Sorry I don’t bring you a review today, as I’ve been a bit busy and the book(-s) I’m reading is (are) a bit longer than usual, but I promise I’ll be back with more reviews next week (I can hear your sighs of relief).
Initially, I wasn’t going to post anything, but I know that, as things are at the moment, people are bound to worry if somebody disappears without a word, and we in the blogger community are worriers, I know. So, I thought I’d reassure you. Nothing is wrong. It might feel like this at times…
But we keep going. I hope you are all coping with things, doing your best, taking a day at a time, and following recommendations. We are trying our best here as well, all, big and small.
I have recommended blogs and posts in the past, and I know we all have our favourites, but in case you haven’t met her yet, I recommend that you visit Mary Smith‘s blog, here. She is a talented writer, a brilliant fellow blogger, has done so many things, had so many adventures, and looked after so many people all over that it’s impossible not to be amazed and in awe when reading her posts and books. Her wry sense of humour also helps, of course. And, although we all have had many reasons to complain about 2020, she recently has had to face pretty bad news, so go over and say hello. I’m sure she’ll love your visit.
And here, I leave you a picture that has me puzzled. I looked for images tagged under “hope” on Unsplash, and this came up. I have no idea why, but I thought perhaps you would know. Or at least it would give you something different to think about.
Honestly, I haven’t got a clue, but I like it.
Thank you for visiting and for your patience, I’ll be back with new reviews next week. Take care and keep safe!
I hope you’re all OK, keeping safe and sane (that these days is a bit of a challenge). My mother and I are fine, I am happy to report, although things here are still quite bad (but they seem to be improving slowly).
I wanted to quickly touch base, as I disappeared (more or less) in March, intent on completing an intensive course to become a certified language teacher (CELTA from the University of Cambridge). Of course, best-laid plans and all that. Along came COVID-19, here in Spain (I was studying at Oxford House, here in Barcelona) schools were ordered to close on the 13th-14th. We had only completed half of the course, and that meant only completed half of our teaching practice with real students (they are very patient with us, I can tell you that!). The decision was to carry on with the lessons and with the sessions with our tutors to plan the next few lessons we had to teach, online, but Cambridge insisted that we had to complete our teaching practice in person. So, we kept working, met through Skype or Zoom, and by the second week, when it became clear that this was going to last and it was happening everywhere, Cambridge agreed that we could do the teaching practice online.
Well, that was a steep learning curve, or perhaps more accurately a roller coaster. Half of the time we didn’t know which side was up, as it meant adapting the lessons to the online platform, learning to use the technology, and worrying about what might happen if suddenly everything went wrong. But, we did it! Last Thursday we officially finished the course, and although we have to wait on paperwork, etc., it all looks good (fingers crossed)!
Although it didn’t work as expected, it was a great experience. We were a group of ten teacher trainees, from all over the world, and I’ve met many interesting people, the teachers are all amazing (also from all over the place, German, Brazilian, English…), and I hope I’ve made a few friends for life. And I also hope I’ll be able to teach not only English but also Spanish in the future.
So, all this just to tell you I’m back, at least sort of. We’ll see how things develop, but I wanted to check on all of you as well. And leave you a couple of videos, one in Spanish, and one in English, which shine a bit of light on the situation.
I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be a bit busy in March, so you might not see me around as often as usual.
I’d like to tell you this will be me:
But not quite. Yes, I will be attending an intensive course in March, but I suspect I might end up like this:
You are free to imagine me in a place like this:
Although I bet it will be something like:
No, seriously. I just love the picture and it reminded me of my time as a medical student, even if I studied Medicine in Barcelona and not Austria.
This is more like it:
Although I think all the students will be a bit older. What am I going to study? Some of you probably remember I don’t seem to be able to stop studying.
Yes, I need to get a copy of that sign to decorate my apartment.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll remember I mentioned the University of the People, and I volunteered there for a while as an instructor for their English Composition course. Although I knew many students would not be native speakers of English, I didn’t expect them to have as many difficulties expressing themselves in written English as they had. And that got me thinking about what it takes to teach English. I also decided that I would like to try to teach in person, rather than always online, and I am therefore going to take a course that, all going well, will help me get an official certificate to be able to teach English abroad. (It’s not that I haven’t thought about teaching Spanish as well, but I have not studied a degree in Spanish, so it would be a much lengthier process, and there isn’t a similar course recognised across countries). The course is here in Barcelona, but it is an intensive course, and we also have to prepare lessons and teach students, so I’m not sure I’ll have too much time for anything else. (We are warned we shouldn’t try to hold a job and do the course, as there isn’t enough time for everything).
