day 23: your guilty pleasure

I think you could probably quite safely say that vampires are my guilty pleasure, not just in books but generally.
& I'm not talking vampires that sparkle in the sun here, I'm talking actual proper vampires; yes I know, that's as much of an oxymoron as the term 'living dead' itself but you know what I mean, right?
I don't know what the appeal is. I remember getting an LJ Smith book free with a magazine when I was about 14. It was about this teenage girl who was dying of cancer and her vampire boyfriend who was all immortal and intense and could read her mind when she drank him blood & then I watched 'Interview With The Vampire' (remember that film??) and something sort of stuck. There's something about the vampire that's
Is that weird?
It's totally all to do with the way they're portrayed: they're dramatic and powerful; they're sexy in a dangerous passionate kind of way and 9/10 times they're beautiful. They either look beautiful (Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Gary Oldman, RPattz [come on guys, you can't deny that RPattz is a beautiful young man] Ian Somerhlader etc) or they are described as being beautuful and thus are so in my head which brings me to my guilty pleasure in the book world: The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.

The Sookie books are the inspiration for the TV series True Blood and tell the story of a telepathic barmaid from Louisiana, living in a world where vampires are living 'out of the coffin' and trying to integrate themselves with society.

They're complete trash.

I love them.

They're 100% totally and completely unrealistic. They're overly dramatic. The plotlines are so insane that they're almost laughable. If they weren't about vampires then I probably wouldn't give them the time of day but that is not the case, instead I have some kind of 'V' addiction so I can easily lose myself for a couple of hours (because that's all they take to read) in Bon Temps, because the vampires, Bill and Eric, are beautiful in my head; there's a cute shapeshifter and a fit werewolf; theres' lots of hotvampiresex;Sookie is actually a pretty awesome protaganist and a pretty good role model in that she is alwaysalways prepared to fight for what she believes in, and every book in the series (so far) has contained enough edge-of-the-seat drama and mystery and romance and humour to keep the pages turning.

I know these books aren't great but I also know I like them and that's what matters, isn't it?

This whole 'guilty pleasure' thing also links quite nicely into my Friday Photo. That beautiful man in the corner of this post is the star of my televisual guilty pleasure "The Vampire Diaries" and yes, he plays a bad-ass vampire.
Anyone noticing a trend ;)
I have a boyfriend and I love him and we're very happy. I just want to make that clear. That does not however stop my jaw from hitting the floor pretty much any time I see Ian Somerhalder (Yes, it is Boone of off Lost) because let's face it people, this man is beautiful and sometimes no matter how loved up you are, a beautiful man off of the telly can make a long slow week seem better.

Heatwave blues

Man alive, what is with this weather?

Seriously? It's this hot in nearly October? Seriously? (the second 'seriously' would be in italics except I'm updating on my phone and don't know how to do italics. It's meant in italics though because that is how hot I actually am.)

It's a bit rubbish, actually because I love autumn. I like the colours and the long walks and the wellies and the woolies and the apple crumbles and the cosyness and none of that is happening because instead I feel like I am melting. There is a distinct shortage of air in my office this afternoon and consequently a distinct shortage of both motivation and will to live.
Oh heck. I seem to be grumpy about the weather; somebody ought to remind me of this in 2 months when I am raving about the snow!!

I just want an ice cream and a cold shower.

Tonight my plans involve dinner with the in-laws, the aforementioned shower and 'black books.' I sincerely hope one of those things cheers me up because I am annoying myself with my grumbling!

In other news I saw Jenna and Emily today. Jenna was all 'byeeeeee Jo' with a massive grin and it was cute (again, italics.)

Better off in Abersoch

I actually believe I could deal quite easily with retirement. A cottage by the sea; a cute little puppydog to walk on the beach; all the books I could read and then some. Yes, I think that would suit me just fine, or at least that's the conclusion I've come to after my weekend away.

Talk about a lovely time. It's funny, some people might think we're excruciatingly boring, after all we were tucked up in bed for midnight, but I don't care. I've had a lovely relaxing time and feel totally recharged (and a lot less healthier than I did before I left. We've eaten a lot of junk.)

