Thursday, 28 May 2009

Friday Favourites


I have noticed that my Internet Favourites folder has got increasingly bigger recently so thought that I would share some of my favourite favourite's with you!

  • Domestic Sluttery- I love this site! They do a little bit of everything, home ideas, food and drink (brilliant cocktail recipes!), Etsy picks, fashion. Basically there are a lot of lovely, sparkly items on here for you to lust after!
  • Bronte Blog- I came across this only the other day, embarrassingly I did not know that it existed. If you are a Bronte fan then you should definitely take some time to have a look around. They have all the history plus loads of information about upcoming books, movies and TV adaptations. It really is a jam packed blog which is updated all the time.
  • Still Reading- This is Kim's blog and she is writing all the way from Hong Kong which without all of the book reviews, is worth reading about anyway! Kim has recommended some brilliant books for me recently and I know that she has just had trip to the book shop so you should go and see what she will be reading next.
  • Pop Sugar- This is very much a guilty pleasure! It is pure celebrity trash and highly addictive. I don't really buy magazines anymore so I tend to get my celebrity fix on here. Plus they tend to run a lot of pictures of Robert Pattinson who I am not adverse to looking at so brownie points all round!
  • Chick Lit Reviews & News- I only discovered this blog this week but I think it's great! Chloe and Leah review all things chick lit and keep their readers up to date with release dates for all the new books coming out. If you are partial to a chick lit book or two then their blog is worth taking a good look at.

Booking Through Thursday: Unread



Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?

Up until a few months ago I would always finish a book even if I hated it but then I realised (it's only taken 26 years!) that there is no point continuing with something that I am not enjoying when I could be reading something that I love. So nowadays if I disliked something that much I would just stop reading it when I have got to the point that I know it is not going to get better for me. This rarely happens and it is always a bit disappointing but there's millions of books out there, you are always going to come across one that is not right for you. So I don't think that I would ever want to 'unread' a book, I think each book we do read tells us just that little bit more about our reading likes and dislikes.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Detour!

I am afraid that you will have to take a tiny detour today! I think that I have mentioned Trashionista before, it's where you need to go for your chick-lit fix! They review great books and often have the news about new ones before anyone else. Well I reviewed Life's Too Short to Frost a Cupcake by Rosie Wilde and sent it to them and they have posted my review which I am scarily excited about! Go and take a peek:

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The truth about Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell


I love Lisa Jewell's books so I was so excited when I heard that she had a new one coming out this year. I finally got round to reading it this weekend and it was fantastic. The premise of the book is quite simple really; Melody Browne's house burnt down when she was just nine years old, taking all of her possessions but also all of her memories before the age of nine. We meet Melody Browne when she is in her early thirties; she's a single mum living in Covent Garden, just about to celebrate her son's 18th birthday. We learn that she left home at 15 as her parents were not too impressed with her pregnancy and she has not seen them since then. In just the first few chapters, Melody has a chance encounter with a very lovely man on the bus and is persuaded to go on her first date in years. Ben takes her to see the famous hypnotist, Julius Sardo who asks Melody to take part in his act, during which she falls and hits her head. When she comes round she feels different in some way and can remember small details from her childhood. This continues and she has to start piecing all these pieces together in order to find out who she was. We follow Melody Browne on her exciting journey; just as she gets answers to one question, more pop up in it's place.
I don't want to go into too much detail as it would be far too easy to give the plot away and I know that my lovely sister for one is still reading it! I will just say that Lisa Jewell has yet again written such a brilliant story. I instantly warmed to the character of Melody in the first few pages and wanted more than anything for her to find the answers that she needed to be happy. The book has a really good pace, I didn't want to put it down and I enjoyed every twist and turn that Lisa Jewell created.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Sequins, Singing and lots of Glitz!!


I am a wee bit tired today as I did not climb into my duvet until 2am this morning! It was worth it though, I went to see Girls Aloud at the NIA in Birmingham last night and it was fantastic! The ladies did us proud, they put on a brilliant show, all the classics plus stuff from the new album. They had many surprises throughout the show and the they had the audience on their feet for the whole night! I will definitely be booking my tickets for their next tour! Mr S was pleased, due to the many pictures of Cherly that I took for him!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Booking Through Thursday: A Second First Time


What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?

