Books et al's Blog

All about books, reviews, thoughts and more

I have a new blog for my other passion- classic TV programmes! May 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Books et al @ 5:09 pm

It has been a while since you’ve heard from me, and mainly that’s because on top of my working day, and trying to squeeze in as much reading as I can, I have also been studying.

So actually I was asked to create a blog for my study. In particular a blog on classic television programmes and to tell you the truth I was more than happy to, as I love the subject matter. I have posted my first entry today!

It would be a great help to me, and hopefully is of interest to you, to take a look at the blog, and share your thoughts and comment on the subject matter. Would be great to hear from people from all over on the subject of classic television programmes and remakes. The blog address is classictvguru.blogspot.com

I hope to hear from you there!

 

I think my cat is cheating on me March 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Books et al @ 7:31 pm
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Harley, the culpritIt’s true, I can’t deny it any more. Harley, my black and white 4-year-old rescue cat,  is seeing another woman. The signs are all there. He goes out till all hours, comes home late,  is no longer interested in cuddles and won’t jump on my lap for naps and belly scratching as he used to do.

He used to follow me everywhere, constantly rubbing against my legs which at times was the cause of some near fatal mishaps. We used to curl up together on the sofa watching some great romantic movies while the husband was located upstairs watching football. Harley doesn’t do that anymore. When he is at home he sleeps curled up in his covered cat bed, choosing to spend time alone and in the dark rather than spending it with us.

The biggest sign though, the absolute proof that he is being unfaithful to us, came today. Today he came home later than usual,  needing encouragement to come inside (when normally he runs home like a speeding bullet as soon as the sun sets).

When I picked him up to give him a cuddle, which once upon a time he used to beg for by standing on his back legs and stretching his paws up my leg, it hit me. Tears sprang to my eyes. Harley’s medium long black coat was shiny and smooth and very recently groomed, but not by me. Even more indicting – he smelled strongly of a woman’s perfume. An older woman.

Yes, Harley is straying. There is nothing I can do. My cat is definitely cheating on me.

 

 

Who would you invite to your dinner party? February 22, 2011

It’s an age-old question that has been asked for years in dinner parties around the world. There are those that scoff at this as a conversational crutch. But is it really that inane a question? I find it fascinating to find out who people would invite into their homes. I believe it gives great insight to a person’s interests, beliefs and values, especially when your friend tells you why they wanted to invite Deeta von Teese (whom you never knew they had a thing for) and they might surprise you when they give reasons for inviting Richard Nixon or Lenin. You achieve greater insight about friends, family and acquaintances if you allow historical and long dead figures to be included on the invite list.

So with that in mind, and assuming all partygoers would somehow be able to speak in a common language – lets say English – who would I invite to a dinner party and why?

Well, it’s a long list! Bearing in mind that you never get 100% attendance, I would invite a few more than I could comfortably accommodate.

