Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Reading List #26

You know that pause?

It went on longer than expected. I’ve been in a bit of a strange place over recent months, and trying to sort out about a million things at once, including a new job, thinking about moving house when my current contract comes to an end, and working on the old panic I’ve discussed on here before.

Anyway, there’s something I find very satisfying about the fact today is both a Monday and the beginning of a new month, and it feels time to get back to my little internet space, and a new reading list feels as good a place as any to re-start…

Skin and Bones, Tom Bale

When a tiny Sussex village plays host to a shooting rampage, only one victim is left alive. Meaning only one person knows there’s a second killer still on the loose.

This book started brilliantly. The suspense was well-maintained, and the characters and the lifestyles of those in the village were established quickly. The description of the killing spree was very well done, and some descriptions as clear as if I had been watching a film. However, the second half, I felt, let it down. I think the plot got a bit too complicated for its own good. Too many clipped voices were getting involved in the plans and it left so many characters tangled in the story that the believability was lost. Worth reading even for the first half of the book, though, and Bale gets that just right.

Named of the Dragon, Susanna Kearsley

Literary agent Lyn heads to Wales for a holiday, still haunted by the death of her baby five years earlier. There she meets Elen, a fragile widow who sees Lyn as her son’s saviour. Myths, prophecies and Celtic legends surround the child as the story takes on a surreal, dream-like quality.

I had mixed feelings on this one, as it almost felt like two stories running alongside one another. Some parts, like Bridget’s relationships, really didn’t interest me, and I was left wanting more when it came to the sections on myth and legend, as it was so intriguing. I also felt the way Lyn’s grief was handled throughout the novel was really excellent. Definitely an unusual one, and I’d be tempted to give it a re-read.

The Eternity Project, Dean Crawford

CIA agents have been hunted and killed in bizarre circumstances, and the blame is pointing to defence intelligence operatives Warner and Lopez, along with the missing Joanna Defoe. Warner and Lopez are caught up in their own mission to find Defoe, but agree to help their old boss in an attempt to clear their names.

This isn’t the type of book I’d usually find myself leaning towards – a ‘mystery thriller’ with potential supernatural elements… But something caught me. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. It was fast-paced, high-action, good escapism, and I just enjoyed the way it was written.

Back Spin, Harlan Coben

When a boy disappears from a downtown hotel, Myron Bolitar is sent to investigate. Set in the world of professional sports, it’s a novel full of family secrets.

This one was ok. I did like some of the characters, but overall it was just a very average mystery.

On reflection, there was definitely a lean towards the world of thrillers in this list. It’s a genre I’ve never read much of but have come across a few good ones in recent months.

Have you read any of these, or anything I might like?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Reading List #25

After a short pause became a slightly longer pause, I’m back and ready to carry on with the next instalment of The Reading List. The blogging paused but the reading didn’t, and I have enough to write about for weeks!

The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick

Pat Peoples is trying to get his life back on track after leaving a psychiatric hospital, and amongst his aims is reconciliation with his wife Nikki. He has left hospital with the new purpose of being nice to everyone, and always hunting for the silver lining. When he befriends Tiffany, certain plans he thought he had set in stone start to become unstuck.

I saw the film before reading the book, and the film is amazing, but the book just has the edge for me. It was heart-warming, funny, sad, moving… It’s about believable human relationships and also about Pat’s relationship with himself. It’s perfectly written and one I would pick up again.

Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

Fanny Price is patient and watchful, and this simply follows her growing up amongst family relationships, society pressures, and the expectations of marriage.

It feels like one of those books you ‘should’ read, especially having studied an English Literature degree, but all I really have to say is it’s exactly what I expected. I did quite like the heroine, although many find her patience annoying… but overall I found the book nice, and not ‘wow’.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

Mariam, aged 15, is sent to marry 45 year-old Rasheed in Kabel. Two decades later, 15 year-old Laila joins Mariam’s unhappy home. The bond between the two women grows, and offers protection to them both.

Under the shadow of Taliban rule, this book contains starvation, brutality and fear, but love triumphs. It is absolutely stunning, and brought tears to my eyes multiple times. The characters are so fully-formed, and the story is amazing. There is an exquisite simplicity to the way the story is told, and nothing is overdone, which can be a hard thing to achieve.  Through its simplicity, the horror of the situation comes through in such an authentic way, and the result is beautiful. I won’t be forgetting this one any time soon.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Through the eyes of Scout and Jem, the novel follows their father, a lawyer, as he defends a mockingbird – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Set in the Deep South in the 1930s, this novel is steeped with prejudice, hypocrisy, race and class.

Again, it is the simplicity of certain elements of this book that make it most hard-hitting. I don’t often return to books, as there are so many to be read, but I’m glad something made me come back to this classic.

So there we have it, as random a mix as ever! The next instalment will be on the way soon…

What have you been reading recently? 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Time Flies

Ok, I will hold my hands up and admit it’s now 3rd September, but as I haven’t slept yet I’m still going to count this as my day 2 of September post.

