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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Re-Readathon: May 4th - 10th

As I was putting my boys to bed this evening I was gazing through the gloom at the books on my keeper shelf and realising that there were quite a few on there that I haven't reread since first reading them, in some cases, years ago. If I'm never going to read them again, what's the point in keeping hold of them? So I came up with the idea of a re-readathon - an entire week of only reading the amazing books I've already read and seeing if they hold up to my memories of them.

I'd love it if you'd join me to talk about the books you love and generally wallow in comfort reading. After taking part in the Bloggiesta twitter chats a while ago I decided I need to be doing more of them, so hopefully I'll figure it out enough to host one for this readathon at some point during the week but if not you can just use #rereadathon to talk to other people on Twitter. Sign up all month by linking up your blog below, and let me know if you post pictures or post about your planned reading, I love to be nosy!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad

A couple of weeks ago I read a lot of Terry Pratchett in memory of a great author and I'm just now getting around to actually talking about what I read. 

I read The Bromeliad (Truckers, Diggers and Wings) for the first time and now I can totally see why it's so many people's way in to Pratchett. Incidentally, if you'd like to see my recommendations for where to start if you've never read any, I wrote a post about that!

The basic premise of the trilogy is that our world are full of little 4 inch high creatures called nomes who move so fast that humans have no idea they even exist. The story begins when the few nomes left living outside, led by Masklin, leave their home on the back of a truck and arrive at 'the Store.' The store nomes think that the store is the entire world and that its founder, Arnold Bros (Est. 1905) is God, and the nomes from outside have their work cut out for them to fit into their new surroundings! 

All three books are very short and packed full of Pratchett's trademark satirical wit. Personally I loved how well big ideas were slipped in while making them seem like just part of a book for kids. I also loved the subtlety of the story, and towards the end of Wings particularly there was a really lovely bit which made me go 'aaaawwwwww'. If you enjoy Pratchett's writing you should definitely read these books. If you've never read any Pratchett, Truckers is a great place to start.  

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Currently: 29/03/2015

This week I've posted pretty much every day thanks to Bloggiesta. It was my first time taking part and I LOVED it. I'll definitely be back for the next one! I'm so excited about blogging again and have been scheduling posts like crazy as well so I'm really hopeful that this week has helped to revitalise my blogging spirit and get me more active within the blogging community again. Yay for Bloggiesta and thanks to the organisers for a great event!

Time and Place  14:22 in my front room. Rhys has taken the boys out to give me a couple of hours off prior to my return to work tomorrow and I'm getting stuff sorted out!

Reading Sigh. I'm three weeks behind on War and Peace now thanks to Terry Pratchett dying and then Bloggiesta. I don't think I'm going to catch up now, which is a shame as I was really enjoying it. Hopefully I'll still manage to finish it at some point as I am half way through it so it would be a shame not to, but we'll see as I think I've maxed out my renewals on it too.... I did finally finish Peter Duck this week for my great Swallows and Amazons reading project and start on Winter Holiday so I feel like I'm making progress with that. Besides that I'm reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki which I'm really enjoying but I'm reading it slowly. Savouring it. Oh, and I also finished up Jenny Han's Summer series by binge-reading We'll Always Have Summer over the space of about three hours. A review is coming!

Watching Last night Rhys was out at a concert and so I put on series 6 of Gilmore Girls and was amazed to find that there are some episodes I've never seen before! Super excited about that as I thought I'd seen them all! We also bought the move of Paddington which I watched with Rhys on Friday night and again with Benji yesterday afternoon. I love it.

Listening The soundtrack to the 2011 Muppets Movie over and over and over again. Also Jamie Cullum's album Interlude, because the whole family loves it. I'm also going to be listening to a few Terry Pratchett audiobooks over the next couple of weeks. We have The Light Fantastic, Thief of Time and Night Watch read by Tony Robinson, so I'm excited about that.

Spring Bloggiesta 2015Blogging Oh so much! I posted by Bloggiesta sign up post (linked above), a Top Ten Tuesday post on childhood books I'd most like to revisit, a post about reviving my fairytale feature as a monthly meme, a day in my life and why my most recent TBR restriction project is a charitable endeavour, not a ban.