1. Stephen Fry – for obvious reasons: intelligent, funny, full of interesting anecdotes, and I think a man who feels things deeply. No shortage of good conversations there!
2. Bill Bryson – again, intelligent, a great traveller with keen interest in the history of humanity and our planet, and a chronicler of people and anecdotes. I can’t imagine the conversation ever getting boring or drying up!
3. Professor Brian Cox – incredibly intelligent, a modern man, inspirational, passionate about some of my greatest loves- astronomy, physics, travelling, something sweet about him, funny and easy on the eye. My modern day hero. A must have dinner companion.
4. Charles Darwin – an amazing man, made a huge difference to our lives and our understanding of our planet, and yet in his later days a hermit and recluse. Curiosity drives this invitation, as well as a deep admiration. Conversations discussing how he came about his theories and his voyages would be fascinating.
5. Sir Isaac Newton – another world changing man whom I would love to bombard with questions and bathe in his brilliance!
6. Sir David Attenborough- another intelligent, fascinating man with a wealth of experience and knowledge, and a great story teller.
7. Meryl Streep- someone whom I think would be charming, intelligent, pasionate about her interests and a good conversationalist. An actress I admire, not least because she was a brilliant actress in two of my favourite movies (I have a few!) : Out of Africa and Bridges of Madison County
8. On the subject of Madison County, Clint Eatswood would also be on my guest list. What an interesting life he has led. I would like to ask him more about his days as Carmel’s Mayor, and more about his early days in film as well as his most recent. A fascinating person and most likely have some fabulous anecdotes and quips.
9. Alex O’Laughlin – currently in the TV re-make of Hawaii Five O, and before that in the vampire tv series “Moonlight”. This is where I begin to add a bit more variety to the guest mix. One of the younger guests, we share similar ages and homeland, grew up in the same city, and that’s where my knowledge ends. I know little about him except that he would definitely add a spark , and dare I say it, some levity and eye candy! I would defintely ask him whom he would invite to a dinner party, to get to know more about him!
10. Cate Blanchett- an enigmatic actress, hailing from my homeland, and I greatly respect her for the roles she plays. I think there would definitely be good conversational value there.
11. George W. Bush – yes, you read correctly! I mean the son! Purely for comic value…
12. Oh dear, yes I admit it, I would invite Tony Blair, ex-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. irrespective of anybody’s politics, he has been in some interesting situations and has often been a major player in pivotal points of our recent history. I would want to delve into many of those situations to find out what really happened, (in a polite and convivial manner, after all it is a dinner party). He would undoubtedly be adept at the art of conversation and would not exclude anyone from his conversation, being a diplomat and politician!
13. Queen Noor of Jordan – I read her biography once while I was waiting for a plane at an airport. It gave me a new view on women’s roles in the Middle East , my view on what women were like there had been so stereotyped before then, as I had little else to go on. I admire her strength and character. With Queen Noor amongst the mix, more interesting conversations between our guests would no doubt ensue.
14. Socrates- the ancient Greek philosopher- for great deep and meaningful conversations- no doubt would cause a bit of friction and controversy between opposing points of view amongst partygoers- wonderful!
15. Akhenaten – the heretic pharoah of 18th Dynasty New Kingdom Ancient Egypt. he would answer some fundamental questions I have had since I studied Egypt at University: What did he REALLY look like, what was Nefertiti’s role, and what happened to them? Why did he really follow the controversial route he chose?
19. His ancestor Pharaoh Khafra from the 4th Dynasty would also receive an invite, and to him I would pose the questions – “How did you really build your pyramid?” and “Did you really carve the sphinx? How old is the sphinx really?”
21. Botticelli- my favourite painter – so much to ask him about the times he lived in, and the model that was his inspiration.
22. Leonardo da Vinci- all those inventions that he came up with- what fascinating topics of conversation.
23. Becoming more a soiree than a dinner party now, I could not go by without inviting Bono Vox of U2. Someone I have admired for years. I would ask him to do a spot for us, where he would sing with the amazing, powerful voice that was his trademark in the 80s and 90s. I am sure he would do it with good grace…!

I have many more on my “reserve list”, those who I wouldn’t want to spend too much time with but for whom I have a lot of questions…I think I shall leave those for another time!

So, would you come to my dinner party, and who would you invite to yours?

 

