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I’ve Been Nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award

I arrived back to Nattinatters HQ today to find my blog has been nominated for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’ by a writer whose writing and blog I greatly admire.聽PeterWynMosey’s short stories and daily writing challenges set by other bloggers and writers are of a very high standard which makes me wonder why he follows me and has nominated me for the award as I feel I still have a long way to go before my writing reaches his standard. Thank you Peter for nominating me regardless 馃檪

To accept the nomination I have to

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog聽
  • List the rules and display an award logo on blog post.
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Nominate 11 new blogs.
  • Ask nominees 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display an award logo on blog post.
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Nominate 11 new blogs.
  • Ask nominees 11 new questions

 

sunshine-blogger-award

 

MY ANSWERS TO PETER’S QUESTIONS

What is your favourite song, and when did you first hear it?

I have 2 and I wrote a blog post about favourite songs/lyrics not too long ago.聽Here’s a聽link to that post.

If you became the leader of the country that you live, what would be the first thing that you would change?聽

There’s so much going on with this country right now (the United Kingdom). I’ve lost all faith in the politicians who are supposed to be running this country and are making a total hash of it. I have a list as long as my arm of things I’d love to change so things work in a more organised way and in a way the country can afford, but for me right at this minute whilst it should be to get Brexit done I would rather go to sleep at night knowing there are no UK residents without food, clothing or a safe and warm home. ( I personally voted to remain in the EU as I have a strong sense of ‘one world, one family)’. Whilst some may consider this a naive attitude, it’s really the only way humans will continue to thrive on this Earth. There cannot be any self-centredness. We are a race which is consuming at an alarming rate which is just not sustainable.

There is an uneven distribution of wealth and resources. I agree that those who are millionaires, billionaires, etc., may have worked hard to achieve their status and position, however, when exactly will they spend their millions and billions? Whilst there are people in abject poverty, and I include the disabled, children and families in the UK within this, there should be a corporate consortium or community alliance (or both) which will replace school breakfast clubs, food banks and other charities currently helping homeless, hungry or deprived children and families, and the disabled who are unable to work, with adequate housing, clothing and foods so no one should have to go without their very basic needs catered for. This is the 21st Century not the Victorian era of Oliver Twist’s “Please Sir, I want some more?” No thank you UK, get it sorted.

What is one item of clothing that you own that you would not want to part with?

I have a women’s Grey, round neck Waistcoat which I bought hurriedly when I saw it in a sale at Dotty P’s (Dorothy Perkins) several years ago. There are so many pictures of me throughout the years wearing it and I have no plans to throw it away yet. The thing which is great about it is that even if I am wearing a t-shirt under it I still look smart, plus it means I can wear one of my many vintage or funky brooches – right now it has a very large hand-knitted poppy because here in the UK it is Armistice Day.

How many countries have you ever visited?

I think seven. I went to France, Belgium and Holland on a school trip, Spain (Balearic Islands) in my very early twenties, the U.S.A (Philadelphia and New York; Upstate and NY,NY), Canada (Niagara Falls is best seen from the Canadian side), then Spain (Mallorca twice), Spain (Tenerife) and this Summer Spain, Italy and France as we did a cruise around the Mediterranean.

Books or e-readers?

Both. There is nothing which could replace the smell of new ink on new paper. Walking in to a book store instantly relaxes me as I feel at home, however I do love my Kindle. I have so many classics on there as well as contemporary and literary fiction and if I am going on a long journey I will take it with me as it’s not as thick or heavy as 2 thick paperbacks in the suitcase or hand luggage.

What is your favourite movie? Why?

I’m struggling to come up with just one favourite movie. If I had to strictly pick one it’d be Forrest Gump. It’s a clever premise, a man with lower than average intelligence who re-tells his life experiences during some of the most important events in the late twentieth century history of the United States of America. I find the story moving and funny but also feel it shows the best side of human nature. The clever editing-in of Forrest into these events is amusing too. Tom Hanks is my favourite actor so that’s a huge bonus for me too as I’ll watch pretty much anything with him in.

When and where do you do most of your writing?

I used to sit in the living room, either on the sofa with my laptop, in front of the telly, or at the dinner table, but hubby built me a writing and sewing studio so I’m over there most of the time now.

What has been a job that you have had that you have liked the least?

I worked in administration for a Government department. My original line manager was a bully, plus I found the work very boring and repetitive; it was like a conveyor belt; one finished, on to the next one, same processes, done, onto the next one…yawn. I just couldn’t handle it so I took a career break and finally (at 34) had the opportunity to go to University to study English Language (Linguistics). In order to start the degree I had to resign my position. It was such a hard decision (not!)

What does your morning ritual look like?

