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Book Review – Telling Tales By Alan Bennett

I have to say I challenge anyone who has heard his voice not to read this and hear him talking to you…

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As usual begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Ten childhood snapshots from the master of the monologue Alan Bennett recalls his childhood in a sequence of talks that are funny, touching and told in his unique style. Hampered, as he sees it, by a family that never manages to be quite like other families he recounts his early years in Leeds a place where one learned early on the quite useful lesson that life is generally something that happens elsewhere: there is hiking every Sunday, trips into town and teas in cafes. Its an ordinary childhood, Bennetts father a butcher, his mother a reader of womens magazines who dreams of coffee mornings and cocktail parties and life down south. He re-lives family crises, early pieties and the lost tradition of musical evenings round the piano, all these tales told with that wry observation and ironic understatement that has earned Alan Bennett a place in the forefront of contemporary writing.

Even though his childhood in Leeds took place decades before my own I can still relate to much of what he was saying, I grew up on the outskirts of Leeds in a mining village and to be honest it always felt like you went back a decade or two from the city centre. But the truth is that even for those who grew up in other areas there will be elements from their own childhood they recognise, after all we all have those certain characters in our childhood that make their mark one way or another. Though it is written about a specific area the language is not dialectically difficult, and as I said in the opening if you have heard Alan Bennett’s voice it is impossible to read this without your head creating the illusion of him narrating it to you.  It is also interesting reading the introduction the understand more about his reasons for choosing to use this medium to relate his personal stories. It is a slim book and can be read in one night and makes a refreshing change to some of the ‘celebrity’ memoirs that are three hundred volumes of drivel., it is a testament to Bennett’s genius that he can select out a few memories that give you such an in-depth understanding into his childhood without needing a whole book.

And for the score, well it has to be five out of five stars.

Gold star

Lazy sunday

Lazy Sunday #33

Hi guys well another month is almost done and in some ways for me has not been a very roductive one but so much going on behind the scenes. I am currently sat typing, sparkling everywhere and my fingers are blue, yup some days it is better not to ask.

I did sit down to start this earlier with a full cup of coffee but it is nearly empty now after being distracted chatting to a friend so I best get on with things before I get distracted again.

  1. Where has the year gone? Well March is upon us and as you know it is followed by April which can mean only one thing… http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2017/02/announcing-2017-blogging-from-to-z.html need to start thinking of a theme for this year
  2. This second blog post will take up a little more of your time but it really is a great watch, I never really though about the idea of drag kings so this was educational and also raises some interesting points about challenging gender stereotypes https://throwingchanclas.com/2017/02/13/wretched-productions-delivering-and-wanting-to-deliver-more/
  3. I have been following this blog for a long time and have followed the journey she and her family have been on with her husbands dementia this post however hit home so much, as you know my gran passed just over two years ago but towards the end she was not sure who I was, she would talk to me about me parents as if they were strangers to me, she knew I was a relative just seemed to struggle to remember who exactly, and while it is hard it is something you have to learn to overcome https://jmgoyder.com/2017/02/18/dementia-and-misrecognition/
  4. I love listening to podcasts, usually true crime ones or ones related to sci-fi or writing, but when I saw this post I thought the idea does sound intriguing, the exploration of how other people remember events which had profound effects on you but they may not even register. I have not listened to it yet, I think a binge listen will happen later this week but am certainly looking forward to it https://adelegallogly.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/jonathan-goldstein-revists-regrets/
  5. I failed miserably at the Goodreads Challenge last year, I am determined to do better this year but also to write the reviews for books much quicker so they do not sit on my desk with the fact I have read them unregistered for months lol https://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/on-a-reading-binge/

So that’s it for today off to do some house work and maybe a little writing also to scrub my fingers lol

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Glossybox Review December 2017

Finally up to date as I wait for this months box to arrive and I have to say I love the box…

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Sadly as much as I liked the box I didn’t have it long as my daughter also loved it lol so lets see if the contents matched the packaging…

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I have to be honest I was not blown away despite the fact it was full of make up products but did I feel the same after I had used them?