Bank holiday weekend August 27, 2010

My birthday falls on this bank holiday weekend so wisely, or not, my husband and I decided to go to the Brighton coast to celebrate. Well we are currently on the M25 in England and while it’s been a slow start – getting onto the motorway was a chore – things seem to be a little smoother now. I say this with caution as things can change at any moment.
Just in case, I have come prepared for a long journey – I have healthy snacks and bottles of water as well as an iPhone full of my favourite podcasts – astronomy cast and Prof Brian Cox’ CERN podcast – lots of music, plus TV series Wonders of the Solar System and my all time favourite movie Contact, should we be stuck for hours. I can’t read while in a car – I suffer from car sickness if I try so the iPhone has given me a fantastic solution to mundane hours spent in a car in a traffic jam. Luckily my husband doesn’t mind me putting on my podcasts through the car radio – occasionally!
I have also brought my writing notebook as my latest story is really starting to take shape. I just need to do a bit more research with regards to the universe, talk to a few experts and I should be well underway to creating an interesting new reality. Well, interesting to me anyway, which is all I aim for now! I am very excited about this storyline and my characters. I hope I do them justice.
Of course it goes without saying that I also have bought a new book to read. The first of the Maria V Snyder Opal Cowan ‘Glass’ series. I loved her Poison Study trilogy so I have great hopes for this next series.
My birthday weekend is shaping up to be the kind of celebration that only a geek like me could enjoy – lots of learning on my areas of passion, reading and writing with some wining and dining with Husband thrown in, and the obligatory trek to some historical buildings/ areas and walks along the coast and a spot of shopping. I am so excited. Here’s hoping the motorways behave!

 

Why is sitting down to finish writing a story so difficult? June 30, 2010

I don’t mean the very short, ten page type of story. They are often quick and satisfying to write, they come upon you on an inspiration and you write frantically, not stopping until that final sentence has been reached -the one that pulls it all together and makes you feel elated, like you have achieved something wonderful. Which you have, no one will deny that.

The kind of story I always have trouble with is the sort of story that I envision as a novel, or a series of novels. I have the plot structure- or at least a framework, I know how I want it to begin, I know the characters (well, most of them), how I want them to feel, to behave, what the inter-character dynamics will be, and how I want it to end, but to get to the end, there has to be a whole middle bit that I just don’t know how to fill. It doesn’t matter how often I try to write a chapter by chapter synopsis.

So currently I am only at my 62nd A4 size typed page and I am in danger of giving up. It’s not so much that I don’t have ideas, it’s more that I am at a loss of how to portray the emotions and significance convincingly. How to make my story mean something deep and honest. What I am most afraid of is that I will let myself and my characters down. They have already achieved great emotional meaning to me. I love them. I often think about them, especially my two central characters, but how can I transpose the life they have in my head to paper without them coming across as one dimensional and trivial? I want others to come to love them as I have. How do I turn day dream stories and characters into a written version and still ensure they retain their integrity? I always thought myself to be a decent creative writer. Lately I have been doubting myself.

Fear is what is holding me back and right now it’s winning the struggle.

 

Starting a book blog April 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,World of Books — Books et al @ 7:58 pm
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When I first conceived of the idea of starting a blog, it was because all I wanted to do was write about all the books I read, to create my own magical world, and then share them with the world. Now that I have actually begun to write my blog, I realise it’s much more than that. I want to find people like me that I can swap experiences with on the great books they have read, who love to read and explore new worlds and be exposed to new experiences. I know I am not the only one that goes through books at a lightning pace, only to find that when I have run out of books to read (always way too soon), I need to buy more just to satiate my voracious appetite. In order to avoid the horror of being sans reading material, I make sure that I always have at least three books by my bedside, waiting to be opened and enjoyed.

I buy books from anywhere I can, online, markets, second-hand bookstores, and every time I walk past a bookstore – well, I never just walk past! I always come out with at least three books , and a mental list of other stories I want to read. My husband despairs as I have run out of space in my house to store them, there are books everywhere! You see, I could NEVER throw or give books away, as I always re-read my books. I dip in and out of them as and when I need another fix on other worlds, lives, and emotions, worlds that have become old friends to me. I still have books from when I was a girl – and yes I still delve into those magical places after 30 odd years! Books keeps me going between my own travels to see and experience all the wonderful places that I have read about.

I am eternally grateful to all those authors, publishers, and booksellers out there, who have made my life so rich from a very young age, and continue to do so. The ability to dip into other’s imaginations, and make them my own in my head, is priceless. Long may it continue.