Monthly Archives: December 2011

Top 5 Photos of 2011 – Listography

Well I’ve seen an abundance of ‘My Review of 2011 posts’ but my memory is soooo terrible I can barely remember what I’ve done this year so Kate Takes 5’s Listography to list your top 5 photos of 2011 seems like a much better way to recall my year.

1. Like my friend Jay I have to pick a picture from our friend Stacey’s Wicked themed Hen Do in London. Jay has picked a great one of the group of us (complete with random lady) which you can see here. As the Bridesmaid I felt a certain amount of pressure to get the day right and I believe everyone had a fantastic day on our tour round London, Ice-cream at Harrods, Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester and trip to see Wicked. It was great to see my Musical Theatre loving friend collecting autographs from, and pictures with the cast at the end of the night. The rest of us snuck in on this picture with Elphaba herself, Rachel Tucker (thanks Rachel for being a) mind-blowingly amazing as Elphaba and b) so lovely to your fans outside).

2. Then of course there was the Wedding, complete with me making a tit of myself; blubbing whilst attempting to read the poem I’d written Stacey and her hubby, gorgeous dresses of green, a sweetie stand, button bouquets, cupcakes, karaoke. All in all a great day that would have scored very highly on Four Weddings. Here’s a photo of  6 schoolfriends that I believe have been bought even closer through the use of Social Media this year.

3. I’m going to cheat a tiny bit for this one and add two pictures, but forgive me as it was a mega special occasion.  It was my Nainy and Taidy’s  (welsh for Gran and Grandad) 60th (Yes 6-0) Wedding Anniversary. As well as arranging the telegram from the Queen that you can see here from one of my earlier Silent Sunday pictures, we travelled up to help them celebrate. The picture on the cake is them on their wedding day and then a picture of all of their family that we are putting on canvas for them to keep.

4. I’ve spent the last couple months of the year being creative, in November during NaNoWriMo I managed to add another 10,000 words to the 50,000 words of my novel that I started in last year’s challenge. A Facebook challenge at the start of the year was to give a handmade gift to the first 5 people to comment on your statement. I made a promise of the draft (no matter what state it was in). So it is in the hands of others as we speak and I’ve had two really helpful sets of constructive critique so far. I did debate making bookmarks to go with them but because I provided the draft in Kindle format this wouldn’t really be that helpful so instead I made a set of slightly unique paintings for each person that is representative of the book. Here is the version I made for myself in a mock up front cover.

5. Finally, I re-taught myself to knit using You Tube and, in my recent Bucket List I noted that I wanted to finish the scarf I was working on and then make one that I could actually wear in public. Well my mother suggested not to waste wool by continuing knitting a long scarf that wouldn’t be worn so I stopped at a mini scarf which I folded in half and tonight I’ve stitched together as a gift for my long serving cuddly Sultan. Here he is wearing it at my parents as we wait to see in the New Year (off to cross off half of a Bucket List item – I’ve already started the new one).

So creativity and weddings were the order of 2011, what will 2012 have in store? Hopefully more of the same.

If Kate repeats this challenge in 2012 I’m going to find it much harder to narrow it down to 5 pictures considering I’m hoping to take one every day of the year (see here).

Happy 2012 everyone, I hope it is a peaceful one for us all.



My Goodreads review of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (hopefully spoiler free)

You can read these on Goodreads too – The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay – I gave all 3 5/5 stars and read them in about a week over Christmas pretty much having to force myself to go to bed (lots of late nights – I started reading Book 2 the second I finished Book 1 {Love my Kindle}).