It's been superbly low key. Village pubs and bottles of wine; hot chocolate on the beach; lazy mornings and early nights; sofa picnics; snuggling under blankets whilst storms rage outside; Ugly Betty; single track country roads; lots of reading and even more laughter. I'm so glad I went.
It makes me realise, times like this weekend, just how lucky I am to have the people that I do in my life. People that just get me. People I can laugh with and drink with and sit in silence and read with and visit places just because we like the sound of the name with. Friendship is valuable and once you find those people who you can relax and be your own quirky self with, well you should hold them tight and never let go. I'm lucky enough to have a handful of those people and I love them all, very much.

That is all.

It's Friday and it's not unusual.

It's Friday and I am going on holiday. A mini-break. A girly mini-break with my BFF Helen and ourfriend Clare (although Clare is a teacher and so can only come for one night.) We're setting off on Saturday morning and coming back on Tuesday and I cannot wait. Helen's brother has a caravan in Abersoch. There will be walks on the beach and cider and lots of reading and giggles and gossip and yummy pub food and I think it will be just lovely. As long as the sun shines. In fact, you know what, even if there's some kind of monsoon it will be fabulous. It will be so so nice to spend some time, with Helen especially. Even though we're in touch most days I feel like I haven't seen her in ages.
We'll be taking our Kindles so it will be a paper free weekend I think, unless you count postcards. Some people might get postcards. & even though I love my Kindle bucket loads, I haven't gone that far over to the darkside; I promise you those postcards will be real, not some fake old e-cards!
I’m still reading the Woolf. This week has been all kinds of insane so I haven’t read more than 2% (I still get a kick out of the whole percentage thing. Hurrah for Kindle love) but that will be rectified this weekend and then next week when I get back I shall read Prisoner of Azkaban. I am excited about that.
Soon I shall finish work then I am off to visit my Grandparents and visit Kez and then take my beautiful God Daughter out for her birthday surprise – if somebody had taken me to see Avril Lavigne for my 13th birthday I’d have been bowled over. Let us hope Beth is too – and then I am ON HOLIDAY.
Oh, I nearly forgot. Have a Friday photo.
I think I love Darren Criss. Like, actually. I can’t help myself. He’s so beautiful, and when he sings I come over all peculiar and then when he dances (which he does, a lot) my tummy does funny things and it’s a bit ridiculous. I have such a crush. Ha. I was a little crazy about him in the last season of Glee; the Warblers album is the most played on my iPad (This is not cool. I know. I don’t care.) & then he danced past me at the Potter party and then he told me I was tiny and I realised our outfits were co-ordinated and then he danced down the stairs and Ian just laughed at me because I was in an actual daze and then last night I watched the first episode of the new Glee and oh my days Jesus Christ on a bike. Gjgfhklgfjhklfngfxlg. Yum. Yum yum yum. So here. Happy Friday.

(Also how cute are Blaine and Kurt please. Helen, if you’re reading this, shush.)

Day 22: book you're currently reading.

As those of you who know me know, a lot of my literary taste has been decided by my Granny. Perhaps decided is the wrong word; it makes her sound like a book-dictator which she is absolutely not. Maybe 'guided' is a better choice.
My Granny is a reader, as is my Mum and as am I but whereas Mum and I agree only now and then on reading matter, Granny and I have very similar tastes. I'll read a book she recommends just because she recommends it, no further selling is required and I've found many a new author to love because of gifts from her. I'm not sure if it's because she knows me and my reading well enough to always be able to choose the right book, or because she loves the books she loves so much she wants to share them and just keeps getting lucky. Either way I'm glad.
It's to Granny that I owe my love of Harry Potter: if it wasn't for her insistence that I'd love these kids books that my kid brother loved then I never would have read them and that just doesn't bear thinking about.

