This is my fortnightly update on how I’m doing while coping with Long Covid now it’s been 10 months since I first got ill, which I’m adding to my Sunday Post blog, hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer.

I had hoped to continue to feel better after the uptick in my energy levels once I recovered from my cold at the beginning of January. But last week, it was a struggle to get out of bed before the middle of the afternoon and by the time I’d showered and dressed, it was often getting dark again. While I’m aware it’s important to get outside in the fresh air and whatever sunshine – there didn’t seem much point shuffling around the block in the frigid gloom of a mid-winter late afternoon. So I didn’t bother – for one thing, I can’t move fast enough to get the blood moving to combat the cold, so it’s an exercise in misery.

However this week, I woke up on Monday feeling hugely better. And so far, on Sunday, I’m still feeling better. Though I’m taking it cautiously. I still am dealing with the ongoing nasal drip, which I’m heartily sick of – both the disgusting taste and the resulting tinnitus. And my neck is still very swollen and tender, making it painful to turn my head quickly. But my energy levels, both physical and mental, are much improved. When I saw the Dr last week, he was very reassuring. My liver and kidney functions are normal and while my thyroid is swollen and has a number of nodules, which he thinks is a result of covid, it is also functioning normally. I’m due to have another scan in March to monitor any further changes. But I still don’t manage to get up much before midday and I still struggle to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, even if I go to bed at the right time. Thank goodness for books – if I wasn’t able to put the light on and read in the wee small hours, Life would be a whole lot more challenging.

On the bright side, our car has now been fixed after the minor accident when someone swung into the passenger door – and their insurance accepted the liability. And our grandson came to stay again from Tuesday through to Friday. Having him in the house, travelling back and forth to college on the train, with his bubbling enthusiasm for his college course is a real tonic. So I’m delighted that his staying with us is going to become a regular fortnightly event. Now he is 17, I’m not worried about having to look after him if I’m too ill to get out of bed and he is happy to help around the house.

This week I’ve read:-
The Red King – Book 1 of the Wilde Justice series by Jenn Stark
As the first Justice of the Arcana Council in two hundred years, Tarot-reading Sara Wilde is tasked with taking out the most dangerous magic-wielding criminals on the planet. Her first assignment? A killer known only as the Red King, who’s systematically picking off the world’s most gifted magicians in the rollicking streets and storied canals of Venice, Italy, on the eve of Carnevale.

Amidst the festival’s music, masks, and brightly colored costumes, Sara must unravel the truth about a brutal murderer from Venice’s own murky past, navigate the twisting political currents of magicians who seek to rival her own Council, and keep one costume change ahead of a conjurer whose lethal spells could end Justice–permanently. Good thing the diabolically sexy and deeply powerful Magician of the Arcana Council has Sara’s back…if only he didn’t hold so much of her heart as well.
This was a gripping read – and it didn’t hurt that Stark’s vivid evocation of Venice reminded me of a wonderful family holiday in what seems another life. Sara is a sympathetic protagonist, there were plenty of plot twists that kept the pages turning and I’m delighted to discover there are plenty of books in this spinoff series. 9/10

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.

But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.

Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterize the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel.
I’ve included the complete very wordy blurb as it does a good job of setting out the narrative imperative behind this intriguing book. While I’m not completely familiar with the political landscape of the time, Sittenfeld has done a thorough job of depicting it. But what I think is masterly is her evocation of the unthinking sexism and racism running throughout the spheres of influence that not just impacts Hillary, but other women around her. I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot since I finished reading this one, and the main reason why it hasn’t garnered a 10 from me is the unevenness of the pacing in places. 9/10

Immortal in Death – Book 3 of the In Death series by J.D. Robb
When Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas investigates the murder of a top model, she is putting her career on the line, because the prime suspect is her best friend. Eve’s investigations lead her into the glamorous world of high fashion.

