Now Reading: S.J. Watson – Before I Go To Sleep

sj-watson-before-i-go-to-sleepThis book seems quite intriguing – I was stood in front of my bookshelf pulling random books off the shelf to decide which one to read next and this one jumped right out at me. From the back of the book:

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

Sounds fairly average so far right? Then the last two sentences:

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

Sounds thrilling – I can’t wait!

Review: Jane Green – The Beach House

the-beach-house-jane-green-e1338152306643Not my favourite Jane Green book, but enjoyable all the same. The book (like a lot of Green’s books) has multiple main characters which means it is hard to keep up with in the beginning. It actually takes until about 200 pages into the book before you have been introduced to all the characters and their background stories and the main plot actually gets underway. I don’t like books that take so long to set the scene, it makes it hard to get involved and you definitely have to persevere to keep up with it until you find out if you’ll actually like the story or not.

Of all the characters, the only one I actually liked was Nan. She raised her son Michael on her own after her husband committed suicide when Michael was 6. She’s having money troubles after her investments went sour and now she is renting out rooms in her house in Nantucket to try and raise some extra cash and avoid selling the house she loves so much. She’s a people person and a bit of a match maker and loves having a full house again.

Her son Michael was having an affair with his boss’ wife Jordana and having broken it off, she won’t leave him alone so he returns to Nantucket to get away. She turns up in Nantucket with the bombshell that she’s pregnant, turning his world upside down as he has now fallen for Daff – a woman staying in Nan’s house.

Daff is there because her husband cheated on her and her daughter Jess has gone to live with him so she’s on her own and wants to get away. Jess is causing major problems trying to get attention from her Dad now that he has a new girlfriend, and soon starts shoplifting to make herself feel better. When her Dad finds out, she is sent back to her mum in Nantucket. It turns out that all she needs is the new place and the new people and she’s a little angel again.

The other family is Bee and Daniel. They’ve just broken up after 6 years of marriage because Daniel has finally admitted that he’s gay. A little too late as they have 2 kids together. Things are (understandably) awkward between them until Bee’s dad is taken ill and the Daniel takes the kids in at Nan’s house to look after them. When Bee’s Dad is out of hospital, she brings him to Nantucket where we learn the biggest bombshell of them all. One that changes everything, first for the worst, then for the better.

I’ll not spoil the end of the book for you as it gets a bit juicy, but I did like the fact that we return to Nantucket a year later to wrap up the story, much better than leaving it hanging.

While I enjoyed the second half of the book, I didn’t like the fact that it took so long to set up all the background stories – perhaps it would have been better with fewer characters, but then there would have been less interweaving of all the stories, which is what I liked about the book. I also didn’t like the fact that most of the book revolved around affairs and marriages breaking up. Perhaps I’m an idealist or the maybe the book was aimed at women slightly older than me, but it wasn’t my favourite part of the storyline.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read, but for the reasons above, I’d only give it 3/5. Unusual for Jane Green as she’s one of my favourites.

3-5

Now Reading: Jane Green – The Beach House

the-beach-house-jane-green-e1338152306643After spending over a week trying to read The Hobbit and finding it really hard to get involved in, I fancied a quicker, easier read. With the recent spell of hot weather (which is great if you’re not stuck in an office), I wanted something summery to read, and this Jane Green book jumped out at me.

Jane Green is one of my favourite authors, and one that is really easy to find in the charity shops in Pudsey, hence why this one looks a bit battered and old. I quite like books like this though, books that you know have been read and loved by the people who have read them before. And when they only cost 25p, can you really complain? I think not…

Review: J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit

the-hobbit-e1337024282596Do you ever have a book that you’re really enjoying, but also not enjoying at the same time? That’s kind of how I felt about this book. When I was reading it, I really loved it, but I felt no pull to the book to make me want to carry on reading or to pick up the book instead of watching tv.

The part I enjoyed most about the book was that the descriptions were so detailed and immersed you completely in these mystical lands. You could almost believe you were in the forests or the  mountains along with Bilbo and the dwarves. I would imagine that it made it easier for Peter Jackson to direct the film because you get such a good feeling about the place from Tolkien.

I don’t really know why I didn’t feel any kind of connection to the book. It might be because this is not my usual genre, or maybe because it was written in the 1930’s and the style of writing was not what I’m used to, but I was disappointed in myself for not enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

I do still want to read the Lord of the Rings books, but maybe not for now. It took me way too long to read this, so I hate to think how long it would take me to read the trilogy if I attempted it now.

