Friday, 17 April 2015

Books for Brides

Earlier this year my boyfriend James made possibly the bravest (or daftest) decision of his life and asked me to marry him.  I said YES (you can read all about our proposal story here).

Along with the wonderful phonecalls, skype chats, cards and even tweets from our friends and family, I was very lucky to receive some beautiful books that have been a fantastic introduction to Wedding planning, plus they look really, really pretty on our coffee table!

Vintage Wedding Flowers is a book full of stunning photography and advice on wedding flowers from celebrity florist Vic Brotherson.  Don't let the vintage tag fool you, this floral tome has inspiration for every bride looking to create something truly unique and individual with their wedding flowers and style.  There are beautiful endpapers featuring antique wedding photography and cleverly styled chapters that take you through everything from buttonholes and church flowers to flower crowns and your bouquet. We're only 6 months into planning our wedding and inbetween those first stresses surrounding guest list numbers and venue searches, picking up this book and losing myself in the romantic whimsy of the pictures has been a great way to relax.

I'd heard good things about the Style Me Pretty book (Abby Larson) from our American wedding sisters across the pond.  Over 1million website views a month can't be wrong, but I do feel that even though this book only published in 2013, some of the more trend led chapters are dating faster than I suspect the SMP team would have liked.  It's trying to do a little too much and whilst it's visually stunning, I'm not sure this has a practical purpose for me in terms of wedding planning. But if you're looking for a solid dose of bridal pretty, you can't go wrong.

If you'd like to read a few more of my wedding related witterings, you can find me blogging here for Juno and Joy as their blogging bride-to-be! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Today I'm Reading; Something Dangerous by Penny Vincenzi

Being stuck on the Overground for over an hour on your way home from work is every Londoner's nightmare! Normally, I would have joined the red-faced commuters angrily tweeting TFL and vowing NEVER to pay for a season ticket again! But not today, today I happily sat there (yes I luckily snagged a seat) completely engrossed in the second book from the best-selling Spoils of Time trilogy from Penny Vincenzi

This isn't the first time I've read Something Dangerous, in fact it's probably about the 21st time! About 10 years ago on holiday with my family in Spain, I finished Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging and short of other options, stole my mum's beach read which just so happened to be the book above. With no glaringly obvious sex romps and graphic murders (I wasn't so lucky snaffling her Martina Cole's), mum let me read on and I discovered a family saga so engaging, colourful and entwined with history that every time I read it I always find something new in the story that I didn't know was there before. 

I downloaded the Lytton saga onto my kindle last week after seeing the book on my housemate's bedside table for research purposes (she works in the very cool world of TV and needed some inspiration for a new costume drama). I'm currently 82% through book 2 and have downloaded Book 3; Into Temptation ready to go when i'm done with Something Dangerous

I'd definitely recommend the Lytton Saga as the perfect introduction to Penny Vincenzi and the fascinating, complex and rich stories that she weaves. You won't be able to put them down, not on the train, sofa or even in the bath!

Happy Reading! 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Name's Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” 
― Jane AustenPride and Prejudice

As part of Scottish National Book Week 2013, the Scottish Book Trust have developed a rather clever Facebook survey and app that tells you which literary hero/heroine you are most like.

With a whole library of possible candidates you could be matched with, I was rather excited to find out who my literary doppleganger would be....

Cue my surprise when i discovered I was none other than Miss Elizabeth Bennet...

I've only ever managed to get halfway through Pride & Prejudice as something about the story just didn't click - I'm not sure if it was the endless whining from Lydia or the melancholic moaning from Elizabeth herself but something just wasn't doing it for me.

Although Lizzie B wouldn't be my first choice, it is definitely a pretty accurate match in terms of personality according to the quiz. So much so that I've just downloaded Pride & Prejudice onto my kindle to see if I can finally crack the Bennets once and for all - wish me luck!