I hope I don’t need to become a superhero to pass the course, but, of course, we all know that teachers are superheroes/heroines.
So yes, I hope in the future, my desk might look like this:
Don’t worry, though. You know how I feel about books:
Read, read, read, is my motto. Or this one:
I will keep reading and trying to get on top of my ever-growing reading list:
And you’re likely to see some reviews here, but probably not as many as usual. Don’t be worried. Now you know what I am up to. Every time you wonder about a grammar point or correct some spelling mistake, think of me.
Thanks for your patience, enjoy the month of March and keep reading and smiling!
Oh, and thanks to Unsplash and its collaborators for the awesome images!
I wanted to give you a break from book reviews (don’t worry, more to come soon) and also share a place I visited last week that I really enjoyed. Those of you who have visited Barcelona might be familiar with Sitges, a town on the coast, around half-an-hour distance from Barcelona. It is a lovely place, with three leisure ports, a beautiful church, some fabulous museums, good shopping, gorgeous beaches, and a well-known film-festival for those who love fantasy, among many other things. A group of writer friends, as a birthday present, had given me an activity box, and after checking what was on offer, I discovered a pretty special hotel in Sitges and decided to visit. The Hotel Estela is described as an art hotel, and the definition is perfect.
The hotel is like an art gallery, and all corners and spaces are enhanced by some work of art, from sculptures to collages, or paintings. There is a sculpture of Sant Jordi (Saint George, also the patron saint of Catalonia, in case you wonder) by Salvador Dalí outside of the hotel, the name of the hotel is also a sculpture by Josep María Subirachs (if you have visited the Sagrada Família, he was the sculptor responsible for the Passion Façade), and works by many others, including Josep Puigmartí’s, the artist in residence, who has lived at the hotel for over twenty years. The car park is also decorated and, if you fancy a really special experience, there are 16 rooms decorated by artists, each one in a different style.
The hotel offers you a free tour of the art, that I enjoyed with my mother, who accompanied me on the trip, and we were lucky enough to be able to visit a couple of the artists’ rooms, including the suite of love, decorated by Josep María Subirachs, a true wonder. Ah, and if you go for the tour, they also give you as a present a print signed by Josep Puigmartí. They do sell some of the artwork, including some pretty iconic pieces, by artists featured throughout the hotel and others, like the wonderful sculptures by Lorenzo Quinn (Anthony Quinn’s son), who has strong links to the area.
As there were too many images to share here, and for some reason, Microsoft offered to create a video as I uploaded them, I’m sharing the video here and a few of the images. Sorry, they are not great, but you know me and my pictures. I hope they give you a sense of the place. And, if you are thinking of visiting Barcelona and the area around it, and want a pretty special experience, it is well worth a visit. (We also enjoyed the visits to the museums and the town and you will find a few pics of the town itself too).
I hope you like it as well.
Thanks for watching, more than reading, today, and I hope you start the week on a high note.
As you know I’ve been wondering in which direction my blogging is going and focused mostly on posting reviews and some posts promoting works by some of the authors I know and love. I thought it was time to catch up on some of the things I’ve been doing, in case you’re wondering what’s going on.
I’m still dividing up my time between Spain (Barcelona) and the UK (Penistone). If you’ve been following my blog (perhaps even my older blog) for a while, you’ll remember that my father died a couple of years ago and my mother, who’d never had any serious health problems, had a heart attack last year and although she’s much recovered, she’s not as well as she was. As I’m an only child and have no other family (I’m pretty much a free agent and these days most of my work is online), there does not seem to be any point in trying to keep up with two places and the stress of always worrying about not being where one should be. If my circumstances don’t change dramatically in the next few months, in Spring next year I’ll put my house up for sale and go support my mother (well, it’s mutual support, really) back in Barcelona. So, if you know of anybody interested in a semi in Penistone, let me know.
You’ll remember I’ve been volunteering at a local radio station, Penistone FM. To tell you the truth, that was one of the reasons that kept me coming back. I had a weekly programme on Thursdays from 1 to 3 pm and it was a great way to hear about local news, meet new people (both at the radio station and through calls and messages), and I must say I learned a great deal about time management (oh, you have to finish on time for the news, no matter what!). I had been thinking for a while that it was not fair to have such long gaps when I wasn’t there and contributing to everybody’s efforts (as the station is solely run by volunteers). It was recently decided that all volunteers will need to contribute more features regularly, something I wouldn’t be able to do as I spend long periods away. As there are also costs involved that will require paying a fee, and, as I’ve said above, I’m looking at leaving the UK in the next few months, I’ve resigned from the station. I love the radio (both as a listener and as a presenter) and I’ll try and become involved in Barcelona if I can (I know there is a radio station in Sants, the neighbourhood where I grew up, so you never know…).