I wake up, hubby does coffee and breakfast for the cat then for both of us; I have a glass of almond milk and a small pot of nuts; with the change in the weather I think I’m going to start having the milk warmed. I then shower, dress, and depending on if I have any appointments will either do my hair or not or put on make-up or not; usually when I’m in my studio all day writing I don’t bother with either; my hair goes back in a band so it’s out of my face and I stick my glasses on.

Do you often remember your dreams when you wake up?

Yes, quite often as most of them are on the weird side.

What would be one piece of advice you would give to someone starting a blog?

Try to read every day and write every day. I’ve not been doing this too long and it’s so easy for life to get in the way. Read other blogs, like, comment and network to build your following as well as other bloggers as they’ll be grateful for every single one.

MY NOMINATIONS

blankpagesofmine

Roxi St Clair

Refresh Her

All Things Tudor

Wandering Ambivert

To Write Or Not To Write and What To Write

You Are Enough

A Real Lady Drinks Whiskey

The Alchemist’s Studio

Fictive Dream

Soul Writing Project

MY 11 QUESTIONS TO MY NOMINEES

  1. If you could close your eyes, wish to be anywhere, and when you opened your eyes, be there, where would that place be? Why?
  2. Thoughts on the plastics polluting our oceans and ideas for resolution?
  3. Who was your favourite teacher in secondary school (UK) high school (U.S) and why?
  4. How would you politely end a conversation with a person who won鈥檛 stop talking?
  5. Have you ever eaten food past it’s ‘Sell By’ or ‘Use By’ date?
  6. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
  7. If you could ask your pet 3 questions what would you ask them? If you don’t have a pet, ask a farm or a wild animal instead.
  8. It’s the start of a Zombie Apocalypse. You can only take the first 5 things you touch with any part of your body. What will they be?
  9. What is your favourite book? Why?
  10. You’re told you are going to cook for 4 celebrities. What will you cook and for who?
  11. Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte?

Well, that’s my nomination accepted, thanks again Peter 馃檪

sunshine-blogger high quality

 

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Reading Meme #6

I LOVE this meme! I taught my son the alphabet when he was 18 months old and read to him every night. I truly believe the earlier you start reading to them and introducing them to letters and numbers the easier they will find it to learn. Besides that, it’s introducing them to all the different worlds which exist inside and outside of our minds and our world. My son is now a writer – I’m waiting for him to set up his own blog as his stuff is amazing. I’ll be sharing as soon as he does it.

Its-Called-Reading

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Word of the Day #24

Today’s word is ‘Gossamer’ and today’s dictionary is聽Dictionary.com

noun

adjective

Also聽gos路sa路mer路y[gosuh-muh-ree],聽gos路sa路mered.of or like gossamer; thin and light.
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Reading Meme #3

For me there’s nothing like kicking back with a book, a mug of coffee or a glass of something and escaping to another world or place. Not only are you escaping to another universe, you’re also expanding your own.

a book can be a star

I personally feel that reading is the best educator and something all kids should be taught properly from a very early age. Here in the UK, I don’t think enough importance is placed on reading and writing in early years education – please don’t comment or email me to tell me I am wrong and this is not my having a pop at Teachers because I feel they all do their best work with what they have.

I know and agree children should be allowed to learn through play in reception, however once they reach Year 1 they should be taught reading and writing for longer than they are. I have personal experience of eleven year old children going up to secondary education unable to read or even write well enough to follow what is happening in a lesson. They aren’t able to retain what is being said for long enough to make notes, or they’re unable to follow simple instructions during classes. This is a shame and it’s largely due to restricted budgets. I think it’s time education budgets were majorly increased to allow for much smaller classes at the earliest education levels, in fact the whole Primary level. I better climb off my soapbox now before I receive throngs of emails, comments and the like. NN 馃檪

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Creative Writing Challenge – Go to your chosen music streaming app. Set it to play on random. Write a story about the first song that comes up. (250 words or less)

A Town Called Malice

The building was abandoned; left empty by the previous owners, but the yard was full; rust-covered milk floats, discarded crate mountains, dust-covered and cobwebbed milk bottles.

The whole town had a frigid atmosphere, disapprobation carried on the breeze; no disapproval towards its occupants for chaotic afflictions over which they had no control.

This once bright, prosperous and busy borough now dulled as if touched by an artist with grey-wash; a shadow of its former self; memories of lines of boiled sheets and smalls, neighbourhood chatters and calls, kids on their bikes or playing hopscotch or marbles in the streets; gone with the factories, which like dominoes falling, closed one by one until all which remained was an ensemble of skeletal steelworks, a rarely-used bus depot and the discarded rail tracks, for there were very few visitors now.

The remaining residents lived a traditional British way of life; roast beef and 鈥榊orkshires鈥 on Sundays, Chips and scraps Fridays and hand-me-downs while week-in, week-out Dad went to the pub pissing 鈥榠t鈥 up the wall.

