March Challenge

Having promised myself not to do something exercise related this month, I’ve decided to use the challenge as an excuse to get something I’ve been meaning to do for months done.

Which is to make a dress.

After making armour for comic con last year, I was excited to start a new project that would push our ingenuity and newly acquired sewing skills. I had this idea to make a dress for a photoshoot for a book cover. It would be a rag dress, mismatched and made of random scraps of fabric. I looked on pinterest and quickly got inspired by the beautiful examples I found.

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I don’t mean to suggest we could make anything half as good as these – they’re beautiful and created by people with incredible talent. But, we are game to have a good go.

I’m going to visit Taylor towards the end of March. I’m going to take the stuff down with me, and we’re going to try it out. Maybe we’ll not get anywhere, but the challenge is to give it our best effort and see what we managed. Pictures will follow, pretty or not!

5 Characters I’m In Love With

Because I’m still feeling in the romantic mood (my valentines present still hasn’t arrived at time of writing, some time after valentines day, somewhat extending the holiday for me!) here are five characters from books, film and TV that I have been, or am currently hopelessly in love with.

1. Legolas (The Lord of the Rings)

Oh, fourteen-year-old me. My sister and I both had a big crush on Legolas (mostly from the film, though I had read the books and thought he was pretty cool in those too). We had a giant poster of him drawing his bow which made it look like the arrow was always pointing at you. We loved his dreamy blonde locks and his archery skill.

Now I watch it and laugh at him mostly, and at myself for every thinking that was attractive. But then, we have strange ideas about love when we’re young teens.

2. Dr Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park)

While we’re on the subject of young love… I used to utterly adore Ian Malcolm when I was eight. This was largely because I loved Jurassic Park and Alan Grant was a bit of a doofus (I was wordly enough to recognise this as an eight year old), meaning I latched on to the next character available. Though, truth be told, my crush on Ian Malcolm holds up a little better than my crush on Legolas.

3. Arnold Rimmer (Red Dwarf)

A truly repugnant character in many ways, and perhaps the first of many ‘I rather like the freaky one’ crushes that characterised my late teens and early twenties. (And still continues much to this day, I think.) I loved the character of Rimmer, a little too much. But never more than when he had Mr Flibble. Red Dwarf fans will know what I mean.

4. Angel (X-Men The Last Stand)

I loved this film a lot more than it deserved, and it was largely due to Angel. Which is not to say he was a good character. In fact, when I watch this film now, I wonder what the hell my 18-year-old brain latched on to. I think in a way it was his total lack of any character or background, beyond the two scenes he’s in, cutting off his wings as a child and saving his dad at the end. But this was enough for my young writer brain to catch on fire with – the traumatised past, the noble rescue that proved he was a good, brave guy. I could fill in the gaps between with anything I wanted. And I did. But I’m not telling you where to find the fan fiction that resulted. Oh no.

5. Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones)

A current love to end with. Oh Tyrion – much maligned and troubled Tyrion. His biting wit may have got my blood pumping, but it was the sense that he was deeply a good guy, trying to do the right thing by his repulsive family, and the rest of the world, that made me fall in love with him. It helps that he’s gorgeous, of course, but the strength of the character always wins me over more than the attractiveness of the actor who plays them. And I read the book first anyway.

K is for Stephen King

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‘Stephen King’


The first Stephen King book I read was Eyes of the Dragon, which my mother – a huge King fan herself – gave to me when I was about eight. I don’t really remember the story, but I remember being pretty freaked out about it.

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I didn’t read another Stephen King book for a good few years. The books sat on shelves in our dining room, shiny and appealing. But I was always a bit nervous of reading horror books. I’m a total wuss when it comes to horror films, and the prospect of spending many hours of terror reading a book didn’t sit well.

Then I was looking for a reading challenge, and Mum recommended The Stand. It was epically huge, a brick of a novel. I decided to give it a go, and instantly fell in love with King’s prose and story telling style. It scared the crap out of me, but not in an overt horror movie way – it was a slow burn sort of scare, the kind that could easily keep you up at night thinking, but not sweating with terror.

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After The Stand, I started working my way through King’s back catalogue. There are still a lot that I still haven’t read, but every single one I’ve read I’ve enjoyed. Most recently, I read Under the Dome, which was my favourite book of 2013. It’s terrifying – not because of what happens in the story, in fact the whole story of the dome is pretty by the by. It’s the utter realism of the nasty characters, their terrible charisma and awful crimes that make it the frightening read that it is, and one that stayed with me long after I closed the pages.