I’m going to give this book 3 stars for now, but I think I’ll read it again in the future and hopefully I’ll get on with it better.

3-5

Player love or Team Pride?

It’s been a while since I posted about baseball, so if you’ve started following my blog recently and are expecting back to back book reviews, I’m sorry! It’s not been the best season so far for the White Sox, but we’re slowly climbing our way back up the standings. There are a few bright sparks on our team, like the fact that Paul Konerko is leading the AL in batting average, and Chris Sale and Jake Peavy are both in the top 5 for ERA in the AL.

But back to the reason for my blog post, MLB Europe posed this question on Twitter earlier:

(If your favourite MLB team switched rosters with its biggest rival, which team would you root for? Player love or team pride?!)

It’s an interesting question because the players really make a team, so my first instinct was to say that I’d root for the players. But if you think about it more closely, the trade market in baseball is always so active that a team one year will almost certainly be different from the next, and two or three years down the line you might not even recognise it. It’s easy to get attached to the players on your team, but the chances are that unless you have a homegrown talent with a strong desire to play for the team, you’re going to lose him to a different team sooner or later.

There are players like Derek Jeter who are ‘franchise players’ and you know they’ll never leave, but most other players have a price – look at Prince Fielder, and more to the point, Albert Pujols. Both signed for new teams earlier this year and you wouldn’t have expected that to happen. So saying that you’d stick by your players is silly, because you’d eventually end up supporting every team in the league and it’d be a bit hard to keep up.

Another thing that would influence my decision is the fact that our biggest rival is the Detroit Tigers, and there are a lot of players on their team that I wouldn’t mind joining the White Sox; Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to name a few. And who wouldn’t?! Of course, I’d rather have these three alongside my favourites like Konerko, Pierzynski, Floyd and Sale, but we all know that’s probably not going to happen!

whitesox-tigers-lineup

So for me, it’s definitely Team Pride all the way. Players are a big part of a team, but there are many other factors too. I love the team, the coaches, the ballpark, the city and the history.  It would be hard to give all that up and switch to the team you’ve been programmed to hate.

So I’ll ask you the same question (if you’ve actually managed to read this far). Player love, or team pride? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Ron Pope and Zach Berkman at Union Chapel

This weekend was my trip to London with Frank to see Ron Pope and Zach Berkman at Union Chapel. We stayed at the same hotel as last time, which was probably a mistake. Booking a hotel 2 tube stops from Wembley on the day that Blackpool are playing West Ham in what I assume was a big match was a bad idea, our hotel was full of noisy football fans. We also found out what a ‘non-premier’ room was like. Last time we wondered what made the room premier, but this time we didn’t get an upgrade and it was pretty obvious. The room was about half the size and the bathroom was rubbish! But it was only for one night, and the gig more than made up for it.

The gig was in a beautiful church in Islington called Union Chapel. It’s a proper working church during the day, and during the night it is used for gigs and shows. The stained glass with the setting sun was simply amazing. And being a church the acoustics were amazing.

img_2864

I had seen tweets to say that Caggie Dunlop was going to be there, but she didn’t turn up. But that meant more Zach and Ron so I’m not going to complain. Zach kicked off the gig with his guitar, then played a few songs on the piano too. I love his albums, but he was wayyyy better live. I always love to feel the emotion in a song, and when Zach explained that he wrote Celia after seeing his Grandma hold her first Great Grandaughter just before she passed away made me listen a lot more closely to the words of the song. Amazing. He played a few songs I’d not heard of, and when I tweeted him after the show he told me about an old album that I’d not heard of, so that’s now playing on my iPod.

After Zach finished his set, it was over to Ron. I saw him a couple of times earlier this year when he played acoustic shows, but this time he was playing with a whole band. It was brilliant, especially when you consider that the band was put together by Ron’s tour manager and they’d never all played together until the day of the gig. When Ron was playing guitar, Zach played piano for him, and vice versa. Paul Hammer of the District also joined them for the show, which was pretty cool, especially when they all sung Somewhere in the Darkness as I wasn’t expecting any District songs.

 

The only bad part for me was that although we were in such a beautiful venue, other people clearly didn’t place quite as much importance on the fact that we were in a church. I know I’m not into fashion, but I really don’t want to see 15 year old girls wearing shorts so short that their butt is showing out the bottom. And definitely not when I’m sat in the pews of a church!