But while I watch the kids slide and zip and swing; there鈥檚 laughter on the breeze and hope with pride and humour.

A Town Called Malice – Facts聽

This was a song by a band called ‘The Jam’. Their lead singer was Paul Weller and it was he who wrote the song. It was released in February 1982 and debuted at number 1.鈾 If you don’t know of the song then checkout the video.聽Video of ‘A Town Called Malice’ by The Jam

Paul Weller has said that it was written about his hometown Woking, as a result of his teenage experiences there,聽described by ‘The Guardian’s Greg Freeman on聽

聽[…] the grey commuter town that Weller grew up in. As a railway聽junction its sole benefit seemed to be 鈥 and maybe still is 鈥 the availability of a fast train to London.

although earlier described by Freeman that the song lyric was ‘a direct result of his dissatisfaction with the way the band was working as a three-piece’.鈾

The lyrics for the song are as follows:

Better stop dreaming of the quiet life, ’cause it’s the one we’ll never know
And quit running for that runaway bus ’cause those rosy days are few
And stop apologizing for the things you’ve never done
‘Cause time is short and life is cruel but it’s up to us to change
This town called malice
Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the dairy yard
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry
It’s enough to make you stop believing when tears come fast and furious
In a town called malice, yeah
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Struggle after struggle, year after year
The atmosphere’s a fine blend of ice, I’m almost stone cold dead
In a town called malice, ooh yeah
A whole street’s belief in Sunday’s roast beef
Gets dashed against the Co-op
To either cut down on beer or the kid’s new gear
It’s a big decision in a town called malice, ooh yeah
The ghost of a steam train, echoes down my track
It’s at the moment bound for nowhere
Just going round and round, oh
Playground kids and creaking swings
Lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will
But I’d sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice, yeah
In this town called malice, yeah
In this town called malice, ooh yeah

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Paul Weller. A Town Called Malice 漏 Universal Music Publishing Group

鈾B燫oberts, David (2006).聽British Hit Singles & Albums聽(19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp.聽405鈥6.聽ISBN1-904994-10-5.

鈾 Freeman, Greg (2012) ‘Old music: The Jam – A Town Called Mallice’ [online] Available at ‘https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2012/apr/05/jam-town-called-malice’

 

textual-analysis-town-called-malice-1-638
Slideshot.net
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Creative Writing Challenge – Begin with 鈥淚 thought I saw鈥︹

I thought I saw Elvis Presley in the reading corner of my local library this morning. Of course it wasn’t ‘The King’ as he died in 1977. I was only a kid and I cried – Mum said that I was a fan even as a baby.

Why would Elvis even be in the local library? We’re thousands of miles away from the U.S here, and Memphis, or Graceland. He was wearing Black drainpipe trousers and an open-necked shirt; looking like he did in his heyday, so either he followed a fantastic diet and had a whole range of plastic surgery done or he’s dead as no one should look that great at 84. Although, it is聽great what surgeons can do these days.

The thing is I also saw Prince. He was wearing a beautiful shiny Purple jacket with a very high collar. I was surprised by how short he was. I mean I knew he was short as heard it on the telly but when I saw him he was even shorter than I’d imagined. I’m sure he was wearing boots with platform heels too – at least 4- or 5- inch heels. The boots were Purple too. He definitely has, or had a Purple fetish – a bit like me with turquoise. I’ll search anywhere for a gorgeous turquoise dress. Anyway, I digress. Prince was entering the library as I left. I wondered what the **** was going on. I wonder whether he was going to meet Elvis for a chinwag or just for some peace and quiet. Maybe he was returning books, although he didn’t have a bag with him. I didn’t spot any book-shaped bulges anywhere either.

I think I must be hallucinating, or maybe I have a brain tumour pressing on my neocortex or thalamus (the parts of my brain which work the imagination). Maybe a little bubble of a tumour took root somewhere and grew and grew until it made me see dead legends. I’m not sure I’ll mind that.

Oh, and I nearly forgot. David Bowie was in the local Co-op. I tried to have a nose at what he had his in basket but he turned away before I could see. Thankfully he wasn’t looking ill anymore, or that old really. I loved him in all his guises but thought he was really hot in the 1980s when he released Blue Jean, China Girl, Let’s Dance, etc I’d have loved to have been able to stand in front of him long enough to see his different coloured eyes. I wonder if the kids he went to school at took the p*** out of him for that. I have dark brown eyes which have been described as pools of melted chocolate. I guess the only way to have taken the p out of them would have been for them to be called piles of dog sh*t instead. I’ll have to ask Emma next time I see her. She was my friend all the way through school and I know she’d tell me if I ask.

Thankfully, I made it home without seeing any other dead legends. As I unlocked the front door and went through it I called out a ‘Hi’ to my hubby.

‘You’ll never guess who I saw in the library!’