A few months ago I told you about another project I’d joined. In the summer (June, to be precise), I became an instructor at the University of the People. You can check my original post here. You’ll be pleased to know that all involved (I and my students) survived the first course (English Composition 0101) and I’m teaching the same course again, with more students under my wing this time. What was the experience like? Fantastic. I had students from all over: from Japan to Egypt, Italy to Afghanistan, and there were quite a few occasions when conversations and exchanges got ‘lost in translation’. Yes, there was plagiarism, panic when the exam arrived, but most of the students did well and I hope they’ll do even better in their future studies. If you know of anybody who might be interested, as a student or as a teacher, please, spread the word!
If you follow my reviews, you’ll know I’ve been trying to catch up and read some of the books that had made it into the ManBooker Prize Longlist. Well, the shortlist is out.
Of those, the only one I had read and loved was Exit West (in case you missed my review, you can check it here) but I have somehow acquired Paul Auster’s4321 since and I’ll do my best to read it before the actual Prize is announced. If you’ve read any of the others, let me know.
And, before I go, I’m house and pet sitting at the moment for a talented and generous author I think many of you must know, Christoph Fischer (I’ve just beta read one of his novels, and although I know it will be a while yet, if you love cozy mysteries and Eurovision, get ready for it!)
Christoph and his partner Ryan were very kind and invited me to their gorgeous wedding. It was in Carmarthen Registry Office, light, fun, and full of people happy to join these two men who always make everybody who meets them feel welcome.
I could not help but share a few pictures of the happy couple…
And, this video dedicated to them. I’m sure nobody who attended their wedding will ever listen to this song in the same way again:
Thanks very much to Ryan and Christoph for inviting me to their wedding, to Greta, Wilma, and Dora (their three dogs) for putting up with me, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, and click! And don’t worry, I’ll keep the reviews coming!
You know I have been sharing reviews as if there was no tomorrow, but apart from reading (well, it includes reading too), I’ve been up to other things.
Quite a while back (I think it was eighteen months ago or so) I read an article about courses and education one could access on-line with little investment. While checking the links, I came across The University of the People. This project, the brainchild of Shai Reshef (@ShaiReshef) who had a vision. Making education available to as many people as possible and removing the obstacles to its access. I was fascinated by the idea and decided to apply to become an instructor. I was sent a questionnaire last year but nothing came out of it.
Recently, I was contacted again, a bit out of the blue. I sent another questionnaire and a day later we arranged for an interview (Skype is a great thing). They were interested and after completing some training, I’ve just started as an instructor of the English Composition 1 Undergraduate course. (Good luck, mostly to the students).
The University of the People is tuition free for students (they only pay the exam fees) and instructors and staff are not paid a salary (only a stipend). There are many institutions funding the project, and also many individuals collaborating with their time.
Here Shai Reshef explains better than I can:
I thought you might be interested in the project and you might know people who might be able to collaborate or benefit from it. I also wanted to ensure you knew what I was up to, as I suspect I might be quite busy, especially until I get used to the rhythm of things.
I hope to keep you posted on how it goes and I might share some interesting stuff with you.
Thanks to the University of the People for this opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment and of course, let anybody who might be interested know.
You might remember that after wishing you a Happy New Year (February 2017 already!) I decided to disappear for a while and try and see what I would do with the blog.
Well, you’ll wonder if I’ve come to any conclusions. I’m afraid not that many. Before I left I had been thinking about coming up with an elaborate schedule sharing a variety of things every day. After having some time to think and realising I enjoyed the freedom of not blogging so regularly (and also of being able to dedicate a bit more time to reading what others were saying), I’ve decided not to do that. I enjoy the interaction blogging allows, but I can get that from blogging less regularly and from commenting on other people’s blogs. I do enjoy writing, but I’m not a great improviser (one of the reasons why I admire people who join in writing challenges but I usually don’t), and I prefer to have a bit more time for my translations and my writing projects. I might eventually use more platforms such as Wattpad that seems less plagued with constant changes of settings and where the emphasis is mostly on the writing (but we’ll see).