But by far the best part of the night was when Ron was about to play a song and said ‘hold on, I’ve got an idea’. He picked his phone up and started to call someone, which had us all a bit confused. It went to voicemail (typical!), and he left a message which said ‘Grandma, we’re about to play your song’. He held up the phone for everyone to say hi, then said ‘I love you‘ and hung up. He played Shoot out the Lights, then explained that he wrote the song when his Grandma had cancer and she asked him to write her a song. Luckily (and in Ron’s words), she ‘kicked cancer’s behind’. The phone call was really sweet, and you could tell that the song was quite hard for him to sing. The words of the song are so poignant now that I know why he wrote them:

We’ve been watching for a miracle
We’re praying for a sign
When the cure is made of poison then it’s hard to rest your eyes

If it’s time, Oh Lord
Shoot out the lights
Shoot out the lights

By far the best gig I’ve been to yet, even though it was a long weekend with a lot of driving – totally worth it!

https://twitter.com/#!/RonPopeMusic/status/204009479103184897

Golden Acre Park – 12th May

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Golden Acre so on Saturday morning I went up for a walk with my Dad. I think I would probably call Golden Acre one of my favourite places, its so peaceful early in the morning when there’s not many people there, and it’s so familiar from my childhood that I just love going back.

I took my camera with me, but I didn’t get many pictures that I liked. I’ve added my favourites here, but I’m not very happy with them really.

I got a new camera lens today and I’m going to London at the weekend, so hopefully I’ll be able to try it out properly! It’s only a quick overnight stay to see Ron Pope, Zach Berkman and Caggie Dunlop with my brother, but I think we’re going to take a trip back to the Royal Air Force Museum on the way home.

Now Reading: J. R. R. Tolkien – The Hobbit

the-hobbit-e1337024282596I’ve put off reading this book for quite a while now, especially because I know that once I read it I’ll want to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and there’s no way that I can read all 3 books in 9 days to keep on track with my challenge! I’d give it a go, but even I can’t read that fast and still understand what’s going on!

My best friend Abi is a massive LOTR fan (and has been since I met her about 10 years ago), and with the film coming out later this year, I’ve booked the day off work to go see it with her. I hate seeing a film before I’ve read the book because I love to have my own ideas about how a person looks and make my own feelings of a place before my head is filled with the director’s version and I can’t get rid of it (as has happened with books like Harry Potter).

So I guess now is as good a time as any to read it, and I have Abi’s assurance that I’ll love it! I hope so, and you never know, my next post may be one telling you all that I’ve inadvisedly started reading The Fellowship of the Ring…

Review: Dr Benjamin Daniels – Confessions of a GP

confessions-of-a-gpWell this was definitely not the book that I expected it to be and I was really quite disappointed with it. I was expecting a series of funny stories about crazy patients that had been into his surgery, but instead it seemed to be mainly a book of moans about targets and management in the NHS. I’d say the book was about 25% funny stories and 75% complaining.

I’m not saying it was terrible, and I guess it must have been hard to write while still keeping everything confidential so his patients can still trust him, but there just wasn’t as much humour as I hoped there would be. The author has only been a GP for a few years, so I guess he’s not being going long enough yet to have hundreds of stories that he can call to mind, so maybe it would have been better if he’d waited a few years before he wrote the book.

This edition of the book had a special bonus of ‘additional chapters’, which you would think would be the funnier/more outrageous bits that he’d had to cut out of the first part of the book, but if I were him I probably wouldn’t have bothered including them.

There’s not much else really to say about this book except to move swiftly on and give it 1/5, which hasn’t happened often on here…

1/5

Now Reading: Dr Benjamin Daniels – Confessions of a GP

confessions-of-a-gpThis book was one that was included in a 3 for £5 deal at Tesco, and it looked like it could be a bit of a laugh, easy reading for a weekend. It looks like a collection of stories rather than a novel so it will be easier for dipping in and out of, good for a busy weekend when it’s hard to concentrate for too long, especially after a long weekend when I’m rather tired!

I never anticipated how hard it would be to read 100 books in a year, but it’s turning into quite a challenge! I’ve read 35 so far, but I’m still one book behind where I should be at this point. I’m still hopeful I’ll be able to get there though!