Monday, 22 March 2010

The Debut of Literary Locations..da daaaa!

Following a chat I had a few weeks ago with A Bookish Space, I have been nursing a germ of an idea.

Living and working in central London, I am extremely lucky to walk past places with bookish associations on a daily basis. But a lot of the time, us busy bees just walk straight past.

So I thought I’d embark on a bit of literary location sleuthing.

Then I’ll post up my latest discoveries and we can start to build up a bit of an interactive map. Interactive map I hear you cry? Worry not. I have a nifty solution up my voluminous sleeves.

So, before my first post do you have any favourite bookish spots? The map is international so think BIG! I’ll pick my favourite and post it on the map along with a link to your blog.

Louisa May Alcott on iPlayer

Happy Monday folks!

Well it might not be the most favourite of all my days but the BBC seem to have sensed that and put up Louisa May Alcott's Good Wives on iPlayer. Isn't the tinterweb marvelous?

I have seen quite a few posts about Little Women recently so I thought I'd share the brilliant sequel with you.

Find them all here. The first episode is available till this Wednesday so be quick!

Plus, keep an eye for an exciting new project I'm working on. It involves maps, and drawing pins and books...

Friday, 19 March 2010

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

No. 4
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
or The Murder at Road Hill House
by Kate Summerscale

Read or Re-read?
Read. Intrigued by it's cover I picked this up in a charity shop about a year ago. And there it has stayed...

A Fascinating Fact
To be honest picking just one is tricky - the whole book is packed full of them.

The Blurb
The non fictional plot follows one of London's first proper detectives Jack Whicher as he attempts to unravel the shocking and completely perplexing murder of three year old Saville Kent in the Somerset town of Road.

Snatched from his cot in his Nurse's room, his body is found in the grounds of his wealthy families' home, Road Hill House. The shocking savagery of the murder and the fact that it's perpetrator must have been a member of the household sets the Victorian society of 1860 in a frenzy and Mr Whicher is sent from London to get to the bottom of the truth. (The local police having proved disastrously inept.)

Summerscale follows his investigation, and his frustration, as he battles against the locals, the Kent's bizarre family history and the social class divisions of the age. After all only poor people are violent?

Simultaneously she refers regularly to the history of detection (here's where the good facts are) and how Whicher and his colleagues inspired a new genre of novel and a new character; the detective. Both Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were contemporaries.

Like Sergeant Cuff in The Moonstone, Whicher is led (by way of a stained nightdress - same as Cuff!) to the person he thinks is responsible - Saville's older sister, 16 year old Constance.

He has her arrested, but she is later acquitted and Whicher returns to London in disgrace.
Summerscale then traces his and the Kent family's progress in the years after until a shocking confession and surprising discovery lead to the murderer, five years after the crime.

So whodunnit? Well you'll have to read it to find out...

Is it a keeper?
Mmmmmm. I have to admit as much as I found Summerscale's writing style and evident knowledge fascinating, I can't say I love loved this. I think part of the problem was I was expecting a fiction novel, and although the real life story is gripping I found this a little fact heavy, and at times a bit dry.

That said I am a huge fan of the detective novel so it was interesting to read about someone who inspired some of my favourite authors. And much like the Victorians, I also share their morbid curiosity in all things murder mystery. I guess some things don't change!

More like this

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
Bleak House - Charles Dickens

Friday, 12 March 2010

Lovely things for Book people

Wonder wandering around the beauty that is Liberty’s , ostensibly for a present for Mr Bookshelf’s mum, I got sidetracked by all the lovely things on offer for bookworms; eg me.

Over the week I often find such things, and with Mothers day coming up (not that you need an excuse) I thought I’d share some of them.

Love the smell of a new book? Well now YOU can smell like one too! Ok, so I’m not entirely sure about this one, or to be honest, what Paperback even smells like, but it’s certainly original.

Mum’s love flowers. Book lovers adore Shakespeare. So why not buy David Austin’s beautiful Shakespeare rose?

Nothing says I’m A Nice Person (honest) like a present that you don’t get to keep. Oxfam Unwrapped’s reading classes give the gift of literacy to impoverished adults around the world. You keep the warm fuzzy feeling.

For a lasting, (and serious brownie point giving) gift, you could adopt a book from the British Library. £150 gets you sole guardianship and a personalised bookplate with your dedication.

So it may have only been sunny for literally 2.5 hours but I (mum’s already got one) am already planning my summer reading from this IKEA lounger. It’s so comfy and ladywholunches that you can’t do anything BUT lay back and while away the day.

