Book Challenge Week 2 and 3 – Magic Cops, Foxes, Alcohol.

Bit late on the update again, my apologies. Working alternate weekends might cause this to happen more often.

After finishing the Rogue One novelisation, I moved on with eagerness to read Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Based on a few recommendations from my Twitter friends to read the book, and seeing the Amazon reviews describing it as CSI meets Harry Potter, I was easily convinced.

I…..mostly enjoyed it. While I loved the idea of a police officer discovering he has magical powers and can take witness statements from the undead, I didn’t quite sink into the book as much as I thought I might. It had everything I’d enjoy from literary genres; magic, detective fiction and murder mysteries, I had a really difficult time finishing the book. Forcing myself to finish reading something for the sake of saying I had didn’t appeal. Not my favourite book and I’m disappointed because it had everything going for me to like it. I might revisit it at a later date, and maybe the rest of the series.

Disappointed by the second book in my challenge, I eased myself back into enjoying reading by reading a very short story by Michael Morpurgo. I’ve loved his books and writings since I was a child, and The Fox and the Ghost King was absolutely no exception.  A fox cub and his father make their way home from a Leicester City football match, dejected and saddened by their team losing yet another football match, when they hear a ghostly voice asking for help. In return for helping the mysterious voice be found by archaeologists and restored to his rightful resting place, he’d help their football team win the league. The rest, well, you know what happened.

My favourite thing about the book is how Morpurgo captured the way the fox cub and his father talk to each other about the football they’d seen in exactly the same way a human parent and child would talk to each other. Their team is the greatest ever, they may not play very well but they’d support them to the bitter end. It could easily have been a conversation between a human father and his son coming home from a sporting event, football or otherwise. The parent might take their child out for some food after a game, the same way the fox and cub scrounge for food out of bins on their way home (onions on pizza is their favourite!). I love children’s books that appeal to both children and adults, and this definitely ticked all those boxes.

The book didn’t take me long to read, I polished it off in about half an hour, and decided to get ahead of myself and read ANOTHER BOOK. Whaaaat.

When I decided to make myself do this challenge, I wanted to stop myself sitting in front of my computer or iPad watching YouTube videos every evening. Switch off the computer, take some time to myself and read a book. So of course, I picked up a book written by a YouTuber.

You Deserve A Drink is a collection of true stories collated by mixologist, comedienne and YouTuber Mamrie Hart about her life leading up to and beyond internet fame. If you don’t know her, she makes semi-regular beverage tutorials on her YouTube channel dedicated to a celebrity she feels deserve a drink that week. Often times, someone in the news, mostly people she can create a clever pun for, with equal measures of swearing, innuendo and fart jokes.

I bloody love Mamrie Hart. She has a wonderful writing style, way with words, is hilariously funny, and can absolutely make you a superb cocktail or three. Each chapter and story is preceded by a cocktail recipe inspired by the story she’s about to tell. The girl knows her drinks mixing, she’s good at it.

Next week? Not sure what I’ll read. Guess you’ll find out.

Book Tally 21/1/17

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Alexander Freed
Rivers of London Ben Aaronovitch
The Fox and the Ghost King Michael Morpurgo
You Deserve A Drink Mamrie Hart

New Year New Thing

The customary way to kick off a new update to this blog is to apologise for my lack of input over the last few months. To sum up in a way that won’t take up too much of your precious time, life happened. I am heartily sorry for neglecting my little corner of the internet here. I hope that this thing I’m doing will make these updates more regular and less apologetic.

2016 was a tough old year, wasn’t it? It was a year when a lot of stuff happened to me, both good and bad, that made me slightly re-adjust my focus in life (to put it oh so dramatically. It’s not that bad I promise.) I started a new job back in September. New-ish, anyway. Still the same company. I was with Waitrose and now I’m at John Lewis. It’s been a change for the better, I’m far less stressed and anxious now (that’s a whole other rabbit hole of my psyche I don’t want to extract into a Word Document right now.) I also increased my hours with my new job, which partly accounts for the lack of cricket updates across my range of social media. The summer was a rough time, I won’t go into it, but I stopped thinking about cricket for a few months until the waters calmed and I could think a bit clearer.

