ness talks books

revenge of the horseclans: absolutely not

It’s my youngest niece’s fault. I laid a selection of books out on the bed and asked her to choose which one that I should take on a trip. She chose this one, because she likes horses. I see her logic.

No. I’ll revise this. It’s my fault, firstly for buying the book, and secondly, for actually reading it. I take full responsibility.

And I regret everything.

places I wish I hadn’t read this book: in a cafe, on a train, at a train station, in castle, in an airbnb …

What’s this book about? you ask. Well. W-eee-eeelll. Thank you for asking. It’s a book about a ‘brutal, raw adventure of warriors caught in a struggle for survival in 27th century, post-cataclysmic America’. So, you know, a typical Thursday. There are, as far as I can tell, some cat-people, lots of telepaths (it’s called ‘mind-speaking’), and men running around badly in need of a bath – and manners.

It would be easy to list everything I loathed about this book. I did, in fact. It’s one of my favourite sort of jokes – the ‘I won’t say how much I can’t stand Alice, but if I did, I’d say she was a rotten, no-good, mass produced troglodyte, but I WON’T’ – but I reread the list, sighed, thought ‘… not today.’ I wouldn’t want to waste the joke.

If I was to be thorough with writing this ‘review’, you know, I should really reread this book. Once. Twice, even. But life is short, each second that passes is another that can never be retrieved. Time is precious. I’d rather waste it in better ways.

This is all my personal opinion of course and if this book is one of your favourites … well, look, I won’t apologise for my opinion, but I will say (in a higher pitched voice with very wide eyes) ‘oh, okay! that’s nice! the weather is good today! gee, the economy! isn’t it terrible nowadays?!’

The book spends a lot of time with a distinguished gentleman by the name of ‘Bili of Morghun’. What a man. What a bloke. What a … what a character. That’s a way to describe him, a character. A hero? No. I refuse. My heroes, you see, don’t typically reflect on the rapine that they’ve recently engaged in as if it is a rite of passage that all males undergo.

My heroes, I like to think, have basic morals. And ethics.

“But to slay women and children … even babes …” Vaskos began.

“Nits make lice, Kinsman!” Bili shrugged.

Bili of Morghun, an all around good guy!

But – I hear you ask – this is 27th century, post-cataclysmic America! You can’t possibly impose your morals on Bili! Not Bili of Morghun!

To which I respond with ‘… watch me.’

You see, I don’t care. I dislike Bili. I don’t hate him, that would require an effort that Bili doesn’t deserve. (He doesn’t need it either. Bili is very strong, you know. Quite capable. I know, because we’re told this a lot.) I’d say that Bili needed therapy but I don’t think it would work.

He isn’t ‘the hero’ of the book. I shouldn’t like to call him the protagonist either. It has a ‘pro’ in it, you see, and in my humble opinion, Bili of Morghun (YES – Bili of Morghun!!!) is all ‘con’. Sorry Bili, even if your mind-speak is simply the best (better than all the rest!) I simply cannot say how marvellous you are. Such a thing would require facts and evidence.

But don’t worry, in a twist that would no doubt offend Bili dreadfully – he isn’t even the REAL contagonist. It’s Milo. Yes! I know! The shock! I didn’t see it coming either!

I think that if a pre-pubescent child had encountered the wonder of Conan the Barbarian and had yet to understand empathy, nuance and what good characters are – and bear with me, this scenario is continuing – and if this child had then been requested to write a short story with a male lead …

… it would have turned out better than this.

I must give the author some kudos, the world building exists. It could be an interesting, if slightly puzzling, world. No, I will not provide any examples. I refuse. To put it bluntly: you cannot make me.

the book opens with some poetry that would surely make Keats and Yeats WEEP in envy

I know, I know … you could say ‘ah, but it’s a product of its time’, but my gosh! so was using asbestos, and smoking for its health benefits, and dosing Victorian children with drugs to soothe them!

In short, in summation, tl;dr … I’d like to say – this book was not my cup of tea and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Thank you.

And goodnight.

ness talks about life

busy-ness aka doing everything all at once

The first part of this year has been quite hectic. I’ve booked, double booked, and occasionally triple-booked myself because … well, I have no clear answer. Perhaps it was the winter blues that got to me. Perhaps it was an inability to realise that sometimes, a girl just needs a break. Or, and this is more likely, it was entirely accidental.

