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Reading & Watching

Our local library has recently undergone a 12 month multi-million pound makeover, and reopened last Monday.  Coincidentally, I’d reserved a book which needed to be picked up that day so I popped in to have a look round.  It iss all very high-tech, a cafe had been added, and there were more public computer terminals than previously, but to be honest, I didn’t really think it needed improving much – I liked it how it was.  Thankfully, the modernisation has only taken place internally, it would be a shame to have spoilt such a lovely old building, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, the book I picked up on Monday and am currently reading is this:

Diane Chamberlain is one of my favourite authors currently, and I am working my way through her entire back catalogue.  Her books are often based around a moral or ethical dilemma, and this one tells the story of a woman who has an affair with her best friend’s husband after her best friend has an aneurysm and suffers permanent brain damage.  I’m really enjoying it, finding it quite unputdownable.  Which means the housework’ll suffer again this week!  Hey ho.

Viewing-wise, I’ve just caught up with the final two episodes of the second series of the fab BBC legal drama, Silk.  I really enjoyed the first series last year, and the second has been even better.  I do hope they make another series – I want to know what happens to Billy, whose story ended on something of a cliffhanger!

Have you read or watched anything good lately?

 

Reading, Watching, Eating And A Visit

Thursday already – another week whizzing by.

I’ve just finished reading this book, and gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  Here’s my review:

Heather Gudenkauf is compared with Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain, and I can see the comparison, however she doesn’t write as well as either of the others.

This book centres around two 7 year old girls who go missing from home early one morning, one of whom is selectively mute, and is written chapter by chapter by five of the main characters (both Picoult and Chamberlain also employ this method of writing). The premise of the story was good (although I guessed ‘whodunnit’ VERY early on, this wasn’t really the main focus of the story), but I didn’t find myself warming to the characters as much as I would have liked to – particularly Antonia, the abused wife, who I felt I should have been really rooting for.

There were a lot of odd goings-on as well, which didn’t ring true at all, particularly as regards the police investigations and the sudden appearance of the media. Overall, though, a solid first novel, and I’ll certainly be reading her next one, as it’s already in my bookcase!

One of my favourite shows on TV at the moment is Smash on Sky Atlantic – billed as ‘Glee for Grown Ups’ it centres around a musical about Marilyn Monroe, and I’m really enjoying the mixture of great storyline and fab musical numbers.

Halloumi salad with humous dressing and pitta crisps.  This was my dinner last night, and it was absolutely yummy.  Ashley’s away, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to make something that I know he’d turn his nose up at!  I shall definitely be having this again.

I met up with my long-time blogging friend, Amy, on Tuesday, as she was down here on holiday.   It was so lovely to see Amy again, and to meet her gorgeous baby William (GREAT name!) for the first time.  We had a huge chatfest over coffee – with a lovely view over Hope Cove beach (what a fab place – I’ve never been before).

Once again, the weekend is nearly with us, and the forecast says rain, cloud and cold.  Same old same old.  The 4th July, when we fly to Greece, looms ever-closer, though – so I shall grin stoically and bear the British weather, with the central heating on, no doubt, until then!

Reading & Watching

I thought I’d start a regular post to share what I’m currently reading and watching, as I’m always interested in other people’s posts about what they’re enjoying book-wise and on TV.

This week’s book is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

I’m almost halfway through and sadly I’m not enjoying it very much.  Although it’s an easy read, I’m finding it very flat and I can’t really get a handle on any of the characters.  I loved the film, which I saw at the cinema last year, so this may be clouding my view.

Prisoners of War is the Israeli TV series that the very popular recent US series Homeland was based on.  Having really enjoyed Homeland, I thought I’d give this one a try when it started on Sky Arts recently, despite the fact I usually steer well clear of anything with subtitles, and I’m liking it more than I anticipated.  I’ve only watched two episodes so far, however, and it does seem a little bit slow, so I’ll see how I get on.

What are you reading and watching at the moment?  Anything good?

This Week I’m …

… Reading

I’ve read all Adele Parks’ previous books, and really enjoyed them, but I’m just a little disappointed by this one – looking forward to getting to the end.

… Watching

Finished Season 7 of Grey’s Anatomy last night.  Loved every minute, including the musical episode.  This series just gets better and better.

… Charity Shopping

I haven’t done any charity shopping for a few weeks now, so I took myself off to town to wander around a few of my favourites while Will was at karate yesterday afternoon.  I was rather pleased to pick up a few bits and bobs – a brand new YSL short sleeve shirt for Ashley for £2.49; a lovely soft M&S oversized top for me for £2.99, which’ll make a perfect mix and match pyjama top; an Evans printed tunic top £2.49; and a pair of lovely red leather LK Bennett shoes for £4.95 to sell on.