I love this week's question as I have never really thought about this! I am probably going to sound a bit obsessive now as I go on about it so much but I would love to read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier again for the first time as it really is my favourite book plus it introduced me to a fantastic writer whose work I am still reading and enjoying today.
I would also have to say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I had such a brilliant teacher at school for this who gave me a real love for Austen. I fell in love with this book the first time that I read it, I think that Elizabeth Bennett is one of the greatest literary characters created (Mr Rochester is not bad either).
Arrgggh there's so many books that I would love to read again for the first time, I have to mention Ralph's Party by Lisa Jewell too. Again this is because it introduced me to such a good writer, Lisa Jewell is often categorised as a chick lit writer and I can see that but for me personally, she just has the edge over other writers in that genre. I have read all her books and she is an author who truly inspires me to write myself.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Birthdays and Celebrations!


It is a day of balloons and banners in the Dot Scribbles household today! Mr S has turned 25, a quarter of a century, bless him!! We had to get up bright and early to open presents as he still has to go to work today unfortunately. I got him a DAB radio which he has wanted for a while as the reception on normal radio in our house is dire and the Star Trek film box set because, well, he is a complete Trekkie geek! I will no doubt regret buying the last present as I am sure I will be subjected to watching at least one of them! Alfie bought Mr S some presents, some jelly sweets as they are Alfie's favourite too and some new slippers as Alfie left us a present in the kitchen earlier in the week which Mr S stepped in, hence needing new slippers! So he has gone off to work a happy man and we have his family coming over later for a nice meal and possibly more presents!
I also had a little mini celebration yesterday as I finally completed writing the first chapter of the book that I am working on, 2,833 words so far! My lovely sister read it and said she enjoyed it (although however much she protests, she is going to be a little biased!) so now I just need to crack on and write the rest.
One last thing for today, Kim, over at Still Reading has read and reviewed Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. This, as I am sure I have mentioned many times is my favourite book, so go and take a peek at Kim's excellent review, especially if you haven't read it yet!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (Ladies' No, 1 Detective Agency) By Alexander McCall Smith


Relief flooded over me as I read the first chapter of In the Company of Cheerful Ladies! I have loved The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency from the very beginning but I could not even finish the last one, The Full Cupboard of Life, it just didn't grab me at all. So then I was really worried that I had gone off the series or that McCall Smith's writing style had changed but everything was okay when I read this one, I think that it is probably my favourite out of the whole series.
Precious Ramotswe is now married to Mr J.L.B. Maketoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and both of their businesses are doing very well. There are some small cases for the ladies to solve along the way but this book is more about the central characters and what is going on with their lives. Precious Ramotswe has a collision in her white van with a man on a bicycle and this brings a new friend into all their lives; Precious also has a very unwanted visitor from her past who has to be dealt with in her own special way. Meanwhile Mma Makutsi (she is my favourite character) has a spectacular row with Charlie, the apprentice over a tea-pot and he quits his job. However angry Mma Makutsi is she still helps out her friend when he gets himself into trouble with a very rich, Mercedes-Benz driving girl friend. My favourite part of the book was the story line following Mma Makutsi who decides to take up dancing lessons; she meets a very shy man at class who takes a particular shine to her and we follow them through the book.
I love the simplicity of Alexander McCall Smith's series; the characters are so warm and the messages in the book are so relevant to all of us. I am not sure what happened with the last one but I am so glad that I didn't give up on them, I shall be getting the next one as soon as possible.

Monday, 18 May 2009

This is going on the wish list (which seems to be quite long at the moment!)

I was talking to Mr S last night about my plans for the glorious summer that I am sure we are going to have in the UK! These plans mainly consisted of myself, a large pile of books and an even larger jug of Pimms with all the trimmings. This got me thinking about suitable reading chairs for the garden, we have a table and chair set but that doesn't seem right so I thought the perfect solution would be a good old deck chair so I had a look this morning and found this wonderful one:


This site has some lovely ones, I really like the Penguin design ones too! Perfect for a day of reading in the garden!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Gluttony



Mariel suggested this week’s question

Book Gluttony! Are your eyes bigger than your book belly? Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them? Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself? Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

I am definitely not a controlled buyer when it comes to books! I do buy books quicker than I can read them but I would hate to only have one new book on the shelf waiting to be read. It's good to have lots to choose from as I think you have to find the right book for you at a particular time. I like to keep my new books separate as well, the top shelf of my favourite bookcase at the top of my stairs is dedicated solely to the books waiting to be read. It's nice to be able to see them as I climb the stairs, it gives me many opportunities to decide on what I will read next. What about you, are you a book glutton?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