And if all else fails, National book tokens. Nuff said.

War horse..

Hello poor little neglected blog. Sorry for sounding like a broken record but I am very miffed with my employees for making me stay late every single night this week and keeping me from all the lovely things I have wanted to post about.

Rant over, I am looking forward to a lovely evening with the Boy, who is taking me to see Michael Morpurgo's war Horse at the New London Theatre. Woop!

I have heard fab reviews and would love to hear if any of you have seen it? I'll try and post about it tomorrow, along with a collection of lovely bookish suggestions for Mother's Day.

Have great weekends and I can't wait to catch up with all your posts very soon!

Monday, 8 March 2010

A very big thank you!

After all the excitement of the Book Oscars I was very excited to receive some awards of my very own!

Firstly thank you so much to Pageturners for my first ever blog awards! The...

And also the Happy 101 award! I have to list 10 things that make me happy, then pass them both on to 10 new blogs that I love.

So here is my list.

1. My boyfriend (I have to say this. I would like dinner tonight...)
2. Ditto, friends and family
3. One of my bath books*
4. Wine
5. My shoes. Even though in my current employ I don't get to wear the pretty ones nearly enough
6. Sunny mornings. Blue skies. Nuff said
7. Food. Of almost any description though cake rates quite highly
8. An unexpected bonus of the financial kind
9. Flowers. I am completely helpless in the face of a bouquet
10. The Sopranos aka Tony Soprano aka dream husband

* Book bath definition. Any of Louise Rennison's books or India Knight's My Life on a Plate. Fabulously funny books that cheer me up no matter how blue I am.

And then from all the way across the pond in the big apple, Books in the City very kindly gave me...

I have to tell you all 10 honest facts about myself then, you guessed it, pass it on to 10 people.

1. Despite my, sometimes terrible grammar, I am in fact a writer. I work for a London advertising agency
2. I am almost definitely always 3 pounds heavier than I will ever tell you
3. I used to live in Norway
4. I am a complete wimp and can't drive
5. I would probably choose to spend my last pennies on shoes, rather than food.
6. I may occasionally listen to show tunes.
7. I have never read Catcher in the Rye, Middlemarch etc
8. I enjoy the occasional run. Occasional being the operative word here.
9. I may the only person in the country who still quite likes Gordon Brown.
10. I'd like to write a real book. As opposed to the ones in my head.

Anyway - scuse the overload of personal info and thanks again! I'll put up my deserving nominees later!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

And the winner is...

Without further ado here are the results!

Best Book to film

Where the Wild Things Are


Best Cover Design

The Children's Book
A.S. Byatt


Best Female Character

Lisbeth Salander
Millenium Trilogy


Best Male Character

Thomas Cromwell
Wolf Hall


Best Fiction Novel

Wolf Hall
Hillary Mantel

So that's it folks! Thanks again to A Bookish Space, Paperback Reader, Books in the City and Page Turners and to everyone who took part. And to my parents, the internet, god...

The 2010 Book Oscars red carpet

Good evening and welcome to the very first Book

So most of the world is probably focusing on Hollywood's great and good this evening, but here in our little corner of the blogosphere we say keep your fancy ceremony, glamourous dresses and £60,000 goody bags. We'd much rather sit in front of the computer, supping a glass of something bubbly (Champagne ideally - lemonade still counts) and wait for the results of the very first Book Oscars!

First up I think we should take a look at our cyber red carpet and see what you chose to wear as your fantasy bookish outfit. Here are my favourties.

First up is A Bookish Space with the beautiful green dress featured in Atonement... tiny bit jealous I didn't think of this!

Next the lovely Becky at Page Turners chose this frothy beauty. Not technically booky but as she said, it's just to pretty to care!

Then I went all literal and picked this hand made book page dress...

And finally, and apologies for the pic, it's the best I could find, is my gorgeous Lucy's choice. Fleur Delacore's stunning blue dress and cape from Harry Potter. I got to see this in the flesh the other day - it really is stupidly lovely.

So we're all set! Results to follow....

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Brave New World

No. 3
A Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

Read or Re-read?
Shamefully, this is the first time I have ever read A Brave New World. I inherited a very lovely original Penguin Classic and it has sat on the BookShelf until this week.

