Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Why I Gave Up on NaNoWriMo

I talked the talk. I was all prepared for NaNoWriMo this year. Even carried out some research which is something I rarely do when writing. The writing process for me is usually a blank Word file and I get typing. Sometimes I have an idea in my head. Or I start with a line of dialogue. I type and type to see where it takes me. Then, in theory, I go back and edit it. Sadly I lack the ability to reach the editing process which is something I need to work on. When I was doing my evening classes last year I had to have a finished product for sessions. Take away that external deadline and I wander around, not doing much. It's the pattern I've followed since I started to write my own stories when I was 10. On an old Apple Mac for those interested. Like a really old Mac that had a screen about the size of your standard iPhone nowadays.

November has been a busy month for me. I started a new job that pays monies. My voluntary work began to pick up and required three days out of my week. I took over the admin for Write in for Writing's Sake.The old social life began to re-awaken. And there's that dirty bugger called Christmas lurking around the corner. Plus the mundane old stuff of making sure I have enough clean clothes to wear (which did become a slight problem last week) and that I was starting to eat properly and trying to ditch a lot of processed crap. Alas eating properly means spending more time cooking. For someone that can't really cook this poses a problem and simple things, like chopping an onion, takes twice as long as it really should.

The biggest problem is that I felt I didn't have enough time to read. I was clocking in 10 minutes at bedtime and cramming some words in during the commute. After waiting for ages, my library requests began pouring in. I wanted to read them rather do writing.

So I said



A good friend gave me the gentle push to stop writing. If I want to go off and do the research then go and do the research. My story is located in a particular time and place. Yet I was throwing in references that were all over the place. As an ex-History student it's important for me to get these things right (write?). If I decide to take part in NaNo again then I shall decide to write a silly story. One when it doesn't matter about time and place and setting. I think I'll have more fun that way.

Goodbye NaNo for another year. I am sure we will meet again.

Monday, 8 November 2010

November: The Month of Activity

November is shaping up to be a busy month. Having a new job means more time to socialise which is always welcome. Alas, Christmas is around the corner. Do you know that November is the last pre-Christmas pay for a lot of people? That scares me a little; especially as I am not terribly good at buying Christmas presents for people. Then there is always that conundrum of "What if someone buys me a present and I haven't get them one?"

I have other things on my mind. Once again I am attempting NaNoWriMo and taking it a bit slow this year. Last time I peaked too early (hit 15, 000 words in the first week then my enthusiasm tailed off after that). Also I had the distraction of Masters coursework which did not help matters. This year I have been writing for 30 minutes which usually sees me hit the bare minimum quota of 1666 words a day to cross the finish line. And I did plan a bit more than last year like outlines for each chapters and character cards to help me keep on track. Writing can be a solitary activity so it's nice to take advantage of the community that NaNo provides.

Him Indoors and I are working our way through Season One of Mad Men. My father has been raving about it but he automatically loves anything that features America in the 1950s and lots of smoking. Personally I have been surprised at how much I am enjoying watching each episode. Usually when I'm watching television I'm texting a friend or on the Interwebs. With Mad Men I am drinking in each piece of dialogue and being enraged at the same time (Him Indoors thought I was going to explode during the episode involving the girls and the lipstick testing). I hope someone out there is teaching the Sociology of Mad Men or at least using the episodes for sexuality and gender classes. Out there, in library land, someone has come up with the great idea of a Mad Men reading list. Unfortunately getting a hold of some books in my local area has proved rather difficult. I may have to wait until after Christmas before picking up cheap second hand copies (if I can get them).

Finally I have to wave the pom poms for my current blogger crush, Ms Alex Wolf. Not only is she attempting NaNo this month but she is also going vegan for a month AND blogging about it every day. Alex has been attempting 101 goals in 1001 days since 1st January 2009. She has been doing amazingly well and I am in awe of her progress. I'm finding her vegan blog to be of particular interest as I attempt to expand my limited cooking skills. My diet is primarily pescetarian but with a lack of regular fruit and vegetables. British supermarkets tend to be rather limited for fruit beyond the standard bananas and apples (at least in my experience). I live a bit closer to an more ethnic area now and the appears to be a wider range of fruit and vegetables available. When I have a bit of time I shall venture out and see what they have to offer. 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Time Lapse

Blimey I cannot believe I have not posted on this blog since the end of July. The Dreaded Dissertation took over my life in August. Last minute panic panic set in as the September deadline loomed. I finished the work the weekend before the due date. Some of my classmates were still writing their drafts on the day it was due. That scares me a little bit. Why give yourself that stress?