In the words of Carlotta: “these things do ‘appen“.

the burj khalifa fo’ sure


Somehow, through no fault of my own, I ended up visiting a few countries. And none of them were Mongolia, Madagascar, or Morocco. One, however, was Wales. I would recommend.

istanbul 🙂

I’ve learned some thing though (GASP. I know. I know) … for example, travel is made so much better with friends & family.

life is not the things that we do
it’s who we’re doing them with

Will Connolly, Cecily Smith

And I was lucky enough to make trips all with friends and/or family. I also got to travel with Hayden; a long discussed trip finally coming to fruition. We had many adventures, we caught some Shakespeare, some planes, some trains, some Ubers, and – just to make all things even – a boat. One could say that at this point, we are professionals. (And it definitely was not me who booked our train return tickets on the wrong day. Nope. I would never. I absolutely did.)

And another thing I’ve learned? I’ve occasionally declared myself to be a pessimistic optimist. Or an optimistic pessimist. One of those. However, when it comes to Zadok the Priest? I’m all pessimist. I can’t sing it. I’m sorry, I tried, but I don’t think I could reach that high even if I grew several feet. And yes, that’s a good joke. Please laugh. Thank you.



I’m on track to reach my reading goal this year. It’s a nice feeling. There were some reading highlights, and then there were some really terrible not-highlights (I am side-eying Revenge of the Horseclans so hard that my eyeballs are in danger of falling out.)

What about writing? Ah. Yes. Writing. This was not one of my top priorities at the beginning of the year. However! I don’t intend to be quite so busy, which means I have time … which means I can write and am writing. (Ze logick iz exquizite.)

behold. a book.

Work is ticking along. The next-door library is still there. The blossoms are out in the woods, flowers everywhere are in bloom, the sun seems to shine just a little bit brighter and the days stretch a little longer.

I’ve learned a small lesson about moderation; that doing everything can be done (or rather, attempted), but should it? For me, I think, I’m grateful to have been able to do so much! But oh, it’s so pleasant to slow down sometimes. There’s a time to be busy, and there’s also a time to not be so busy.

But, you know, there’s always a time to overuse italics to pick up a book.

after all the busyness, i paddled in a stream. and it. was. glorious. 10/10. absolutely no notes.
books, ness talks about life

your eyes are like dirt // an amalgamation of things

Why concentrate on one thing when you can concentrate on several?


I don’t think I’ll ever forget it either, Ali Smith

Occasionally, I have been known to read literary fiction. It is always memorable, this one was a deeply tragic story of a Senegalese soldier’s deteriorating mental health as the savageness of a brutal war wages around him. I listened to it via audiobook and I have to say that was probably a bad choice. Perhaps reading it would give me a different impression.

However, I wasn’t sure if the final scene was a metaphor for the brutality of the trenches in World War I (as suggested by one reviewer), or a rape scene, so you see, I’m afraid it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.


I trooped off to Iceland and it was quite glorious. It is a place of extremes – of weather, and of landscape. (And of sleep deprivation.)

I do not think I’m hardy enough to live there, so perhaps it’s fortunate that no one has asked me to. I brought two books with me. Yes. I know. Pitiful.

One of those was How To Stop Time by Matt Haig. And … here’s the thing – the concept is very intriguing (a man! who has a disease that makes him age v e r y s l o w l y), the writing is very thoughtful, however I couldn’t connect with the main character. I tried. It didn’t work. C’est la vie, this book was not for me.

at the window – a towel to mop up the condensation on the window, and the blinds that I DID NOT panic over, thinking that I’d broken them


This was another audiobook, and a bit more of a success. In fact, I consider this to be a glorious, glorious choice. My loved ones probably don’t consider it as such. I messaged a brother, informing him that squid have donut shaped brains. He responded with ‘lol what’.

(‘A prophet is not welcome in their own country‘ comes to mind.)


A fascinating book that’s quite short and is the spiritual successor to The Gospel of Eels that I read last year. (I say spiritual successor … this is a very loose description. And also utterly inaccurate. But shush … please go with it.)