And I guess that kind of fits with the theme of today’s post: time.

Or, more specifically, the time that flies.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had conversations with those friends you can speak to for hours and hours, and it feels like minutes.

A lot of things have been changing for me recently, which of course gives us even more excuse to chat.

A phone call with one friend who’s ill at home…

Or a lunch with another friend who’s been working out in Africa…

Or a skype call with a uni friend who is currently living in France…

In fact, the skype call to France ended after close to three hours, and there was still a sense of ‘to be continued’.

And that’s it really. I don’t have a pearl of wisdom, or a witty anecdote.

I just wanted to acknowledge the power of a good old chat. It cheers you up, gets you excited making plans, and let’s your friendship groups know you’re all there for one another.

I just like a good natter.

And that’s it.

So there J

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Challenge #7: September 2014

The return of the blog means the return of my monthly challenges, as they were great motivation last time.

Having just returned to this little corner of the internet, I thought I’d get September off to a strong start, and blog every day for the month.

I’ve seen lots of my favourite bloggers do similar things over recent months and years, and I think it’s a great way to challenge myself and get back into the swing of things.

It will also hopefully help to guide me in the direction I want my blog to be heading in. The creation of lots of different posts will reveal the things that are on my mind and that I feel most comfortable writing about.

So there we have it.

Day one: DONE.

Only 29 to go…

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Everything's Changing...

For me, September has always felt like more of a ‘New Year’ than January, probably because of the way the academic years were arranged at school and university.

So with that in mind, tomorrow is day number one of a new year.

I’m in a very, very different place to where I was this time last year. I’m not going to ramble on, but I want to highlight a couple of things so I can look back at it this time next year.

I’m returning to this lovely little blog space, having fallen out of love with it for a while when my head was feeling muddled by a lot of things.

I’m making a lot of plans work-wise, looking ahead and pushing myself.

I’m finally learning to drive, and with my theory done I just need to get the practical test out of the way.

I’m no longer in the relationship I was in this time last year. It had lasted for five and a half years, but you’re a very different person when you’re 16 compared to when you’re 22, and for this place I’m in now, certain things were no longer working.

I’m making huge steps forward with my anxiety. In about October it really returned with a vengeance, and I had a pretty awful time of it. It’s taken a lot of support, a lot of hard work and a lot of pushing myself, but I’m feeling in a better place with it than I have for a long time.

I’m aware of who my friends are. The true friends. Because whilst my anxiety took control of a fairly large portion of the last year or so, it actually taught me a lot about myself, and the people I have around me. Some of my friends went, and still do go, above and beyond to help with my panicking and troubles with eating, and the strength of some of those friendships now has been overwhelming.


Onwards and upwards.

Something I’ve heard a lot recently is ‘I feel like I’ve got my old Sophie back’. From my parents, other family members, friends…

But it’s not just the old Sophie. It’s a Sophie who has learned a lot about herself, who has had some pretty rubbish times, but through overcoming those has learned what she wants out of each day.
And for those lessons I can surely only be grateful.

Tomorrow brings with it a ‘New Year’. I’m 22, I’m finally beginning to learn who I am, and I’m ready for everything that lies ahead.

Let’s go.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Pause: Netflix Time

I can't write a long post tonight, because I'm on a date with Netflix.

Oh, Netflix, how we love thee.

My new series of choice is American Horror Story after having it recommended so many times... I never go for horror films or anything, but decided to give episode 1 a try, and now can't stop watching!

The problem with Netflix is that it knows exactly how to occupy you for lovely long periods of time. It autoplays the next episode...

Right I'm stopping watching now.

'Next episode begins in 15 seconds...


I need to go and wash my hair.



I should probably do that washing up.



Maybe I could read a book.



Oh go on then!

Netflix, you are a procrastination enabler, a binge-watching tempter...

And the thing is, we all love it. The amount of times I've seen people ask Twitter what their next series should be is mad!


I need to return to the haunted mansion and make sure Violet managed to get out in time.

Over and out, blog world, and I'll see you tomorrow.

And by the way:

What series should I watch next?!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Spanish Countdown

Just a quick post tonight as I'm trying to sort through a lot of things all at the same time, and get some work done for my marketing course.


Here's what's on my mind.

My baby sister is moving to MADRID.

Well she's not a baby, she's 18, but that's not really the point...

I'm unbelievably hugely excited for her, and she will have the most incredible time...

But yesterday dad booked her one-way flight to Madrid for September and I suddenly felt a little bit funny in my tummy.

That's a whole other country. You have to go on a plane to get there.

Isn't that weird? She's always been in my house, or down the road, or a short train away when I was at university.

It's going to take some adjusting, and dad has begun to call her 'Kittypleasedontgo'. She's flying out on Sunday for a month, then coming home for a month, and then it's the big move!

She's an adventurer and an explorer and I know she'll love every minute.

And of course, it's an excuse for us all to fit in some little Spanish holidays!
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