I know book reviews are very useful to authors and readers alike, and I love reading and belong to several review groups, so I’ll continue to share reviews. I have quite a few to catch up, but after that, I’ll share as I finish the books and have an occasion. I have many great reads lined up, so I hope you’ll keep visiting for that.
I might do the odd post about other things as my inspiration strikes me or if there’s something that particularly calls to me. Yes, I’ll keep you informed of my own projects as they are ready and I’ll thank you for your support spreading the word and if I have any promotion of my translation work or my books I’ll let you know too.
I’ve taken the chance during this time away to update a bit my old blog at http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com I never deleted it and people keep finding it every so often and following it, although at the moment it consists mostly of links to my new posts in this blog. As it resisted all attempts at terminating it (a bit like my Christmas cactus that was flowering when I arrived back in the UK last Friday although I hadn’t watered it or tended to it since I left on the 30th of October) I’ve decided it deserves to live and I’ll use it to reblog (as I can’t do it here) interesting posts I see. I don’t have the comments open there, but please, feel free to comment on the original post. That will be another way to share content I enjoy. I haven’t changed what it looks like, because to be absolutely honest with you, as much as I enjoy pretty things when I’m reading something I don’t care that much about fancy stuff around it that I sometimes find distracting. (I know a Spanish poet whose blog has hearts dropping from the sky, bubbles going up and down, music playing… I told him I found it impossible to read anything with all that going on and he told me people enjoy it. Well, it’s not me.) And it might be that if I don’t find a better use for this blog, I’ll end up just going back to the old one.
And now, I thought I’d leave you with a couple of trailers for movies I’ve really enjoyed.
La La Land
Thanks for reading and just in case you’ve forgotten, please like, share, comment and click!
Incredibly, another year has gone by and it’s Christmas again.
I don’t know how your year has been. Mine has been… trying, to say the least, but hey, there’s another one around the corner. And so I wish you a fabulous time if you celebrate it. Enjoy it, don’t get stressed (it’s not an exam), and live the moment.
If you don’t celebrate it, I hope you have a quiet time and survive the upheaval as best you can. Reading always helps.
I wanted to thank you for reading, for sharing and for being around all this time and for all your support. I have a new book coming out next week, and then I hope to take a bit of time to reevaluate the blog (yes, New Year calls for that kind of thing). In the meantime, do enjoy!
I seem to have accumulated a few promotional activities in the end of April and beginning of May (I’ve told you about some and I’ll remind you again soon) so I decided this week I would give myself and everybody a break.
If you’ve been reading some of my posts for a while you might remember that after going on a Mindfulnesscourse/retreat for psychiatrists some time ago (I was surprised to realised it’s coming up to three years) I took up Mindfulness. I use an App called Insight that apart from offering a timer and guided meditations also has the option of joining some groups. I’ve found them (especially the Women’s Group) very welcoming and supportive and whenever I have a chance I check the messages. One day somebody had posted a question, the one in the title of my post. And quite a few of the ladies replying to the question mentioned that first thing in the morning they’d do the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation. (OK, and drinking lemon water, hot or not was also a big winner).
Of course, with my rigorous research cap on, I decided to go to You Tube and find out what the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation where. You’ll see if you try, that there are many videos about it. I share one here:
Costa Rica looks awesome too, doesn’t it?
I’ve been doing the Five Rites for almost a year. I’m not sure I’m any younger, but I think it’s a good way to start the day.
And I can’t help but wonder if Julie Andrews knew something that escaped me at the time….
So, friends, how do you start your day? I hope with a bit of time to yourselves and a smile, if nothing else.
(OK, I went to an exhibition in Barcelona, of some of the paintings of the Phillips Collection, and for some reason, this painting makes me smile).
Thanks all for reading, and I hope, whatever you do in the mornings, it starts the day well for you. Smile, like, share, comment, do the rites, sing… whatever!
First, big news! If you’ve been following my blog you’ll remember that a couple of weeks ago I shared the news that the local radio station I’ve been volunteering at, Penistone FM, and their Evolve proposal had been chosen as one of the projects going forward for ITV People’s Project. And, the results are in, and we’ve won!
I leave you a couple of links where you can read more about their project and see a video from ITV showing when they visited Penistone FM (don’t worry, I wasn’t there, although I think all my colleagues did a great job) to tell them they’d won. So, if you’re curious to see what the place looks like, this is your chance!