My Granny's favourite writer is Virginia Woolf. Granny loves Virginia Woolf in the way that I love Margaret Atwood and it's that which brings me to the point of this post. I was pretty sure I was going to get along with 'To The Lighthouse' and now, at almost halfway through it, I think it's safe to say I was right.
I really really like the way Virginia Woolf writes. Not a lot has happened so far but it doesn't seem to matter. Her characterisation is wonderful and her writing the novel using stream of consciousness is so effective; it's awfully rambly but you feel like that's sort of the point, like you're sitting in the heads of these people and following through on their thought processes and it illustrates really well the contrasts in how the same moment is viewed by different people. The style and the way it reads takes a bit of getting used to I must admit and not only because at times you feel you know a little bit too much about what people are thinking, especially when some of those people aren't all that likeable but it's well worth the effort and I can't wait to get stuck back into it.
Today is technically Thursday, but it's actually my Friday as I'm away for the weekend. Hurrah! Ian and I are off in our Camper to Stratford to watch some drag racing. Usually Ian would be racing himself at this event, but since his race car is currently being fitted with some kind of go-faster business and is in many pieces in the garage, this year we will just be spectating. I don't know much about cars I must admit, all I can tell you about Ian's is that it's a Beetle and it's blue and it costs a lot of money. It makes him happy though so *shrug*
Anyway, we're off down to Stratford with these lovely people: (I wish my eyes were open on this photo. Curses.)

And I have to confess to being quite excited. I like going away and I like my Camper and I like spending time with Ian, and Mark and Emma and I like catching up with all the racing people who are a lovely if slightly bonkers bunch and I very much like the BBQ's and the cider. Especially the cider. I expect a couple of the girls will sneak into Stratford for a proper coffee and a wander on Sunday which will be lovely, although my friend Sarah is threatening me with a rowing boat. Clearly she is not familair with my Dordogne experience. (I had to tie my canoe to my Uncle's and ride 10k down the river perched precariously on the back of somebody elses. Ha.) Still, the whole weekend will generally be quite a nice time.

I'm reading 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' at the moment. So far so good, although I'm only 6% in. It's fairly easy to read and whilst I admit the fact that I have Gary Oldman wandering around my imagination as I read might mean I like it that little bit more, I think I'm going to really enjoy it. I plan to see the film once I've read the book so I might well report back.

In the spirit of the weekend I am also going to grab this opportunity to put some Hugh Laurie on my blog. Hands up if you love Hugh.

Ha. He does make me smile. Have a lovely weekend peeps.

“Always the tone of surprise”

‘And you've got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?'
-Hermione Granger

Today folks, love is in the air. Altogether now: aaaaaah. Today Ian and I have been together for 4 whole years! Eeeek. How did that happen?
I’m not about to come over all Hallmark card on you though. I shall simply say that I love my boy very much and leave you instead to celebrate the loveliness of love with Ron and Hermione, who are far cuter than Ian and I.

Look at them. They're so beautiful they make my chest a little tight *holds them close*

It was cool, clear blue of watered ink, somewhere between night and dawn, and everything was quiet except for Ron and Hermione’s slow, deep breathing. Harry glanced over at the dark shapes they made on the floor beside him. Ron had had a fit of gallantry and insisted Hermione sleep on the cushions from the sofa, so that her silhouette was raised above his. Her arm curved to the floor, her fingers inches from Ron’s. Harry wondered whether they had fallen asleep holding hands.

Happy Birthday Mr. Dahl

Today is Roald Dahl Day, an annual celebration of the fabulousness of Dahl, held every year on his birthday (he would have been 95 today.) & I urge you to read The BFG at bedtime tonight in his honour.
Everybody** loves Roald Dahl, even people who aren’t big readers have a soft spot of The BFG or Charlie or Matilda and I’m no different because let’s be honest: Dahl was a master story-teller and, whilst as an adult I revel in books like his 'Tales Of The Unexpected,' dark, twisted, very very clever and incredibly well-written, it is probably his books for children that he's most famous for and those are the ones that have their own little corner in my heart.
Even now, 21 years after his death he still inspires the exact same feelings in me as he does in my 7 year old nephew and when Toby's is a world in so many respects alien to me, a world of Ben 10 and Moshi Monsters and Wii games I can’t help but applaud anything that gives us that connection; that bridges the gap between his world and mine.
Roald Dahl was my childhood and in the same way the children of today will look back and thank JK Rowling for theirs, I owe mine to him. He is everything childhood should be: he’s magic and intrigue and excitement and laughter, so much laughter & even now at 28 I feel like a child again when I settle down to re-read his work; it hasn’t lost a single bit of it’s charm and because of the unique way Roald Dahl wrote, from the perspective of a child, it’s so easy now to curl up with The Witches and be transported right back to being 8 years old. It’s so easy to sit down with Toby and talk about The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine and feel just as alive and just as excited by it as I did then because Roald Dahl never seemed like a grown-up writing for children, he got inside the head of them so perfectly that it seemed he was writing as one.
When I was a child his books felt real, I understood them and I felt like they understood me. Now his books remind me of how it felt to be a child.
Knowing Roald Dahl opens the door to Neverland because as long as you keep his books on your bookshelf and revisit them every so often you never have to grow up.