… Being Very Lazy In the Kitchen

Ashley is away and so far this week, Will and I have been finishing up leftovers and eating meals out of the freezer – it’s been lovely not to have to cook.  He’s back tomorrow, though, so I guess I’ll have to start thinking about what’s for dinner for the next few days!

 

 

Four Lovely Things For Friday

After a bit of an up and down week, it’s always good to have a few uplifting thoughts on a Friday to herald the beginning of the weekend.  Linking up this week with Liv’s Little Bliss List and Mimi & Tilly’s Favourite Things Friday.

1.         My New Handbag

Today, my gorgeous new Mulberry Tillie tote is having its very first outing.  It’s a big departure for me to choose a handbag that’s not black, but when I saw this beauty on my recent visit to the Mulberry Factory shop, at a totally knock-down price, I knew it would be mine.

2.         Weekend Away

So looking forward to a weekend away near Bath with my parents and my brother and his family.  Am so grateful for all my lovely family and all the happy times we spend together.

3.   Books

I’ve been trying very hard to avoid new books, as I have a bookcase full already, but a few charity shop bargains and some Readitswapit swaps have made their way into my bookcase so far this year.

4.   No Alarm Calls

It’s been absolutely blissful to wake up naturally without the insistent ring of the alarm clock all this week.  I intend to make the most of the next couple of mornings, as it’s back to school on Monday.

 

 

This Week I’m …

Reading

Just finished the one on the left, which isn’t as light as the cover might have you believe, and covered some quite gritty stuff about modern day relationships and our expectations.  About to start Brick Lane by Monica Ali (loved the film, which I saw a couple of years ago), and am also dipping in and out of Clarissa Dickson Wright’s autobiography (one half of the TV chefs, the Two Fat Ladies).

Watching

There seems to be quite a lot of good stuff on the TV at the moment – I’m constantly play catch-up with the Sky Plus, anyway!  Really enjoying Call the Midwife on a Sunday night and One Born Every Minute, now in its third series and just as watchable as ever.  Have also been watching Junior Doctors, a fascinating (and sometimes a bit scary! docu-reality show following 8 newly qualified doctors in their first year of work on BBC3.

I recorded the two-part dramatisation of the Sebastian Faulks novel, Birdsong, which was on recently, and was well received generally, but I haven’t yet got around to watching it.   Guilty pleasures include The Biggest Loser and Toddlers & Tiaras – gotta love those pageant moms!

Hibernating

The recent very cold snap has rendered me about as keen on getting up as William’s tortoise of a morning, and I’ve spent a lot of time parked on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and my book, avoiding leaving the house whenever possible.  Roll on Spring.

Looking Forward To The Weekend …

What was looking like a very empty weekend only a couple of days ago is now full of good stuff – friends and their kids over for dinner on Friday night (have decided to cook Greek mezze type of food with slow cooked lamb as the centre piece; out for drinks and a curry with my brother and Amanda on Saturday night; and William has been invited to a friend’s for a sleepover on Saturday, too, so no babysitter required!

And Beyond

Half term next week – goodness, that’s come around quickly – and we are really looking forward to a whole week of not having to get up while it’s dark outside.  Yay!

Caroline’s 2011 Book Awards

Best Book

This year’s very best read for me has to be Room by Emma Donoghue.  I still think back to it often, despite it being almost a year since I read it, and wonder how the author managed to make such an uplifting read out of such a  horrific subject.  If you haven’t read it yet, you must.

Two other books that come a close second this year are The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly and The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain – the latter of which is my only 10 out of 10 read since I started giving books a score halfway through the year.  Both unputdownable.

Worst Book

Controversially, the prize for this category goes to Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone.   Boring and TOTALLY not my cup of tea at all.  Clearly, however, I’m in a minority here!

Also must mention The Gift by Cecelia Ahern which was just appallingly bad.  I read her first (much hyped) novel, PS I Love You, several years ago, and was shocked by the poor quality of writing and editing.  Having seen several reviews for The Gift, however, I decided to give her a second chance, and ended up wishing I hadn’t.  I only made it to the end of this book by the skin of my teeth.

Biggest Disappointment by Author Previously Enjoyed

Having loved Allison Pearson’s first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It,  I was delighted to read that she had written a new book entitled I Think I Love You.  I was really, REALLY disappointed in it, however, and gave up after the first 100 pages  – clunky writing, unfunny humour and just generally not enjoyable.  Allison Pearson herself tweeted me somewhat unpleasantly when I commented on Twitter how disappointed I’d been in her book, thus ensuring I never part with money for anything else she may write!

The Sunflower Forest by Torey Hayden.  I really enjoyed Torey Hayden’s many autobiographical books about children she had met through her work as a special needs teacher, but this was the first of her novels I have read.  The story was based around a family of four, and unfortunately the two parents were so self-centred, self-obsessed and selfish, that my loathing of them and my sympathy for their poor daughters made it difficult to enjoy the book at all.