Recommending Bloggiesta to everyone who's fallen into a blogging rut. And twitter chats. because they are awesome. I took part in my first couple this week for bloggiesta and loved them! Such great people, so helpful. Also the Piano Guys, especially this.

Loving Our new church. We've not really had a regular church since we moved to Kent four years ago but when we moved into our new house we decided to go church-hunting and hit the jackpot with the second one we tried. It's lovely to feel part of something again and an easy way for someone who struggles socially as much as I do to meet people.

Wtiches, Frogs & Happily Ever After: A Monthly Fairytale MemeAlso loving reading about fairytales again, creating prompts and generally rambling in preparation for kicking off the Witches, Frogs and Happily Ever After meme at the end of the month! I'm hoping lots of you will join me!

Making Mostly blog related stuff. Have you seen my cool new social media buttons? I love them, and I'm incredibly proud of myself for making buttons that work (and extremely grateful for this amazing post which helped me to make them!). I'm also going to finally sew the cover for the seat cushion for our new window seat/board game storage box tonight.

Anticipating Our 'Meet the Ninjas' project over on the Ninja Book Swap blog starting this coming Saturday. I'm going first so if you want to find out even more about me (ha) feel free to head over there then and spread the word!

I'm also excited and nervous about my return to work. It's going to be fine I know as I've already come back from (a much longer) maternity leave before and know how quickly I'll pick everything up again, but still it's always a little daunting. Plus I know they'll have hired new people while I've been off, so there's always a bit of that to overcome.

What have you all been doing?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Another Way to Phrase a Book Buying Ban...

The other day I posted a picture on Instagram with a bit about how it had led me to a revolutionary resolution. Here are the details of said revolution. It is not a book buying ban but a new way of looking at my books.

As I mentioned on Instagram, having filled this jar to the top and still having over ten shelves of adult fiction and two or three of kids fiction to add to it made me really stop and think about the amount of books I have. I said something to Rhys along the lines of 'if someone had 300 pies they'd not eaten everyone would think that was obscene and disgusting' and he looked at me like I was crazy. The (badly made) point is that while books obviously don't have the same kind of potential for going bad that pies do, I don't know what I'm stockpiling them for. Yes, I'm always going to want to read more books; it's in the nature of being a reader and I wouldn't want to change that. I love discovering new titles and getting excited about them. I love the smell of new books (and old books, come to think of it) and I really love the thrill of coming home laden down with bags of books, but when I'm asked what the point of owning so many books that I couldn't read them in a year, or probably even two even if all I did was read I don't really have an answer.

For years my answer has been 'well what if I only had a few books and finished one and didn't feel like reading any of the ones I had? I'm providing for that eventuality.' Obviously the answer to this is that I go to the library or borrow a book from a friend, but instead I've been using it as an excuse to buy more and more books. This is fine and I'm absolutely not judging people for acquiring large numbers of books, but in the spirit of my One Little Word project this year I'm trying to be more grateful for the things that I already have and think less about things that I might acquire at some point in the future. I'm also attempting to express my gratitude by not buying things unnecessarily and while that doesn't always work, here is a place where I can at least try.

Now at this point I know the sceptical among you (or just the long time readers of this blog) are remembering all the other times I've put myself on book buying bans, or pledged to cut back but I'm determined that this is going to be different. Firstly, I'm not viewing it as a ban because I know that as soon as I tell myself I can't do something, that's all I want to do, so instead I'm not thinking about not being able to buy books but focusing on all the amazing books I already own that I'm excited to read, and secondly I'm motivating myself extra by putting a charitable slant on it. Every time I finish a book that I don't love so much I must keep it and pass it on to everyone I know immediately, I will put it up for auction on eBay, starting at 20p (plus postage). ALL of the money from any books I sell there will go to Beanstalk, an awesome charity which helps kids to be better at reading, plus I will donate £1 to them for every book I sell in this way. Over the course of the year I may also do extra book related fundraising for them (24 hour readathon, some kind of sponsored Banned Books Week event. I don't know), and obviously if you feel like helping to spur me on with my insane resolution you can just donate through my JustGiving page at any time and make me feel like my not buying books is making a difference to someone!