Walking along the hallway I could hear him talking to someone and oddly he’d ignored my call. I walked in to the lounge and there he was sat having a cuppa and biscuits with Pete Burns. I’m off to book a brain scan.

Creative Writing Featured Image via BBC.co.uk
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Word of the Day #20

Today’s Word of the Day is ‘Vorfreude’ and today’s definition comes from Dauntless Jaunter.

Vorfreude聽is an untranslatable German word with no perfect or direct English translation, however it聽describes a feeling of ecstatic joy when considering or anticipating an upcoming pleasure or thrill, such as a future vacation.

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Daily Creative Writing Challenge 6 Start your story with: 鈥淗e glanced at his watch impatiently鈥︹

…checking if the 8 minutes had reduced. Nearly lunchtime. Nearly his reading and writing time, well, some of it anyway.

Picture from https://www.freepik.com

He’d started his blog as a way of tracking his writing, wanting to see if it developed and improved over time. Wanting, hoping for a boost of confidence. It had become addictive now. His life revolved around lunch breaks, the train journey home, chilling time after the dog walk and dinner.

2 minutes! He really wanted to finish Chapter 37 of Olly’s latest book; serialised chapter by chapter before he self-published; hoping some agent or publisher would pick it up.

The phone rang. He really didn’t want to answer, couldn’t deal with a long expenses query from one of the R & D guys. They could call back later.

He stood, pulling his jacket from the back of his chair in the same movement. Sandra raised her eyebrows; haughty bitch. The obvious implication being he should have answered the call.

‘Off for lunch now, see you in thirty!’ Already walking out of the glazed double doors as he sang with joy.

He popped into the Costa, bought a huge coffee and two pastries, scanned the shop for the quietest, comfortable space; avoiding babies, toddlers, knitting and gossiping Nanas and groups of teenagers, then walked quickly to ‘his space’ for one of his daily fixes.

He had a few new likes and one interesting comment. There was no Chapter 37 waiting though. What a shame and concerned he checked Olly’s blog in case there were any posts at all.

‘ERROR:404 Page Not Found’


Pic from https://sitechecker.pro/

Checking his phone for connectivity issues whilst chewing his way through the chocolate-filled twist he was disturbed to discover the connection was sound. ‘Olly-O’Cookie’ had failed to exist. The blog was gone.

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Book Review – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

I have a list of classics and modern classics that I’d like to get around to reading one day. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is one of those modern classics which I can now remove from the list having received the book as a Christmas gift. The book also includes three other shorter stories. I’m not reviewing those here though.

I had no preconceived ideas or feelings about the book, having never seen the film starring Audrey Hepburn. I know Deep Blue Something recorded a song in the 90s using the book/film title as a reference within the song lyrics, which reached number one in the charts here in the UK in the middle of 1995.

I love Capote’s writing style. His descriptions bring the neighbourhood and brownstone apartments where Holly Golightly and Fred live to life via a direct narrative which makes you feel you’re sitting with the narrator; for this reason it’s easy to watch the action unfold.

Holly Golightly is a great character; multi-dimensional, sometimes girlish and naive but mostly certain, plucky and with much to say! An enigma to all who meet her she seems to drift through her own and others lives with no concrete ambitions or plan for the future, although any wealthy man able to offer a luxurious lifestyle features quite prominently when speaking of her future.

Holly Golightly leaves relatively quietly after being named in a scandal never to be seen again, although there’s always a feeling that if you look closely she may noiselessly reappear.

This book definitely encouraged me to consider more often slipping modern classics into my ever-expanding book stack and TBR list and if you have a couple of hours free anytime this definitely wouldn’t be a waste of your time.

Book Review, Writing

Book Review – The Girl You Left Behind – JoJo Moyes

I’m wondering where I’ve been for the last X number of years as seem to have missed everything written by JoJo Moyes – including those developed into films/movies ‘Me Before You’聽聽(which I’ve not watched either).聽Anyway, so this was another one of those paperbacks which was within a bag of randomly chosen paperbacks gifted to me. I think I may well have not been reading romance novels for some time which is why I missed 15+ books.

girl you left behind

So, I’ve now finally read one of JoJo Moyes books. I loved it! I don’t know where it sits within the popularity of her portfolio of published novels, but had a quick peak of it compared to ‘Me Before You‘. On ‘goodreads’ ‘The Girl You Left Behind‘ has a rating of 3.97 stars out of 5 from 117,748 reviewers and on ‘Amazon’ has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 from 1,608 reviews whereas on ‘goodreads’ ‘Me Before You‘ has a rating of 4.26 out of 5 based on 911,255 ratings and on ‘Amazon’ 4.8 out of 5 stars from 9,748. I’d say then that ‘The Girl You Left Behind’ rates almost as highly in popularity as ‘Me Before You’聽and if all her other novels rate as highly they’ll be on that ever increasing list of ‘Books I Want to Read’.