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MDMFLOW Semi-Matte Lipstick in Vamp

The first thing I should say was I chose the colour for this which also influenced the next product as well. I am not sure if I like this packaging, the lipstick does seem quite small however I did like the colour when I opened it…

dsc02272I chose this colour out of the two options as the other was a more neutral shade of which I have plenty when I swatched it I did find it was lighter than I initially expected but was still a nice berry colour…

dsc02273I love the packaging for this and I really like the colour. The lipstick stayed on quite well though required definite topping up after eating and drinking, at £18 I am not sure if I would buy more especially given the only option would seem to be online so the fact photos do not necessarily show true colour would put me off.

Next up…

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Revlon Nail Enamel in Valentine

I have to be honest out of the whole box this was the biggest disappointment. The colour sent was chosen to be paired with the lipstick you chose, to be honest the match is not a good one colour wise in the first place and this nail varnish left me frustrated, seemed to either have to be applied thin and streaky to get it to dry and more than two coats it would not dry properly, in the end gave it up. At £6.49 it is not really expensive but I still would not buy it.

Next…

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Collection Cosmetics Define & Perfect Eyebrow Powder

I cannot make up my mind on this product, the colour is just about right for me, maybe a little dark…

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I don’t mind the little brush application process…

dsc02276I already mainly use a powder to do my eyebrows so that was not problem. It took my a while to put my finger on it but the issue is the ball bearings that for some reason are rattling around in the brush bit. The thing is I can’t even work out why it is there, if it was in the powder side I might have thought it was there to loosen it except that it would actually pack it down, there is no liquid in the brush part that need agitating it is just annoying and distracts me as I use it. At £4.19 it is a good price and I like the product, they just need to sort the rattling noise.

 

The next product is this one…

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Lipcote Lipcote

Sometimes a product can have been around for a long time before you ever try it, for me this was one of those products. To an extent I think I never needed it, most lip products these days are designed to have a long lasting formula, so I tried this out over a range of lipsticks, I have to say it did make some last longer, others I could not say I saw a difference, I confess I do not like the tacky feeling that you get when you have first applied it however that does fade very quickly and at £3.99 it is actually a reasonable price if it makes lipsticks last longer before you need to reapply after all many of the lipsticks cost far more.

And the final item…

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Essence Light up your face luminizer palette

When I first looked at this palette I was not impressed, the colours were not really suited to my skin tone however once I stopped and considered how I could use the palette I have become rather fond of it.

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Rather than using them all as luminizing powders I have been using the two outer darker shades to use for contour shades when I feel the need to contour during the day, they give a little glow along with the shading and I use the middle highlighter if I want a more subtle glow or over the top of a liquid highlighter. I will say that for nights out the shades are not strong enough but they are fine for during the day r for when you need to be understated and at £3 would also be great to take out to top up rather than carrying your more expensive products with you.

Lazy sunday

Lazy Sunday #32

Well thankfully the threatened snow has not shown it’s face here, it is bad enough that it is freezing, and I would not mind snow so much if it was the lovely white fluffy stuff you see on postcards but here in Huddersfield it almost seems to fall as slush and just gets you cold, wet and dirty. Today I am hoping to get a few blog posts under my belt, and get some writing done so you will forgive me for keeping the chatty part of the post brief, plus I am nearly at the bottom of my mocha and need to go make another coffee, so without further ado…