You can take the quiz for yourself here  let me know how you get on.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Mouseton Abbey

"Twas the night before Cheesemas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse"
I paid a visit to the Early Learning Centre this weekend on the hunt for toddler friendly Christmas gifts and stumbled upon this little slice of TV spin off genius...

Now I love Downton Abbey, it's become something of a Sunday night ritual (much to the chagrin of James) to settle down in my PJ's with a cuppa whilst the latest Crawley family drama unfolds on screen.  And it's not just me, my mum, nan and sister are all equally in love, cue my sister and I texting each other various Downton Quotes (Usually Lady Mary and Edith as they engage in some sisterly sarcasm on screen). 

So when I saw Mouseton Abbey on the shelves of ELC, I knew I'd found a fantastic stocking filler for the Downton obsessed ladies in my life - I can just see them all sitting down on Boxing day with a great big plate of cheese and crackers to enjoy the tale of 'Cheesemas at "Mouseton Abbey."'

Author Nick Page's story brings to life the story of Cheesmas at the Abbey, when the Mouseton family pass around the Great Big Cheesy Diamond and everyone gets to make a Christmas wish. But catastrophe strikes as the Great Big Cheesy Diamond goes missing!

It's a race against time for Lord Mouseton and his servants as they search for the missing diamond to prevent Cheesmas from being ruined like an overbaked Camembert! 

The hand knitted characters (Lady Ricotta and her maid Raclette are my personal favourites) paired with the ornate, illustrated backgrounds are beautiful and are just as captivating as the story itself.  

Mouseton Abbey is going to make a lot of big and little kids very happy this Christmas, in fact, mum, if you're reading this, I'd love to find a copy in my stocking too ; ) 

Available from Amazon here make sure you order yours now to be here in time for the big day!

PS Check out the Mouseton Abbey Facebook page for more updates on the goings on at The Abbey 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Review: In The Night Garden

"Out on the ocean far away from land, take the little sail down, light the little light, this is the way to the garden in the night..." In The Night Garden

Last weekend was spent in the company of these two lovely people, the big one is my resident sound man (you can check out his website here ) the smaller one is his 15 month old nephew who we spent 2 days trying to keep entertained.  It involved an awful lot of trips outside to the swings, white chocolate buttons, silly faces and a slightly odd looking blue creature called Iggle Piggle.

I've always been a little bit skeptical about children's tv shows, especially ones that are aimed at bedtime (but then again I'm not the one with a toddler at home).  Some of my earliest and clearest memories are of being read to before lights out; favourites were My Naughty Little Sister (because I also had one), The Cat With Two Homes, Thumbelina and The Three Little Pigs (which might be why i'm terrified of wolves).

But after spending some time with Iggle Piggle, Macca Pacca and The Tommliboo's, In The Night Garden has won me over. I'm a sucker for rhyme and the poem at the beginning is both soothing and whimsical (the big one drifted off before the little one did) the hand gesture that goes with it reminds me of 'Walkie Round The Garden' and it's amazing that even at 15 months the little one knew exactly what to do when the intro music started.

My favourite stories/episodes involved The Pontipines and The Wottingers!  Unlike other tv show's there were actual words, rhymes, songs and music that form a familiar pattern each episode that is easy for children (no matter how young) to recognise and follow.  The re-cap at the end of each episode coupled with the Tittifer birds who sing the other characters off to sleep is so similar to the narrative of traditional story books, it made me forget we were watching the TV.

I think the programme is a fantastic way of encouraging very young children to become familiar with story telling and following a narrative.  If I tell a story there will undoubtedly be funny faces, voices, hand gestures and sometimes (if they're unlucky) singing, so it makes absolute sense that a TV programme should utilise the basic fundamentals of oral story telling instead of simply relying on bright colours and crazy costumes to dazzle their young audience.

