Showing posts from December, 2013

The Christmas Countdown is nearly over...

There’s something very different about the build-up to Christmas once you are no longer in full-time education.  Having graduated in June, this is my first Christmas with a full-time job, and my first Christmas that doesn’t fall in the middle of a nice long 3-week holiday.

For a start, the month of December is racing by! Without the routine of timetabled lessons, followed by a formal end to the term and some free time to relax and finish Christmas shopping, the big day seems to be catapulting nearer. The windows on my advent calendars (I have 3 – is that acceptable?) are flying open and the countdown is well and truly on.

December is a month full of events, both recurring annual ones and one-off catch-ups, and all of those are now being fitted in after days at work, or fitted into the couple of bank holidays we all have off. It’s been a busy couple of weeks so far…
First came ChristmasFest, in the village where I live. An annual event, all of the shops stay open late and there’s stre…

The Reading List #9

It’s been a busy week, but I’ve still found time for reading! Here’s the latest round-up of things I’ve read:
The Lollipop Shoes, Joanne Harris

This novel returns to visit the family of ‘Chocolat’, which I have actually not read yet, but the story can stand alone as well. Yanne lives with her daughters Rosette and Annie above a chocolate shop, until Zozie de l’Alba enters their lives and changes everything. Yanne and Zozie both have pasts, and Zozie’s presence forces Yanne to confront things she has blocked from her mind. This novel has it all: mystery, ruthlessness, fraud, family, love and friendship – there is a lot going on!
One thing that slightly confused me was which character was narrating each chapter, until I realised the picture symbols at the beginning of the chapters were a sort of key, identifying Zozie, Annie or Yanne. Once I had figured that out, I got completely lost in the narrative, and it is superbly written, with distinctive voices. You have to suspend reality a li…

The Reading List #8

Oh dear, oh dear, I missed a week of The Reading List! I’m really going to try and stick to a Saturday upload, or I’m speeding through books then not blogging them until weeks later. Without further ado, here’s the latest selection:

Wish You Were Here, Graham Swift

This is one of those books that’s been hanging around on my shelf for ages, but gets shunted out of the way by newer, shinier options. I have a feeling one of my parents read this a while ago, and I then poached it from their bookshelf.

Jack’s brother, Tom, is killed in Iraq, and this loss causes Jack to confront many issues in his life, past and present. Jack is a man of simple pleasures, but incredibly complex, and the writing of this character is what makes the book. It faces a backdrop of war – both the Great War and the Iraq War – heritage, marriage and grief, but is never too heavy-handed.

The emotional current of the book is believable, with sometimes very abrupt changes in mood or in the way characters interact, whic…

The Challenges #1 December 2013

I held off on posting this at first, as I didn’t want to publicly set myself a challenge I couldn’t stick to! I have decided that I will begin each month by setting myself a challenge, which can cover any aspect of my life, and do little updates on here. It might be a good way to set myself in the routine of new habits, or just prove to myself that I can stick at something for the month. December’s challenge is a toughie: NO spending on toiletries or cosmetics. Anyone that knows me knows I have a huge collection of these things, far more than I could ever be using in one go. My mum moans about it all the time… until she needs to borrow something, that is! Although I don’t waste all my money on these things, and I do budget and have money to save at the end of every month, it can never hurt to save a little more. I thought that, in the months where I was finishing Christmas shopping, it might be a good idea to reduce spending on myself. And so December’s challenge was born. 16 days in…

The Reading List #7

The weekend seemed to fly by and I didn’t get around to finishing my reading list post, so here it is now. I’m still going through my period of pulling lots of books off shelves that I haven’t read yet, so the wide mixture of books continues…
The Sea, John Banville

I read two Banville novels at university and was more than impressed, so was excited to find this gem on my parents’ bookshelf. In ‘The Sea’, art historian Max returns to a place he holidayed as a child, following a personal loss. The novels flits between two periods of his life - the then and the now - leading to themes of childhood discoveries, maturing, and loss. The time periods almost blend into one another, yet there is something distinctly separate about them too, so it is not confusing.
It reads almost like poetry, and is utterly beautiful. Any literature fans, or fans of superb writing and narrative, need to give it a go.
A Small Part of Me, Noelle Harrison

Christina’s mother, Greta, walked out on her as a child, a…