**everybody I’ve met. I’m not pretending I’ve surveyed the entire population or anything. That would be crazy.

Miami Slice

Friday, Friday, Friday.

I don't have a lot to say today, except my usual 'hurrah for the weekend.'

Ian and I will have been together for 4 years on Wednesday next week so we're off out for a curry tonight to celebrate, the very same curry house where we went on our first date. Romantic, huh? It will be a very yummy and very nice time.

The rest of the weekend will be spent getting my eyes checked, visiting friends and catching up on Dexter and House.
Dexter is getting very exciting right about now and I am itching to go and snuggle up on the sofa with some Ben and Jerry's and find out what happens. How did Jordan Chase know it was Lumen on the phone? What will Liddy do with the photo's of Dexter? Will Deb ever eat that much needed cheeseburger? (Yes, that is my jealous talking. Don't we all want a washboard stomach? She's so thin she looks like she'd blow over in a breeze. Bitch.) Anyway, yes, it's all very exciting in the world of our favourite serial killer and my sofa is calling to me so loudly I swear I can hear it from here.

It's rare that I watch tv without a bowl of ice cream; my usual Ben & Jerry's flavour of choice is Cookie Dough whereas Ian goes for Phish food every time.Wwe go through so much that it's a good job it's on offer at the supermarket,!! Imagine if this week's Friday Photo was a real life actual Ben and Jerry's flavour (sadly it's not, it's just a promo for Season 6 which I believe will be airing in the States very soon) but still, that would be amazing wouldn't it? I would forskae my cookie dough for a bowl of Miami Slice for sure. Ha.

Afterwards I was disappointed

I read Rosamund Lupton’s ‘Sister’ earlier this year and loved it. I thought it was an incredible debut so I was waiting with bated breath to get stuck into her second novel, ‘Afterwards’ which I did with exceedingly high hopes, last week.

Talk about second book blues.

It’s not that I hated it; I didn’t. I actually quite liked it and I think that if I hadn’t liked ‘Sister’ so much I probably wouldn’t have found as much to grumble about with this but I did like ‘Sister’ and consequently and sadly, I have a few complaints about this second offering. It just didn’t measure up and ok, maybe I should be judging it for it’s own merits and maybe I shouldn’t be making the comparisons but I can’t help it. Rosamund Lupton set her own standards and she set them high and now it seems she’s wanting to lower the bar somewhat and that makes me very sad. It’s like the super bright kid at school who’s not pulling his weight. The end of term report for ‘Afterwards’ would read ‘could do better.’

Whereas ‘Sister’ felt precise and researched and well developed, ‘Afterwards’ felt rushed. I didn’t feel like the book had been written for the love of the story, more like Lupton had spent her advance on Jimmy Choo’s and had people screaming in her ear for a manuscript. Shit, that’s a catty comment. Sorry. It’s just, I can’t quite grasp the concept of the main plot, which I don’t want to spoil for people that haven’t read it and whilst I am aware that it might be because it’s not my thing – I can think of other books I’ve slated that go down the same line – it doesn’t take away from the fact that I don’t think it was particularly well done and it aggravated me to a point that it took away from the elements I did like.