I’m still at Weight Watchers, still ploughing on with getting healthier and better, just before Christmas I was at 2.5 stone lighter than when I started in September 2015. I know I can push on and get even further. Just don’t mention all the cheese and chocolates and biscuits I ate over Christmas.

As for 2017? It’ll be better and brighter. I’m in a happier place, I’ve worked out what the hell to do with myself, and I’m taking those steps one day at a time. As part of that, I’m forcing myself to write a weekly update with this blog in the form of a challenge I’ve set myself.

Read 52 books in 52 weeks.

Yup, really. Set the bar a little higher, Duncalf.

It’s a big one, I know, but its achievable. I read a lot when I was a kid, at school and at home, I’d read whenever I could. I fell off that wagon a long time ago, and still read occasionally but I’ve definitely slipped since I was at school. I own a Kindle, I was given one for my birthday a few years ago, and I found it last week in a box with a critical battery warning on it that required a hard reset and a few hours plugged in to the wall to fix. My house is basically a library, and I’m slightly ashamed that the books contained within it that I’ve actually read is just a drop in the ocean. I know I can read more, and this is a perfect way to make me do it and stick to a system. I’ve already told all of social media about it anyway, and as we know that stuff lasts forever. Reading is fun, reading is therapeutic, reading broadens the mind and exercises the imagination. Why on earth wouldn’t I read a book every week for a year?

I’ve set myself the following rules.

1) It must be a book I haven’t read before.
2)…..that’s pretty much it.

I don’t want to cheat and take the easy option of reading a book for the second or multiple time. Which takes series like Harry Potter, HitchHikers and Lord of the Rings out of the question. However I’m not averse to reading other books by the same authors. Which probably means I’ll try and read The Silmarillion at some point. We’ll see about that.

Handily, I started reading a new book last week, which I enjoyed so much I’m treating it as the first book in the 52 week odyssey I’m putting myself on. Don’t laugh, but I read the novelisation of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I saw the film a week before Christmas and I came out of the cinema in an awestruck daze (NO SPOILERS) and in this daze I wandered into Waterstones and saw the novelisation lying there in front of me, Felicity Jones’ face staring back at me. I pulled my phone out, decided to spend an Amazon voucher on the Kindle version, and after the post-Christmas/New Year madness at work died down, I sat down to read it.

(I’ll try to not give too much away about the plot from here on in, but maaaaaybe watch the film first…)

I really enjoyed it. Being a “weird nerd” (thanks Mum) I naturally gravitate to that sort of thing anyway. Star Wars was one of the first big movie franchises I ever saw. I have clear memories of being taken to the cinema to watch the 20th Anniversary cinematic rerelease of A New Hope in 1997, at the tender age of 8. I remember being so absorbed by the universe, the characters and the love grew from there and stuck with me all my life. If there’s a New Star Wars Thing in the cinema, you can bet I’ll be there.

I have the kind of imagination where I like to explore around the subject at hand, thinking of how things happened, “behind the scenes” in the sense of the story. What events led to the sequence in this film, where was so-and-so when this was happening. Rogue One satisfied this appetite, filling in how the Death Star plans came to be in the hands of the rebels, an event so briefly mentioned in the title crawl of Episode IV.

The post film awestruck buzz made me buy the book, and it wasn’t disappointing. Alexander Freed captured the universe perfectly, delving further into the characters thoughts and motives behind their actions. Orson Krennic, in particular, is written in a wonderful way. Believing he’s the bees knees in the building of the Death Star, convincing himself  that he’s untouchable and the next big thing in the Imperial Military, his thoughts and feelings written on the page added to the snarling and egotistical character portrayed on the screen so well by Ben Mendelsohn. The way he absolutely believes he is the next major player in the Empire, with the knowledge in the readers mind that he isn’t (thanks Episode IV!) is superbly done. The man is aspirational, power hungry, and clearly delusional. The film hints at this, the book expands and explores this more. Krennic is by no means the only character to receive this treatment, but his was one that stood out to me in particular.

