A to Z Theme Reveal

I ummed and aahhed over doing A to Z this year (For those of you not familiar with the blogging challenge, you can find out all about it here. It’s a very simple concept, one post a day except for Sundays, starting on April 1st for a month, and the subjects of said posts need to follow the letters of the alphabet – so say first post about Apple, second about Badgers, etc)

The reason for my hesitation is that I’m away for the first couple of weeks in April, so that will make things tricky. I’ve now worked out the subject of all my posts and written out the first two week’s worth (unlike last year where I winged the whole month – that was exhausting), so I’m jumping in! I probably won’t be as active visiting other blogs while I’m away but I’ll catch up once I’m back.

The theme I’ve chosen for this year is Childhood Stories. So little stories and anecdotes from my childhood. Most of these will be real, a few will be fictional but based on the kind of things I imagined as a kid (I’m sure you’ll be able to guess which is which, mainly because the fictional stories involve some kind of magic or supernatural creatures)

You might have also noticed that I changed the title of the blog — I wasn’t a fan of the previous title since it was (let’s face it) very dull. We’ll see how this one goes, I might change again later. I’m entirely useless at titles (coming up with book titles is a headache of epic proportions)

And lastly, for those of you who wanted to know where I’ll be going for the start of April, the answer is the USA! I’m super excited. The Husb and I are doing two weeks in California, including a brief visit to Chicago to see friends of ours who live there. I’ve only ever been to New York so I’m super excited to discover another part of the US, especially a part that I’ve heard and seen so much of through TV/movies/photos/articles.

Part of the holiday will involve driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles along the coast (of course, I don’t think there is a single tourist who doesn’t do that when coming to California), and other than the stunning scenery, I’m looking forward to stopping a road side diner. If we can manage it, the kind of place a trucker would stop at, although I’m not sure there will be many truckers driving from San Fran to LA. I really want to sit in a booth and order pancakes with bacon and maple syrup from a waitress who wears an apron and has that glass carafe of coffee (I don’t even like coffee), simply because I have seen SO many of those diners in movies. Very silly, I know (well not so silly since there will be pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, which I used to think was very weird and I now realise is just heaven)

It’s a funny thing visiting the US. With no other place have I had this many pre-conceived ideas and impressions. Normally I have at best a vague idea of what it might be like and then off we go to explore and discover. In this case my head is full of images and there are loads of specific things I want to see simply because of the sheer amount of TV and film that takes place in big US cities. Like San Francisco (The Rock!), Beverly Hills (Pretty Woman!), Chigago (Gotham!). Although I’m sure my impressions will be really quite wrong or skewed so I’m looking forward to seeing it all for myself.

Right I’ve strayed off topic there, but in conclusion, other than excitement regarding upcoming American travels, I’m very much looking forward to A to Z and to seeing the posts you all come up with!!

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A Beautiful Picture Book

Hello again everyone! I know I’ve been away for a while – various things have kept me from blogging, but I’m back now and firmly resolved not to do another long hiatus. Hope you’ve all been keeping well by the way, and that 2015 is treating you well!

Right — the following post is one I should have done a long time ago, and I have been remiss in leaving it so late – but better late than never, I hope.

The lovely Emily, she of the Keyboard and the Open Mind ran a little competition a couple of months ago in celebration of reaching a landmark number of followers (congrats again Emily!) Shockingly I won – this is shocking because I never win. At anything. So winning in itself was thrilling, and the prize (an Amazon voucher!) was a phenomenal cherry on top of that cake.

I got stuck for a while, trying to decide what book to get. It had to be something special, something a bit different (certainly not a kindle book) – although that did very little to narrow down the options. I um and ahhed (meaning that I wasted hours browsing through Amazon. Always fun). In the end it came down to a beautiful coffee table book on Neil Gaiman, or this:

I first heard of it over on Jilanne’s blog, and it’s a real treat, not just because it’s a gorgeous book with absolutely stunning illustrations (more on that later) but also because it’s not the kind of book I would have bought for myself. Normally, I mean. I have a reading list as long as my forearm and whenever I buy books I always buy something on the list in an effort to reduce it (of course, for every book I buy I add a good three or four to the list, so it’s a never ending battle, and one that I have no interest in winning.)

I can’t recommend Lindbergh enough to anyone thinking of buying a picture book as a gift or for themselves -just look at the stunning illustrations below. It tells the story of a bookish little mouse (a mouse after my own heart) who, having spent ages locked away reading human books (maybe he also had a huge reading list to get through)…

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… returns to find himself the last remaining mouse in a city now riddled with mouse traps.

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The intrepid little guy must evade cats, owls, and the deadly traps, and find a way to get himself to the US to rejoin all his mouse friends.

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While the story is lovely, the real treat for me were the pictures. They remind me of the kind of picture books I had as a child, some inherited from parents and grandparents. Not that I don’t like current children’s books, but many of them have what looks to me like computer generated images – it’s rare to find illustrations that have been crafted with such obvious care and attention to detail as the ones in Lindbergh. Each one is a piece of art in its own right, and as such, the book takes pride of place, displayed in the middle of my bookshelf.

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So thank you again Emily, I wouldn’t have bought this book if not for your very kind voucher, and also a thank you to Jilanne for putting me onto Lindbergh in the first place!

PS: where do you guys all stand on the issue of using books as decorations? I’ll admit, I organise them according to the colour of their spine. I always feel a tad guilty, like I’m being a bit shallow, but I can’t help it. It’s part of the reason why I’m obsessed with the Penguin English Library collection (the beautiful stripy spines you can see next to Lindbergh.)