Some kind of wonderful – by Giovanna Fletcher

7 01 2018

My friend bought me this for Christmas, so it was a good book to start the year with.

Lizzy has been dating Ian for 10 years she was 18 and is desperately waiting for a proposal, so when that comes crashing down, she has to rediscover how to function on her own and see how much she’s changed in that time.

There’s no point trying to claim this is sophisticated literature, but it’s a comfortable, easy read (evidenced by the fact I read nearly 400 words in 6 days!), and it’s fairly warm and fuzzy. Definitely enjoyed it 🙂

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A Christmas Carol – by Charles Dickens

31 12 2017

Finished just in time for the end of the year!

I never thought I’d manage to read a Dickens, but gave this a go for a few reasons

  1. It’s only 129 pages long.
  2. I know the basic story from films so it can’t be too tricky.
  3. It’s Christmas!

Even with that it took a long longer than I expected, but I’d like to partly put that down to the busy-ness of December and having a couple of magazines to get through as well.

My main knowledge of the story comes from The Muppet Christmas Carol, which means that no matter how hard I tried, every time Bob Crachit appeared, all I saw in my mind was Kermit the Frog, and Scrooge was most certainly Michael Caine!

Oh, and a chick flick [loosely] based on the plot if that’s more your cup of tea is Ghost of Girlfriends Past.

Much as I really had to concentrate to get through it at times, it really was heartwarming and worth the effort.

Favourite line: “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”





How to Stop Time – by Matt Haig

2 12 2017

I tried so hard to wait for paperback but I’ve given in and got the hardback! …and now they’ve brought forward the paperback release date to less than 2 weeks time, but oh well!

So, how to explain this. Tom is 439 years old, but he only looks like he’s in his 40s. He ages about 1 year for every 15 actual years. While this sounds like a bonus it brings it’s troubles. His mother was accused of being a witch (which in those days was a huge deal), and he has to move every 8 years or so because people start to get suspicious as to why he doesn’t seem to age. Many moons ago he had a daughter and while her mother has clearly passed on, she had the same condition and so his focus is on finding her. In the present day he takes a job in a London school to be closer to his roots.

Of course the book jumps around in time quite a bit, from his youth through to the present day, which I think is what slowed me down a bit. Sometimes I only read a page or two at a time, and it takes most of that time to work out where on earth you were last time you picked up the book!

Matt Haig is just a brilliant writer, it took me a while to get into the book, but even when you’re not quite there with the plot yet, he just has some absolute gems of quotes that pop up and keep you going ’til you’re hooked! Some favourites below:

  • “Possibility is everything that has ever happened. The purpose of science is to find out where the limits of possibility end.”
  • “I never tired of the way birds moved when they weren’t in flight It was a series of tableaux rather than continuous movement. Staccato. Stuck moments.”
  • “I am good with pain. Small price to pay for being alive.”
  • “The very reason such music exists is because it is a language that couldn’t be communicated in any other way.”
  • “Don’t hoard [sorrows] like they are precious. There is always plenty of them to go around.”
  • “The main lesson of history is: humans don’t learn from history.”
  • “I have only been alive for four hundred and thirty-nine years, which is of course nowhere near long enough to understand the minimal facial expressions of the average teenage boy.”
  • “There is a crowd. Only this is a twenty-first century crowd, so everyone’s macabre fascination is tempered with at least the semblance of concern.”
  • “Yes, there had been a void inside me, but voids were underrated. Voids were empty of love but also pain.”
  • “Many of us have every material thing we need, so the job of marketing is now to tie the economy to our emotions, to make us feel like we need more by making us want things we never needed before. We are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have been to only ten other countries. To feel old if we have a wrinkle.”
  • “It is not bad when you know someone, just when you first meet them.”
  • “She had [a panic attack] on the plane, coming back from Australia, but I hardly even noticed, except she became quite still.”
  • “You have to keep walking forwards. But you don’t always need to look ahead Sometimes you can just look around and be happy right where you are.”
  • And a poem he threw in partway through:

    Skyscrapers

    I
    Like
    The way
    That when you
    Tilt
    Poems
    On their side
    They
    Look like
    Miniature
    Cities
    From
    A long way
    Away.
    Skyscrapers
    Made out
    Of words.





Anne of Windy Willows – by L M Montgomery

28 10 2017

Book four chronologically in Anne’s life, though this one was actually written 20 years after most of the others. A newly engaged Anne moves to Summerside to become principal of a high school and lodges with two widows in a house called “Windy Willows”. A lot of the book is written as her letters to Gilbert, maybe a half and half split with that and general narrative. She spends three years there while Gilbert is at medical school, and doesn’t get off to the easiest start.