I'm planning to do this until the end of 2015 and because I know I have no staying power I've decided to introduce a forfeit. For every time I buy books, I have to donate £25 to the charity. This should be a good deterrent because I have no extra money! Hold me to this, blogging friends. I'm determined!

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Day in the Life

Today Trish is hosting an awesome blogger event called A Day in the Life. It's pretty self - explanatory - the idea is that everyone picks an ordinary day and just keeps a record of what they do and then shares. The day I journalled was actually this Tueday just gone as between then and now we've had a few odd days with appointments and then today Rhys has an extra day off work so we'll likely be out all day. I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone else's posts this evening though!

Day in the Life Event

If you want to join in the fun you can check out the other posts here

5.45am    Ben wakes up. Rhys goes in to stay with him and try to keep him in bed longer. It doesn't work all that well...

6.15am    I groggily respond to calls of 'mama!mama!' from Rhys and Ben (who think it's hilarious that they've made me get up!). Sam is now up too so we all hang out in the boys room having cuddles and reading a few stories. 

6.40am    I bring the boys downstairs. They play in the playroom while I make breakfast and Rhys gets read for work. 

7.30am   We have breakfast - cereal and toast. Rhys leaves for work. 

8am         Breakfast over, boys listen to Peter Rabbit audiobook and watch a little Fireman Sam while I do some blog stuff. 

9am        I hang laundry and play with the boys a little. This mostly involves throwing Sam in the air while he giggles madly and letting him bounce on my knees as if I were a trampoline. He gives a lot of kisses, which involve him grabbing my face in a fairly scratchy manner and then slobbering all over my face. Lovely :-) 
9.30am   Sam is grouchy so I put him down for a nap. 

10am      I do some painting with Ben while Sam naps. We are finishing off a 'Paint your Own Birdhouse' kit he got for Christmas. It's incredibly colourful, but most of the paint is running out so it's a good thing we're nearly done! After we finish we do a little drawing. Apparently drawing along a ruler is the funniest thing ever and causes Ben to laugh hysterically for a good five minutes. Then (predictably) we have to pretend pens are lightsabers and have a fight. Also predictably I have to be Darth Vader. It starts raining. 

10.50am   Sam wakes up. Ben and I get dressed (I know, really late!). We start to get ready to go for a walk but are interrupted by an impromptu dance party while listening to the soundtrack to the Muppets movie. 

11.15am    No walk yet, we got distracted by Beatrix Potter books, the favourite of the moment! We read most of The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse and Sam is crying because he's hungry so we all have a snack. 

12 noon    We finally go for our walk! 

1,45pm    Back from our walk. We went down to the sea via the post office as I had to post some letters to international penpals. Ben counted boats (there were eight!) and Sam wore his Gruffalo jacket and giggled. Sam is sleeping when we get back and I'm anticipating having a little time to relax when Ben wakes him up by yelling. We have lunch. The boys eat while I check the fridge for leftovers to put in pasta sauce for the evening. 

2.30pm    Pasta sauce is on the hob. Eventually settled on carrots, mushroom and the last of the gammon from earlier in the week with tomatoes. Yum. We listen to the Muppets (again) while the boys play cars. I read some bloggiesta posts and then go and play cars with Ben. 

3.30pm    Boys watch another episode of Fireman Sam while I gather toys to bring on the bus trip to pick up Rhys from work (approximately 40mins). It's the first time we've taken the bus from our new house - up until now I've just been going to our old house and getting everywhere from there, so this is a big step! I'm finally accepting that I don't live in my old house anymore! (It is the same bus route as the old house, just further along but also perfect as a trial run to check how long it actually takes before I return to work on Monday!). 

4pm    We leave to pick up Rhys. The bus stop (just up the road) is about a half hour walk with Ben walking! Typically with me being so prepared with toys and snacks, both boys sleep the entire journey!

