L is for llama – #AtoZChallenge

llama

[lah-muh]
noun
1.

a woolly-haired South American ruminant of the genus Lama, believed to be a domesticated variety of the guanaco: often used as a beast of burden.
2.

the fine, soft fleece of the llama, combined with the wool for coating.
Let’s turn the timer on…
last year on my way to dancing we were driving past a field on the way to Marsden when I got all excited and started shouting ‘Llama!’ Of course, technically as you know if you follow my Instagram, they weren’t llamas they were alpacas, same family different wool. But they look very similar but are less inclined to spit. That is the first thing I remember ever learning about llamas, they spit!
The first time I ever saw one I was a kid, I was with my grandparents and we had gone to Bridlington. We had been on the ‘front’ for a while and been for lunch at a restaurant on the front, I used to think I was so grown up, obviously back then there were very few actual restaurants that did a children’s menu, so I would order a ploughman’s lunch, and then after they would bring round the dessert trolley with cakes and desserts on it, I would usually pick Black Forest gateau if there was not a plain chocolate cake option, which as this was late 70’s there frequently was not. After eating we would catch the land train up the hill to Sewerby Hall this was where I first saw a llama, my granddad warned me it would spit so we gave it a wide birth even though I was fascinated by its seemingly huge eyes, I had never seen a camel at this point either so had know way of knowing those lashes were nothing compared to other family members. I think I thought of them as a little like horses, but deformed, more comical then graceful and sleek, but the one thing there was no denying was they were kind of cute and had personality, especially as it spit at a small boy who was annoying it.
I guess animal families in some ways are a little bit like our own, don’t get me wrong we are all human and not separated by species and sub-species but if you follow my meaning we have those that look pretty, think vicunas, then those that are productive like alpacas, then you start getting the strange cousins that can be a bit grumpy at times, like the llamas, then you have the really camels who just walk and talk different and have those huge humps. You have to wonder when a llama looks at a camel do they recognise they are the same family or just look and think freak?
That’s it timer has gone and so must I

J is for jester – #AtoZChallenge

jester

[jes-ter]
noun

1.

a person who is given to witticisms, jokes, and pranks.

2.

a professional fool or clown, especially at a medieval court.
Let’s start the timer…
My initial thought when I think of the jester is to think of Harley Quinn and the Joker, probably because I only just re-watched Suicide Squad a few days ago but when I consider the actual definition I am reminded of a book I once read though I cannot remember the title. When you first think of the medieval court jester I think it is easy to dismiss them as fools, weaklings, people of no consequence but when you actually think about it logically they really were in an incredibly dangerous and potentially powerful position.
Think about it they had more access to the monarch than probably anyone else, they could hang around without raising suspicion after all their job was to be there at their masters beck and call, to amuse him whenever he saw fit, and because they would often be of small stature, possibly with impediments or deformities, either physical or mental, that would have held them back in life. In the book I read the jester was a dwarf if I remember correctly but incredibly intelligent and used his position to manipulate the King’s opinion on his courtiers, of course it had to be done carefully mock the wrong person who had too much power and there may be repercussions but do it in such a way as to make the person look bad if they react to the jester and subtle undermining of a person’s character can be achieved.
Got distracted and the timer has gone off but going to leave it short as I am behind on these posts.

Lazy Sunday #38

It is lunchtime I have been productive, well sort of, I have washing out on the line and I have planted a load of veg seeds, not guaranteed anything will grow but we can but try. Am just about to go take the second lot of washing out of the washer and go put that out but I still feel lazy. Yes, it is that one day of the year that I feel guilty having a lie in, it is marathon day! I have never been one for running long distances in fact I hated stamina days when I did athletics as a teen but after make back surgery I realised that my chances of ever running one were more or less gone, it is on my bucket list so I have not given up on the idea completely but the one thing I love is not only watching the excitement of the elite races but watching all those running for charities, joining in the atmosphere on the course, they may not get records but they will have achieved something truly incredible. So between housework and writing today I shall be watching the unicorns, firemen, nurses and a hundred other fancy dress outfits cross the finish line.

