Friday, 25 May 2012

A Love Letter to Libraries

Something different for this week's Friday Fiction -  I read a really delightful book called 'The Library Book' which is a collection of short stories, articles & pieces written by some of my very favourite authors & writers, about how blooming marvelous libraries are. My favourites were by Lucy Mangan, Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Nicky Wire, Caitlin Moran & Stephen Fry, but there were lots that were enjoyable. The only one I thought was a bit rubbish was 'The Library of Babylon', but overall, it was really fantastic. There was lots of Tory-bashing too (I know I said I didn't enjoy the republican bashing in the Auster, but come on, the Tories want to shut down public libraries, what kind of monsters are these people??).

So basically it was amazing and you should definitely read it, and it inspired me to write a little love letter to the public library myself (I just joined my 4th county library, so I'm not saying I'm an expert or anything, but... Ha, obsessed is more like it.) Libraries are pretty much my spirit animal. Libraries have been the backdrop to my entire existence. I grew up going to the local library every weekend and maxing out my card with more books than I could possibly carry. I was your definitive bookworm growing up, I read everything and anything. I read the Hobbit when I was 10, just because I could (not because I understood a word of it). I amassed a pretty impressive personal library of my own over the years, but free books is not a notion that will ever not appeal to me.

As a teenager I literally used to hang out with my friends in Milton Keynes library. I know right, I was a lot of fun back then... *eye roll* We'd just sit in the Children's section and play on our Nintendo DS's (so cool), or read or do our homework, it was just our space to relax. Then we'd decamp to the reference library when exam time rolled around. Same with university, me & the JB Morrell library got pretty well acquainted over the years, to the point where, come third year, I was pretty much living there (I once accidentally blasted Sociology & Relgion with the Wicked soundtrack, and for that, I can only apologise), sneaking snacks from my bag and coming to depend on my thermos of tea more than was probably healthy.

I'm still a member of the York central library, even though I don't live there anymore (I may have er, forgotten to mention that I'd moved), which is a truly glorious system. Free requests meant that the amount of books available to you was effectively multiplied by about a million, and boy did I make use of it. North Yorkshire make you pay 75p per request, but I still manage to find about 5 new books to take out every time I return 3 (you're right, the math doesn't add up), and to top it off, I just joined the Leeds library so I can now have about 60 library books out at a time - it's possibly I already do.

My point is, free books. That's my point. How can you argue with free books? The day the Tories start privatising the libraries is the day I give up hope on humanity. Free books people. For children, for adults, for everyone, you even get free internet these days. Go support your local library & look out for The Library Book whilst you're there. Make the most of them whilst you still can!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Bella Donna

This is the kind of dress I would wear to my nephew's Christening, if I were the kind of person to dress conservatively, erm, well, ever. I however am not, I am a raucously over the top, wear-hats-to-everything kind of gal, so this beautiful 'new' dress gets to be worn for an every day kind of day such as today. I don't really believe in saving things for 'best', unless those things are a fancy new hat with a bird cage veil, but even then I try it on about twice a day, even if I'm only wearing pajamas. 

As beautiful as it is, it's one of those crease-the-second-you-look-at-them dresses, so it didn't particularly enjoy going through the wash, which lead to the first ever incidence of ironing in this incarnation of Chez B (we've lived here about 2 years, and it was possibly about 2 years before that when I picked up the iron last). I'm sure in some people's eyes that makes me a terrible slob, but well... I don't care. Ironing is boring! And the creases fall out the second you wear most clothes anyway. I think I'll know I've officially become a grown up the day I buy an ironing board (I used the dining room table this time). But not for a while yet, don't worry :)

P.S. I'm so obsessed with Fleetwood Mac right now. All I do is listen to Rumours these days, I swear, but I have also invested in Fleetwood Mac & the epic Tusk. Next up are some Stevie Nicks solo albums :)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Friday Fiction 15: The Brooklyn Follies

"I was looking for a quiet place to die, and someone suggested Brooklyn" reads the back cover, introducing you to the narrator, Nathan Glass, who's actually not dying at all, so it's a pretty stupid blurb really...

