Monday, 31 January 2011

Book Review: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming


"Until the drowned girl came to Laurel's bedroom, ghosts had never walked in Victorianna."  
- The opening line from Joshilyn Jackson's ' The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.'

Have you ever heard a more fantastic opening line in recent times?  It's possibly the best, I've come across in the past 12 months, -certainly drew me in,  covered me in goosebumps and raised fine hairs on the back of my neck from the 'get-go.'  

Laurel  Hawthorne is the main protagonist in this finely woven tale, set in a nice neighbourhood in Pensacola, Florida.  One night, Laurel wakes to the ghost of a young teenager Molly, her daughter Shelby's best friend and from there we watch Laurels world unravel, -it's not just the mystery surrounding Molly's body in their swimming pool, the story delves into Laurels own childhood memories, her relationship with her mother, and the small town they all strived to leave. Once you start reading this book you can't help but wonder what's around the corner for Laurel and her family.  There's the murder mystery, a good dose of family drama, -perhaps one of the most entertaining Mother-Daughter scenes I've read.  And of course we have sibling rivalry with her estranged and seemingly eccentric sister Thalia, though I'm not convinced she's all that different.  We even touch on what defines a good marital relationship,  we meet Laurel's computer geeky husband, David - at first adorable but after a while, you're not so sure.   

This book is a good reminder that behind those white picket fences of good suburban homes, all is not what is seems; and perhaps that in poorer neighbourhoods, -what you see on the outside, is exactly how it looks on the inside.  I felt this story had a deeper theme within its layers, -below the surface, there is much more to it than it would outwardly seem,  you sense an underlying commentary on society, the differences between growing up rich or poor in the Southern States.  You could also propose that the death of young Molly herself symbolises the death and new beginning of Laurels own life.  
  
I loved Ms Jackson's storytelling, she's a talented writer who knows how precisely to show you the past and she has that uncanny ability to cut to the present seamlessly.  Did I mention the supernatural element to this tale?  At times I wished we could stay in the past and really sort through Laurel and Thalia's childhood.  I hope you read 'The Girl Who Stopped Swimming,'  it's one of these books which you sit back at the end, and just sigh, very deeply.  Indeed.


 If you want to read more about Joshilyn Jackson and her books, -do visit her website here

Friday, 28 January 2011

Once Upon A Kiss...

Who didn't fall in love with Audrey as she window shopped at Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue?  Those impossibly large dark glasses shielding the early morning light, and her makeshift breakfast of croissant and coffee at the ready.  Of course we all look that glamorous after a late night out, right?  Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of my all time favourite films, -like many girls growing up, I adored fairy tales and happily ever afters, reality kicks in when we are much older but, -you must always dream!  Last Sunday evening, I was very excited when I strolled past Tiffany's on Bond Street and found a sweet little story book in the window...


Act I.  Opening Scene


Act II.  Drama & Conflict!

Act III.  Resolution

Act IV.  Closing Scene

Photocredits via yours truly

A/N: Did you enjoy the storybook?  It certainly made me smile and in 4 quick window scenes, -we have an entire story.  The photo's were snapped on my phone, it was a little late in the evening and the lighting was low but I think you can still make out the script.  I hope your weekend has a great beginning and a happy ever after ending!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Whimsical Wordless Wednesday

'J'ai deux amours, -Mon pays et Paris' 
(I have two loves, -my country and Paris)  -Josephine Baker


It's Paris Fashion Week right now, and I've stumbled upon this lovely image, -doesn't it make you want to book the next train to the city of love? Oui Oui!  Well, let's have some fun on this whimsical Wednesday!

*Can you caption this fabulous photo?*


If I could just hold this pose for a few more seconds...
Amelie was beginning to regret many things right now, -the dizzying heights of this rooftop, the tightly encased corset hidden beneath the river of blue fabric, mostly though, she found herself lamenting that last martini at lunch, -how much longer would this shoot take?



Photocredits via weheartit


  




Monday, 24 January 2011

If You Write It, -They Will Come...

"I'm a storyteller, it'll all work out in the end." - Shell Beige Bear




Have you seen this video?  It's hysterical and bone-cutting to the truth, -listen between the lines for the obvious lessons.  Can you relate to any of the Shell Beige Bear's dialogue?  By the way, I don't know his name -but I think that one suits him, no?  I'll admit it, naive thoughts may have crossed my mind, for a few split seconds, before being batted down with a large dose of reality.  Let us not delude ourselves, writing is hard work, -it entails focus, time, commitment, research and reading, in fact - it requires an entire library of reading, so don't toss out that 'to be read pile' just yet.