State of Happiness by Stella Duffy


This is the first book by Stella Duffy that I have read and I'm so pleased that I did as I have found yet another new author to love! I have to admit that Stella Duffy's books always catch my eye as they have such wonderful front covers; now I know that what is inside is even better!
State of Happiness is the story of two young lovers. Cindy Frier is a cartographer living in New York; her thesis turned into a best-selling book, turning her into a very successful published writer. Jack Stratton is originally from Manchester but relocated New York in order to pursue his career as a news editor for television. These two meet at a dinner party thrown by Cindy's best friend Kelly and the attraction is pretty instant. They very quickly fall into a relationship and the first half of the book deals with them getting to know each other and finding their way on this new journey they are starting.
They have been together for several years when Jack is offered a dream job opportunity in L.A. so they make the decision to move there together and start a new life. This is where the tone of the books shifts as Cindy becomes seriously ill. It is difficult not to give too much away but the second part of the book follows Cindy and Jack as they try to deal with her illness and the huge impact that it has on them.
Duffy takes you into the mind of both Jack and Cindy throughout the book, we hear their thoughts and fears and obviously these are magnified when Cindy becomes ill. I thought that the author captured all the nuances that occur in relationships so well; we hear Cindy's thoughts when Jack is late home, should she start a row or just get on with things now he is finally home? Jack feeling angry with himself for being angry at Cindy for being ill. This is a very simple technique really but extremely clever as it helps the reader to identify with the situation and characters.
Cindy's job and skills as a cartographer are integral to the story; the book is interspersed with extracts from her book and her thoughts and ideas for new projects and concepts. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book; the idea that two people on parallel journeys are able to come together in some way whilst still remaining separate entities. Stella Duffy's style of writing completely drew me in and I had great difficulty in putting this book down. It did make me cry as you get a real sense of the sheer frustration of Jack and Cindy's situation but it also gave me an awful lot to think about. I love it when a book does that!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Daphne by Justine Picardie


I have wanted to read this book for such a long time so I was scarily excited when I spotted it in my local library on my last visit. I have read this over the weekend, as soon as I started it, I knew I would not want to put it down. Justine Picardie has written a literary mystery which revolves around Daphne Du Maurier who is my favourite author. I do not always like fictionalised accounts of real people but it is evident from the very first page that the author has done painstaking research into her subject. Daphne is based on biographical fact and there are three key strands to the story. Obviously Daphne Du Maurier is the main one and we meet her in 1957 as she begins work on her new book on Branwell Bronte and enlists the help of Alex Symington, a distinguished Bronte scholar. The Brontes, especially Branwell provide the second focus and the many mysteries surrounding the family are explored. The third strand of the book is set in the present day and follows an un-named narrator who is embarking on her thesis concerning Daphne Du Maurier and the Brontes.
Justine Picardie weaves her story so well, the basic idea is very simple but it is all the little details and sub-stories she explores that make this book so fantastic. The character of Daphne Du Maurier is perfect, I felt like she had captured this woman so well. Justine Picardie explores Daphne's childhood and relationship with her father Gerald plus the difficult relationship she has with her husband, the great Boy Browning. I also found the connection between Daphne and the Llewelyn Davies brothers (the children that J.M. Barrie adopted and based Peter Pan on) truly fascinating.
I felt that perception of one's self was a key theme of the book. Daphne at many points feels she has to act in a certain way as a best-selling author and wife of a war hero rather than truly being herself. Menabilly, the inspiration for Daphne's book Rebecca and her true home in Cornwall is integral to the story. It is at Menabilly that she feels safe and able to relax more. Alex Symington has many secrets to hide and it is through his letters to Daphne that he is able to portray the man he would like to be and who he thinks he should be. Peter Llewelyn Davies features heavily in the book obviously as a family member but more importantly as a confidant of Daphne's; the reader sees his struggle with the legacy that J.M. Barrie placed on Peter and the pressure that he feels from the public who see him as the boy who never grew up. This theme of self-perception continues with the un-named narrator in the present day; she has entered into an unhappy marriage and initially tries to change who she is to please her new husband. It is a chance meeting with the ex-wife that brings these perceptions and beliefs crashing down and ties the whole story together.
The book also offers insight into Daphne's inspiration for many of her books but especially Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel. We almost see Daphne being haunted by the character of Rebecca who she greatly identifies with, especially due to the relationship she has with her husband.
I can only apologise for this rambling review! What I am trying to show is that Justine Picardie explores so many different avenues in such a short book, the way in which she weaves all these strands together is extremely clever and insightful. I think that Daphne is a book that I could read again many times and still take something new from it. Reading this has definitely made me reach for my books on Daphne Du Maurier and the Brontes and I shall certainly be doing some new reading on J.M. Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys. I believe that Justine Picardie has done Daphne Du Maurier proud with this excellent book.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Graphic



Last Saturday (May 2nd) is Free Comic Book Day! In celebration of comics and graphic novels, some suggestions:

- Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them?