Instead of dying, he reconnects with his estranged nephew & his eccentric ex-con of a boss, before taking in his runaway great niece and moseying around New York for the greater part of the book. I'm going to be honest, apart from a small amount of drama near the end, pretty much nothing happens for the entirety of the story. In spite of this I did actually enjoy it rather a lot. As with Sunset Park, Auster's writing is prosaic and a delight to read - and for the most part his characters are wonderfully developed & very interesting.

What let the story down for me was the 'backdrop of the controversial 2000 presidential elections' - also mentioned in the blurb, also very unimportant to the story (who's writing these things and have they even read the book?!), and the introduction of a Christian extremist into the story, which essentially just led to a lot of Republican and Christian bashing (not that I would describe myself as pro- either, but it felt pretty unnecessary to the story, and frankly, it got a little ugly). I would've enjoyed it if Rory & Lucy had been more well rounded, believable characters, rather than somewhat tired stereotypes of people in their position, Harry was such a brilliantly crafted specimen that it made them feel even weaker in comparison. 7/10

General consensus seems to be that this is one of Auster's more commercial works, and it divided his fans quite a bit apparently, but it was a decent enough read for me. If this is him sucking, then it makes me pretty excited to read his acclaimed works. Have you read it? How does it compare with his others?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Soundtrack of My Life

Currently bringing vasts amounts of joy into my life...

Rumours / Alligator / No One Can Ever Know
Civilian / Take Care / Forget The Night Ahead
Gold / Track Record / Love Is Hell

P.S. I got the job! To celebrate I went out and bought 2 tickets to see Patti Smith in concert. Patti Smith! I die. I just need the Mac to reform, and my trifecta of amazing ladies (Patti, Joan & Stevie) could be crossed off my list. If only. I'd take Kate Bush as a sub any day though.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Friday Fiction 14/52: Burnt Shadows

Argh, this stupid book is annoying me, even though I finished it like a week ago! I really, really loved it, but the ending was so disappointing! It just ended, in what felt to me like the complete middle of the story. Everything was left so unfinished and I was so upset not to have a proper conclusion to such a great story and find out what happened to all of the wonderful characters in the end. Super frustrating. 

So really, my review face was a bit more like this...

Once I'd gotten over my 'WHAT?! THAT'S IT? THAT'S THE END?! THAT'S NOT AN ENDING' reaction anyway...

I tried to briefly summarise the story to Hubby - it starts in Japan, immediately prior to the dropping of the Hiroshima bomb, then one of the survivors moves to India and then she gets married and they visit Turkey before moving to Pakistan after Partition, and then there's a brief bit where her son goes to Afghanistan, and then the story moves to America post 9/11, but it goes back to Afghanistan briefly again - and he was understandably quite confused, because with each different location there's a different set of key characters, although they're all based around two central families. So it sounds completely mental, and all over the place, but it totally works. The story flows seamlessly, and you get enough continuity and back story to understand how they got to where they were and why the focus was on these characters now - and I found the back drop of war and conflict and the way different cultures deal with that to be really fascinating. Such an interesting book.

I've come to realise that I love reading books that are based overseas (particularly Asian culture), so I really enjoyed that aspect of it. I compared it before to the style of Khaled Hosseini and Kazuo Ishiguro, which I think still stands, minutely detailed but completely beautiful. Essentially it's an amazing story which is really fantastically written and very moving. I cried more than once. It's just shockingly let down by the ending! I'm genuinely upset that the ending was so bad, because I really wanted to be singing this books praises from the rooftops. Still, I'd easily give it an 8/10, because it was totally amazing.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets super mad at books for letting you down like this? Have you read this book? What did you think of the ending?

P.S. Goodreads tells me I'm 4 books behind schedule if I want to read 52 books this year, oops! I need to stop taking on such marathon reads and get cracking, don't I? My current Auster's pretty epic too (but dead good!).

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Pink Friday (almost)

Apparently my face wasn't feeling photogenic today, but I think my outfit definitely is :) Hot pink Primark accessories, a pretty H&M dress & trusty M&S v-neck make up today's outfit for yet another grim day in the north of England. I know everyone's already moaned about it, but it's pretty rubbish right? It's May, it's supposed to be sunny, not cold and rainy and miserable!

