in which i heart Steig Larsson

& I do. Heart him I mean. I've read both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Girl Who Played With Fire and I am a little bit in love with them both. I can't wait to get stuck into book three, which is calling to me from my bookshelf. For now, in order to stop this post from becoming as long as the books themselves I shall focus on Dragon Tattoo....

I LOVED this book, properly loved it. I am such a crime junkie at heart, and so this was right up my street. Granted, it was a little slow to get going, but once it did I literally could not put it down. I took it everywhere and read it at every available moment - my poor boyfriend was utterly neglected! & not since Deathly Hallows has there been a book that I have been so desparate for somebody to read with me so I could talk about it. Thank you, Helen.

I dont think this was the perfect novel. I can't give it a ten out of ten but at the same time I can't think of anything really negative to say. I love Mikael (literary crush? Little bit, even though he is a total man whore) and I love Lisbeth, I love Mikael and Lisbeth together. I love Henrik Vanger (although he's not nearly old and sweet enough in the film version, if you've seen it?) I love the drama and the intrigue and the way Larsson kept me guessing right to the end (although I had totally worked out that Harriet was alive really early on. I am so clever, right! Ha.) I miss that - a lot of the crime I've read lately has had little to no suspense. This felt like a proper old fashioned mystery novel you know? Full of mystery and intrigue, and a very clever plot that was allowed to unfold subtley and for me that's what made it work, that's what made me not be able to turn the pages fast enough. S'like a modern day Ahatha Christie. & everybody loves Agatha Christie. Not that Lisbeth and Micke resemble Poirot, that would be weird!

I think reading this provoked every single emotion in me: I was happy and I was sad and I was on edge and I was angry and I was disgusted and I was nervous and I was touched and I was excited and I was moved - pretty draining to go through all of that in just a few hours. This book left me tired and some scenes were rather graphic, maybe too graphic - Bjuman's rape of Salander for one, and her retaliation. That was very hard reading, even though I did give him the proverbial two fingers when he got his comeuppance, and I do wonder whether it had been necessary to go down that route - would the novel have been worse if it had been a little less senstational? I don't know, maybe - maybe not, but for all it was disturbing I don't think I'd change it and I applaud Larsson for managing to create characters I care so deeply about in the utterly degraded world he had created. & it was utterly degraded, yet utterly real.

One thing: what is the DEAL with Mikael and Erica and Erika's husband? I do not understand that relationship. I just do not. I think it's weird.

It's also worth mentioning the Swedish film adaptation. Worth watching so long as you have version containing English dubbing, or subtitle.s I don't think it;'s quite the same in a language you don't speak. Surprisingly, I liked it. I can't often sing the praises of adaptations of books I lovem but I did enjoy this. Most of the casting, with the exception maybe of Henrik, is spot on. They miss a lot out, but it didn't bug me anywhere near as much as it ususally does. I didn't sit there and point out the flaws, I think it would be difficult to get the full complexities of the book into a film anyway and I think what they've done really really works. It's a wicked good thriller, the like of which we've not seen for a while and I'm looking forward to seeing TGWPWF very soon.
As for the Hollywood version.I think Daniel will make a very good Blomkvist. Yum. Do I think they're cashing in on the success of the books? Totally. Do I think it will be as good as the original Swedish film? Not a chance. Will I see it anyway? Hell yes!

If you haven't read it then please do. As for me, I'm debating whether The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest is to heavy to put in my hand luggage. 18 sleeps til my holiday....

in which i read jodi picoult

I have been a very bad blogger. Again. I say that a lot....whoops!

Anyway. I shall aim to do better, and in the meantime I shall talk about Jodi Picoult for a while.

If Handle With Care had been the first Jodi Picoult novel had read, I imagine this review would be very different. I imagine I’d be casting it in a much more positive light. As it is, it is not the first but the umpteenth and the word that is repeatedly coming to the forefront of my mind is simply ‘mediocre.’