A nice touch of the novelisation is including short Supplemental Data “chapters” of correspondence between characters, often related to intelligence updates or back and forth discussions of the building of the Death Star between particular characters. For those weirdo nerds like me, I really enjoyed reading these, adding even more to development of characters, places and things in the story.

Overall a very enjoyable read, enhancing and expanding small details in the already enjoyable film.

So there we have it. The first of hopefully 52 updates on books I’m reading. Who knows what I’ll be reading next week?

 

….I do. I’m going to read Ben Aaronovitch The Rivers of London. See you next week.

(Supplemental data – for those of you who’ve known me for long enough and remember me writing a post about Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice is on the list. Now you know I’m serious.)

Hampshire v Middlesex Day 4, County Championship, The Rose Bowl Southampton

In my infinite wisdom I decided it would be a good idea to get up at the crack of dawn and drive to Southampton to watch the final day of Hampshire v Middlesex. It wasn’t a totally stupid idea, Middlesex had a good day in the middle yesterday with a century from Malan and a win looked feasible. A draw was what beckoned however, but it was a lovely hot day. The first day so far this season where I haven’t frozen over…
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Middlesex v Warwickshire Day 4, County Championship, Lord’s


Back to Lord’s for what turned out to be a drawn match, but with some record breaking knocks from each side. Sam Robson scored another century and now has the most runs in one first class match by a Middlesex player. Adam Voges also made a neat 92 runs before being caught off the bowling of Tim Ambrose. That’s the Warwickshire wicket keeper. Each one of the Warwickshire XI bowled in Middlesex’s second innings. It got real weird.
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Middlesex v Warwickshire Day 1, County Championship, Lord’s

It’s the new season! Back at Lord’s for the first home game of the season, Warwickshire and the new toss rules. Warwickshire decided to bowl first and sent Middlesex in, and there they remained all day. A magnificent century from Sam Robson and a 180 run partnership between him and Nick Gubbins got Middlesex off to the perfect start. Will probably be returning on Day 4. Wonderful day. I’m glad to be back.

 

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End of Season Update 2015

Ok. This hasn’t been updated in a while. Let me explain.

I’m really sorry this hasn’t been updated in so long. Its the end of the season now and I’ve now had time to sit back and realise how busy life has been since the last photo update of the NZ ODI in June. But its for a good reason, don’t worry!

The biggest news of this season, and part of the reason why I’ve been so busy, is that I’ve been working with the Lord’s Taverners a lot. I have a contact with them and I’ve been given the photographer role for several games and fundraising events they’ve done over the summer. Including far flung places like Wormsley, the Honorable Artillery Company Ground in London, Lord’s, all over the place. The Lord’s Taverners are a brilliant charity and if you don’t know who they are, check out their website and Facebook page. You’ll find some of my snaps on there too!

As a result, I haven’t been to see much county cricket in the latter half of the season, and when I have it’s been great to sit back and relax and just enjoy a day out watching cricket and not necessarily photograph the game for my own records. So…..sorry!

However, in amongst all that, I did have a very enjoyable few days in Canterbury watching the England Women play Australia. It was another ground to tick off the list and a really lovely break from the normal to go see some friends and have a great few days to myself. It was much needed, even if it meant catching a very very early train on a wet Tuesday morning! I took lots of photos of both the cricket and my morning in Canterbury Cathedral, and I will get those uploaded soon.

I also spent a day at Merchant Taylors watching the Middlesex Women in a t20 double header with Surrey and Berkshire, which again was a great day because I don’t get to see the Middlesex Ladies very often. Also to, again, see people and spend an enjoyable few hours watching cricket in the sun. Photos, as always, to follow when I get round to it.

I think that’s it for the moment, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something else from the past few months. I want to get the video diary idea back up and running but I’ve felt with the Taverners gigs I’ve been asked to do, it wasn’t appropriate to walk around with a camera pointing at my face talking to it rather than what I was asked to do. I’m going to try and post a bit more on here over the winter, rather than just leave it until the start of the next season.

Thank you all for your continued support and kind words about this blog and the photographs, it really means a lot!

Liz x