The majority of Summerside either seem to be the Pringle family or have some Pringle blood of them of some sort, and they seem to gang up against Anne initially. But Anne being Anne, she finds her way! From there we meet lots of different people over the three years, very few characters get featured the whole way through other than the little girl, little Elizabeth, who lives next door with her Grandmother and “the woman”, who feed and clothe her well enough, but don’t show anything by way of affection, so in time Anne befriends her and that relationship blossoms beautifully! Elizabeth goes by many different names, depending on how she is feeling: Betty, Beth, Elsie, Bess, Elisa and Lisbeth. “But not Lizzie; I can never feel like Lizzie.”

Anne seems to be not a matchmaker as such, but definitely gets involved in pushing a couple of couples forward in their relationship who have for various reasons not got engaged or married yet. Somehow it’s written so that you feel it’s entirely justified and gives each couple a happy ending!

My only real frustration with this book was a couple of times when we meet someone who is meant to be annoying and talking non stop without Anne or anyone getting a word in edge-ways. But the way it’s written you end up reading pages and pages of this irrelevant annoying waffle and actually don’t care! It makes the point well, but did make me want to skip pages at times.

This book was publish 3 years before World War 2, so it was sad to read the following: “It’s impossible to think of Canada ever being at war again. I am so thankful that phase of history is over.”

Of course, these books always provide some wonderful one liners, maybe not as many as in the other books, but still!

  • “I’ve always liked washing dishes. It’s fun to make dirty things clean and shining again.”
  • “[Babies] are what I heard somebody at Redmond call ‘terrific bundles of potentialities’. […] But I think I’m glad Judas’s mother didn’t know he was to be Judas, I hope she never did know.”
  • “If we were all beauties, who would do the work?”
  • “But there’s one consolation: you’ll be spared an awful lot of trouble if you die young.”





A Grief Observed – by C.S. Lewis

6 10 2017

At 64 pages I imagined I’d fly through this, even if it was non-fiction. Nope, 10 days!

Essentially these four chapters are Lewis’ scribblings in his notepad after his wife, Joy, passed away. Sometimes it’s a sheer expression of grief, others get more theological.

He actually originally published it anonymously and so the initials with which he refers to other people are all different – I know “H” refers to his wife, but not any of the others!

Some ideas he raises are so interesting. He suggests that some qualities we consider bad, God has, and that they’re not bad, but we only see them as bad because of our human narrow view of the world. C.S. Lewis is definitely one person I have at my dream dinner party – he’s said some quite controversial things in his time and I want to talk much further!

He gives a analogy of grief as going round in circles, and daring to hope that he might be on a spiral, and which direction he is going on it. Such a clever man.

Again there are some great one-liners in here too, my favourite being “What do people mean when they say ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good.’? Have they never been to a dentist?”

I very much enjoyed his use of the plural of cul de sac, “culs de sac”, which is so much more pleasing than what we’d assume “cul de sacs”. But that’s a bit of an aside.

I also loved his reference to “when you have learned to do quadratics and enjoy doing them” – because eventually everyone should enjoy them 😀





The House of New Beginnings – by Lucy Diamond

25 09 2017

I visited a friend at the start of the month and she’d just finished this book and so passed it on to me. I already had a large reading pile, but was interested and have *some* manners, so after I’d finished my current book, and a very short related book after, I gave this one a go.

It’s unashamedly chick lit, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing! Essentially the book is about the residents of the five flats in Seaview House in Brighton.

  • Flat one is Jo, and her teenage daughter, Bea. Jo becomes quite unwell early on and Bea has a damaged relationship with her Dad that needs sorting out.
  • Flat two is Rosa. She’s recently moved down from London after finding out her boyfriend was not all he seemed and so is looking for a fresh start.
  • Flat three is Georgie and Simon. Simon’s just got a great architect job so he’s moved down from Yorkshire and Georgie has come with him, without much sense of purpose.
  • Flat four is Charlotte. She lost her baby daughter recently, after which her marriage broke down and so she has moved to Brighton to get away from all that.
  • Flat five is Margot. She’s an old, frail lady who’s likes money to be spent “unwisely” and to talk about her impending death as some old ladies enjoy doing!

The book begins as Georgie and Simon move in, and gradually you see these women trying to suss out what their life in Brighton is going to be. They gradually get to know each other too and we just spend time following the highs and lows with them over their first summer in the house.

It’s an easy read and pretty feel good 🙂





Remember, Remember (The fifth of November) – by Judy Parkinson

11 09 2017

I hated history at school, I liked the Victorians and Tudors, probably because of their pretty dresses, but the Romans never stuck, nor did much else.

This is my sort of history book. No article in it is more than 250 words. It opens with a timeline and a list of monarchs, and then from the Roman Invasion around 2000 years ago, up until the end of the Second World War, each significant historical item has one page, and one page only to be explained. It was so easy to read, you could binge or just read a page or two depending what time you had. Bite-sized; perfect.

I’ve had this on my shelf for a while and occasionally used it for reference, but it was great to just read it through over a couple of days (especially having just read some historical fiction and seeing how much of that came up) and get a good overview of the history of my country!