Anyway back to the review of ‘The Girl You Left Behind’. I haven’t always been a fan of books which have dual time frames and switch between those times and stories. I get frustrated that I’ve just come to know a character and the placing of their story when all of a sudden I’m with a new character and a new time. I did wonder whether to put this book down but the story of Sophie in 1916/17 occupied France was so captivating I had to keep reading.

Then came the ‘why’? What was the relevance between Sophie in 1916/17 and Olivia (Liv) Halston in modern day London? The quick answer is the painting of Sophie, which infuses the entire book; most especially the modern day conclusion with the feelings art arouses in us all.

The story is full of emotive action; moments in the past where you hold your breath as you wait to see which way the story evolves; Sophie’s inner turmoil around her thoughts and feelings, or lack of, for the Kommandant and his fellow German occupiers, and moments in the present day when you wonder yourself how you would think and feel if you were in the same circumstances as Liv. I don’t like to give spoilers but if you read this book you’ll understand what I mean. This is a story of relationships pared back to their barest; the rawest of emotions exposed – whatever they are – love, hate, anger, desperation. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and page turning right until the end where it gives you just a tiny bump to remind you not to get too blas茅 about happy endings…(no spoiler intended!)聽NN

Book Review

Book Review – The Book of Life, Deborah Harkness

This is the concluding part of Deborah Harkness’ ‘All Souls Trilogy’.聽I reviewed part one here聽and part two聽here. I hate writing reviews with spoilers as don’t like this if I’m reading a review when I’m deciding whether or not to read a book – which is why my book reviews sometimes may seem a little empty of story information. I apologise if this includes too little information but it is quite difficult to review these books without discussing actual aspects of the story which would give it away.

book of life cover

To explain a little bit about the story Diana and Matthew are a witch and vampire who meet in Oxford where their relationship develops into one which is illegal in the eyes of ‘The Congregation’ – an assembly representing ‘Creatures’ – Witches, Vampires and Daemons. The story follows Diana and Matthew as they travel widely throughout time, and internationally – bouncing their way between modern Oxford, Medieval London, the U.S.A, Venice and France and back again.

Whilst progressing through time – and the story woven together by the author – the characters lose their way a bit and it seems as though the somewhat original idea of an adult vampire/witch tale stuttered. I think it’s always worth going back to earlier notes for characters in order to ensure they remain true to the character which was introduced when the story began and I did find that lacking. I’m not a聽published author yet though so who am I to give advice?

There are always going to be parts of a story (or trilogy/box set, etc) which all readers will not agree with and I know there will be people reading this who will wonder how I could say anything positive about it. For me, the reviews I’ve read elsewhere about the second and third parts of this story have been downright nasty. You review the story, the book,聽not personally attack an author.聽It takes time to research, write, then edit books (stories). I have no doubt there would have been extreme pressure from the publishers to “get the thing written”. However, Deborah Harkness isn’t a witch. She couldn’t conjure up the third part of the story just because the readers of the first two parts were waiting with baited breath.聽 Anyway, now I’ve got that particular point out of the way I’ll continue.

For me, out of the three books, this third instalment was my favourite. The magic and depth which seemed missing from the second instalment was suddenly there in glorious technicolour; the traits and aspects I felt which were missing from Diana as a character throughout book two found their way back on to the pages – in other words Diana found (to quote Negan from The Walking Dead) her ‘Beach-ball-sized lady nuts’.聽(I still need a t-shirt with that quote btw). Sadly, Matthew as a main character did disappoint me. He’s a vampire, and the impression you get from that (I hope it’s not just me here – I’m thinking Angel or Spike from Buffy or Edward Cullen and family from Twilight) are that he’d have traits which would make him vampire-like and some of those are missing, especially as an important figurehead for the family or organisation he represents. That’s all I’m going to say about him as if I say anything more it may give too much away and I have my ‘no spoilers here’ to consider!

What was great about this book was the feeling that everyone had finally gelled as the diverse family they were; family also encompassing the ‘family we choose for ourselves‘; that being the friends who helped Diana, Matthew and the de Clermonts, the Knights of Lazarus and The Congregation bring the story to its conclusion.

There were still odd little moments which irked me but on the whole many of the loose ends were tied up; albeit, some felt a little too good to be true, but on the whole this love story concluded satisfactorily.