A Fascinating Fact
Brave New World's iconic title derives from Miranda's speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

The Blurb
The book is set in London in "the year of our Ford 632" (that's AD 2540 to us). Most of the worlds population live unified under The World State, a consumer driven 'utopia' where natural conception ahas been done away with, and children are instead bred in test tubes and sorted at embryonic stage in to different castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons.
Only Alphas are created using untampered cells. All lower castes are effectively clones subject to varying degrees of oxygen deprivation and conditioning to produce a hierarchy of intelligence.

From childhood, all babies are conditioned to embrace consumerism, ("ending is better than mending") and when they need a break they indulge in Soma, a hallucinogenic drug that takes them away on 'holidays'.

Enter Bernard Marx, an Alpha plus psychologist harbouring the distinct impression that life just isn't quite as it should be. A little short and swarthy for the usual Alpha male stereotype, Bernard decides in order to woo Lenina, a pretty, pneumatic (not my word!) Beta, he will take her to a Savage Reservation. This is where those not under The World State live.

With seduction off the menu (Lenina being seriously unimpressed) they are amazed to find a former World State member and her son living amongst the tribe, having got separated from a visiting party year earlier. Pregnant by a high ranking member of the State she had to give birth and raise (god forbid!) her son John.

Bernard decides to take them back to London and quickly enjoys his new celebrity status as the discoverer of the 'Savages'. John however, is horrified by the soulless order, lack of faith and sexual promiscuity.

The book ends with John falling more and more disgusted by this version of civilisation and ends up living in isolation in an abandoned Light House, where he attempts to atone for the sins he has witnessed and experienced.


Is it a keeper?
Despite the heavy subject matter and intricate plot, with its many layers of reference and metaphor, I found A Brave New World an incredibly accessible read. It's fascinating that a book written in 1931 could so accurately predict some elements of the future. It is genuinely funny too, a real show case for Huxley's inner satirist.

Quite simply, I adored it.

More like this
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Hand Maids Tale - Margaret Atwood
Gattica (film)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Roll out the red carpet...

In the lead up to the grand reveal of our book Oscar results this Sunday, I'm feeling the need to get a little dressed up, a little excited.

I'm going to start the proceedings by setting a challenge. What will you be wearing on our Book Oscar (cyber) red carpet?

Those of you that know me will know that my second biggest love after books is Beautiful Dresses and Things, so I'm going to get the ball rolling and give you a sneaky peak at my chosen frock.

Ta Daaaaaaaa!

I'm the teensiest bit in love with this. (Ok completely) Have a look at more pics of it on my new favourite blog discovery right here.

Just post the link to your chosen outfit and whether it's author inspired, book inspired or just what you bloomin' well want to wear, I'll put it up on the red carpet post I'll do on Sunday. With a link to your blog of course...

Happy fantasy shopping!

Ps. I just can't help it. These are the shoes. The bea-utiful shoes (book blog Cate, book blog...)

Books and food. Yum yum...

Happy friday!

I spotted a great article on the Guardian earlier today. Titled Literary Feasts for Children, it's about the relationship between children's books and food, and asks, what fictional feast sticks in your memory the most?

With Alice and Wonderland references reaching fever pitch in the run up to Tim Burton's new adaptation, (thoughts, views?) the most obvious is probably the Mad Hatter's tea party.

But for me, I have to admit my favourite literary food favourites are a little more down to earth. As a child I was completely infatuated by Enid Blyton's depictions of idyllic child hood picnics. I so, so wanted my mum to pack up homemade lemonade, currant buns and crumbly pork pies when me and my brother went off on our grandly titled Adventures. (All wrapped up in a comforting checkered napkin of course) Somehow monster munch and kitkats never quite cut the mustard.

It's a pattern I seem to have continued. Harry Potter was all the more glorious for its mouth watering descriptions of food (groaning tables of food that magically appear = heaven) and I know I will always love a Joanne Harris novel, an author who writes about food more like a lover than plain sustenance.

It also perhaps, explains my love of cookery books, or food porn as they are commonly referred to in our house. I can quite happily spend hours poring over them, looking at the pictures and reading the descriptions. Words like gooey, oozing and crackling are not mere instructions. They deserve proper reading. (Read Locatelli - his description of risotto is AMAZING)

Which begs the question, what are your favourite book + food moments? And why do they seem to be so evocative?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Giveaway winner!

The two weeks are up, followers are following and small pieces of paper with names on them have been placed in a hat and then pulled out.

Which means a brand spanking new copy of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox will be on it's way to...

Check out her gorgeous blog here.

Thanks to all of you who joined in and keep an eye, or two, open for more of the same!