Himself has bought all these books, so I’m starting to work my way through them. Set in the near future, the writing is pacy with plenty of romance as Norah Roberts in the guise of J.D. Robb serves up a number of brutal murders for our feisty protagonist to contend with. 8/10

AUDIOBOOK – Kingdoms at War – Book 1 of the Dragon Gate series by Lindsay Buroker
For centuries, wizard kings have ruled the world from their elite sky cities, battling each other to add to their wealth and power, while using normal human beings as pawns. Those without magic struggle to feed their families and live in constant fear of bringing down the wrath of their tyrannical masters. Something must change.

As a cartography student, Jak has always dreamed of finding the lost dragon gate and exploring and mapping distant worlds. Developing magical powers and becoming a powerful wizard? Not a chance. Wizards are cruel and inhumane, warring with each other from their great sky cities and keeping most of humanity enslaved. Jak wants nothing to do with them.
But when he and his archaeologist mother unearth the gate, they attract the attention of the very wizards they sought to avoid. Even more troubling, Jak starts developing magical powers of his own, powers that could rival those of the great rulers. Fate may have given him the opportunity to change the world. But the wizard rulers don’t like change, and when they detect threats, they send their elite assassins to eliminate them.
And if the above blurb sounds like an intriguing situation – you’re absolutely right. I love Buroker’s vivid, three-dimensional worlds. Her settings are always detailed and politically sophisticated and once again, I’ve lost my heart to the main protagonists, Jak and his clever, studious mother. I’m thrilled to discover yet another gripping series by this accomplished author to dive into – Buroker has been one of my major lifelines during my illness! 9/10

The Cruel Stars – Book 1 of The Cruel Stars trilogy by John Birmingham
The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of “species purists” intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. Fashioning themselves as the one true “Human Republic,” the Sturm cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing billions before finally being defeated and driven into the far reaches of Dark Space. Centuries of peace bred complacency. Everyone believed the Sturm had died out in the Dark. They were wrong.

The enemy has returned and, with a brutal and decisive attack, knocks out almost all of humanity’s defenses. Now on the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial attack: Commander Lucinda Hardy, thrust into uncertain command of the Royal Armadalen Navy’s only surviving warship. Booker3, a soldier of Earth, sentenced to die for treason, whose time on death row is cut short when the Sturm attack his prison compound. Princess Alessia, a young royal of the Montanblanc Corporation, forced to flee when her home planet is overrun and her entire family executed. Sephina L’trel, the leader of an outlaw band who must call on all of her criminal skills to resist the invasion. And, finally, Admiral Frazer McLennan, the infamous hero of the first war with the Sturm hundreds of years ago, who hopes to rout his old foes once and for all—or die trying.
This military space opera adventure is full of action and conflict, as well as a number of punchy, well-written protagonists. One of the best written is the terrified child caught up in the middle of a waking nightmare by dint of her birth – Birmingham’s depiction of Alessia is one of the highlights in this enjoyable book. 8/10

Baking Bad – Book 1 of the Beaufort Scales Mysteries by Kim M. Watt
A tranquil village. A poisoned cupcake. A murdered vicar.
A simple case – or it should be. But all clues point to the Toot Hansell Women’s Institute, and Detective Inspector Adams is about to discover there’s much more to the W.I. than bake sales and jam making.

Alice Martin, RAF Wing Commander (Ret.), and current chair of the W.I., knows the ladies of the Women’s Institute are not guilty. But she has a bigger problem. Toot Hansell has a dragonish secret, and she needs to keep the police well away from it. And she’d really rather not be arrested for murder. Again. Meanwhile, Beaufort Scales, High Lord of the Cloverly dragons and survivor of the days of knights and dragon hunts, knows even better than Alice that the modern dragon only survives as long as no one knows they exist. But he also knows friends don’t let friends face murder inquiries alone. Beaufort fully intends to Get Involved.
This investigation is about to take on dragonish proportions.
A cosy murder mystery set in a small English village, accompanied by quantities of tea, cake and dragons… This one sounds almost to be too good to be true. So I was delighted to discover that as well as being genuinely funny with a cast of enjoyable, believable characters – the dragons are also intriguingly different from the general run of scaly monsters we’re used to seeing in our fiction. I will definitely be reading more of this series. 9/10