I know there are spin-offs being written about other characters from the ‘All Souls Trilogy’ and I’ll read them because, despite a slightly wobbly second instalment, the overall series did come to a (mainly) satisfying conclusion and getting to know some of the other fascinating characters in a more in-depth way seems as though it’d be a good way to spend some of my time.聽NN

Book Review

Book Review – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I was given this book in a carrier bag of books from a friend’s mum. I pulled all the books out and read their synopses and piled them in the order I was going to read them – the floor by my bedside has a permanent bed-high pile and anyone that has read any of my blog before, discussing聽books聽will know that I read this book back in 2016 but because my son bought me ‘Shadow of Night‘ and ‘The Book of Life‘ for Christmas 2017 I needed to decide whether to read it again to refresh my mind of the story or just get onto reading the second of the trilogy. Back in 2015/2016 I had piled all those books up from my friend’s mum with ‘A Discovery of Witches’ down in about 5th or 6th place as I thought it would be just another book jumping on the ongoing trend for books and films about vampires, witches etc (Twilight being one of many).聽聽I’m pleased to say that this isn’t the case and is actually a great read, one of those I’m glad found it into a bag with some dubious chic-lit (some chic-lit is okay, some is mundane or dubious – sorry to huge chic-lit fans!)

disc of witches

A Discovery of Witches’ has been criticised by some for the unbelievable love story, unreliable characters, similarity to other well-known Vampire, fantasy yarns, etc, etc. That said, it’s a popular, internationally best-selling novel with ‘Goodreads‘ readers scoring it with 3.99 stars out of 5 from 272,184聽Ratings聽聽and27,096聽Reviews聽, and on ‘Amazon‘ scoring 4.4 stars out of 5, from 946 reviews.

The historical aspects within are, unsurprisingly, very well researched. Deborah Harkness is a historian, and her interest lies in alchemy. Good advice, which is usually given to anyone starting to write, is to write about what you know, and here Deborah Harkness does exactly that. Diana Bishop is an academic researching alchemy and reviewing ancient manuscripts in the Bodleian Library聽 – something (somewhere) else the author knows rather well, having used the library for research herself.聽

The story isn’t your typical boy meets girl who discover as they go along that one is a vampire or witch, who then fall head over heels in lust then love, or vice versa (although some people may have read it a completely different way to me).This more ‘mature’ developing relationship – the main protagonists are in their thirties (no Bella and Edward high school sweethearts line here)聽 – stretches the reality of the love at first sight idea, although as time goes on you get to discover why it occurred that way, however with academically inclined, more mature individuals (Matthew being a 30-something, but actually 1500 year old vampire) the believability of some of the narrative and action is dubious. I promise I am聽a romantic and love a good love story but this makes me squirm a little. I also found that some of the way the familial relationships develops seem just a tad far-fetched too, given that we are led to believe there is obvious animosity and bad feeling between the supernatural cultures of Vampires, Witches and Demons.聽

The rest of the development of the story and characters was believable, although dragged a little at times, despite the action happening within a very short space of time. I think either speeding the story up to match the passing of the time (mega edit), or by slowing the whole passage of time narrative to offset what was occurring would have balanced the whole story better.

Overall, I enjoyed ‘A Discovery of Witches‘ (so much so that I’m currently reading part two of the trilogy ”Shadow of Night‘ at break-neck speed) and would recommend it to readers wanting a ‘grown-up’ supernatural novel.

** ‘A Discovery of Witches‘ is now an upcoming drama, based on the novel and comes to TV this Autumn/Fall. In the U.K on聽Sky One聽 with international distributor still to be announced.

Book Review, Uncategorized

Book Review – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist tells the story of newly married Petronella (Nella) Brandt, an 18 year old girl who arrives from the countryside to Amsterdam, and the home of her new husband Johannes Brandt, a merchant trader. She is greeted by the stern sister of her husband and it soon becomes apparent that, whilst Nella is officially the lady of the house she is in no way in charge, but must adjust to the austere and reverent life her sister-in-law practices.

The story unfolds after the arrival of the curious marriage gift Johannes Brandt has delivered for his new wife – a beautiful cabinet; a miniature, but extremely accurate model of their house.

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Full of twists, turns, secrets and deceptions the story is intriguing and you never know what will happen from page to page as Nella attempts to find her feet in her new Amsterdam home and society, which seem to be linked in some way to the items made by the elusive miniaturist, who provides figures and items for the cabinet, whether ordered or not.

Jessie Burton’s prose is beautifully eloquent, suspenseful and powerful and builds to a compelling conclusion. This kept me hooked throughout, although at times I felt the expansion of some scenes and deeper descriptions would have made for a more indepth story. The final couple of chapters felt rushed in comparison to the rest of the book – like the writer was in a hurry to get the project finished and off to the publishers. For me this was a shame as I feel the story is incomplete as, despite tempting the reader with glimpses of the miniaturist we never get to know exactly who the miniaturist is and how she is able to capture or predict the lives of the characters in the story, however maybe this was deliberate in order to tease with a potential sequel..? If you enjoy literary fiction and beautiful writing I’d recommend you give over some time to what is overall an excellent book.

 

 

thought of the day, Uncategorized

Thought of the Day – Books

thoughtoftheday

Today I finished reading ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton. It’s the third book I’ve finished this year so I’m averaging 1 per month.

