Top 5 Blogs – Award Time!

A few weeks ago I was delighted to find a lovely comment on my blog saying that I had been awarded the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you very much to Literary Relish, who has brilliant taste in books and her own fantastic blog here!

A couple of weeks later I had another reason to be happy when I was awarded the Kreativ Blogger and Versatile Blogger Award by the wonderful A Novel Place… who runs a superbly bookish blog here! (Thank you!)

The idea of these awards is to spread the blogging love and show appreciation to fellow bloggers. So, after a very pleasant afternoon browsing through all of my favourite blogs, I have finally whittled my list of favourites down to 5 (it was so very difficult!). I would like to note that it is very hard to guess how many followers a blog has, so I have concentrated on blogs that I think deserve recognition, no matter how many followers they already have.

Please scroll down for the rules!

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Adaptations – Birdsong

I had mixed feelings about Birdsong when I first read it last year. I have always enjoyed reading Sebastian Faulks but I often find his melodramatic storylines put me off. So when I heard that there was a new two part drama out on the BBC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found the love affair between Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire to be over the top and unrealistic in the book, but maybe this storyline would be interpreted better as a filmed drama? And could the BBC pull off the horrors of the First World War scenes in the same harrowing and detailed way that Faulks did? I was eager to find out.

In the end, it took me a few days to finally settle down to watch Birdsong, mostly because I wanted to be in the right frame of mind to sit through an hour or two of depressing war scenes. It wasn’t actually the war scenes that I should have worried about – it was everything else. I was pre-warned that there was a lot of ‘staring into space’, but this did not fully prepare me for the huge amount of blank faces… sorry, I mean ‘meaningful looks’. I also wasn’t prepared for the loud and dramatic music that was constantly building up and up and up to… another scene of the two lovers staring into each other’s eyes. Continue reading

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

I would never normally pick up a book like A Game of Thrones because I don’t get on well with medieval, fantasy settings. I adored fantasy books when I was younger, but that was because they were magical and fun, with strange and wonderful creatures and heroic characters. As an adult I have never read a fantasy book that I have enjoyed. It could be that I compare every one that I have attempted with The Lord of the Rings – which I love – or maybe fantasy is just not really my thing.

So when I sat down to watch the HBO TV series at the insistence of a couple of friends, I was very sceptical. To my great surprise, I soon found myself hooked by the gripping story-lines, intriguing characters and witty dialogue. By the end of the series, I was desperate to read the book, which has also exceeded my expectations. Continue reading

Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman

I’ve been hearing a lot about Neil Gaiman recently but haven’t been sure whether he writes the sort of thing that I would enjoy. This review of his book of ‘short fictions and wonders’ at Books Without Any Pictures had me wanting to know more and so I thought I would take the plunge and buy a copy. This is the first book that I have read for the Pay It Sideways Challenge.

The weird world of Neil Gaiman is not necessarily wonderful. It can be strange, creepy and amusing, but I can’t say that I found Fragile Things to be a wonderfully enjoyable read. The style is dark, whether the story is humorous and light hearted or more serious. I do like the idea of dark and magical stories, but couldn’t really settle down with this book.

There were two short stories I was particularly looking forward to reading, which both turned out to be completely different to how I had imagined them. Continue reading

Poetry Pamphlets ‘Instead of a Card’ – Candlestick Press

I am not normally the sort of person to think much about Valentine’s Day, but when I was given a beautifully designed pamphlet named Ten Poems about Love, I couldn’t help myself! I was given the pamphlet by Jenny Swann, a poetry lover and the woman behind Candlestick Press.

Candlestick Press, a small publishing company based in Nottingham, is doing a wonderful job of making poetry enjoyable and special. Instead of a card, ten or so poems are selected on a certain theme and published in a simple and tasteful pamphlet, with a bookmark and envelope included so that you can send it to a loved one on a special day. The pamphlets are more thoughtful than a card and yet only a little more expensive. At £4.95, I would much rather spend a bit extra and not have the last minute worry of finding the perfect card. Continue reading

Adaptations – Pride and Prejudice 1995 vs 2005

One thing about Advent with Austen that I was really looking forward to was watching the 1995 Pride and Prejudice TV series. I had never seen it and had heard some marvellous things… especially about Colin Firth as a certain Mr. Darcy. I also decided to re-watch the 2005 film with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.

Within five minutes, I knew that I was going to love the 1995 version of this much loved book. It is immediately clear that the casting for the Bennet family was chosen brilliantly.  It is almost unbearable to watch the high-pitched, shrieking Alison Steadman, who plays the annoying Mrs. Bennet superbly. Benjamin Whitrow is also fantastic as her quiet and sarcastic husband, forever teasing and making fun of her. The irritating daughter, Lydia is played by Julia Sawalha who is excellent and almost, but not quite as irritating as her mother. Continue reading