I think I must be very lucky in that I’m surrounded by very, very patient people. My colleagues received a daily dose of what I liked to call (enthusiastically call) ‘SQUID FACTZ!’ Some were very kind and enjoyed them. Others looked bemused, and some, a little bewildered. (‘And GET THIS – the oesophagus goes through the donut hole!‘)


Who, I ask you – actually cares about ‘cringe’? Life is too short, and there’s nothing wrong with sincerity. (In fact, let’s have more of it, please and thank you.)

So in light of the above, please see the below.

if only you could see yourself // how other people do

(However, this song will have the side effect of making the line ‘your eyes are like DIRT’ pop into your head at inopportune times. You are welcome.)

lemme tell you a story, ness talks about life

paddington bear’s favourite dinosaur is: unknown

London, 2022. Before the Queen departed this mortal coil, the pound jumped off a cliff, and they installed a revolving door in Number 10. Blissfully unaware of All That Would Be, I, my sister-in-law and my niece and nephew, caught an early coach to the Capital. Our mission? The Natural History Museum and Big Ben. Sorry! Elizabeth’s Tower.

We were fortunate in that arrived at the side of Buckingham Palace and saw the changing of the guards. Our sight was partially obscured by a postman’s van. Presumably he’d taken a wrong turn. I like to think of him fondly, slumped low in the driver’s seat:

‘Maggie! I’ve gone to the palace. Yes! You heard me right the Palace! I KNEW I should have used the bloomin’ SatNav’

The guards changed and marched around a bit and stood for much longer and out of all the things I’ve ever seen, it was one of them. You can’t say much more than that.

I asked a policeman if he wouldn’t mind assuring my nephew that this was Buckingham Palace. The good news? Yes! It was. Also (he pointed) ‘those are the kitchens.’ So. Now we all knew.

Onwards we trooped, towards the Natural History Museum. We had a map, we had a plan, we were prepared.

And it. was. glorious.

this has a WHALE of a story to tell. i make no apologies

We had a map. We marked off each area we visited and though we spent an eternity there and still didn’t visit every single place.

he’s a mammal that cares *extra*

This is a Giant Sloth and let me tell you that Sid the Sloth wishes he had this height. What a legend. What ribs. What glory.

The dinosaur area (LOOK I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL MUSEUM PERSON. I DON’T KNOW THEIR NAMES. Oh wait. Exhibit? Exhibit.) was heaving with people and yet, it was magnificent and I got to see some dino skin and lemme tell you, their skincare routine? Not it. Not it at all.

Charlie, mah boi, with his bodacious beard

I quite liked all the mineraly-rock room. My niece thoughtfully pointed out one of the precious gems on display as a gift for her mother and what can I say? The girl has taste.

Unfortunately the gem was a) in a vault and b) not for sale. Pfft. Minor obstacles. Easily overcome!

In the low, low priced gift … place … I bought dinosaur jelly sweets for the folks at work. They were delicious and inspired a poll. (The sweets. Not my colleagues.) It’s always ‘Why are you here?’ and ‘What do you do for a living?’ and never ‘What’s your favourite dinosaur?’ A simply disgusting oversight. So that’s why we, in my little office, asked the question of nearly the entire company.

And they answered.

I won’t tell you who won out, but I will say that I’m disappointed that more people didn’t vote for the Pachycephalosaurus who are clearly the spirit dinosaur of a British-man-with-a-bulldog-tattoo emerging from a pub after a football match.

(Trust me on this one.)

behold! Elizabeth’s Tower!

It was a long day, but a day that was very much worth it. We got to meet up with more members of my family, which was delightful, and so in short – it was a wonderful day and I would 100% recommend going. (With your own family. Sorry. You can’t have mine.)

If no one has asked you lately, please allow me:

What’s your favourite dinosaur?

ness talks about life

things i did not do in 2022

If I had a nickel for every event I organised in 2022 and missed … I’d have three nickels. That’s not a lot but it’s weird that it’s happened three times …


Yeah, I could have gone to the France. (Bonjour! Voulez vous une baguette?) I had a cheap flight, and an airbnb booked – it was beautiful, a lovely little apartment up several flights of winding steps, overlooking the old town, with a cathedral at the very bottom of it all. A boulangerie right around the corner. I could have sat on a balcony, eaten pastries, and woven a story!