  1. the first blog post I am sharing is one that made me jealous, would love the chance to attend events like this, it just seems that time wise it never quite works out for me https://isleofbooks.com/2017/04/10/an-evening-with-neil-gaiman-in-review/
  2. As mentioned above it has been school holidays here and sometimes you just need a good laugh https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/04/10/when-saying-oops-is-not-enough/
  3. If you are scared of spiders you might need to skip this one but other wise it is an inspiring post about how you can look death in the face and say not today thank you https://accidentalspacegirl.com/2017/04/17/the-tarantula-who-saved-my-life/
  4. My final two blog for today are both A -Z posts, I am doing so badly and will take a few extra posts to catch up and make the finish date, I haven’t quite given up but we shall see, I picked this first one because it hit a nerve with me as we all have that point where we have to decide at what point we class ourselves as writer, authors or still make excuses for doing the thing we love, https://lindaghill.com/2017/04/20/qualification-atozchallenge/
  5. The final one is just because it’s Doctor Who themed and well why not https://nerdygirlconfession.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/s-is-for-im-so-so-sorry/

E is for espionage – #AtoZChallenge

espionage

[es-pee-uh-nahzh, -nij, es-pee-uhnahzh]
noun

1.

the act or practice of spying.

2.

the use of spies by a government to discover the military and political secrets of other nations.

3.

the use of spies by a corporation or the like to acquire the plans, technical knowledge, etc., of a competitor:

industrial espionage.
I am afraid you will definitely be getting a couple of days for the next few weeks until I catch up on my blog posts so without further ado lets start the timer…
When I think of a spy I automatically think James Bond, technically when you think about it he is rather crap as a spy, everyone knows who he is. The idea of the spy is that he is supposed to perform covert operations not walk in announcing his presence with a calling card, but then again the bad guys may as well be walking round with flashing arrows above their heads advertising walking evil. That does not mean I don’t love watching Bond films for all their failings, I love the gadgets as well the pens that double as hypodermic needles, briefcases where the blade sticks out if you push one lock one way but gases everyone if the push the other.  I love the film the Kingsman for similar reasons though that has the added advantage of Colin Firth.
Now Colin Firth’s character is easier to see as a spy in some ways charming, a quintessential English eccentric who it would be impossible to believe actually capable of fooling anyone. Another E word there eccentric, it always seems to be linked to English or British people, usually of a certain class, but why is it the we Brits affectionately label our stranger countrymen as eccentric rather than freaks or weirdo’s? do other countries have eccentrics or are they more damning? Is it the potential for harming others that turn the eccentric into a threat and therefore something more sinister?
When you think of the films that portray what it is to be British over the last few decades they tend to be grimy violent films filled with drugs and violence or filled with middle and upper class ‘characters’ usually loveable failures, think Bridget Jones, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and one of my favourites, which brings us back to Colin Firth again, Love Actually. I was going to post a link here but had to come back and alter it when I realised I couldn’t find one. I love the fact that mainly they were happy endings to the stories but can’t help wondering if the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman story would have had a happy ending, because in my head at the end of the first film they didn’t, they were the one couple who did not make it and the sad passing of Rickman left a gap that could not be filled. Any way time is more or less up mainly as I got distracted once again, in comments tell me do you think the Thompson/Rickman Love Actually marriage could have had a happy ending in the sequel?

Book Review – Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination By Helen Fielding

I think this is actually an interesting contrast to my last book review…

As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

At the close of the last millennium, Helen Fielding debuted the irrepressible (and blockbuster-bestselling) Bridget Jones. Now, Fielding gives us a sensational new heroine for a new era…Move over 007, a stunning, sexy-and decidedly female-new player has entered the world of international espionage. Her name is Olivia Joules (that’s “J.O.U.L.E.S. the unit of kinetic energy”) and she’s ready to take America by storm with charm, style, and her infamous Overactive Imagination.