I used to read comics when I was very young and did enjoy them but as an adult they have never interested me. Maybe I still feel that they are a childish thing. I don't think that a graphic novel or comic would have enough detail to hold my attention, I love reading as it allows me to use my imagination where as with a graphic novel, most of that work is done for you. I have to say though that I have always found the characters from some of the main stream comics to be really intriguing when I have seen their stories translated to the big screen, I am thinking of characters such as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Peter Parker/Spiderman.

- How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all?

I really don't know anything about them so I am just guessing that a comic is like a short story and a graphic novel is exactly that, a novel and so longer and detailed. I am probably completely wrong.

- Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical”.

Again, I would not have a clue, maybe I need to check out this section in my book shop next time I go, just to see what it's all about!


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Go and check this out!


Due to all the lovely comments on my review of Best Intentions yesterday I thought I should let you know about the great competition that you can enter. If you head over to the book's website and enter into the murder mystery competition then you could be in with the chance of winning one of five copies of the book- Good Luck!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Best Intentions by Emily Listfield


The lovely people at Simon & Schuster sent me a copy of Emily Listfield's new book last week; I read it over the bank holiday weekend and I loved it! Best Intentions is the story of four college friends whose reunion in New York has fatal results. Listfield uses the story to explore the question of: How well can you ever really know another person? Lisa Barkley is the central character and in 24 hours her whole life is turned upside down; her husband, her job and her best friend are all called into question.
Lisa is married to Sam and they have settled in New York with their two young daughters; Deirdre is an old college friend of both of them, also living in the city. Deirdre and Lisa are best friends and meet weekly for breakfast to confide in each other about their worries and anxieties. In their last few meeting Deirdre opens up about her complicated love life and Lisa expresses her worry over the financial strains that she and Sam are facing. Jack is the fourth person from their college days; he visits New York for a job interview and the reunion takes place. They catch up on each others lives and the old flame of attraction between Jack and Deirdre is re-ignited again. A series of events contrive against the four of them; Lisa is handed photographs of her husband alone with her best friend, Jack accuses Sam and Deirdre of having an affair in their college days and inevitably suspicions are raised and emotions even more so. This is the build up to Deirdre being found dead in her apartment. Reeling from shock, Lisa has to admit that she has no alibi, nor does Sam; Deirdre's ex was out of the country and Jack's wife has said that he was with her at the time of the murder. There is no sign of forced entry, leading the police to believe that Deirdre knew her murderer and willingly invited them into her apartment on that fateful night.
Lisa already has her suspicions of those closest to her and Deirdre's murder leaves her in the vulnerable position of having to question those that she loves the most. Who would want to murder Deirdre and why?
Emily Listfield's book had me gripped from the very beginning and I loved the use of first person narrative. I felt as though I was standing just behind Lisa, watching all the events unfold and hearing her thoughts and feelings as they happened. It really does make you wonder if you ever do truly know another person or if you just have to take a leap of faith and trust them. What happens to our relationships when they are tested?
I felt that communication was a real key theme in this book too, especially how we communicate with each other and how much information we decide to keep to ourselves. Lisa and Sam both have jobs which involve communicating to the public about people and events. Sam is a journalist so he is always trying to make sure that the truth is exposed and Lisa is in public relations so she is making sure that the public get the positive version of events and people. They are both very much aware of how the system works and this seeps into their relationship and they way they communicate or not with each other.
I would highly recommend this book, it held my attention to the very end and gave me a lot to think about afterwards. If you want to find out more about Emily Listfield then check out her website, Best Intentions also has an individual website that is worth taking a look at. Emily Listfield has written six novels so I am very excited to have discovered an author who has other books that I can explore.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Carol Ann Duffy becomes first female poet laureate


I am so pleased to see in the news today that Carol Ann Duffy has become the first female poet laureate, she truly deserves that position. I was first introduced to Duffy's poetry when I did A-level literature at school, it was she who helped develop my love and appreciation of modern poetry, I think she will be a fantastic poet laureate. Here is one of my favourite poems that she has written:

VALENTINE

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring,
if you like.
Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

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