September was spent moping around a little. Said goodbyes to classmates returning home which was a little sad. Some people are making Glasgow their home for the time being which is good. It's nice to have chats with people about archives stuff. Some have paid jobs; lots of us have volunteer work. I have a new job working in a university library (which shall remain nameless on this blog). It's loosely connected to my Masters but does not involve archives. So I am volunteering at a local community archive. Again it will probably remain nameless on this blog, unless they give me a green light to name (but not shame) them. 

Lots of rubbish television has been consumed in the past couple of months. Television is cheap entertainment when you don't have much cash. A friend in a similar situation agreed with me. She said she does not like Friends but has started following it on E4 because it's something to do.

I developed a slight fear of reading after I finished my dissertation. Just in case I gleaned something from the books I read. Silly I know but the course I was on promoted the idea that you can find "evidence" in any resource. For one of my archives essays I quoted from Bridget Joneses' Diary and Possession. So I stayed away from fiction. Luckily my love of reading has returned and I am currently chomping my way through The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. It's a massive tome of a novel and is about building a cathedral in 12th century England. My knowledge of that period is a little hazy but I'm enjoying the lives of the characters and the twists their lives take. The one constant is the cathedral and I'm intrigued to see how it ends.

This year I am taking part in NaNoWriMo for the second time. Last year I stupidly decided to take part in the month when I was on a placement with a daily 4 hour round trip. The work load at university began to pile on and I lost interest in sitting in front of my computer on a nightly basis. So I'm hoping to do better and at least hit the 50, 000 minimum word count.

Finally I have set up another blog to discuss my experiences in the archival sector. On both sides of the pond there has been a massive outcry about the lack of jobs available to newly qualified archivists. Anyway I decided to set up this blog to discuss my thoughts about the subject. It can be found here and I have called my blog Wannabe Political Archivist. This stems from my experience of archival work which has had a focus on working with collections that have political overtones. My belief that "the personal is the political" is a big reason that I enjoy working with archives.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

WFWS: Flood

For some time I have been watching Mark's blog and his weekly contributions to this little idea: Write In For Writing's Sake. Each week people are given a single one to stimulate some writing. So far most examples I have seen on the site have been in the format of a short story. This week I have managed to finish a piece in time to be submitted. It’s not perfect (and a little clumsy if I’m honest) but at least it got me writing something.

I present Flood:

Cerys was having a Virgina Woolf moment. She wanted escapism of the higher order. Right now nothing was more appealing than filling her pockets with stones and wading into the river. It was December, the water would be cold. Would she drown before her heart stopped beating? Feel her lungs strain under the pressure and explode within her rib cage? Would her life flash before her eyes or would it just be a black nothingness?

Suicide was a toy she picked up now and again. Something to be fiddled with, played with and then put away again. It was not a serious option but she enjoyed playing through the scenes. As her body floated down the river she felt herself lose consciousness. No scenes from her life played across her dying brain. No memories of ironically happy birthdays or playing in hazy summer days with friends or hugs from her parents. No memories of a first kiss or first bra or first period. Nothing but a black void, an empty space where the electrodes inside her brain were slowly starting to snap in two. Like ropes snapping off a pirate shop she had seen on the television a long time ago.

Would anyone see her? The river ran past a local primary school so there's a high chance a child could spot her empty shell. Choosing the time of day would be vitally important. In her imagination she picked eleven o'clock in the morning. Enough daylight to feel the sun on her skin one last time (it would be a sunny day, the day she died). She sighed deeply as the sensations danced across her skin. The coldness of the water. The weight of the stones in her pockets. The warmth of the sun against exposed parts of her flesh.

That was another thought. What would she wear? Not a skirt; that would remove any dignity. Besides her body was likely to betray itself in her final moments and soil any undergarments. Wearing trousers would avoid this indignity in death. Black, she decided. Brighter colours would attract attention to her. Cerys didn't want to be saved. Besides black would mean she was already dressed for the funeral.

Now this was interesting. She was entering the stage that people called the 'out of body experience'. Cerys could see her long brown hair spreading out across the water. She always had been proud of her hair. At night she would lovingly brush it, using a soft bristle brush, a hundred times on each side. By now the river current had flipped her onto her back. Her small mouth was curled into an 'o' shape of surprise. As if death had come as a shock to her in her final moments. Cerys had lost consciousness by that point but her body had other plans. The combination of the heat and the coldness had had an effect on her muscles. Her eyes remained closed. Open eyes looked so unsightly in death. She was confident her body would be found before it become bloated and disfigured.