The problem with Picoult, as I see it, is a lack of originality. Ok, maybe that’s what she likes to write, ethical and moral dilemmas, courtroom dramas that tug on your heartstrings and that’s fine but she could at least try and make them a little different.
Granted it’s gone by different titles, but I’ve read this book before and I knew the characters before it even started: sick child, resentful but ultimately caring older sibling, Mother who’s heart is in the right place but who’s priorities are not, overworked Father who just wants the best for all his family,a lawyer with problems of their own. We’ve been there, done that and have several t-shirts in the same colour. Sadly that does not work in the favour of this book. Granted, it made me teary when I started (late on a Sunday night when I couldn’t sleep for thinking about work) but I’d already decided by chapter three just how it was all going to end. In that respect Picoult didn’t disappoint but, whereas the ending to My Sister’s Keeper knocked me for six, this just made me sigh and roll my eyes and I realised that knowing how it was all going to end had only resulted in preventing me from forming any attachment to the characters. It’s learned behaviour: if someone slaps you every day of your life then eventually they only have to raise a hand to make you cower. I wasn’t going to risk caring about these people because it was only going to hurt me in the end.

I sound like I hated it. I didn’t: the idea was good, and the plot relatively well crafted. The characters were deep enough for them to be real – you related to them at the same time as you were shocked by them, and as is often the case with Picoult’s writing, the courtroom scenes were riveting. I didn’t dislike it, I’d just already read it….

in which i vote Labour

Well, the General Election is upon us. I have my polling card at the ready and when I get home from the office tonight I shall be making my way down to the polling station, and I shall be voting Labour.


Because the Lib Dems, despite Nick Clegg's pretty face and his talent for public speaking, concern me. Their policies are wishy washy to say the least (and yes, that is a technical term) and so far I have seen nothing that convinces me that should they come to power, they will be what this country so desperately needs. We don't need a poster boy, we need a PM that can lead this country out of the recession, that can secure the continued recovery of the economy, and Nick Clegg has done nothing to make me think he could be that person.

Because the thought of a Conservative government frightens me (and I'd like to slap David Cameron as soon as look at him.) I could go on a Tory-type rant here, but I shall refrain. It amuses me, though, that they they seem to be putting a lot of focus on the voters who can't remember the Thatcher/Major days. Poll tax riots anyone? And besides, look at the Conservative promises to cut inheritance tax for millionaires (fabulous, lets do that, when there is so little money to go around anyway), to cut spending before we're out of the recession (which is nothing if not frightening), and to take money out of our school system to create private school and tell me what there is to support. Vote for change? No thanks, David.

So, am I voting Labour because I don't want to vote Lib Dem/Tory?
No. I am voting Labour because I genuinely believe they are the best people for the job. Because I genuinely believe that Gordon Brown is the one person who can lead us to a level of economic security, and surely right now, that has to be a priority? Because I agree with what they stand for. Because their manifesto makes sense. Because even though Nick Clegg comes across better on television, even though David Cameron's smug face is smiling at me from almost every billboard I see, the values behind the Labour Party are the ones I want to see carried forward. Because despite the mistakes they have made (and I can't deny that they've made them) I'd rather have a continued Labour government, mistakes and all, than a Tory or Lib Dem alternative.

Vote Labour.

in which i remember i have a blog

Oh dear. I have really very much failed at updating this thing. I am a very bad blogger. I must to better.

So, a potted catch up:

Did ok on the OU poetry TMA. Ok, so it was my worst mark of the course so far, but I am rationalising it by telling myself that as I'd never really written poetry before I did ok. And I've been scribblinbg bits of things since. I shall some out and post it in the next few days.

Also had the life-writing TMA. I wrote about my friend Kez, and her little girl Jenna who has Apert's Syndrome. Results came back for that over the weekend. Again, I did ok. I still haven't bettered the mark I got for that first assignment, but this was the first mark since. I am frustrated though, as I wonder a little whether I am missing the point, or whether maybe my tutor just doesn't get me. Don't get me wrong, she gives me some great (and extremely useful) feedback, and it's not that I can't handle critcism; I value the negative feedback more than the positive almost, but, when she makes suggestions such as 'why don't you add a little bit more about yourself in there, make it personal, make it about you a little more....' and then when marking tells me the one section of the piece I should cut is the one section in which I do just that (which I only bloody put in there under her suggestion!) I can't help but feel a little bit frustrated. Hey ho. I did ok, and most of what she said made sense, so *shrugs*

TMA05 is due in two weeks. I have a piece part written that I think I will submit, and I have been researching magazines that I could potentially submit too, so watch this space. The TMA is all about publication, so, we have to write a piece of poetry or prose, choose a magazine we'd like to submit it too, submit our work according to said magazine guildines, and write a bit about our choice of publication. Sounds fun. I have been looking at/hope to look at Pen Pusher, Ambit, Agenda, Mslexia, Litro, Notes on the Underground, Tears in the Fence, Markings, The North, Flash, The Warwick Review, The Edinburgh Review, The Fringe, Poetry London, The PN Review, Caketrain, Harvard Review, Granta, Anon, The Rialto, Spilt Milk Mag, Short Fiction, Iota, Popshot, Shearsman on the recommendation of the lovely Jen Campbell.