5.10pm   Arrive in Canterbury. Rhys doesn't finish til 6 so we go to the supermarket to pick up garlic bread for dinner and grab an extra drink. We walk around to Rhys' work and feed Sam while waiting. 

7pm     We get home after having to stop to pick up a carton of milk for Sam and feed him en route as he was beside himself crying for some reason. Teeth I think! Rhys puts Sam to bed while I cook pasta , garlic bread and reheat the sauce we made earlier. Rhys comes down from putting Sam to bed and we eat dinner. Ben and I look at his alphabet poster and talk about the letters and what sounds they make. For the past couple of days he's been obsessed with it! We've been going on 'letter hunts' outside where he basically spends a lot of time pointing at street signs and I tell him what the letters are.

8pm       Rhys takes Ben up to bed and I load up the laptop to work on the blog. 

9.30pm  I finish working on the blog. I've made social media icons which are pretty, the right size and work. This is incredible for me as my technical ability is pretty much zero! I've also commented on lots of Bloggiesta posts  so I'm pretty happy with what I've done!

9.30 - 11pm  I make a few more slips for my TBR jar and think about getting a bigger jar. I've only done nonfiction and graphic novels so far and it's already half full! I still have eight shelves of fiction to go, plus kids books I haven't read yet! After that I curl up with my book. I'm determined to finally finish Peter Duck after months of reading it and move along to the next book in the series for my big Swallows and Amazons read! I don't quite manage to finish as my eyes are closing, but I do only have one chapter left to go! 

11.30ish   Bed! Inevitably woken up at 2.50am by Ben refusing to accept it's the middle of the night. After 45 mins of struggling to get him to stay in his bed I give up and stick him in ours where he immediately falls asleep. Typical. 

So that was my day! Next week they'll start to look a lot different as I'm back at work two days a week and Rhys is in charge!  

What do your days look like? Anything like mine or totally different? 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Witches, Frogs and Happily Ever After: A Monthly Fairytale Meme

Some of you may remember that waaaaaay back at the start of the blog I wrote a monthly fairytale feature where I compared a traditional fairy tale with a modern reworking of it and talked a little about various issues surrounding the fairytale. I've been thinking about resurrecting it in some form for a while now but it wasn't until reading Joy's mini challenge post for Bloggiesta that I had the idea of making it a meme!

I loved writing these posts (which you can find here) as I love fairytales and really enjoy geeking out about them. When I first started blogging there was a meme I sometimes took part in called 'Friday is for Fairytales' but at the moment there doesn't seem to be much around for the fairytale lovers (except for the amazing Once Upon a Time of course!) so here it is!

The idea will be to post once a month (at the moment I'm thinking the last Friday of the month, but please let me know your thoughts and preferences) and link up here so that we can all indulge in a plethora of all things fairytale! Your post can be in my traditional format of comparison of a traditional tale to a modern retelling, thoughts about a fairytale related film or event, a review of a traditional or twisted fairytale or just your thoughts on the genre. Anything fairytale related goes really!

Occasionally I may post prompts for this although I'm not sure on that yet. What do you think? Would you prefer to be prompted with monthly topics/themes/stories? Or would you just like to write whatever you feel like?

I'd love your input on this. I don't mind posting just for me, but I'd love it if you wanted to take part so let me know your thoughts in the comments and spread the word!

Top Ten Books from my Childhood that I Would Love to Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a prompt and it's up to us to make a list of ten books based on that prompt! If you'd like to join in you can do so here

This week's prompt for Top Ten Tuesday is childhood books we want to revisit. As you can imagine there was no way I could not do this prompt! It did help that it also counts towards me ticking something off of my Bloggiesta list as well. 

For the purposes of the list I decided to steer clear of my teenage years as the reading was very different and honestly, I'm really nostalgic for some of these books. They were my friends in the kind of way fictional characters can only be your friends when you're at an age where although you know they're fictional, you can't quite convince yourself they don't exist somewhere in the universe and that's ok. 