  1. I don’t know if it because I am not good enough or simply I do not have a big enough readership to have had to worry about these but in this post the lovely Stephanie Hurt talks about the sort of scam that could very well catch a lot of new authors out, after all we all want that big break https://stephanie-hurt.com/2017/02/09/writer-beware/
  2. If you are in the UK you know over the last couple of weeks there has been a huge panic due to the unusual weather in Spain and the effect that has had on the lettuce marker, however hopefully these photos will show it should be short lived before normal service is resumed, I also love the fact that for Irene it is Almond trees that signify spring whereas as for my it is the cherry blossom but both are very similar to look at https://irenedesign2011.com/2017/02/10/spring-is-arrived-in-spain-10-photos/
  3. I love doing crafty things I keep a journal though I realised lately I have fallen into a habit of just scrawling a few lines and decorating only with a couple of bought stickers so I need to up my game, though I don’t crochet I have been known to knit and cross stitch, and I have re-appropriated the odd bit of furniture, infact I have a large box in which I store jewellery which was once a bathroom cabinet before I decoupaged it so you should understand why I loved this post https://quotidiandose.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/crafty-author-mfrwauthor/
  4. Next up is a book review, and though I am intrigued by the actual book it is more the content of the review and that question of how much to reveal in a review. I have sat in tears as I read the memoir of a child abused by a parent, or someone who has survived terrible assaults and I think why didn’t someone warn me I would need tissues but then I think if they had would it have changed my interpretation of the book, would preparing me for the worst somehow numb me to it, maybe in comments yuo can answer when the subject is real and emotive do you want foreknowledge? https://booksandbowelmovements.com/2017/02/11/nobody-warned-me/
  5. On Tuesday Valentine’s day once again raises it’s head with a shower of rose petals and discarded chocolate wrappers, and I am still single so no romantic meals for me but I have to say I have always been someone who can actually cope quite well being single. I would rather be alone than in the wrong relationship, I have never felt I needed someone else to complete me, okay there might be someone out there, this mythical ‘the one’ who might change my mind but I am a firm believer that people come in and out of our lives for different reasons at different times, and if you like yourself the times inbetween are just as awesome as those involving others, don’t get me wrong I miss the physical affection occasionally but not enough to settle for just anyone so I always find Sandra’s single life posts interesting https://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/7-steps-to-being-successfully-single-and-happy-being-single-icbsd/

That’s it for today as my daughter keeps distracting me with silly messages so I am going to go get ‘stuff’ done lol have a good week all of you and remember being alone on Valentines does not mean you are not loved or worthy of love xxxx

Give Away & Page Take Over

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Join me tonight 9pm UK time as I take over the #Leeds2018 #HourglassEvents page click the link and join in advance http://ow.ly/McOi308JscK

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Four years ago this incredibly brave little man lost his fight against cancer, he left an army of followers all heart broken by his loss and devastated for his family, I wrote Voices Across The Void to honour his memory and to raise awareness and funds for the charity set up in his name Cords4LifeUK, I said Iwould never give this book away free because of that but today and tomorrow to honour him and this family I am with the hope if you like it you will leave a review, spread the word and help make cord donation something offered to all new mums so they may help save a life or at the very least give those precious extra few months cells from a donated cord gave Charlie with his family. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Voices-Across-Void-Pa…/…/B01GZ5NFPU

 

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Book Review – The Children Of Witches By Sherri Smith

I picked this book up in a charity box and confess it was the title that grabbed my attention…

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As always let’s begin with the Goodreads blurb…

When rumours of witchcraft sweep through the town, Anna’s son, Manfred, who does not communicate like other children, is seized by those who use him to pursue their own agenda. As innocent townsfolk are accused, a climate of fear prevails. No one is safe – and Manfred is at the heart of the terror.

I confess I did not really pay much attention to the blurb when I picked the book up, I had just done my shopping after finishing the day job and was having a flick through a trolley full of books we had, donations for which went to our local charity, I spotted it thought it looked interesting and grabbed it, throwing my donation into the tub. The actual blurb on the book is longer than the Goodreads one and plays a lot more on the witchcraft aspects of the story. I was really looking forward to it and it has some really good point it also has faults though.