Second. The good news about Penistone FM got me thinking about listening to things. Recently I finally got free codes for my two newest audios (three more of my novels are being turned into audios at the moment, fingers crossed), both for Audible.com and audible.co.uk. So if any of you would like to listen to them, do let me know. I don’t think I’ll run out of codes, but just in case, let me know as soon as you can. I’ll need your e-mail addresses as I need to send you the codes and the instructions, but if you prefer not to leave them here, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (I leave you a reminder at the end of the post). I leave you some samples and information so you can make your mind up.
A thriller, about obsession, strange relationships and voyeurism:
Family, Lust and Cameras by Olga Núñez Miret. Narrated by LaDawn Black
Do you enjoy spying on others? Do you think it’s harmless?
Pat thought she’d left her past behind and started a new life. But one doesn’t get rid of voyeurism, obsessions and family quite that easily. Sometimes one has to adopt drastic measures to survive the harassment of a man, particularly a man like Herman. And this time Pat is determined to win, whatever the price.
In this world where technology dominates our lives, we’re never alone and privacy doesn’t exist, this novella more than a work of fiction is a warning about the dangers that haunt us in our own homes. How far would you be prepared to go to get revenge from somebody intent on controlling your life?
Author and psychiatrist Olga Núñez Miret brings us another story where the character’s motives and the inner-workings of their brains will keep you guessing. Brief, tense and with no flourishes, the story will keep you reading non-stop till the end.
If you’re fans of ‘Psycho’, ‘Peeping Tom’ and ‘Single White Female’ and are fascinated and repelled in equal degree by ‘Big Brother’ this adult story will get you hooked.
What would happen if your life became The rear window? How far would you be prepared to go to get revenge from somebody intent on controlling your life?
The audiobook version, narrated by LaDawn Black brings the action and its disturbing effects, even closer home.
I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret. Narrated by Gwyn Olson
Dulce, Adelfa and Storm, the protagonists of I Love Your Cupcakes are business partners, friends and share some “interesting” family connections. All the men Dulce meets only want to talk about her cakes and she’s tired of it. Her friend Adelfa, although she’s a Chemistry Professor, can’t manage to find the recipe for the perfect relationship. And Storm, the third of the partners of their bakery/coffee shop/bookshop/art gallery and ex-fire station, is an artist who is not a master in the art of love. How could they imagine that at the TV studio of the program “Do You Have What it Takes to Be the Next Baking Star?” they’d find sexual harassment, cheats, fights and also love? Recipes included (only for cakes, not love!)
Glyn Olson and Red Rose Studio have done a fantastic job bringing my novel to life. You’ll be able to smell the cakes, laugh with their adventures, and fall in love…
What a fun book this was! Starting with a colorful, tantalizing cover, Ms. Núñez Miret’s story immediately drew me in. In it, Dulce and Adelfa are best friends and, coincidentally, half sisters (It’s complicated!). Dulce has dabbled in one profession after another; Adelfa has had trouble with men. Together they finally get their acts together by starting a cupcake and cake business, proving the age-old adage, “when things are meant to be” they just happen lickety-split.
Using an old, 1878 abandoned firehouse, they develop a community-based, fun-filled bakery, where books are offered to the public as well as good cheer. All is going swimmingly when they are invited to participate in a televised Hollywood bake off. The reader is then treated to the inner workings of shows such as this––some of it wonderful, some of it not so good. As the contestants get to know one another, romance blossoms for our heroines, bringing happiness full circle for all. If you want to read a highly entertaining, feel-good book, I definitely recommend this one!
And for the giveaway. Fabulous and generous author Marie Lavender who’s been a guest in this blog and its predecessor often and who’s always trying to enhance readers’ experience by bringing together and promoting the work of as many authors as possible, is organising a giveaway of romantic novels, all genres, for the 29th of March. She’s organised an event in Facebook. Check here . She’s still looking for authors, so if you’ve written a romantic story and would be happy to gift or send some copies out and get closer to readers, head over to her website (or I can give you her e-mail address). And readers, do join in for a chance to get an incredible variety of romantic novels, your choice! I can say that I’ve connected with great readers and met many authors through Marie’s giveaways, so don’t miss this chance.
Here a few more places where you can connect with her:
Thanks very much for reading (and listening), for your votes for Penistone FM, and if you’ve enjoyed this post, like, share, comment, CLICK, and if you want a free code for the audiobooks, just leave a reply or send me an e-mail at: email@example.com (I’ll need your e-mail address to send you the code and the instructions). If you listen to them, a review would be welcome! And don’t forget to participate in the giveaway!
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