Today mostly been spent drinking tea & reading Marie Claire, which I picked up yesterday to get the free Body Shop lip tint (cruelty-free!) which I'm wearing in this post - do you ever buy magazines just for the freebies? I also got around to ordering our MAMMOTH Ikea order, after having spent half my life (or so it feels) discussing the various merit of different sized wardrobes with Hubby - seriously, too much time of my life by about 50 hours. I managed to mess it up the first time and get my credit card blocked, like a complete idiot, but after a quick call to the fraud helpline(!) , everything was sorted and the order placed. I am super excited to have new sofas, bed, wardrobes, chest of drawers, cushions, bookshelves, you name it, it's on this flipping order. It's costing us a small fortune but it'll be worth it when our house is finally, finally "finished" (for now anyway). I'll definitely share some pictures once everything's in place, it's going to be totally boss :D

Friday tomorrow! Hooray.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

This Side of the Blue

A new dress! Not the most exciting of events, or of dresses really, but it's probably the first piece of clothing I've bought just for general wear in about 6 months! I didn't exactly push the boat out with this one, but £2 is about all I can stretch to these days - being broke suxxxx :( Ordered some shoes from H&M, and slipped this in the order last minute, trying to find a pair to wear to my nephew's christening (I scored a totally boss hat on eBay at the weekend!), but I'm not so keen on those so might be back to the drawing board.

In other exciting news, following on from my post of cruelty-free cosmetics, Liz Earle have just announced the beginnings of a make-up line! Eeep. It's still quite a small range at the moment, but I'll definitely be trying the mascara when I have even the tiniest bit of spare money. When they start making lipsticks, I'll be battering down their door :)

My third and final piece of exciting news is that our home visit went reasonably well, and we're hopeful about our chances of fostering cats soon! She said she'd let us know in a few days :)

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Wrapped Up In Books

There's so many photos I could share with you from our recent shoot with Hannah Millard, but here's a peek at my favourites from Scarthin Books in Cromford. (We also went to Matlock railway station, some amusements in Matlock Baths and a muddy field I don't know where but I'll save those for another day)

Can I just say that y'all should definitely do a post-wedding shoot because it is the Most Fun. I am all for any occasion where I get to dress up super fancy, so this was the perfect excuse, and of course, Hannah is a blast to 'work' with (it's really just having a giggle with a friend for us) and you get such beautiful, relaxed photos at the end of it! I possibly like these even more than our actual wedding photos (not that they aren't spectacular of course, I'm not sure Hannah could take a bad photo). Every time I think I've picked a favourite, I fall in love with another one!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Friday Fiction 13/52

Oh dear, I'm not doing very well with this feature at the moment am I? I think I probably set myself up to fail with the inclusion of the word 'Friday', since that to me means 'weeeeeekend!', which means not doing much other than curling up in front of the telly with Hubby, with the occasional cheeky glass of wine, and not sat in front of my laptop getting a back ache, so the blog is far from my mind I'm afraid! But today I have remembered a full 30 minutes before Hubz is due home (less if he's skived off early like I told him to!)

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

I like books that have been nominated for awards because it means I have to think less about whether or not it is a 'good pick', because someone else has already made this decision for me!

This book is about the Landauer House, a fancy modern house built for the family in the late 1920's, and more specifically der Glassraum, the centerpiece of the house. Rather than follow the story of the owners, a Aryan-Jew couple, through WWII, the Holocaust and the aftermath, it follows the story of the house, and it's transition from family home, to a race-classification laboratory, to a ruin, to a children's hospital wing, and to it's final restoration of it's former glory, and the people that use and inhabit it throughout this journey.

Which is all well and good as a synopsis, but kind of sucks as a story line. Just as things start to get interesting in every sub-story, and you begin to like the characters and care about what happens to them (because don't get me wrong, it's really well written), they're dropped from the story, never to be seen again! So frustrating when you're desperate to know what happened to them, because the individual stories feel incomplete. It's only Liesl's story that really comes full-circle, and even she is forgotten during the middle chapters. It felt like it could've been such a wonderful book, being based around such an interesting time historical, and from a not-often-covered viewpoint of not being Jewish, but still having the flee. The characters were wonderful, but it felt like it was trying to be several different books at once, and spread it's self too thin, so it ended up being pretty disappointing.