February Challenge Review

I’ve never had much core strength to speak of. It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to improve – and I have done steadily over the past couple of years, if not dramatically. This months’ challenge was all about working on it some more – as the Boyfriend correctly pointed out, when I swim, I drag my body through the water, I need better core strength to keep my position good.

It was a challenge that didn’t get off to the best start. I completely forgot on the first day of February, which mean I was 64 seconds behind before I’d even started. Then for the first few days I could do barely more than 30 seconds. Over the month, though, I gradually built up to doing a minute and a half. Girly style plank only, but it’s still massive improvement. I’m hopeful I can continue to plank next month, but do it properly and build up all over again.

So, 30 minutes managed just about. It wasn’t easy, and required a bit of last minute cramming, but I managed all the same. Next month, something that isn’t exercise related to give my tired body a rest!

Weekly Round Up #30

Weekly Round Up #30 (16/02 – 22/02)

Another week of training at work, another week of brain melt! But I’ve been productive. I’m keeping on top of my daily tasks, continuing with the house sort out. The kitchen is almost finished now – two cupboards to go. I spent a long time on Thursday finishing the cleaning supplies cupboard – never an easy one to tackle – while listening to a great audiobook. Audiobooks always make everything much better.

On Tuesday I took advantage of the newly reordered kitchen and invited the Boyfriend’s family over for pancakes. It was a lovely evening, and I’ve been invited back next Tuesday for pancakes at theirs. Pancakes galore! I’m firmly of the opinion that you can’t have enough pancakes.

All the training has been good for my reading – having to take my lunch break on my own meant that I had forty five minutes reading every day. Despite needing to read two extra books this month on top of my reading list, I’m actually almost on target! With the Boyfriend gone again next week, I’m hoping to finish of the last few books so I can start March with a clean sheet.

The week finished with a cup cake baking session with my goddaughter, a Chinese takeaway with the Boyfriend and his family, then some random snow on Sunday. All in all, a pretty good week!

Review: The Testimony of the Hanged Man by Ann Granger

testimony of the hanged manTitle: The Testimony of the Hanged Man

Author: Ann Granger

Series: Lizzie Martin #5

Genre: Historical Mystery

Summary (from Goodreads)

A hanged man would say anything to save his life. But what if his testimony is true? When Inspector Ben Ross is called to Newgate Prison by a man condemned to die by the hangman’s noose he isn’t expecting to give any credence to the man’s testimony. But the account of a murder he witnessed over seventeen years ago is so utterly believeable that Ben can’t help wondering if what he’s heard is true. It’s too late to save the man’s life, but it’s not too late to investigate a murder that has gone undetected for all these years.

Review

I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but this book is basically exactly what you see on the cover. It’s a cozy cutesy mystery without much menace or page turning tension, but plenty of afternoon tea, ladies’ maids and cab rides.

It’s actually the fifth book in the series, which I didn’t know when I picked it up, but it didn’t really matter. It’s a stand alone tale, with some reference to stuff that’s gone on before, but not enough to be off putting or disorientating.

The historical flavour is fairly well woven in to the story – though at times it did feel a little like the characters said stuff or pointed things out purely as a means of shoehorning in some interesting titbit. The story does attempt to comment on women’s rights, and succeeds in illustrating how difficult life was for women back then – plot and sub plot revolve around women and their responses to difficult situations – but it wasn’t really a hard hitting enough story to really drive home some of those ideas. It was a bit like ‘oh, life was terrible for women, now have some more tea and scones.’

Which did make me feel the book was straddling a line between two things it was trying to be, and therefore not succeeding brilliantly at either. Adding in the women’s rights stuff tried to take it out of the cozy domain, while not quite taking it far enough to become something else. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it – I did, it was an entertaining read, and good enough to pass a windy, cold February evening. It just felt a little jarring at times.

So, a good book, but a little odd. If you’re a big fan of the cozy, or looking for a fairly pleasant, easy going distraction, give it a read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Cover Lust #50 – All the Bright Places

Cover Lust #50 – All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I can’t even remember where I saw this, but I can see why I immediately wrote it down as a potential Cover Lust post. It’s a striking cover for a number of reasons, but mostly, I just love the post-it notes and the pastel colours. So cute and unusual.

I also love the way everything looks a bit crumpled and shabby. You start to get an impression of the characters and the story even before you know what it’s about (and apart from what’s on the post-it notes, I have no idea what it’s about). Everything about this cover screams whimsical, cute, emotional and I really, REALLY, want to read it.

What covers are you lusting after this week?