Friday, 28 June 2013

Bobchat - golf

H - Daddy stop tickling me!
D - That's what daddies do!
H - That's not what daddies do!
D - What do daddies do then?
H - Daddies play golf!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Archie Antics - The Key

Can no longer leave the key in the back door as Archie removes it and secretes it in such useful hiding places as the washing machine...

Friday, 21 June 2013

#TigersInRedWeather #50books2013

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman

I really enjoyed reading this novel. Although set in a different era, it has echoes of The Great Gatsby, and the indulgence of the American upper classes - although in European terms probably considered the 'Noveau Riche' - is an evident theme in the novel. I loved every moment of it, but it wasn't quite one of those 'can't put it down' novels. I was almost relieved at this - recently having read 'Gone Girl' and 'How to be a Good Wife' - both powerfully gripping thrillers - it felt great to have a novel that was going to last me more than a few nights and wouldn't have me up until 3am reading (not great these days when little A has me up for the day at 5...)

The novel is focalised through several different characters: Nick, Helena (her cousin and best friend), Hughes (her husband), Daisy (her daughter) and finally Ed (Helena's son). This means that you can view the complex familial relationships from different perspectives throughout, your sympathies changing as you realise the depths of each character and the difficulties they face. As a reader, you sense that this is the 'point' of the novel. Really, the details and events of the novel are irrelevant - first and foremost it's an exploration of character.

Except, that as you get towards the end of the novel you realise this isn't quite everything. It's not just detailed character profiles. You realise that throughout Klaussman has been leaving you clever clues leading to the climax of the novel and the uneasy resolution. Although I'd noticed some of the clues throughout I still found the ending surprising, gripping and - ultimately - satisfying. I'm a bit fussy with endings of books - I don't generally like cliffhangers (thanks, 'How to be a Good Wife'), unhappy endings ('Gone Girl'!)or ones that lack a desirable sense of closure for the characters (both!) Tigers in Red Weather was perfect for me. I'd really recommend it as a great read!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

#50books2013 How to be a Good Wife - Emma Chapman

Marta lives with her husband, Hector. They married in strange circumstances - she was 20 years younger and so ill he had to nurse her back to health. Marta lives her married life following the rules of the book 'How to be a Good Wife' - a wedding gift from her mother-in-law.

Marta remembers practically nothing from her 'previous' life - that is, until she stops taking her medication. All of a sudden her life becomes a disorientating whirl - she has only a tenuous grasp on the here and now as what she believes to be memories - including visions and hallucinations - take a hold on her.

With Marta as narrator we, the readers, experience this roller coaster first hand. If you enjoyed 'Before I Go to Sleep' then you'll recognise a similar storyline - a thriller with a narrator who is just as clueless and confused as the readers.


Perhaps the most interesting thing about the novel is how Marta's character remains unreliable throughout - there are things about the story that just don't add up and the mystery is never really resolved. Even the ending is somewhat unresolved. The result is an unnerving and, at times, disturbing story which leaves you questioning all the characters of the novel, wondering if what you believe to be true actually is...

I enjoyed the book, and it was certainly a page turner, I finished it in just a few days (no mean feat with a boy clinging to each ankle, although the kindle app on my phone helps!) I have to say though, it didn't always hit the spot for me. Maybe I just didn't empathise quite enough with Marta, or maybe I just wanted a bit more closure, but there was something about the novel that didn't leave me feeling satisfied. On further reflection though that's probably exactly what the author intended, so I guess she achieved her goal!

Archie Antics - The Marriage Course

Worrying when you switch on the TV to see 'The Marriage Course' is on series link - how to fix your marriage using the Bible's teachings.

Archie's had the controller most recently - maybe he's trying to tell us something?

Friday, 7 June 2013

'Delicious' swamp cakes

Ok, they're not pretty, it's gotta be said. Mind you, they were tasty!

#50books2013 - Midnighters Series by Scott Westerfeld

Despite my less than glowing review of 'Extras' earlier this year, I couldn't resist downloading this series onto my Kindle. It's great to have a light read to hand on my Kindle and the Kindle app on my phone for those times when I'm stuck on the sofa nursing Archie or the boys are sleeping in the car and I'm stuck on the driveway (mums, we've all done that, right?!) I also like to claim that reading books intended for teens is some kind of research for work so I can recommend books to reluctant readers (yeah right).

The series starts in a familiar way - think Harry Potter, Twilight, The Wizard of Oz - what child hasn't fantasised about being transported to a new world when they have untold power and influence? What misunderstood teen has never dreamt that they are just *different* from their parents, their family... In Midnighters, Jessica Day wakes in a strange and beautiful dreamscape of sparkling diamonds - but soon discovers it's not as idyllic as it first appears.

It soon falls to a small band of misfits to save the world (of course, what would such a book be without mortal peril?!)

I am being a bit flippant here though - Midnighters reminded me of what I liked about the Uglies series. Despite feeling disappointed by Extras, I do think Westerfeld is a skilled writer for teens and      the world and characters of The Midnighters series are well crafted; the narrative is gripping. I would certainly recommend this as a good young adult read and also a great series for those who have enjoyed 'crossover' novels between YA and Adult Fiction such as The Hunger Games, Matched and Twilight.

#50books2013 A Commonplace Killing - Sian Busby

There are no winners in this book - each narrator has a sad story to tell and Sian Busby's evocative style will draw you right into their lives. Set in bleak, grey post-war London, the characters are all doing their best to navigate themselves through the depressing, mutilated landscape of both London and their own emotions.

Lillian Frobisher lived a life of freedom during the war, only to be brought crashingly back to earth when her husband returned into a life of drudgery, struggling to make ends meet on meagre rations - always hankering after the forbidden luxuries denied to her whilst trying to remain respectable. In post-war Britain she is described by some as a scarlet woman, yet what she yearns for is what a modern woman would take for granted. The character of Policewoman Tring is perhaps a little more hopeful - although she is usually reduced to driving around the men of the force and, like Lillian, is expected to magic up sustenance (in the form of tea and sandwiches) from nowhere.

Busby also explores the scorn towards those men who did not go to war - who played a different part and the damage sustained by those who did. An unlikely parallel is drawn between Dennis, a criminal, and Cooper, the principal detective on the case. Two men both permanently damaged by their experiences of war, neither with any hope for the future. Rather like London itself, suffering under the weight of a crime wave as ordinary people struggle to gain some sense of self by turning to the black market for items advertised on billboards, unobtainable by legal means.

Although the novel liberally draws on the traditions of detective fiction - the lone detective figure, Cooper and some real noir elements - really  the novel is less about solving the mystery and more about communicating the bleak nature of post war London - and this is something Busby does expertly. It doesn't make for an uplifting read, it's got to be said, but if you want to really feel what it was like to long for something other than spam, powdered egg and stale bread - whislt fielding propaganda telling you that you should be happy to be at peace, eating the healthiest way you ever had then this is the place to start.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Archie Antics - Tesco

In Archie's mind, Tesco only exists to provide him with plenty of people to say hello to!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Archie Antics - Coaster

Archie Antics - Andrex

To Andrex (v) - to playfully toy with toilet paper, esp. small animals and children. Examples: Archie was andrexing in the en suite earlier. Archie andrexed the spare toilet rolls into the bath as it was running last night.

Bobchat - Flamingo

'Look! A flamingo!'