Now I have to decide what to read next. How do you decide which book to read when you have a pile, or shelves of books?

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I have shelves of paperbacks downstairs which I separated out from all our other books especially so I knew that all the books I hadn’t read were together in one place and I could just go there if I ever ran out of books to read in my upstairs pile.

Then Christmas happened. I’d had a list of books I wanted to read so had given those titles to family who had asked me what I’d like for Christmas. After Christmas, having watched the BBC adaptation of聽‘The Miniaturist’聽I went to my Amazon account (which is always a big mistake!) to find the book. I enjoyed the series so I thought I may enjoy the book too. I did, but I’m not writing a review in this post though so will leave that there.

Amazon had their ‘3 paperbacks for 拢10′ offer running and I already had two other books in my basket to buy at some point in case I didn’t get them for Christmas.聽 I bought the three. Having already been lucky enough to get six books from my Christmas list, and having bought myself one as a pre-Christmas treat, once they arrived the next day my total of brand new books to read was ten, although I was already halfway through the pre-Christmas treat. Ten, plus shelves of books to read already. Ohh, and I’ve not even mentioned my wish list – which is mainly full of Neil Gaiman books as I’ve not yet read any of his work; his website/blog is brilliant plus I love the Starz聽series ‘American Gods‘ based on his book of the same name. Take a breath! 馃槈 Oh, and hubby has the hardback copy of Dan Brown’s ‘Origin’聽on his bedside table which he’s had for months and not yet started, and my bookworm wriggles!

Last year I donated 4 large carrier bags of books to a local book club in an effort to be strict and clear those I’d had on my shelves for years (inherited from father-in-law and gifted from a friend’s Mum). I hate to give books away at all and every time I have to sort through them it’s physically and mentally painful. I was strict with myself and donated those I really thought I would never get around to reading. At my age I wonder if I’ll ever get to read every book I want to. I probably could if I didn’t ever shower or bathe, shop, clean, cook, write, etc, etc, but that’s not likely.

The way I chose聽The Miniaturist聽after finishing the pre-Christmas treat (which I should actually own up and admit it was E.L James聽‘Darker’聽 – the聽Fifty Shades of Grey story as told from the perspective of the male protagonist Christian Grey), and my first choice of book from the Christmas pile, ‘Across the China Sea’聽by Gaute Heivoll, was to give each a number and ask hubby to give me a number between 1 and 9 – original huh?! At this point, with聽‘Origin’聽now on my list I make it that I still have 9! Treading literary water!

I now have to decide whether to re-read Deborah Harkness ‘A Discovery of Witches’聽again before I read the other two books in the trilogy, as it was at least a couple of years since I finished it but my son got them for me for Christmas, or do I just start reading聽‘Shadow of Night’聽and hope my memory of the beginning of the story is good enough for it to fall into place? The third option is that I read all the other books first and save those for last. Having just visited Deborah Harkness聽website聽I’ve now seen she has a new book ‘Time’s Convert’聽being released in the U.S in September! Another one for the list!

**I took a break after the above paragraph to take a look at the pile of books currently in the cupboard of my bedside cabinet and found other books still there, waiting to be read. Do you think if books ever got impatient with waiting to be read they’d run away? I’d hope none of mine would as they’re very much treasured, despite my not reading them yet.

Anyway, the current list of books in my cupboard numbers 20! I’m going to share the list here just in case anyone reading this has any advice as to which to read first! These are in no particular order of preference. As I’ve said above I聽do聽want to read every one of them.

  1. Deborah Harkness – A Discovery of Witches (this only counts if I decide to re-read it before reading Shadow of Night and The Book of Life)
  2. Deborah Harkness – Shadow of Night
  3. Deborah Harkness – The Book of Life
  4. Beth Underdown – The Witchfinder’s Sister
  5. John Connolly – The Book of Lost Things
  6. Audrey Niffenegger – Her Fearful Symmetry
  7. Jojo Moyes – The Girl You Left Behind
  8. Rachel Rhys – Dangerous Crossing
  9. Ruth Hogan – The Keeper of Lost Things
  10. Lisa Wingate – Before We Were Yours
  11. Alice Walker – Possessing the Secret of Joy
  12. Rosa Tremain – The Road Home
  13. Abigail Gibbs – The Dark Heroine
  14. Jean Stubbs – The Witching Time
  15. Marianne Curley – The Named (Guardians of Time Trilogy Part 1)
  16. Christina Courtenay – The Secret Kiss of Darkness
  17. Cheyenne McCray – Forbidden Magic
  18. Catherine Ryan Hyde – Chasing Windmills
  19. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Beautiful Creatures
  20. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Beautiful Darkness (I will then need to buy part 3 of the trilogy Beautiful Chaos), and not forgetting
  21. Dan Brown – Origin.

