I could convince them to move here permanently.

Since little W is a bookworm just like her Gramma, this is what it looks like most of the time when she’s here. “Let’s read, Gramma,” she’ll say, and we’ll curl up on the couch and read. Or she’ll bring a book to her Grampa and they’ll sit in his favorite chair and read. She even convinced her Great Grandmother to sit on the porch and read. Or she’ll read to us. She knows what happens in the books because we’ve read them so many times, and she sits next to someone, telling the story in her own words. It’s my favorite thing to do, to listen to her re-tell the stories.

We read a book about animals, animal babies and parenting in particular.

“This is a banggai cardinal,” I said.
Little W scrunched her eyebrows together, looked at me and said, “Fish, Gramma.”

Gramma – Little W 0-1 😁

But PTO only means time off work, the work at home never ends. So we also cleaned out the garage to make room for a huge pile of firewood we’d ordered and that was delivered one sunny afternoon. The hubby and I spent hours and hours stacking 6 cubic meters of firewood in the garage. I would probably have had a less busy day at the Day Job…but I’ll be very happy about this stack of firewood come fall and winter.

I baked super yummy walnut bread in my Dutch oven. I’m not a baker, but I want to be, so I went looking for an easy, no-fuss recipe and found one. You stir together four ingredients (five if you want walnuts) in a bowl, no kneading required, then you let the dough rise in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you shape the bread so it fits into your Dutch oven, then bake it for close to an hour. It’s heavenly, and so, so easy to make, and it’s now a staple in my kitchen.

I also harvested my first ever cucumbers. It’s a modest harvest, I know, but it was an experiment. I found a variety that can grow in pots with small-ish cucumbers (not even 4 inches), and I wanted to grow something Little W could pick and eat. And here’s the first three cucumbers I picked; the were very tasty and extremely crunchy. And Little W loved them too, and finished off the last ones on the plants and then went looking for more. Luckliy, new cucumbers are coming so she can have some more the next time she’s visiting.

We grilled lots of food, because any self-respecting Swedish house owner always grills in the summer. It’s more or less the law.😁 These are herb-marinated vegetable skewers that were served with grilled corn, and pork fillet. Delicious!

We’ve also had our master bedroom renovated, and we could finally move into it in July. We’ve been sleeping in the second guest room since we moved into the house, but no more! The master bedroom is a lovely space, and we’ve spent half the month decorating it to our tastes. It’s almost done, but this is the finished result before furniture.

And on the hottest day of the summer (35c/95f) our BFFs from Malaysia came for a visit. We had no other visitors, and our friends left their one-year-old with his grandmother, so we decided a pool party was in order. We hung out in the pool, litened to music, and drank lots of bubbly, just like the good old days in Malaysia. We also ate excellent food that our friends brought, and stayed up late talking, laughing, enjoying each others’ company. It was a perfect summer day.

This big cloud heart that sailed past our house high in the sky one lovely July day will be the last picture. It’s been a busy month, with lots of visitors (my parents, my in-laws, my brother-in-law, my son-in-law’s mother and stepdad, and assorted friends have also stopped by), lots of chores (the firewood being only one of them), tortured writing (but I’ll talk more about that in a separate post), and lots and lots of cooking. But most of all, it’s been full of laughter and love and family, so this picture represents my July and is the perfect ending to this post.


Tell me something you did in July.