Although these are spoiler free (and therefore pretty short) I can’t guarantee any comments will be – indeed if you’ve read the books please talk to me about them ;o)

The Hunger Games – Book 1

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Being a big fan of Divergent which is often talked about in the same breath as this I thought I would have to read it. I read some reviews that are negative about the violence in the book. Yes it is violent, but that suits the genre and I think it is signposted pretty much from the get go. I think the main characters are strongly written and being in an impossible situation act as well as can be expected, more so even. I found myself having to stay up late to read this. Suzanne Collins is not someone who ends chapters (or books – I had to start the second one straight away) neatly but is far too effective at making you turn just the next page (as the bags under my eyes will attest).
I was rooting for at least 4 of the contestants and did feel sad at times at their treatment. I was soooooo incensed by the mutts. Grr someone has to pay for that!
I’m hoping that the Capitol and President Snow get their comeuppance at the end of the trilogy which I suspect I will have read by the end of the year (it’s 22nd Dec today).
Divergent just pips it for me but I look forward to seeing this in film (or do I? – may have to close my eyes).

Catching Fire – Book 2

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Having to hold myself back from reading the third one straight away, hope the negative reviews of how it ends don’t spoil it for me. Oooh Snow needs to go down. I did not expect the Games to happen again. Can’t really say much more without spoiling it.
Once again Suzanne Collins keeps me turning pages even in the ‘quiet’ moments. So glad I didn’t start reading this series until it was all written.

Mockingjay – Book 3

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Well I wasn’t sure whether to give this book 4 or 5 stars (why can’t we have quarter, half and three quarter options hey?).
Another fast paced thriller from Suzanne, this time out of the Hunger Games arena but because of this all bets were off, the body count even higher. There were two deaths I’m not sure I can reconcile yet (but it is just 10 mins or so since I read the last word).
The reasons that many have disliked this book are why I think it deserves praise. It’s not full of happy neat endings and you don’t come away fully satisfied. But isn’t this what happens in real life. We don’t always find our one true love but end up loving the one we’re with. There is a scene with a cat that made me cry.
Peace doesn’t break out after war, the struggle continues and sometimes the ones who try to take over are as corrupt as the ones who have been overthrown.
Katniss and her fellow surviving tributes are asked a question at the end and I was shocked and disgusted by her answer. Despite her subsequent actions I’m still not sure whether she was believed in the answer she gave.
Real or not real you tell me!

I look forward to the films with anticipation and a little bit of fear. I also look to the future with the desire that as humans we learn lessons from books like these and hope that they remain books of fiction and not premonitions.

My Goodreads Review of Don Juan in Hankey, PA by Gale Martin

You can see this review on Goodreads here.

First off the bat I’d like to give a couple of provisos to this review. I was using a review copy so I’m not sure what changes if any there have been to the final proof. Also I’m not sure this is my normal genre of choice which has mainly currently been Young Adult dystopian or fantasy.
That said I really enjoyed Gale Martin’s debut novel and here are the reasons why.
Gale is an excellent graduate of the show not tell school of writing.
She uses a switching point of view masterfully without making the reader dizzy.
Her characters are all unique and three dimensional and you care about the success of their venture. (I had the pleasure of interviewing Gale and her main character Deanna on my blog. When I started reading the book Deanna didn’t jump out as the only character of interest with the others used as plot devices and this is a huge credit to the story).
Gale’s personal love of opera creeps into the novel in the setting and plot but this is secondary to the story of the people in the opera world so you don’t have to know anything about opera to enjoy it (I certainly don’t).
There are some fantastic moments of comedy, usually involving ghosts. I adored the seance scene.
So after all of that praise why only 4 and not 5 stars.
As I said as a proviso this is not my usual genre. If anything it’s too happy and farcical (but it doesn’t profess to be a serious book).
When interviewing Gale I asked her about the short summaries at the start of each chapter. I had guessed correctly that these were an operatic device (from the written libretto) and therefore a nod to opera. For some reason this was a real sticking point for me reading this as a piece of fiction. I felt they took me out of the story and told me what was happening. As I said earlier Gale is a master at showing and I think where additional information was given in these summaries they would have been more effective in the main narrative. This is a completely personal preference and I’ve seen a number of reviews that liked this aspect.
I also wanted one character to get a starring part on opening night – but this is just me being selfish and I enjoyed the actual scene.
All in all I would be happy to read it again and I think it would be great translated into film. It’s also got me intrigued enough to try and see an opera in 2012. I look forward to reading more from Gale.

I gave the book 4/5 stars.

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