I would probably give it a 6/10, because it was good whilst still being ultimately rubbish. The worst kind of books really.

P.S. We might be having our home visit to see if we're suitable foster parents (for cats) on Sunday! I'm doing a really bad job of containing my excitement about this. I basically just want to squeal constantly. I'll probably be tweeting about it constantly over the weekend if you want to follow/avoid :D

P.P.S. Hubby is walking through the door as I hit publish - good timing! Have a nice weekend y'all.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Today, this is enough.

+yellow tights
+hula hooping
+fostering cats
+green tea with blueberry
+peanut butter & seasame seed soba noodles
+Fleetwood Mac
+sewing split seems
+Lego Rock Band
+Mr Cat
+vintage pink hats (this, this or this?)
+Great British Menu
+a heart full of love


Tuesday, 1 May 2012


I've seen a bunch of this type of blog post pop up on some of my favourite blogs, and loved the sneak peek in to these lovely ladies lives, so when Danielle (Sometimes Sweet, a gorgeous blog I adore) wrote one today, I thought maybe I'd join in on the fun.

Wearing: The National tee & posietint lips.

Reading: I'm still reading Burnt Shadows, because I'm in a bit of a reading funk at the moment and am having to push myself to actually sit down and read, but wow, I couldn't put it down last night - it was only when it left me in tears that I decided to actually call it a night. Really, really loving it. If you enjoyed Khaled Hosseini or Kazuo Ishiguro I think you'd like it, but I'll try and finish it before I start recommending it to everyone.

Watching: Hubby & I have just marathoned the first two seasons of Cougar Town, pretty much over the weekend (when we're in to something, we're in to it in a big way). So funny! The first season is a bit lacking in any actual story lines, but it's very light and enjoyable to watch. Hubby's a huge Scrubs fan, so he's enjoyed watching all the various cast members pop up through-out the series too (I think the writer is the same for both shows?)

Thinking About: how great it would be to get this job and how desperate I am to hear back about it. How we can make our garden more user-friendly (it's oddly disjointed from our house). How I need to get more sleep so I'm not falling asleep mid-afternoon... Applying to be a steward at the best festival, Indietracks - steam trains, real ales & indie-pop dancing, and all for free, could you ask for more?

Loving: having spent our Sunday afternoon with a pot of coffee, alphabatising our CD collection.

(This is like, maybe half of our heavily pruned joint CD collection? We own a lot of CDs)

Anticipating: finally being able to order new sofas. We currently are forced to snuggle up together on a tiny 2 seater, which is romantic sure, but I can't wait to be able to stretch out and fall asleep comfortably, if that's what I so choose.

Listening: to the entire Ryan Adams backcatalogue, he was absolutely wonderful when we saw him the other day. His support act, Jason Isbell really blew me out of the water too. It was a spectacular evening for laid-back, super-sad country music. My highlights were the song he made up about the girl in the audience with the nasty cough ("Are You Sure You Should Be Out With That Cough?"), and Mr Cat. The incredible, amazing, Mr Cat.

(Our version was different to this, so it would appear Ryan sings an original love song to his cat, every night of his tour. It's not enough that he's gorgeous, he's a crazy cat lover too? I DIE.)

Eating: leftover daal for lunch, a date slice snaffled from work, a lot of bagels...

Feeling thankful for: my Husband. Always. Every day he is my rock and my everything. For making all our money and then coming home and cooking me tea AS WELL. He's a star and I don't tell him half as much as I should. I love you Mr B, you handsome devil.

In all honestly though, I'm currently in a bit of a funk. I'm tired and run down and just generally feeling a bit blah. Might be a bit AWOL on the blog front until I can pull myself together a bit, or until I get a call about this job, which'll either lift or crush my spirits completely. Fingers crossed it's the former.

I'm also currently being majorly headbutted by a cat. It's how she expressed affection and her desire for attention, but it kind of makes it hard to blog and sometimes hurts more than a little. She hates to be held but loves kisses. And sitting on my mouse apparently...

Too cute! I have to go squish her now, whether she likes it or not.

P.S. my instagram username is RosieFB & I mostly just got my new phone so I could get the new filters, THERE, I SAID IT. Don't judge me :(
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