Have I missed anything?  Passion? But of course.  You must crave it, blood lusting Vampire Novelists, Bodice Ripping Scribes, -step this way.  And humour?  Yes, please!  Toss both of these ingredients into the mix, -an extra shake of a great sense of humour if you please, as that's what takes us through the long days and nights of tap-tap-tapping away in the darkest corners of our writing rooms.

What keeps you going on your writing journey?


Videocredit: Youtube video via dwkazzie 

Friday, 21 January 2011

Bouncing Along, -Blossoms, Bunnies and Borough Market!

On a recent stroll through the hood something caught my attention!  Spring buds blossoming already?  I rubbed my eyes sleepily to be doubly sure that my brain-eye co-ordination were aligned.  And yes, -there they were, the palest of pink with slivers of cream, -blossoms poking out from stubby branches.  It's all very promising.  Sunshine, blue skies arriving to chase away the chill from the evening before, -there's something about walking without a map or a watch, that always gets my blood moving.  In a good way.

I love to wander about this great old city, -one of my favourite hazy walks is along the Thames and through the Borough Markets near London Bridge, -perfect for a little sightseeing, crowd watching, lunching, clearing the cobwebs -and replenishing those writerly grey cells!  Not to mention sampling offerings from the market stalls.  I'm posting a few snaps here, beware there are shots of game, -if you are slightly queasy, you may wish to look at the blossoms instead, or just skip ahead. 


Roll up, roll up!  Wait, -this isn't a circus, or is it?
Meandering through the market....


Cheese glorious cheese!
I can never say no to an oyster or two...or dozen.

The pheasant pluckers son may
have his hands full later on....

And, queasy viewers may wish to look away, now - check out the pretty blossoms above...

Only if you're game...
Photocredits: Spring blossoms via Shutterstock; All Borough Market images via yours truly. 

A/N:  This weekend will be busy, -in amongst the jostling of Saturday morning errands, I'm planning to finish at least 2 more chapters in my revisions, and as a welcome treat -there will be afternoon tea with my Bestie on Sunday.  Very much looking forward to it!    Tell me, whats happening in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Mr Darcy and 'The King's Speech'


You know its a great movie when everyone stays seated at the end of the show, -and applauds.  A little twee, a titch surprising but quite delightful, -and honestly that is how I felt leaving the picture theatre tonight.  I've loved Mr Firth since he played Mr Darcy many moons ago, and let me just say, -the man is like a fine wine.  Swoon worthy doesn't cover it.  Ahem, so back to the movie. 

The King's Speech is a wonderful, witty, beautifully shot film and well played with the talented Colin Firth as the stammering Bertie, Prince Albert;  the sublime Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist, Lionel Logue; Helen Bonham-Carter as Bertie's Queen in the making, and a very polished Guy Pearce as David, Prince Edward.  The story revolves around Bertie's stammer, his reluctance to become King after his brother abdicates -and the real friendship struck up between himself and Lionel.  There are so many hilarious moments.  If you haven't seen it yet - do!  You may just leave the picturehouse with a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

photocredits via rockinghorse.com

Monday, 17 January 2011

Bedroom Chatter

What’s the strangest dialogue you’ve read in that all important bedroom scene?  You know the one where the MC finally gets it together with her Main Love Interest?  

*Whispers* I’m not referring to the cliché ‘....did the earth move for you, -and the stars and the moon…” OR, the “Wow! How was that for you honey?”

You see, -I was quite happily reading a novel recently, and all seemed to be going exceedingly well, –until that scene. Post-coital, when the recently bedded MC decides to psycho-analyse her hotly sought after Man about his ex-girlfriends marriage.  For the purposes of my post, I shall embellish a little but the dialogue went a little like this:

Satiated-Alpha-Hunky-Gent lies back in bed, pulling his lady into his arms: “Oh baby, you are the best!”
Freshly-Ravished-Lady, breathless: “Was that Lara? I saw you talking to earlier...”
Satiated-but-now-slightly-perplexed-Gent shifts uncomfortably: “Um, yeah, she’s having a few problems...”
Ravished Lady wearing furrowed brow sits upright, holding psychology manual: “Has she considered talking to someone professional about it...”

