1 Dec 2015


It's DECEMBER 1ST ..... Which can mean only one thing. Please open the door on Pen and Paper's Advent calendar which this year comes courtesy of Boowa and Kwala. Simply click on the Gingerbread House icon on the left hand-side sidebar and away you go. TT

Did I tell you about the book, Little Kitty The Cat Burglar, that I and several other authors had written?

I did?

Oh well! For those of you who might have missed it OR for those of you looking for the PURRfect Christmas gift, I bring you ...

'Little Kitty wouldn't  exactly call herself a cat burglar. She just likes to bring back the occasional gift for her humans .... A lovely story for younger readers and adults alike - perfect for reading together. Beautifully illustrated by Catie Atkinson and designed by Rachel Lawston'
- amazon.co.uk

Available in paperback and Kindle versions here at amazon.co.uk and here at amazon.com as well as all other amazon sites, all proceeds go to Alzheimer's Research UK.

Not the only 'cat' to be raising money for a good cause ...

On our screens since mid-November, if you are British and watch tv you can't have missed this BUT for the rest of you I give you my favourite 2015 Christmas advert ....

Raising money for Save The Children's UK Literacy Programme, the book, Mog's Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr, is available to buy at many online retailers including here at Sainsbury's.

30 Nov 2015


Whilst I endeavour to keep Monday Media family friendly some of the articles featured do have links to articles of a more adult nature. TT

To begin with, two articles from down under ....

My favourite article of the week ...

Police called to a 'domestic dispute' after neighbours heard shouts of 'I'm going to kill you, you're dead! Die! Die!' arrived at a Sydney address to find a man 'dealing with a spider'.

Western Australian police are hunting a group of men seen driving a motorised picnic table through traffic.

From 'motorised vehicle' to another, in the news closer to home ...

When the heavens opened over Ripon in north Yorkshire, one resourceful pensioner converted her mobility scooter into a convertible by placing a laundry basket over head. 

A study carried out by Rowes Honey has revealed a third of those aged between 16 and 24 are not aware of where the food they eat comes from with one fifth of young people believing fish fingers are actually made from the fingers of fish and nine percent thinking potatoes grow on trees.

A Manchester couple were surprised when their 24 piece dinner set was delivered in 48 separate boxes. The provider seemingly thinking it prudent that each piece should have its own box which was inside a larger box.

It's hardly Hansel and Gretal ...

Using test products shared by suppliers/close to their see by date, a popular supermarket chain has created the UK's first edible house consisting 1,200 sweet-mince pies, 75kg Parmesan cheese, 30 lobsters, 35kg of smoked salmon, and 3,000 sprouts.

And finally, what happened when it rained not 'cats and dogs but a cow ...

Having fallen 20ft and landed on a Halifax homeowner's roof-top patio a cow was sedated and safely winched to safety.

27 Nov 2015


Following a conversation with a young friend of mine in which we were discussing books versus their big screen adaptations we came to the conclusion that the pen is mightier than the sword the novel is almost always way better than the movie except, in my opinion, in these instances ...

Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Having read the 1994 novel by Louis de Bernieres after the 2001 film adaptation starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz it has to be said that on the whole the film version appealed to me more than the novel not that I rated either particularly highly.

Madame/Mrs Doubtfire. Another instance in which I watched the film starring the wonderful Robin Williams well before I read the book by Anne Fine. The novel was really enjoyable - somehow much deeper whilst, at the same time, somehow more frothy - BUT I have to say I liked the film better (largely because of Robin Williams?) which is quite surprising given that the film tended to rely on the cross dressing aspect for a lot of its humour as opposed to the book which, less humorous, dealt with what I felt were some pretty grown-up issues.

Stardust. I'm sorry, I know a lot of you are huge Neil Gaiman fans, but for me there was no comparison between the book and the 2007 film which I'd watched previously. A novel lacking in sparkle and much of the humour of its movie counterpart, give me the wonderful Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare any time.

Awakenings. A more human story, I felt the book a tad clinical at times. For me wonderful acting brought the characters to life in a way the novel didn't quite manage, the simulation of the catatonic behaviour typical of encephalitis lethargica incredibly moving.

The Hundred-Foot Journey. In an about change I actually read the book by Richard C. Morais before seeing the film. What should have been a veritable feast of a read I'm afraid I found it rather unfulfilling unlike the film which I enjoyed much more despite it missing out the whole of my favourite section of the book and thus one of my favourite characters.

What about you, any film(s) you preferred to their novel counterparts?

25 Nov 2015



BACK COVER BLURB: Filled with dreams of pursuing a career as a poet, the young Alexander Aduyev moves from the country to St Petersburg, where he takes up lodgings next to his uncle Pytor Ivanych, a shrewd and world-weary businessman. As his ideals are challenged by disappointment in the field of love, friendship and poetical ambition, Alexander must decide whether to return to the homely values he has left behind or adapt to the ruthless rules and morals of city life so eloquently championed by his uncle.

FIRST SENTENCE {Part 1: Chapter 1}: One summer in the village of Grachi, in the household of Anna Pavlovna Aduyeva, a landowner of modest means, all its members, from the mistress herself down to Barbos, the watchdog had risen with the dawn.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 66}: "Nowadays, a decent writer lives decently, doesn't have to freeze and starve in some attic - although, of course, people no longer run after him in the street and point their fingers at him, as they would at a clown; they no longer think of a poet as some kind of divinity, but rather a human being who sees, walks, acts - sometimes foolishly - just like the rest of us: so what's so special about that?"