The story is based on real events and at times I did question if it would have been better as a factual examination of the events or as taking it further and going for pure fiction. The story in some ways is reminiscent of the Salem witch trial, the way that it is the children who accuse and that they are encouraged to greater and greater accusations, the way the accusations are made and the way the villagers react to them is intriguing, as is the initial introduction of the Church into the mix however for me this was where the story became a little sluggish. There seemed, and maybe it is because I am not religious myself to be too much of the church at times and not enough of the family, I really cannot put my finger on what exactly the problem was because I understand with the plot where it was going but at times getting there felt like wading through treacle in wellies, which is a shame because the conclusion of the aspect of the story was really good. I was not really that taken by they end of the story overall, but to be fair because of the characters involved, even without having a real story it related to I do not think this was ever going to be a happily ever after story, I would like to have had more about the other characters on the periphery and how their lives were effected by the conclusion of the story. Do not get me wrong I enjoyed it and this is a good book in many ways but I do think it could have been an amazing book if it had explored the broader consequences rather than such a small character focus group.

So a score, I debated this but am going to go for three and a half stars out of five.

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Lazy sunday

Lazy Sunday #31

Well it has once again been a bit of a lazy week though in some respects I have been making strides forward in the back ground, first let me invite you to join me in my very first Facebook page take over. Wednesday evening I will be taking over the Hourglass Events Leeds 2018 page which you can find here, I shall be hosting there live from 9pm GMT and doing a give away or two, it is a group so you will need to join in advance to be sure not to miss out but given the fact there are numerous awesome authors on there trust me it is worth it, plus you might just get the chance to grab offers from others between now and the event. I will be doing another next month as well on the Darker Side page and will provide more details nearer the time.

So you will have already seen my Resolutions post this morning so this afternoon lets settle down with a coffee and read a few post dinner blogs…

  1. The first post I am sharing is about a love of mine I can no longer indulge in and that is wearing heels! This form of footwear has become rather contentious, okay they are not really good for your foot but they do look good, and the feminists argue we should not be forced to wear them , which I totally agree with but neither should we be judged for wanting to, I love a nice pair of heels, they look pretty and make me feel even more fabulous, and it is never for someone else I have worn them (well okay there may have been the odd occasion but lets not go there lol) but for how they make me feel. I cannot wear them at the minute a combination of weight and my bad back but if I could I would probably want all the pairs featured but especially the red boots https://valentinaexpressions.com/2017/02/04/feet-in-short-trunks-valentina-cirasola-designer/
  2. The second blog I want to share today is one I have shared before because of their art, today I am sharing it because I love the fact they have been gracious enough to share a little glimpse into their life and I have to say I can imagine sitting there with notebook in hand and writing the most glorious poetry, some vistas are just inspirational https://paintdigi.com/2017/02/04/photos-of-my-country-2/
  3. I am a huge Instagram fan, though with me phone it is a nightmare keeping up with posts, I tend to try to catch up via the computer at least once a day so that I can return some of the likes from friends on posts my phone might decide I don’t need to see, but the other thing I enjoy is seeing the way different types of creative art is shared, be it music, art, or poetry, so I loved this post which shares some of the poetry accounts they have come across  https://christinastrigas.com/2017/02/03/top-10-instagram-poets-i-cant-stop-reading-in-february-2017/
  4. Next up is a post from a lovely lady who also happens to be an amazing poet and uses Instagram herself to share her words, this post however is about her camera and is something I relate to, I too find lately I do not take my big camera out as much, relying instead on the camera on my phone and sometimes am gutted at the images I have missed https://lucywilliamspoetry.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/lucys-diary-04022017/
  5. The final one today is a writing post, the post initially caught my attention because of the idea of music transporting us but then as I read on I found so much of this post resonated with me that I wanted to share it here https://amandamblake.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/anywhere-but-here/
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Resolutions 2017 – January

So the first month has flown by and I hold my hands up, it has not been the start to the year I would have wished for but O really want to concentrate on finding the positives so let’s see how I did…

01)  Lose weight, yup this old chestnut again, I lost a stone and a half in the second half of last year so just set up a fresh spread sheet and new targets, while I know I have a lot more weight to lose than my target weight I am simply being realistic about losing weight in a healthy way.

Well at the end of the months technically I am down but would have been better if I had not had the blip in the middle, the problem is nights out and stress have both contributed this month to that pound put back on but I want to just focus on the positive and the 2lbs lost. I really want to be losing a pound a week so I did half of what I wanted this month lets hope next is better.