Me: Say what? How did they go from hot love-making to psycho analysis on said Hunks ex-girlfriend?

It seemed to jar the whole scene –I know conflict is required but seriously, can we pick the right moment? Call me old fashioned, but there’s bedroom conversation etiquette, -Politics, Religion, and Psycho Ex’s must be keep out of it at all costs.  Ahem, of course you can keep the hot sex scene in there…it’s the bedroom scene for crying out loud!  Sometimes it really might be best to draw the curtains, leave the two MCs alone to their sunset and fade to black.

Have you found any 'Jarring' dialogue in any books recently?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Five For A Rainy Friday

It's a little wet this side of the pond; I'm considering a few rainy day activities....

...because rumour has it the Rain Gods may be super busy this weekend.



My favourite rainy day activities:

1.  Swimming....in the rain, yes indeed.  There's nothing like that first cold splash underwater to shake the cobwebs from the grey cells!

2. Watching the weather, literally running down the panes whilst snug inside...

3.  Flipping pancakes, baking fairy cakes...in other words, making a great big mess in the kitchen.  No rules, you can stay in your PJs, nightie, kimono, dressing gown, whatever you fancy all morning.  Just don't answer the door, and keep the curtains closed.

4.  Turn up the music!  There's something wonderful about playing classical music very LOUDLY on a rainy day!  Just remember, to glide gracefully along those wooden floorboards requires socks!  Refer #3 for dress code.

5.  Light the fire, grab a blanket, book and your trusty lap-net-Ipad-book and curl up.  *contented sigh*

Don't you just love the rain?
Photocredits via weheartit
A/N:  
Hello everyone!  Hope you're having a fabulous Friday where ever you may be.  I've been seconded into playing tour guide tomorrow - should be interesting.  There will be walking, trains, markets and lunch...somewhere in London, and if I'm lucky I'll sneak in an art gallery or two.  What are your plans this weekend?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

To Facebook or Not To Facebook?

At the tail end of 2010, it seemed Facebook was everywhere, - the most searched term online, - even beating 'Google' for the first time;  Goldman Sachs launched a vastly oversubscribed Investment vehicle offering for Facebook; -we were even treated to Monsieur Zuckerman's story on the big screen!  Facebook, you're all up in our faces!'  Posts across the bloggersphere and twitterville has me pondering...whether to set up a Facebook page of my own as an aspiring writer.  After reading Jody Hedlunds post on whether to use a personal page or set up a professional one, I wondered if it would be premature to do so however I have noted quite a few writerly folk have done so.  What are your thoughts, -is there merit in setting up your own Facebook page before you are published?

Oh -and just in case you're wondering who owns Facebook -take a look at this chart via reface.me


 













Photo courtesy via reface.me

Monday, 10 January 2011

Versatile Titbits and Making Smiles on Faces

Monday is a good day for awards methinks, and I received two awards from fellow bloggers late 2010 which I have been waiting to pass on to more lovely folk. 'Dangerous with a Pen' bestowed the lovely 'Versatile Blogger award', and Kittie Howard from 'The Block' has sent the very cheery 'Making Smiles on Faces award' my way.  Thank you Ladies!  I'm feeling very chuffed and would like send these on to the following lovelies.
The first rule on accepting 'The Versatile Blogger award' is, -to list 7 titbits about myself, and I hope you don't mind if I link to my previous 7.  If you'd like to read them - please jump here!  And the second rule is to send this on its merry way to other bloggers whom I've recently discovered and find fantastic.  Here's goes!


Stina Lindenblatt at Seeing Creative
Dominic de Mattos at Writes of Passage
Danette at Conch to be
Wild Rose at Shahlarveek


Now onto the 'Making Smiles on Faces Award' - I would like to send on to these lovely folk whose posts have made me smile recently and several Blogger Hostesses who ran a great number of blogfests which I enjoyed very muchly!
Melissa at Through a Looking Glass
Jen Daiker at Unedited
Francine Howarth Romancing the blog
Denise at L'Aussie Writing
Summer Ross at My Inner Fairy


Congratulations to all and have a lovely week everyone!  

Friday, 7 January 2011

Book Review: Best Friends Forever

You know when you turn the last page of a book, hoping against all odds that its not quite the end of the story?  And even after you've read that final page, you flip back a few from the end to re-read the ending again -you know, just to savour it one more time?  *Whispers - please nod along with me and smile - humour me that I'm not the only person on this planet who does this.*


Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner is one of these books - I wish it didn't have to end, I wanted to know more about the delightful Addie and her crazy police detective called Jordan, -and even Addies -annoying but-finally-seems-to-becoming-good- bestie-Valerie.

