Wednesday, 26 November 2014

currently reading

My plan to read the Man Booker shortlist is failing. Two reasons really:-
1. my new job has left me with less recreation time
2. I am super protective of my books, I like the spines, covers and pages to remain immaculate. This means I'm wary about shoving my new books in my handbag, which is littered with all kinds of debris. This is preventing me taking and reading my books on my commute.

So I can get some reading done on the train, I've turned back to my old friend the library, and  have just collected a couple of books:-

1. Paul Collier, Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century 
Does what it says on the tin - this is a factual look at an explosive and controversial debate from a respected economist.

2. Chris Westwood, Ministry of Pandemonium 
I ordered this so many months ago, I can't remember why. It is YA fiction about a secretive ministry department, that aims to recruit Ben, a young man with an unusual gift. This will hopefully be a great thing to read first thing in the morning on the tube, as I'm not expecting it to need much brain power.

3. Lyndsay Faye, Dust and Shadow 
Victorian detectives- one of my most favourite things. I really rate Faye as an author, in this she is taking on two legends- Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper.  

Monday, 24 November 2014

Stowe- part 2

A lot later than I originally planned, here is the second part of my visit to Stowe. (first part here)

Stowe, grounds, gardens, folly, landscape, Capability Brown, architecture, follies, 18th Century, temple, Palladian, UK, English, photo, pictures, photographs, examples,

I thought he most logical thing to do was to split the photos into two- the first part is mainly trees and autumnal landscape.  This post is about the follies that are scattered around around the grounds. For those of you who don't know, a folly is a fanciful structure, built to be primarily decorative and to be an ornamental part of a large garden or estate. Some follies can however also be practical, a place to rest, take tea or even to sleep if they are far from the main house. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

As this was the winner of the Man Booker prize this year, I'm sure it'll be on many people's Christmas lists. Although, I've only just started to read my way through the shortlist, I'm not convinced this would have been the winner for me.

fiction, POW, Japanese, Death Railway, novel, book review, Man Booker Prize 2014, winner, Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, WWII, Dorriago Evans, hardback,

The Plot: The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, was built by Japan during WWII using forced labour. Approximately 180,000 Asian civilians and 60,000 allied Prisoners of War worked on the railway. Hundreds of thousands of people died, due to starvation, and the brutal regime of the camps.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is the account of a fictional Australian army doctor, Dorriago Evans, and his life before, during and after his experience on the Death Railway. Dorriago struggles to save the lives of the men under his care, as is forced by his captors to select the POWs to work on the railway each day. Throughout he is haunted by the memory of Amy, the wife of his uncle, who he had an affair with.

The novel is non-liner, showing the long reaching consequences of trauma, and the importance of happier memories in difficult circumstances.

Rating: 3.5/5
Full review after the jump:-

Monday, 17 November 2014

He kept looking for that piece of artery

"Dorrigo Evans kept steadily working on Jack's stump, his bare feet ankle-deep in the bloody mud below the makeshift bamboo operating table, his outer calm a strange thing he knew he preserved at the moments of greatest inner turmoil. He kept looking for that piece of artery, trying to find something in his work to hold on to, unconsciously clawing at the mud with his toes.
And finally he had it, and he worked with the utmost care and delicacy to make sure his work would hold and Jack lives, and when he was done and he lifted his head, he knew Jack had been dead for some minutes and no one had known how to tell him". 
- Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Sunday, 16 November 2014

life lately

So I'm still getting used to the routine of my new job, and therefore haven't been able to update as much as I'd like. I haven't had the time to read as much as I'd like either, so I think my Man Booker challenge is going to take me two months, rather than the one I originally planned.

currently reading: 
Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North - I've just finished this. It was the eventual winner of the Man Booker, so I though I'd start with this, so I could compare it with the others. A full review should be up next week, and by then I should have a handle on how I felt about it, as I'm currently not sure.

Howard Jacobson, J- This book was the one I was most looking forward to reading out of the Man Booker shortlist, dystopian fiction is one of my favourite genres.

currently listening to:
I've recently discovered podcasts (I'm so old, and behind the times). I'm hooked on Serial, released every Thursday, it is an investigation of a true murder case, with clues and suspicious gradually revealed each week. I've also been falling asleep every night to the sound of A History of the World in a Hundred Objects, it's interesting, but also soothing.  My commute has been made far more enjoyable listening  to Woman's Hour and Welcome to Nightvale

currently eating:
Last night I went for food at Bubbledogs (website here). It's a trendy restaurant which serves fancy hotdogs and champagne.

I wasn't sure about the concept to begin with, as a vegetarian I didn't think it would be for me. However I was pleasantly surprised, there is a whole list of options and then you can choose if the sausage is beef, pork or vegetarian. I went for a chippy dog - battered vegetarian sausage, with scraps (a Northern delicacy, tiny flakes of chips and/or batter)  and a garlic, brown sauce. So good! but I could have easily eaten two).

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Lest we forget

Like 4 million other people, I went to pay my respects at the commemorative art installation at The Tower of London.
Lest we forget, poppies, Tower of London, First World War, tribute, commemorative, art, instillation, weeping window, UK, visit, Blood Swept Land and Sea of Red, 888236, photo, photography, armistice, 1914, WW1

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red comprises of 888,236 individually hand-made poppies planted in the moat of The Tower to represent a British military fatality during the First World War.
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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Stowe part 1

I went to Stowe a couple of weekends ago, but I took far too many photos and I've been putting off editing them. So many photos in fact, that I'm spreading them over two posts.

Stowe, day trip, visit, colours, Autumn, trees, nature, orange, yellow, conkers, sunny day, traditional, activity, UK, England, blue sky, elm, oak, chestnut

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Man Booker Prize 2014

The winner of the Man Booker prize was announced a couple of week ago - The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan.

Man Booker shortlist, review, photo, book stack, pile of books

So I've accidentally bought the entire shortlist -much to my mum's exasperation, as she claims there is no more room in the house.  It was an absolute bargain though, £30 for six  hardback books from The Book People.

The aim this month is to read all of them, then compare and rank them. Basically, I'm going to pretend to be a Man Booker judge. The hardest decision is going to be deciding on the order in which I read them.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests

As far as I'm aware I've read all of Sarah Water's books, and I've enjoyed every single one. It's no secret I love a bit of historical fiction, even though it's often trashy, Water's novels tend to be a classier affair.

Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests, historical fiction, hardback, blog, book review, 1920's, lesbian

The Plot: 1922, London. Widowed Mrs Wray and her daughter, Frances, are forced to take in lodgers because of financial difficulty. Lillian and Leonard Barber, members of the 'clerk class', begin to unsettle Frances' mundane routine. They bring excitement, unexpected friendship and remind Frances of her scandalous past. Dangerous loyalties and secrets will cause disturbances beyond the walls of the respectable Champion Hill house.

Rating:  4/5
* minor spoilers warning*
full review under the cut

Saturday, 1 November 2014

St Pancras

Ok, St. Pancras is just a train station, but it really is stunning! Therefore this small post is justified. It is grade 1 listed building, which was opened in 1868.

St Pacras Station, London, architecture, photo, photography, railway station, trains, visit, The Meeting Place, stature, Paul Day