The Shattered Skies – Book 2 of The Cruel Stars trilogy by John Birmingham
The Sturm, a group of “species purists” intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements, returned from the far reaches of Dark Space to strike a devastating blow against humanity. Though their victory seemed inevitable, a small group of reluctant heroes managed to beat back the invading force. Now left with the remains of a crippled civilization, they must work together to rebuild–and to stand guard, in case those weren’t the only enemies hiding in the dark…

This Netgalley arc is the second book in this military space opera adventure. Once again our plucky group of misfits are faced with dealing with a lethal and committed enemy. Review to follow.

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I’m very aware that right now, it’s a very one-sided relationship and I don’t know when I’ll be able to fully reciprocate. In the meantime, do take care and try to keep well.

33 responses »

  1. Glad to hear you had some good days, I hope they get more frequent! I have Rodham on my list. I lived In The states for 12 years, mostly during the Clinton years so interested to read more.

    • I recommend Rodham – it’s meticulously researched and all the dialogue and scenes felt realistic. I’ve certainly found myself thinking a lot about it. As a young woman, I recall a number of men being quite angry with me for having too many opinions and ‘being mouthy’ – so a lot of what she experienced rings true.

      • Listening to some of the boys at my daughters school, I fear that the message that women have an equal voice still hasn’t gotten through to everyone!

      • Oh – I don’t think it’s penetrated anything like far enough. It’s why I tend to get a tad frustrated with the fantasy books which have a feisty young heroine somehow getting hold of a sword and then rushing off to have an adventure alongside the men. If only it were that flipping simple!!!!

  2. I really hope you continue to improve. I had similar experience early last year with the hip/back thing and I hated it. Himself is really a keeper, isn’t he? buying all those In Death books. Your reading is certainly interesting. I didn’t realize Rodham was fiction but no doubt the patriarchy got their way more often than not.

    Anne – Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

    • Thank you, Anne. I recall just how much your hip/back injury compromised your daily life – and how much pain you were in! I’m lucky because while I’m often uncomfortable, I’m rarely in physical pain – something I regularly give thanks for! Take care and have a great week:)).

  3. PLEASE take care of yourself! Isn’t it amazing how being around young people perk you right up! I have started the semester (on line at least until Jan30th) Whether I continue on line or go in, depends on my next doctor’s visit. I postponed the bronchoscopy scheduled for Jan 20th until Spring Break. The results are probably “inconclusive” (How I hate that word!) anyway. At least I know from the last CT scan that the “things” that are in my lungs have not grown any.

    • Thank you, Rae:)). Yes – I’m taking care as it’s now my main job and the quicker I can recover, the less wear and tear there will be on Himself. And you’re absolutely right about the tonic of having youngsters around:).

      I’m thinking of you and sending positive vibes regarding the bronchoscopy – and fully empathise with your regarding the ‘inconclusive’ diagnosis. I wish I had a pound for every time a healthcare professional has told me that they simply don’t have sufficient information regarding long covid to give me any advice as to how to move forward. But I’m very glad to hear the ‘things’ aren’t growing in your lungs. Take care, my friend:)).x

  4. Since we are still in the grip of winter, I understand how you might not feel very inclined to go out and suffer from the cold! Still, it’s good to learn that you can feel the improvement and that the sensation is confirmed by your doctor: that, and the presence of you grandson, are indeed the best medicine you need right now 🙂

    • Thank you, Maddalena:)). Yes – January and February are always months I struggle with and right now I’m finding the cold and low light levels particularly hard. And yes – grandchildren in manageable doses are marvellous medicine:)). Have a great week, Maddalena.

  5. I’m glad to hear your energy is up a bit, Sarah! I’m so glad you read Rodham, it’s a book I’ve been so curious about, especially since I’m a big Hillary fan. Take care!!

    • Thank you, Tammy:)). Rodham is certainly worth reading as it provides much food for thought. I personally didn’t mind the sexual content as I felt it was crucial to the story, although I know a number of readers found it objectionable. But I’d love to hear your take on it:)).