Photo by on

I did … none of those things.

The week before I was due to catch the short flight over to France two things (2) happened:

a) I began to feel a tiny, incy bit poorly

b) the feeling of dread began to climb

There was this very vivid mental image in my mind, you see – I hop on a plane and go to a country, find a ride from the airport to the apartment, walk deserted streets, forget to buy food because it’s too late, lie on the bed and perish of starvation. In the morning I wake, a Victorian waif, and sip water from a tap. Misery is my companion. Despair, my friend.

The vibes, I announced to any unfortunate person in my general vicinity, were off.

I released that I was an adult and thusly, I have autonomy. If I do not want to hop on a flight and butcher a beautiful language and be battered to death with a baguette – I did not have to.

This felt like a sudden and beautiful moment of self-realisation.

The plane took off. My seat, empty. The airbnb, cancelled.

(And it was a good thing too – I developed a filthy cold and had a redder nose than Rudolf himself. Forgive me, Rudolf! I’ll be guiding that sleigh tonight!)


I say this with love, but I probably shouldn’t be permitted to buy tickets. To anything. You know, just no tickets in general. Step away. Don’t purchase.

And, in the dreadful occasion that I do purchase the tickets, I should also ensure that I have a method, a means, or a way – of getting a refund.

(I have not learned my lesson.)

A friend and I were going to go down to London to see Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Friar Tuck (David Harewood) in a play which probably was Very Serious and Important. I definitely was going for the cultural element, and not because I was determined to support Zachary Quinto in person.

We had a dream. We had a plan. We even had a parking space. And then strikes hit the railways and a dastardly cold struck my friend.

Reader, I tried to give those tickets to someone else. I did my very best. There were no takers. We couldn’t move the tickets without incurring extra cost, and we couldn’t get a refund, and if I made the trip on my own I would be driving at one am in the morning. No one wanted that. Especially me, Ness, who is very attached to the idea of being in bed and not on a motorway in the wee hours of the morning.

Alas, when the curtains opened there would have been two empty seats in Grand Circle Row F. But listen, dear actors and stage hands and theatre folk – we were there in spirit.

I messaged my friend: this play is moving me to tears.

He agreed, but mentioned that he couldn’t see the stage as someone’s head was in the way.

We were, in all probability, in our PJs, in our respective homes.


… as you can tell, there is a theme here.

Having been to London Comic Con, dressed as Jason Todd and sporting the fakest and most wonderful of crowbars, it was obviously imperative to do it again. But this time? A friend and I were going to be dressed as hobbits.

How exciting! How thrilling!! We were going to look spectacular! The hobbitiest hobbits to ever hobbit! I began mental preparations to make the hobbit feet (and by ‘make’ I mean ‘buy’).

These plans did not last long.

‘What if,’ I asked my friend, ‘we went as ironic hobbits. With a white t-shirt that said “Hobbit” on it?’

She agreed.

I felt quite smug, as if I was a future hipster Hobbit. I could run around and demand if total strangers had eaten their second breakfast! What panache! What style!

but just imagine us, accosting everyone ‘HAVE THEY TAKEN THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD?’ and then being thrown out of comic con because our great wit proved to be too powerful

Those t-shirts, dear reader, were never made.

But no worries! We were still 100% going to comic con!! It would be grand! Great! Brilliant! It … did not quite happen.

There was a communications failure and the carrier pigeon I sent my friend was shot on its way to her. To exacerbate the matter, I had neglected to organise a) transport and b) apparel – assuming, of course, that magically and wonderfully these things would just … happen.

They did not. We live in a society.

The night before, a decision had to be made. When the morning of comic con dawned, I had a delightful lie-in.

(Sometimes, the best plans can be the cancelled ones.)

Believe it or not, the interrupted plans don’t worry me too much. Sometimes, the dream of going somewhere – that delicious, comforting feeling of something to look forward to – is worth the money itself.

(Is that what I say to comfort myself? Yes. Yes, it is.)

In Calvin & Hobbes, Calvin’s dad would probably say cancelled plans were character building or something, and you know what? I’d agree with him. I really did enjoy that lie-in.

What things didn’t you do in 2022?