I will definitely be watching In The Night Garden again the next time we are on Uncle Jimbo and Lauren duty, but I think for now we'll leave The Three Little Pigs until he's a bit older, some stories are still too scary even for me.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Today I'm Reading.... In The Park

“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"..."It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...” Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden)

In case you hadn't noticed, the sun has FINALLY decided to come out in London, and it seems to have put everyone in a really brilliant mood! I decided to take a wander round Piccadilly at lunchtime and ended up stumbling upon a little square patch of green in St James.  I picked myself a spot by some suitably sunny daffodils and pulled out my kindle for a quick half hour read.

Today's book of choice was the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy Catching Fire.  I first read The Hunger Games after my little cousin left a copy of hers at my grandparents house, short of reading material it was a toss up between Katniss and Co and Paul O'Grady's autobiography... needless to say The Hunger Games won. I had it finished within 2 days and downloaded the next two books right away- hello, my name is Lauren and I am a Hunger Games addict! I've even got the boyfriend on board after he ran out of things to do on holiday and 'borrowed' my kindle - I didn't get it back for the rest of the trip and he was the first one to suggest we go and see the film when it came out!  The detail that the books go into is incredible and the world of Panem and the serpentine President Snow that Lewis has created is bleakly terrifying and yet worryingly familiar.

I can't think of a better way to spend a Tuesday lunchtime, here's hoping the weather decides to stay like this for the whole of Spring so I can come back and read in the sunshine some more!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Books, Books, Books...

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men..." Roald Dahl (from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) 
I have a problem... my family and friends would probably call it an obsession, whereas I like to think of it as an endearing quirk; I love to read, collect, recommend, buy and review books... Sometimes I even take a wander into Waterstones just to smell that lovely, crisp and slightly woody scent of freshly printed, unturned pages (but this is a story for another post).

I started young, cutting my teeth on Little Red Riding Hood, The Waterbabies, The Fairy Necklaces and The Troubles of Queen Silverbell, before graduating on to the dastardly Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes and, of course The BFG.  I learnt midnight feasting at the school of Enid Blyton with my partners in crime the Twins of St Clares and the Mallory Towers crew, while the March sisters were my constant companions on a caravan trip through France with my family.

At school I read the standard Biff, Chip and the Magic Key books, but went through them so quickly my teacher gave me free range of the library to pick my own reading material... Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca might not be the standard choice for an 8 year old, but I liked it... a lot!

It goes without saying that Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Oliver Twist and Emma hold a special place in my heart. Controversially (for some), I've never ever got on with Pride and Prejudice, never made it to the end of the book in fact, it's the one Austen novel where I'm much happier watching the TV adaptation, Darcy's shirt certainly isn't see-through in the book!

As an English Literature student, reading at university became for the first time a form of work, hard work, sometimes even a chore... I overcame my fear of Vampires thanks to my Gothic Literature seminars by falling just a little bit in love with the fanged Count Dracula, but Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was without a doubt my favourite thing to come out of a very heavy and dark module! American Literature is something of a blur, blitzing through 200 years or so of history at lightening speed, The Crucible (technically a play, not a book) and The Colour of Water still resonate as much with me today as they did 5 years ago.

I'm now 24 and reading is back to being something I do purely for me, I often get the bus to work in the mornings just so I can get an extra 30 mins reading time in, plus the 87 is much more book friendly than the Northern Line; no #readovertheshouldernoseyparkers here!

My favourite place to read though is in the bath - my fave Molton Brown candle, radox, a glass of wine and a new pageturner is my idea of dreamy night in! Which is why I've commandeered my own little corner of the interweb, so that I can share my thoughts on the books i'm currently reading with other like minded readers; tub or no tub, I'll leave that up to you.

This week on the Tub List I have the new Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, I'm hoping it's going to be an eyeopening look inside the mind of the glamorous (but deeply troubled) Zelda (wife of F Scott Fitzgerald) whose own literary talents were often overshadowed by her husband's.

I'll be reading it in the bath Gatsby style with a glass of fizz and some jazz playing in the background - I'm pretty sure Zelda would approve!