Best Auto/Biography

Madeleine by Kate McCann – The personal story behind one of the most controversial news stories of the last decade, if you can read this book and still have no sympathy or compassion for this poor couple, you have a very VERY hard heart.

Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford – just an amazing feat of human endurance and determination, with lots of adventure along the way.  Loved it.  He writes very well, too.

Best New (To Me) Author

Diane Chamberlain.  Thanks, Amy, for the recommendation.  Her writing is similar to Jodi Picoult, another of my favourite authors, and I’ve just loved everything I’ve read by her so far.

 

Book I Didn’t Expect to Like But Did

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier.  This had been hanging around my bookcase for years, and I picked it up without very high expectations.  Sometimes these are the best books, aren’t they?  When you expect not to enjoy them, and then love them.

And that is the end of my 2011 Book Awards.

Here’s to another year of great reading in 2012!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 TBR (To Be Read) Pile Reading Challenge

It won’t comes as news to regular readers that I am a bit obsessed by books, and as such I have a lot of books that seem to have been waiting to be read for longer than I care to remember.

So when I came across this challenge for 2012 over at Roof Beam Reader, I thought it would be great to join in and try and get through some of those books that have been hanging around for rather longer than they should have done!

The idea is that you pick 12 books (and 2 alternates, in case you can’t get through any of the dozen you pick), that have been sitting on your shelves unread for over a year, and read them all during the course of 2012.

So, here is my list, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into them, come January, and making a hole in my bookcase for more new books!

  1. A Special Relationship – Douglas Kennedy
  2. Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier
  3. Notes From An Exhibition – Patrick Gale
  4. Spilling The Beans – Clarissa Dickson Wright
  5. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell
  6. We Are Now Beginning Our Descent – James Meek
  7. Brick Lane – Monica Ali
  8. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale
  9. The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
  10. The Rose of Sebastopol – Katherine McMahon
  11. The Mitford Girls – Mary S Lovell
  12. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

Alternates:

  1. Small Island – Andrea Levy
  2. A Tale of Two Sisters – Anna Maxted

Spending & Saving

Up to my eyes in eBay listing today, so just a quick post with some pictures of my latest purchases – some more thrifty than others!

Treated myself to some of this gorgeous perfume at the Duty Free before we went on holiday ….

… and then had several glasses of champagne on the plane and decided I needed this as well ….

 

I had a quick whizz around a few charity shops this morning, and was delighted to pick up this camel coloured 100% wool coat for only £6!

It will replace the grotty Tesco thing I bought in desperation about three years ago because I couldn’t find a coat that I liked.

Brand new  with tags Salt Rock shirt for William, only £1.50.

And today’s book purchases …

The bottom two were 50p and 80p from a charity shop, and the last one was strategically placed on the counter in WHSmiths (where I’d gone to pick up the new Christopher Paolini for William, which he’s been waiting for for months, after finishing the first three in the Eragon series).  It was half price and I’ve read some good reviews of it, so I decided I needed to purchase that as well.

My name’s Caroline and I’m a bookaholic ….

 

The Last Post

… before my holiday – yay!

I’d hoped to blog a little bit while we’re away, but it seems that wifi may be not easily accessible, so I’ll have to wait and see.

Anyway, a quick photo round up of the last week or so:

Couldn’t resist this cushion, AND it matches the new colour scheme in my lounge!

Picked up this vintage 80s dress on one of my charity shop visits last week – it reminds me of the design of Studio Line hair products (though it’s by a USA label – Petrina).

My new favourite mid-morning drink.  Addictive.

A fabulous new kaftany top – perfect for lounging on the beach. or dressing up a pair of white linen trousers in the evening.  Such a lovely surprise, very kindly sent to me by Elizabeth (one of my long-time favourite bloggers) after I admired it in one of her car boot bargains posts.  It will be much worn over the next couple of weeks, Elizabeth – thank you again!

New shoes – Jane Shilton – for £4 from the local Hospice shop last week.  Brand new, too.  I’m not a big lover of flats (other than for the comfort factor), and these are a nice compromise between comfort and style.

And now for a before and after pic … this is my eye before I spent half of Friday in the beauty salon being manicured, pedicured, waxed and having individual false eyelashes applied (at great expense – but how amazing not to have to wear mascara on holiday, huh?)

And this is after …

They’re supposed to last for about three weeks, although quite a lot seem to have fallen out since Friday.

(And sorry for the rubbish photography – HOW difficult is it to photograph one’s own eye?).

Finally, specially for Mumof4, here’s my holiday reading pile …

Right, I’m off – see you all in a fortnight xx