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02) Publish the remaining two parts of the Queen of Ages trilogy

I have started on the second part but am well down on where I wanted to be by the end of this month, however I am determined the first draft will be done before the middle of March so time to get stuck in this month and make up for lost time.

03) Exercise more

I have not made it to the pool this month at all, just bad timing with other things I have had on but next month I fully intend to start getting back into the Monday morning swim at the very least. As you can see I did not hit my 10k step target very often, it is annoying that I cannot get it to show the full month rather than the 28 days but as I can’t change it just have to work with the stats we have. as they were all set at zero on first of last month the increase looks fab but the important thing will be to keep that figure going up, the one thing that is obvious is I need to do more than just housework on Sundays.

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04) Blog at least four times a week

If you are reading my blog you know I failed this terribly but I promise you it is going to get better, family issues and commitments as I discussed earlier in the month have had to take priority but am now getting better organised and balancing everything better.

05) Get out more

If you get my newsletter or follow me on social media you will know I did get out twice this month, once with friends and the second time with the monster (it counts for now okay) both times to the Chinese Buffet, which actually accounts for that pound put back on lol. No actual nights out planned for this month but do have a lunch planned with my lovely friend Debbie and hoping to arrange a coffee meeting with another friend. I am also working on a special outing the month after which I will tell you more about nearer the time.

06) Write every day

I did not manage to write daily but what I did do was write when I had chance and also sort out several old folders with different bits of short stories, as you can see this actually is providing the basis for two very different short story collections potentially, well actually you can’t see both just the one but not going to say which one will come first lol, at the minute one looks like it may be family/relationship based and the other horror, just out of curiosity please answer in the comments do you prefer themed short story collection or ones that are a complete mix of genres?

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07) Work on my self belief

This month I have taken on a new mantra ‘It is what it is!’ By this I am looking at accepting my failings without judgement upon myself, I will not rip myself to pieces because I did not achieve all my goals, I will not waste energy fighting the tide on things I cannot change and I will embrace situations and make the most of them. It does not mean I shall not strive to push myself but it does mean that I shall have faith that if I fail there is a reason and it is not always myself at fault.

08)  Time management

Well obviously I as have not been hitting my targets it would seem I have been failing miserably however it is not quite true, because I have been making more time for family and to spend quality time with my son. I do need to focus more and be more productive during the daytime hours I have spare for writing and that will be my focus for the next month.

09) Update my wardrobe

Well obviously two pounds is not enough to justify a new wardrobe but I have been thinking about what I want my look to be, I recently added some purple to the pink in my hair and I am tempted to move more towards purple than pink, I am rather liking the idea of a ‘steam-punk’, Victorian ‘Gothic’ I like the idea of the corseted structured look with maybe the long bustled /layered skirts however with a butt the size of mine that may not be the most flattering look to go for.

10)  Publish the newsletter each month

The February newsletter went out on time and I am pleased to say I had plotted out half of it during the month, with the exception of a book to my friend Heidi and the January prize sending out I am now caught up on the mailing situation so that is a huge bonus. I am hoping to have more exciting things to discuss in the newsletters as time goes by because it is hard to make it so they are more than a rehash of FB and Instagram posts and not just pushing the same book over and over again.

11) Work out what I want in my personal life

This month my personal life has not taken a step forwards, backwards or in any other direction. My son has been my priority and my one night out was not exactly the sort of night that was going to give the opportunity to meet someone. At the minute I have so much on making time to met new people is going to be hard, I don’t really want to go down the on line route and just talking to people on line because you can’t judge if the chemistry is there via text or even on the phone, it is a physical reaction, I did meet someone last summer but due to other issues it did not work out but the chemistry was off the chart and the memory of how alive that spark made me feel means I am not about to settle for anything less.

12) Keep my website up to date

I am technically behind by one post as I write this, mainly because I struggle to think of interesting things at the minute to put on up there, I also am due to add another today as I am finally finishing this in the Sunday despite the fact it has been on the go since Wednesday but it has been a rather chaotic week personally so I am going to forgive myself as after all ‘It is what it is!’