I also cannot be doing with OTT gushing declarations of undying love. Ever. It gets my goat when I see it all over Facebook for instance. Seriously. There is such a thing as over-sharing, guys. I’d like to make it clear here that I am not dead inside. I don’t shake my fist at a bit of romance, but when it’s incessant, in-your-face, someone elses romance yeah, it bugs me. I mean I know I am guilty of the odd love note on Ian’s wall if I know he’s having a bad day and I want to make him smile or a ‘love you’ status on an anniversary or an “I miss Ian” when he’s away but those are few and far between because my love for Ian is for me and Ian. Not me and Ian and the hundreds of other poor souls who will be vomiting their way down their news feeds. Besides which, why would I want to share my deepest feelings for my boyfriend with the world? If you love someone, tell them you love them but don’t ram it down the throats of everyone else, please? In all honesty, I always feel a little sorry for those people who feel the need to update their Facebook every two minutes to tell the world how amazing their other half is, how loved up they are, how OMGSOHAPPY they are. It feels a little like they have something to prove. Who’re you trying to convince, love? Maybe I’m overly cynical, or maybe my romance button is broken, I don’t know. All I know is I do not want to read it, and am so very glad my boyfriend doesn’t feel the need to indulge in those over-exaggerated love-fests. But, back to the point. At times, ‘Afterwards’ is a little like one of those Facebook news feeds. & it’s just too much. Lupton pulls off the stomach-churningly gushing ‘oh how I love the people I love more than all the rivers that flow’ about as well as Stephenie Meyer does and we all know how I feel about that. Actually, I bet it’s her fault. How does it go again Jen? Keep calm and blame Twilight?

& another thing: Lupton's habit of italicising things she wanted us to realise were important got annoying really fast, possibly because I'm not stupid and possibly because the parts she higlighted didn't need highlighting. That bugged me.

And that was a bit of a rant. Whoops. I really didn't mean it to be because I really don't hate this book. I don't even dislike it. I promise. What I actually wanted to say was that whilst it was (italics, sorry. ha) disappointing and it wasn’t as good as ‘Sister’ it was an enjoyable read and it was, despite what I may have led you to believe. Lupton is very good at suspense and writes a whodunit very well. There were enough red herrings in here to keep the greediest fisherman happy and plenty of twists and turns and I liked that. I liked that every time I thought I’d figured it out she laughed in my face and changed direction. I liked that throughout the book I was all ‘no, it can’t be him, it’s too obvious…oh, maybe it is him….no, no it’s not him…maybe she wants me to think it’s not him, maybe it’s a double bluff….’ I liked that I hadn’t figured out who the bad guy was within the first 100 pages. I liked that all the way through it kept me guessing and I like that it surprised me. I did fly through it, and I did find myself keeping it close to me so I could pick it up whenever I had a spare second because I did want to know what was going to happen. I’d give it 6/10 which isn’t too shoddy at all and I’m looking forward to whatever Lupton does next. I just hope it’s a bit better than this.

Day 21: Favourite book from your childhood

I loved this book then and I love this book now and I'm fairly sure I will love this book when I am old and am reading aloud to my Grandchildren. It's the book that symbolises my childhood I think. I still know most of the poems by heart and just thinking of it conjures up so many memories of times gone by that it makes me feel almost melancholy.

When We Were Very Young is one of the first books I can remember loving. My Granny and my Grandpa both used to read it to me as did my parents and even when I was old enough to read it to myself I still loved curling up on the lap of (and then as I got bigger, at the feet of) one of them and listening to them read it to me and I fell asleep so many times with the audiotape playing in the background.

It's funny too, how I remember people reading different poems. My Mum would always go right to 'Rice Pudding' whilst I associate Granny with 'The Kings Breakfast' which I think might be my favourite - it's either that or 'Buckingham Palace' and I would bet money that if you were to go to my Dad, or my Grandpa or even my 23 year old brother now and say "James James Morrison Morrison' they'd smile and continue with 'Wetherby George Dupree, took great care of his Mother though he was only three....' It's almost like an heirloom; it's been passed down from generation to generation, all of us having grown up loving it and being desperate to pass that love along to our own children and I can't wait to read it to my own babies, one day.

The King said,
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

its Friday and Maggie Smith is FIERCE

I have been a very bad blogger this week. Whoops. I can't believe Friday is here again. I have very little planned this weekend which makes me very happy. Hurrah for a weekend of relaxation and cuddles.

I leave you with Maggie Smith, who blew my mind in DH2