Once the course is done and dusted, I shall come back and post a couple of assignment pieces for those of you who might still be reading.

in which i am a busy bee

Grrr. I really really really want to retire!
Work is actually better at the moment. I mean I am busier than I've been in a long time but it's not hell, it's not screaming and shouting and horribleness, it's just meeting myself coming backwards and I can handle that. Almost. I don't mind being busy: I like working hard, weird as that might sound. I mean I'd rather be bust than twiddling my thumbs but this week sucks so far. Yesterday was bad. Everyone has some horrible tummy bug at the moment: they're dropping like flies and I am tempted to invest in some kind of surgical mask as a few days off work throwing up is just what I don't need. So, I'm short-staffed, I have a million reports to complile, all of which are wanted NOW, I need to chase up containers in China and I have orders sitting on my desk laughing in my face. I need another pair of hands!

Had a lovely weekend though. Hurrah for Valentines. I totally don't buy into the school of thought that professes not to believe in Valentines Day, the 'love me every day' attitude. I love my boyfriend every day, and I know that he loves me, and we make sure to show each other. Little gifts every now and then, walks on the beach, delicious meals - at home and out- lazy Sunday mornings and sofa cuddles but you can't deny that sometimes real life can get in the way. We're up at numbers starting with a 6, by the time we've had dinner and done the dishes it's often gone 9pm, and it's easy to appreciate each other less than you should. Tell me what's wrong with one day of the year that is totally 100% set aside to show that person that they mean the world to you. It's only as commercialised as you let it be: Ian and I set a ten pound limit on Sunday, and the presents we got each other were awesome. We spent the afternoon at the Lowry - free, and the best Sunday afternoon we've had in a long time and we had dinner out, a meal where we didn't stop laughing. Doesn't mean I don't show him I love him the other 364 days of the year does it?
The Lowry was awesome. I've not been for so long, and the LS Lowry exhibition has changed somewhat. It was fabulous. I heart LS Lowry x a LOT! If you live up Manchester way and you like pretty pictures then get yourself over. Yes. Pretty postcards a plenty. I wanted to buy a framed print fot the house but Ian was having none of it. I don't think Lowry's grotesque self-portrait is quite his style......

in which i actually write some poetry type stuff

Maybe it's ok after all. Fair enough it's hard, so much harder than the prose work but I'm actually enjoying the challenge. I don't think what I'm producing is particuarly good, but I'm persevering, and I already have a piece that is being edited and re-edited and will hopefully, finally, be submitted as my assignment! I'm not going to show you that though. Oh no, s'for my eyes only!!

I will show you this though: a little piece developed from one of the course exercises, that asked us to make a list of proverbial expressions used by friends/family/colleagues and list them as a poem.

I’m not being funny but it’s
just not fair and
don’t tell me it’s not raining.
It’s raining in my head.
You’re ruining my life and I don’t
really care about crumbling cookies.

Funny how hindsight really is
20/20 vision. It’s obvious now:
My best interests nestled
in your heart. Watching out for your little acorn,
you hoped to see a great oak grow.
I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket, I
made my hay dressed in shorts, so when you ask
me if the proof is in the pudding,
you’re taking the words right out
of my mouth.
All’s well that ends well.

It is by no means great. I know this. But it does resemble a poem, kind of. & I wrote it. This is an improvement on prior attempts, believe me!!!

in which i freak out about the OU

It's bad. It's actually really bad. So bad that I am wondering why the hell I signed up for the stupid course in the first place.
That's right guys and dolls. It's poetry time. I can't do it. The end. I just really can't. It doesn't help that I'm struggling at the moment to find the time to do the exercises - maybe I'll feel better tomorrow when I've sat down and worked through it all some more but at the moment I have a deadline for a 40line poetry assignment looming and I just want to cry. I have no inspiration, and it's all just really technical and gah. I want to cry. I need to take a deep breath, and count to ten and get on with it, I know, but it's stumped me. I've been loving it up to now: the prose side has been awesome, I'm quietly confident about getting the mark for the last assignment and it's al lbeen good and now this. If I fail this course it will be because of the next few weeks. Oh, help.