Octopus

Had a little go with the watercolours again today. I bescavenged a bunch of copies of National Geographic for inspiration and found a section on oktapodi (yes I know it’s not a real collective >LINK<). Went with some wacky colours to change it up – still got detail to add, I’m thinking of extending into multimedia, maybe black fineliner to define the tentaculars (yes, again). Was going to use him as a birthday card for my little brother but showed it to him on Whatsapp as a good-lucktopus (he has his final med school exams tomorrow!) instead. Might scan him in and create prints to sell on Etsy if I manage not the ruin him… must invest in a cheap photo editing software…

Unsuitable

Written with about as much skill as the Twilight series but lacking any trace of grace. To summarise (beware, spoilers!):

Dark, broody guy abuses beautiful, virtuous girl.
(Idiot) girl falls for him anyway.
Guy feels unworthy and valiantly fights his attraction to girl.
Guy turns out to be honourable deep down after all.
Girl becomes guy’s salvation.
They live happily ever after.

The main character was irritating and unnaturally virtuous. The scenes are so stagey – the drunk-dialling/valiant rescue, the guy’s ridiculous mood swings- and the clichéd narrative is unbearable.  It read like a bad teenage drama. On top of that, the contemporary slang and music references probably mean this one won’t have a long shelf life.

On a more positive note…

Generally, if sex scenes must be included I prefer allusions rather than blow by blow accounts. There is nothing subtle about the scenes in this book, but somehow I found them less irksome than usual – I was even able to get into it a bit at one point which is pretty unusual, so I guess that’s why it seems to be popular with the romance-craving crowd!

Despite that minor redeeming factor, I’m thoroughly glad it’s over. Bring on some nice tasteful old classics – secret smiles, blushes and dance cards, thank you very much!

1.5 stars.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

3.5 stars. The story was ok, if a bit disjointed –  I found my concentration wandering several times during unnecessary lengthy descriptions. The racism among the white middle class country club members may have seemed exaggerated but I grew up in a community full of toffee nosed tories and I can vouch for the fairness of their representation in this book! There was a nice dose of humour which I always appreciate (so many books with moral controversies as a key theme take themselves too seriously, which actually detracts from their impact). The major was a likeable character if a bit too stalwart to be realistic, and the plot was believable enough not to grate on my nerves. I would say this falls into a similar genre to JK Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ although it is not nearly so good (TCV is among my top ten favourites). Nevertheless, an enjoyable read.

Sisters One. Two. Three

This wasn’t a bad read but it was a little bit vanilla. I liked the idea of the family secret, and our initial graded exposure to the key event was well done and engaging. However, the reveal was anticlimactic and I felt like we didn’t get enough about Callie, who could have been a really interesting character. The sideline plots about the runaway(ish) daughter and the mother’s gentleman friend, Casper, weren’t really explored or resolved, begging the question of why they were included at all. I kept waiting for them to tie in or become relevant, especially when Casper reappears at the end, but nothing. It would have added a lot to hear some POVs other than that of the main character, Ginger, who basically fretted in an irritating way, about everything, and didn’t do much else for the whole book.  Overall I remained interested enough, it was just a bit meh.

Healthy Lunchtime

To greatly simplify what has been a fraught and wearisome few months into a simple sentence… I have recently decided to start eating more healthily.

Along the way I have come across some new and fabulous foodstuffs that were previously unknown to me so I have decided to create some of my own dishes via some home-kitchen-ventures (with varying degrees of success…).

So here is yesterday’s lunch – a baked tortilla wrap filled with grilled butternut squash and peppers in olive oil and halloumi, plus a side salad of lettuce, mushroom, cucumber and any leftover veg that wouldn’t fit in the wrap. A bit of mustard-and-dill sauce (Ikea food) on the side and voila, one of the nicest lunches I’ve ever had. Admittedly I am easy to please (beans on toast 4eva <3!) but this was especially satisfying because it took a bit of effort to make and I knew it was good for me 🙂

Next up, lamb enchiladas – or spaghetti bolognese (wow that was an education in spelling) for my husband who prefers pasta to a wrap (weirdo).

I also ‘threw together’ (Nigella eat your heart out!) a humble-crumble the other night which was lovely – although I think I’ll add some cinnamon and get hold of some icecream for next time. I have to go away tonight but hopefully I’ll be home for good soon and get a chance to experiment, I hear that rhubarb is in season…

 

God is Disappointed in You

So I don’t consider myself to have a good level of comprehension of the bible beyond some vaguely recallable notions of the school assemblies of yore… having read (well, listened to) this book though I finally feel like I have a decent overview of the content, woohoo! GIDIY really condenses the books of the bible into easy to understand (often blunt and mockingly funny) basic points. I can imagine there are Christians out there who would hate this – then again I think there will be some who can appreciate the humour and see how useful it is in deciphering the old twirly-blah language of the old St. James’ version (the author even mentions that some vicars have asked to reference GIDIY in their sermons!). It is a lot of information to take in at once – and it is pretty fast flowing and relentless, so you probably need to dip in and out or it is easy to lose the thread. Nonetheless, I feel much better informed now. The downside of the audiobook is that you don’t get the cartoon illustrations by Shannon Wheeler referred to by the author – I can imagine these would add a lot to the experience (isn’t the cover great?) and might see about getting the ebook. 🙂

Dracula

Lovely figurative language, and the diary format worked really well. I was listening to the audio version and the grammar/accent of the dutchman Van Helsing were brilliantly enacted by the narrator. If the syntax of the words is accurate to the text then I’m dead impressed (pun!!) by Mr. Stoker’s observation. All in all, the first three quarters were gorgeous and engrossing, but the ending could use a good deal of editing. I don’t know how many times I really needed to hear Mina’s repetitive reports under hypnosis, and then (adding insult to injury) to have the lack of change in the reports commented on. Another peeve was the overuse of certain adjectives, it was all “voluptuous this” and “bloated that” – great words in moderation I’ve no doubt, but try cracking open a thesaurus now and then!  3 stars.

Nothing on Buffy – although I understand a lot more of the literary references from that certain episode now. Much prefer Rudolf Martin to Stoker’s dracula too. And the less said about Bela Lugosi the better…

 

 

 

Late April Fools

Was just informed of the most awesome news story going – it may have reached me late, but surely it can never be too late to share such a momentous display of yellow-solidarity!

“YELLOW cars from as far as Scotland and Cornwall will be coming to Bibury to show solidarity with an elderly man who lost his beloved car, blamed for destroying a picturesque view in the village.

The bright yellow Vauxhall Corsa in Arlington Row, Bibury caused a social media storm in 2015 after photographers and tourists said it spoiled their photos of the area.

Peter Maddox, 84, found his car vandalised on the morning of Monday, January 23, with windows smashed, paint scratched and the words ‘Freddie Move’ scratched into the bonnet.”

“It may have been April 1st but this was certainly no April Fool’s Day stunt. Around 100 bright yellow cars drove in convoy through the quiet picturesque Cotswold village of Bibury.

They arrived in a show of solidarity. Around one hundred yellow cars of all shapes and sizes and of all makes and models beeping their way through Bibury.
And it wasn’t just brightly coloured cars that turned out. There were villagers in their waders and bikers dressed as bananas.”

Thank you human race –  Spuddy3 akaBananaCar and I would have been there had we been able Mr. Maddox! 🙂