The Shadyside Snark Sisters are back!

Okay, we’ve technically always been around, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve finally posted to my other blog, Shadyside Snark. If you didn’t know about my other blog, well you are in for a treat, because that is where I, along with my partner in all things early-90s horror YA literature, have read every single Fear Street novel and recapped it for your reading pleasure. RL Stine has started to release NEW Fear Street novels, and we are totally behind in recapping them. But here you go, the next one in the series. Suffering from some mid-week February boredom? Indulge yourself by reminiscing about your favourite really poorly written horror books that remind you of a simpler time.

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Happy New Year and welcome to a kinder 2017

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This is my new happy place – steaming cup of coffee, good book, some exceptional scenery.

Happy 2017 to absolutely everyone!

I don’t know about you, but this year couldn’t get here soon enough. 2016 seemed long. And somewhat … fraught. I mean, let’s all be serious for a second, no matter what your politics or ideologies, I think we can all agree that 2016 was a bit of a bitch, can’t we? World order seems to be remarkably unstable, which leaves me feeling itchy.

Personally, this past year has been a rough one for me, for no specific reason. Or rather, two very specific reasons. Had you heard that raising small people can be challenging? I thought I could handle it no problem, but some days, guys. I just grip my coffee cup as hard as I can and pray for the sweet release of … sleep, someday. I haven’t slept in months. It feels like. Both kids are amazing and awesome and healthy. But Little E started walking basically on her first birthday and I haven’t really had a spare second to myself since. Her capacity for mischief far outweighs her actual size, and I wouldn’t have her any other way. But to paraphrase every parent ever: I. Am. So. Tired. Continue reading

This is a bomb shelter

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This is my bomb shelter. It is designed to withstand not just bombs, but chemical and nuclear attacks. The door is six inches of concrete, and it has an air filtration system. Every home in Switzerland is required by law to have one of these. It takes a great deal of power to remain neutral during a time of war, and Switzerland remains vigilantly ready to guard its border and people, even now in this time of peace.

This bomb shelter used to be a source of levity to us. We use it for storage, things like winter coats, extra diapers and Christmas wrapping paper. The cool air and stable foundation makes it an excellent place for a wine cellar. I will admit that every time I walk past that heavy door I get a small frisson of anxiety. It is a potent reminder of what people once needed protection against. Imagining huddling in that small claustrophobic space with my loved ones, listening to the booms around us or sitting quietly, watching the hours tick by as I guess and pray as to when I can safely return back to the world as I knew it – never fails to stir a deep-seated disquiet. Continue reading

What I’m learning from my kids

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I know the concept of what my children have taught me is pretty overdone. I mean, a lot of it goes without saying, right? Love, of course. Patience … not yet, but I’m working on it. Imagination and finding a sense of humour in life, without a doubt. But maybe more superficially then all that, I’ve been thinking about some things that my children have taught me on a practical level, in ways that have actually helped me in day to day life. And it’s stuff that is very specific to their personalities. Continue reading

Book reviews: April picks

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I have decided that April is the absolute most beautiful time for Geneva. I might be a little biased, because we arrived in Geneva in April (more than two years ago now!) and we were a little shell-shocked by the stress and Geneva blew us away by being just stunningly beautiful. But every year, I love this season more and more. It’s so lushly green it feels a little tropical. Yes, there’s a lot of rain, but it means everything is growing like crazy. I’ll just be walking down my street and can’t get over how insanely gorgeous everything is. Suffice to say I’m still in love with my adopted home. Continue reading

Travel Suisse: Zurich

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I can’t believe we have lived in Switzerland for over two years, and I’ve only just visited Zurich. It seems like such an obvious place to visit. I know many people think of Zurich and Switzerland to be essentially the same thing. And it’s so close – well, everything in Switzerland is, it’s not a very big country.

But there are factors involved in not visiting this city yet. The first and foremost being cost. If Switzerland is crazy expensive, then Zurich is hella-crazy expensive, so we’ve always avoided it a bit for that. Also, there is the language barrier. Not that it matters in such a tourist-friendly city (I wouldn’t be surprised if more Swiss in Zurich spoke English than in Geneva), but our grasp of French often keeps us turning towards our large French neighbour to the west. Continue reading

Book recommendations: March picks

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Seven Ages of Paris, by Alistair Horne

This is such a beautiful book, looking deep into the history of Paris through the ages, from Philippe Auguste in the 12th century, who essentially founded Paris as the major centre of French life, all the way through Henry IV, Louis XIV, the French Revolution, Napoleon, la Belle Epoque, the Occupation and the Resistance, and post-war life under de Gaulle. It’s a fascinating read, especially if you are a Francophile, which I will admit I am turning into. Continue reading