Addie Downs is the main protagonist, a wonderful warm character who will charm you with her honesty and her longing for love.  One morning 9 year old Addie, her older brother, and parents watch as Valerie and her mother move into the house across the road, from that day onwards it seems both girls are inseparable.  However, as Valerie becomes part of the popular cheerleading set,-Addie is left behind, and they fall out over a dark secret, which of course involves a boy.  Both girls are damaged in their own way.  Addie eventually loses the weight she's struggled but seemed to ignore throughout childhood.  Valerie leaves town and pursues a career in TV as a weather girl.  Unexpectedly 15 years on, after a school reunion-Valerie turns up on Addie's doorstep with blood on her trench coat and a mystery unfolds.  The plot from here on in takes a few twists which I won't spoil.

This is a story of a young girl growing up in a small neighbourhood where everyone does know your name, -and your business; its about the woman she becomes who just wants to be loved.  The plot is wonderfully woven with suspense, secrets, sex, lust, love and buckets of laughter- its entertaining throughout and hands down one of my favourite reads in a while. I look forward to reading more books from Ms Weiner who you can find here. 


A/N:
I hope everyone's had a wonderful week.  It's been super busy with RL so I'm late in posting, I will need to revisit my declarations and include planning posts in advance.  Have a lovely writerly weekend!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Much Ado About Something...Or Not?

Have Don Draper and Sterling Cooper taken up residency at 'The New Yorker'?  Is there a typing pool with ladies tapping away on keyboards, clad in pastel twinsets, pencil skirts, with an 'up do' so high it will bring tears to your eyes?  These are just a couple of images that flashed through my grey cells when I read this article via Jezebel about a call to boycott 'The New Yorker' for lack of women writers in recent issues.  If you haven't read it, you must pop over there, and read through the comments too.

I'm not a subscriber of this iconic magazine and probably never will be now,-thats not really saying much as I don't subscribe to printed matter in general.  I still love to buy them from my local newsagent.  What this article bought home to me is that whilst the calendar in my kitchen reads 2011. -time can stand still in some establishments...or perhaps there are fewer women writers whose work is worth printing in this hallowed publication. Er, I don't think so.  Many writers dream of having their stories printed in the same magazine that published JD Salinger. 

Another thought crossed my mind, -what percentage of 'The New Yorker' readers are women?   In my humble opinion I suspect more women buy magazines versus men; certainly you only have to walk into a newsagent to view what is on the racks to determine who the target audiences are.  But perhaps all of this is waffle, and much ado about nothing?  I don't know - all I know is that now everytime I pick up any magazine I will browse the name of the writer and wonder...male or female?  So, thank you Jezebel and Ann Hays for bringing this to my attention.  I think you may have reopened a can of worms, it concerns me that women writers may be treated in lesser light at 'The New Yorker'.  Really...and now I must go polish my pearls.  And for the record - when I read an article, I don't judge how great it is by the sex of the writer - I just want to be entertained!


What are your thoughts on boycotting a magazine for the lack of female writers?
  

Monday, 3 January 2011

A Fresh Start

Happy New Year's dear friends!  I wish you all the very best of health and happiness for 2011.  And may all your wildest dreams come true!  Dare I mention the 'R' word?  I always think the early part of 2011 is for reflection, relaxation, rest - and yes, if you wish - resolutions.  I've decided to make a few declarations - in the hope that if I say it out aloud - I must follow through.  Please feel free to nudge me, if I fall off the path and into a ditch.

My Writing Declarations of 2011

1.  More writing, less tweeting.  This should also be applied to facebook...unless of course, I am stalking my favourite authors, in which case -there must be allowances.

2.  Finish the revisions of my first piece of Women's Fiction, and move onto the querying.

3.  Read more!  Reading begets writing and good literature requires good reading.  Read one book a week.

4.  Write on time.  My Muse has appointed GI Jane as my drill sergeant  "You shall write posts on schedule and at least 4 hours before bewitching hour!"  


5.  Dare to dream.  Follow your inspirations, act on your instincts and realise your dreams.  If anyone else can do it - so can you!


How about you?  Are you making declarations this year?