How could a girl not be drawn to the alluring, powerful Pierre Ferramo-he of the hooded eyes, impeccable taste, unimaginable wealth, exotic international homes, and dubious French accent? Could Ferramo really be a major terrorist bent on the Western world’s destruction, hiding behind a smokescreen of fine wines, yachts, and actresses slash models? Or is it all just a product of Olivia Joules’s overactive imagination?

Join Olivia in her heart-stopping, hilarious, nerve-frazzling quest from hip hotel to eco-lodge to underwater cave, by light aircraft, speedboat, helicopter, and horse, in this witty, contemporary, and utterly unputdownable novel deluxe.

It may seen ironic that the last book I reviewed I complained about the plot being too far fetched but while the other die so within the thriller genre here in Rom-Com/Chick-Lit it works perfectly, the author mocks the very absurdity of the plots within the actual title, but here mixed with comedy it works brilliantly. The Bridget Jones author manages to create another cast of characters that grab the imagination though I have to say the lesser characters are less rounded than in the first Bridget Jones book, however it is not really an issue, as unlike those others, these are not likely to feature again. I did really enjoy this book, it is fun and an easy read which provides perfect escapism, it is definitely the perfect holiday read, there is a but though!

I was happily engrossed in this book until I noticed that I was running out of pages and seemed a long way from the story being resolved. The action in the last section of the book seems a little hurried and lacking in the detail and atmosphere building of the earlier sections, it is almost as if she was busy writing a great book and then it was pointed out she was reaching her word quota and had to finish it off quickly. I am not sure if the answer would have been to leave the last section for a next book and build up the previous action to the climax of this one or to just have risked making this one longer, I certainly would be happy to see Olivia have more adventures but only the author knows what her intentions are in that regard.

So to scores up until that last bit this would have had the perfect score but because I felt the last bit was on diet rations it gets 4.5 starts out of 5.

Book Review – Call After Midnight By Tess Gerritsen

This book is a stand alone novel and not part of the Rizzoli & Isles series

As always let’s begin with the Goodreads blurb…

THEY’D SAID HER HUSBAND WAS DEAD … SO WHY WAS SHE SURE HE WAS STILL ALIVE?

A ringing phone in the middle of the night shakes newlywed Sarah Fontaine awake. Expecting her husband’s call from London she hears instead an unfamiliar voice. Nick O’Hara from the US State Department is calling with devastating news: Geoffrey Fontaine, Sarah’s husband of two months, died in a hotel fire … in Berlin.

Convinced her husband is still alive, Sarah forces a confrontation with Nick that finds them crisscrossing Europe on a desperate search for Geoffrey. Trying to stay one heartbeat ahead of a dangerous killer, they become quarry in the clandestine world of international espionage, risking everything for answers that may prove fatal.

When you love a series by someone you can find their stand alone novels lacking, however I have read a couple of others which I had really enjoyed so I was optimistic about this one.  Sadly for me this book was a bit of a flop, the plot is a little implausible, well more than a little to be honest, but more than that the characters themselves just do not ring true.  Had it remained steadfastly a thriller, spy drama it might have been more engaging but the sub plot of a romance between the two main characters just makes it so hard to believe. We are asked to believe that the grieving widow, whose reaction to her husbands summons is to jump straight on a plane can fall in love with another man within a few weeks. I accept her husband is not who he pretends to be, nor does it turn out they had the happy marriage she thought they had but the reallocation of affections is too swift without the soul searching one would expect.

The pacing is fast and furious, in places a little too fast as you barely get time to get a real feel for places and situations before we are torn away to the next, I do love Tess Gerritsons books but for me this one just did not grab me the way her others have,

So time for a score and I hate having to give this score but I have to be fair so I award it 3.5 stars out of 5.

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 #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

Give Away & Page Take Over

photovisi-download-2

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

photovisi-download2

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

 

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…

9211533

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.

gold-stars-3-5