Based on my 1 book per month average I think I’m going to be busy until February 2020! That’s without the books on the shelf downstairs…

I’m off to bury my head somewhere – I think a good book may be a great place to start – when I can decide which one to start with!

Until next time…

 

 

Daily Challenge

30 Day Challenge – Day 7 – Do You Read? What Are Your Favourite Books?

Okay so I’ve slipped back another couple of days! I’m still going to follow the challenges as it helps me to focus, although my ‘Thought of the Day’ posts are also helping with that.

So…Reading. YES I read! Do I ever?! I love reading! I’m one of these people that will be happy reading pretty much anything – fiction, non-fiction, text books, pamphlets, guide books, blogs and everything else not in that list! With fiction I’ll also read across genres. I prefer literary fiction but I will read chic-lit, the odd romance novel (Mills & Boon is a whole other thing!), horror, fantasy, sci-fi, timeslip/paranormal.

Favourite Books is going to be hard for ^that^ reason! But I’ll give it a go.

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As a child I was an avid Enid Blyton fan. I read Adventures of the Wishing Chair,聽 The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk of the Faraway Tree,聽 Up The Faraway Tree, The Famous Five series, Secret Seven series, The Twins at St Clare’s. The Malory Towers series. I also loved the Nancy Drew mystery books, which were the female equivalent of The Hardy Boys – which I also read! I’ve been wracking my mind thinking of other books. I also loved Monica Dickens The World’s End Series. I think the Follyfoot series was probably more popular at the time but it didn’t do much for me!聽 I didn’t read a lot of classics until I was much older but I did read The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. I also never read any Roald Dahl until I had my son and read those all to him. Bedtime Stories with my son was where I passed on my love of the magical lands Tolkien, Blyton, C.S.Lewis described and where we both enjoyed Dahl together.

Getting older I started to read James Herbert. He was the UK’s Stephen King and wrote some great books. The first of his I read was The Jonah. It scared the life out of me, as did Domain, Rats, etc! I was obviously a glutton for punishment as I read every single book of his, whilst trying out Stephen King and also his other stuff writing as Richard Bachman – Thinner and The Running Man (forget the tacky film!) both in my list of favourites. Stephen King stuff – I liked some of his work but not others. Everyone disagrees on the favourites. I love both the original The Stand and the un-cut version. Desperation is one which I can’t forget. It’s stayed with me all these years. I’ve not read one of his books since the early 90s though – after I had my son I went off horror for a good while and have just never got back to looking up his work since then (and I have a lot to catch up on!)

I also read Barbara Erskine and have every book of hers in print. I always wait for paperback releases though which is frustrating but I can’t manage Hardback/Hardcover books anymore so paperbacks it is.

I got in to classics in my early thirties. I wasn’t sure I’d manage to read them but surprised myself – I still have War and Peace on the shelf, along with Don Quixote and I’m determined to read them both one day, but over the Christmas period I got 10 books! Anyone would think….yeah this is what the post is about!!

So now to my favourites, these are in no particular order:-

Tess of the D’urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings – (all 3) – J.R.R Tolkien

Dune – Frank Herbert

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S Lewis

Veronika Decides To Die – Paulo Coelho

Prince of the Tides – Pat Conroy

The Yearling –聽Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

Any Enid Blyton.

Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman – Thinner

Otherland – Tad Williams (only the first one in the series. At the time it was a very original concept).

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Uncategorized

30 Day Challenge – Day 1

Some Basic Things About Myself

I’m in my late forties. I could say so much about that…but won’t. I had a conversation with someone only the other day where we said that all of a sudden you realise that your life is passing by (and faster with each passing year – it only feels like a couple of weeks since Christmas!) I’m in the period of time where I realise that I’m probably closer to my death than I am to my birth – unless I live to be 95, which I doubt will happen.聽

I’m married. To a lovely man. And have been for almost 25 years. We celebrate our Silver Anniversary this year. How he’s put up with me for over quarter of a century I don’t know, but he’s a saint, which is probably why!聽

I have a son. I’m very proud of him, as despite many challenges he’s been able to achieve so much and still is.

I like to read, write, bake, cook – which is why I should be here more often. I need to learn how to split my WordPress area into several areas where I can share my baking, cooking, writing and book reviews with everyone. If anyone knows a simple way of doing this I’d love to hear from you – I’ve read the WordPress bumpf about how to do this but, despite the fact I’m not a technophobe, I just can’t do this successfully.

I’m diabetic – I’m officially sweet. Actually sweeter than I should be! Bad life choices in my 20s and early 30s and I became a Type 2. We live and learn right? Even if it’s the hard way.

So there’s a few little basic snippets about me. I’m happy to answer any questions on whatever random subjects you come up with! I won’t answer overtly personal questions though.