SOURCE: Just one of the many books in their Classics Range. I received this for review from the publishers, Alma Books.

MY THOUGHTS: Well, well, well, who would have thought it? Not a fan of the so-called English classics and yet here I am having read and really enjoyed one of the Russian classics.

Firstly the translation. Always a bit dubious when it comes to reading books translated from the original into English as all too often I've found the translation poorly done .... or is it that some words/ideas/humour simply doesn't translate well? Whichever it is, I had no such concerns with this translation by Stephen Pearl, his mastering of the various tones as the story progresses exemplary. 

Set in 19th century Russia. We first meet our protagonist, Alexander Aduyev, the somewhat cosseted only son of a somewhat overbearing mother (its a shame we don't get to see more of her as, Uncle Pytor aside, she was my favourite character providing some wonderful humorous touches) as he prepares to leave his provincial home for St Petersburg

A complete innocent, a hopeless romantic, Alexander proves the ideal foil for his uncle. A cynical, hard-headed, some would say hard-hearted, businessman, Pytor is the type of character that to all intents and purposes I should thoroughly dislike and yet (thanks to the genius of Goncharov's writing?) I found myself increasingly warming to him, his attempts at trying to convince his nephew of the futileness of his romantic aspirations proving incredibly humorous.

And yet, not all humorous. Becoming almost painful to read by the end. I don't want to spoil things for anyone but almost like a bereavement I found myself going through various stages as Alexander aged, his feelings of disappointment and disillusionment tangible.

A timeless tale of a young man intent on making his way in the world. An excellent reflection of class, differing values (parochial versus big city if you so wish) and the ideology of love, I'm sure many readers will find themselves surprised by just how relative The Same Old Story is today - I know I was.

Written in the mid eighteen hundreds. A debut novel, one of only three, the best known of which is perhaps Oblomov. To answer the big question, has this made me want to read anything more by this author? Most definitely it has.

24 Nov 2015



BACK COVER BLURB: Clutch: A Novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags - the 'Hobbo' starving artist, the 'Diaper Bag' single dad, the 'Briefcase' intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the 'Clutch' or someone she wants to hold onto.

FIRST SENTENCE {Getting Purse-onal}: Mimi Johnson was casually dressed in a brightly-colored blouse with enormous turquoise jewelery and equally-oversized glasses.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 97}: "So, what about you, Caroline. What do you do?" he asked, as the bar tender set a pitcher of beer on the bar counter.

"Nothin' as important as savin' lives. But I do help victims of fashion emergencies. I'm a handbag designer," she said, her Southern charm oozing through.

SOURCE: Received for review from the author.

MY THOUGHTS: A big fan of Lisa Becker's 'Click' trilogy (comprising 'Click: An Online Love Story', 'Double Click' and 'Right Click') - no mean feat given that I'm hardly a big fan of the 'letter/diary entry/email' format - I was honoured and delighted to be asked to read this, her latest offering.

Honoured because its always nice to be approached by an author (doubly so when they have trusted you with their other 'babies' previously) and delighted because a woman with a thing about bags, how could I not be delighted to be given the opportunity to read a book in which they play such a prominent role?

More to do with personal preferences, I'm afraid sex in literature just isn't something I'm big on and thus Clutch: A Novel simply wasn't entirely to my taste. Not that there was a horrendous amount of sex in it you understand but what there was was to my mind graphic and, well, crude.

Not that I want you to go away thinking this was a novel without its merits. The sex thing aside it was actually an enjoyable enough read.

Humorous. It had some great characters (its just a shame there wasn't more of my personal favourite, the wonderful Aunt Mimi). Flawed but surprisingly likeable, I actually grew to really like Caroline and Mike (but then penning characters that grow on you seems to be one of Lisa's strengths as a writer) and enjoyed following their would they/wouldn't they get-together relationship. And then, of course, there were 'the contenders' for Caroline's affection, all of them named after handbags. Cleverly written, I guess its true what they say about some women needing to kiss lots of frogs before they get their Prince Romance or as Caroline came to think of them, the man she would hold onto, her Clutch.

23 Nov 2015


Please note whilst I endeavour to keep Media Monday family friendly some of the articles featured do have links to articles of a more adult nature. TT

Let nothing come between the northern man and his pint ....

'Then we realised it wasn't getting any higher and the damage had already been done, so we decided we might as well sit in the beer garden anyway and have a pint' said John pictured sitting up to his waist in flood water in a Leeds pub garden.

Most understated comment of the week ...

A Birmingham woman took revenge on her cheating husband by selling their house all within two weeks commenting 'Things aren't great between us at the moment.'

And if selling the family home isn't subtle enough there's always ...

The service that charges a small fee to break up with your boy/girlfriend so you don't have to.

Most resourceful employee of the week? 

Having unsuccessfully tried to deliver a parcel a delivery driver professionally filled in a form for the home owner stating 'I have left your parcel in a safe location as requested.' The safe location? The home owner's roof.

I yolk you not, this is a truly eggstraordinary article ...

A Cornish couple were left shell-shocked, the husband believing his wife was cracking up when she broke an egg only to find a second egg inside of it.