1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - kind of cheating since I plan on reading this over the next few days. Loved the story of horrible, stuck up Mary Lennox, her friendship with horrible, whiny Colin, and their discovery of the secret garden (and the film) as a child but haven't read it since I was below fifteen. Considering all the characters pretty much start out horrible, it's a beautiful book and very much about the importance of not being whiny or stuck up as far as I remember. It gives me an excuse to watch the film which I've owned for years but not watched since childhood as well! (Also as I was writing this I suddenly thought if I'm reading this I will also need to read The Painted Garden and then hello, Noel Streatfeild! Can open. Worms all over the place)

2. The Trebizon Series by Anne M. Digby - I think it was Katie I was talking to about these books the other day and I just came across them while perusing my shelves of children's books for this post. Not as great as the Chalet School books (also on this list) but still good solid boarding school books which made me want to leave home for boarding school immediately. 

3. Harry and the Wrinklies by Alan Temperley - my mum read this to my siblings and I as kids and I remember shrieking with laughter at it. A couple of Christmases ago I watched the BBC adaptation of David Walliams' Gangsta Granny (having never read the book. Terrible, I know) and it reminded me a lot of that and reminded me that I haven't read it in years. I probably will in a few years, once the boys are old enough :-) 

4. Anne of Green Gables and sequels by L.M Montgomery - Oh Anne, how I love you. Anne of Green Gables is pretty much what made being ginger in the 90s bearable. I have an undying love for all things Anne (although not quite as much as Katie I don't think) and haven't reread the whole series anywhere near as much as I should have. Plus I've never read (but now own both) Rilla of Ingleside or Rainbow Valley. There's a series reread in there somewhere!

5. Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer - I adored this book as a child but nobody else I know has ever heard of it. It's about Charlotte, who also goes to boarding school (are you sensing a theme here?) and sometimes wakes up in a totally different period of time as a totally different girl due to the magic of sleeping in the bed this girl used to sleep in. Amazing. 

6. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss - Arguably the film is more from my childhood than the book is, but it had to go on there being that it was the book which basically started mine and Rhys' whole relationship. Another post for another time. Always a danger for the amount I will shout about the stupid kid who thinks it's a great idea to tie himself to ostriches and the blond and slightly slimeyness of Fritz/Ernst/whichever one it is who's slightly slimier than the other one. Nevertheless you can't beat classic shipwreck self-sufficiency in my book!

7. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, The Silver Sword by Ian Serailler and Pied Piper by Nevil Shute - my collection of books I loved about the second world war from a non-British (or not set in the UK) perspective. I absolutely loved and adored the first two and read them over and over, and only read Pied Piper once but it's stuck with me all this time. I have a copy that I got in a charity shop but haven't actually read it since I was eight or so. 

8. Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit - Oh so much love. I nearly put The Railway Children on here as well because that's really my childhood love (just don't talk to me about the stupid remake of the film they did with Jenny Agutter as the mother. What the hell. Bernard Cribbins as Perks all the way) but then I remembered my mum reading us this as a bedtime story (she read us a lot of stuff as bedtime stories) and how she pronounced it 'Pasamead' instead of 'Samead' and it had to go on. I might actually reread this one soon too. 

9. The Chalet School Series by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer - I did not realise until I looked at my copy of The Chalet School & Jo while writing this post that these books were written in the 1920s & 30s! I knew they were old but I didn't really cotton on to how old when I was reading them as a child. Anyway they are the foundation of my desire to visit Austria (my sister now has an Austrian boyfriend so I may be getting closer...) and I never read all of them, so that's a thing that should probably happen soon...

10. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter - Pollyanna is pretty much the foundation of my One Little Word this year. Every time I start getting negative and forget about my word (gratitude) I try to play the 'just being glad' game. Another one my mum read as a bedtime story. Has the debatable perk of a Hayley Mills film to go alongside. Haven't reread it since I was twelve, so it's due really. 

What are some of your childhood favourites? I have an ongoing obsession with children's literature and a spare room full of books so I'm always happy to have recommendations for more to add to the collection!