  6. Oh I’m so glad that you are feeling a bit better and that you are still taking it easy. Sounds like your grandson was the perfect visitor. I hope you have a wonderful week and continue to take care of yourself.

    • Thank you, Katherine. Yes, Frank is a joy to have around – and Himself is taking great care of me. As for me – it’s the only job I have right now:)). I hope that you, too, have a lovely week and thank you for swinging by.

  7. I’m glad to hear there’s been some improvement in your energy levels! That’s good news. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it stays that way for you.

  8. Hey, you just keep doing what you’re doing, my friend. I love that your grand is visiting on a regular basis, too! It really makes a world of difference when you have a “little” love to chat with and count on. Plus you can always get a little education by proxy when he talks about his courses. Win-win! xxxxxx As for your reads here, I’m bummed BAKING BAD is not in our library system. Do you think a young reader like Blondie would enjoy it?

    • Thank you for your lovely words of encouragement, Jean:)). And you’re right – having someone younger and full of life bouncing around the house just feels like a blast of sunshine. I’m sorry you aren’t easily able to get hold of Baking Bad. While it’s very funny and some of the humour would probably appeal to Blondie, I think that some of the interchanges would probably go over her head. It’s definitely written with adults in mind.

      • We are healthy! Well…we are getting there. Bash has had an awful time at school lately, and we’re starting to wonder whether or not he’s on the spectrum…or if puberty’s just kicking in and his hormones are setting his moods on fire. Hoping to get an evaluation this spring to find out. YOU just keep doing what you can when you can, okay? Rooting for you!xxxxxxxx

      • Ah thank you for your kind good wishes:)). Do you think Bash might be feeling particularly anxious about the whole situation surrounding the pandemic? I know when children are stressed or upset, they often get very angry – particularly boys. And being a child without any agency is grim, anyway! I hope he soon feels better and you can get some answers to help him. Take care:). xxxx

      • Thank you! We are trying. I’m also wondering if puberty is playing a factor, for he is around the same age as when Blondie started. That testosterone mixed with anxiety mixed with frustration could be a perfect storm of feelings to make school life extremely hard. 😦 We’ll find help for him somehow! xxxxxxxx

      • You may well be right – I’m aware that in the early stages of puberty, some boys have more testosterone running through their bodies than the average full-grown man. It’s certainly a really tricky time – my son was a holy nightmare until he reached the age of 13-14 when he settled down and became a lot calmer and as an adult, his terrible temper that beset him as a child is nowhere in evidence. I hope you get some help for him, soon.xxxxxx

      • Thank you so much! He’s changed classes to a new group, and after a week, he was doing extremely well. Today’s a snow day (too much ice on the roads for safe travel), so I’m hoping we can continue the trend for the rest of the week. It’s almost like a switch got flipped AGAIN, and we’ve no idea why. I’m meeting both his old and new teacher this week to find out what could have possibly triggered such a marathon of problems so we can work out how to avoid that “switch-flipping” again. It is…well you know. It’s tiring. But between the teachers and pediatricians, we are bound to work out SOME sort of strategy to help. Thank you for all your hopes and wishes, and I hope YOU keep sharing, keep thriving, and keep writing! xxxxxxxx

  9. While catching up, every time I read your Sunday post, I’m hopeful that you’re doing “well enough”, and dreading that you might have had a worse period. A post like this, where you have your struggles but keep positive and moving forward, makes me want to wave pom-poms at you. You’re handling such a straining and difficult situation magnificently.

    That aside, I spied Lindsay Buroker on your reading list. Last year I finally got around to reading Star Nomad which you recommended, and it has made it to the (very short) list of my favorite reads from 2021, so thank you!

    • Thank you so much for your kind encouragement, Joanna:). To be honest, my ability to cope with what is happening varies. Mostly I deal with it reasonably positively in the knowledge that if I plunge into a pit of despair, then I take my major hope for recovery with me. It takes constant effort and care to continue Pacing – and if I’m too busy mourning what I’ve lost, then I’m not paying attention to trying to recover.

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