“What are you thinking about?”

Cerys was broken out of her daydream. She took a moment to realise where she was. For an instance she thought it had actually happened. Death: a welcome escape.

“Nothing.” She coughed. “I was sleeping.”

“Nice dream?” Her mother's attempt at a neutral tone was not very good.

“In a way.”

“What was it about?”

“A river.”

There was a pause. Her mother could stay and play the 'short answer game' or she could go. Unfortunately she was in a playful mood so decided to stay.

“Were you swimming?”

“I'm not sure. I might have been waving. Or drowning. I don't know.”

A beep from the unit at the side of the bed stopped the conversation. “Ah I knew why I came in. It's time to change over your catheter.” Cerys winced. Why couldn't her mother do this later? “And I'll give you a bed bath as well.” The treats came pouring in.

She closed her eyes as her mother fiddled around with the tubes. Ever since 'The Accident' Cerys had had no privacy. Even solitary acts, such as going for a piss or brushing her teeth, had to be carried out by another person. Sometimes as her mother brushed her teeth, Cerys felt she had no control. Since 'The Accident' she had become a prisoner in her own body. That is why suicide appealed to her. In her head she could die as many times as she wanted.

Sometimes she replayed 'The Accident' in her head. In her imagination, when she was falling from the tree, she heard the screams, the shouts, her mother shrieking “My baby! My baby!” This time, when she hit the ground, she wouldn't wake up. There would be no repeat of the ambulance ride when she overheard the paramedic say “She can't feel her legs.” There would be no repeat of a balding doctor using a pen to point at X-rays and had the cheek to say she was “a very lucky girl.” There would be no pain of seeing her childhood friends grow up without her, gradually fading away as the selfishness of puberty set in.

As her mother washed her body, Cerys was back in the river. The water cascading over her body, flooding her mouth, her nose, her ears.

“Flood,” she whispered.

“What was that?” Her mother stopped rubbing the sponge over Cerys's body.

“Nothing.”

“I thought you said something.”

“I didn't.”

One day Cerys's dream would come true. But not yet. Not yet.



Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dissertation: The Fear

The past couple of weeks have been a bit mad. Him Indoors and I moved to a lovely new flat. As I type I can look out onto the nearby trainlines and can see the distant Campsies in the horizon. In many ways this new home is much more suited to our lives and I'm going to enjoy living here.

The dissertation fear has hit hence why I have added a word count tracker to the side of my blog. It saves me having to keep checking the word count on the university's website. And I like having a progress bar cheer-leading me on. Technically I still have seven weeks to hand in something resembling a dissertation. As I'm not working full time, seven weeks is adequate to finish off my research and churn out a couple of drafts.

For those interested, my dissertation is looking at the relationship between Web 2.0 tools and archives. Although the preservation of Web 2.0 output is important, my focus is more on archives that are using such tools. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a lot of literature from the archives sphere on this topic. So I have been wandering around the Sociology and (occasionally) the Computing Science sections of the library. The American Archivist, journal of the Society of American Archivists, has been a God send. My poor printer nearly died last week when I printed out all the articles I needed to read.

Today I have had great fun doing my literature review and slamming ideas of people I don't like. Huzzah!

In non-dissertation news, I joined a local writing group. Strangely I have found it more stimulating than my evening class I took last year. Perhaps because it is a smaller group (there's only going to be a maximum of 12 participants which makes a lot of sense). I've found myself writing more outside of 'Oh dear, I have a submissions due!' panic. Also I have started carrying a notebook around with me to scribble ideas down or overheard conversations on the bus. When moving house I found lots of pretty notebooks that will do just nicely. Last time I counted I had around 10 empty-of-content-notebooks. Time to fill them up methinks.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Next Stage

I cannot believe it is almost the end of June. This month has zipped by, probably because I have been busy. This month I have:
    • Gone on holiday to Yorkshire for a week
    • Avoided my dissertation
    • Went to a local writer's group 
    • Found a new flat to move into with Him Indoors
    • Put in a fair bit of overtime at Work Wot Pays Me
    • Started putting some work into my dissertation
Alas my reading record for June has not been very good. Only five books read so far and two WIPs. My WIPs are:


Both are quite big volumes. I started Wolf Hall when on holiday and have been slowly making my way through it. Its size makes it unsuitable for a commute/work breaktime read and I have been reading it in bed. I love books about the Tudor period and Mantel has done an excellent job of this one. She takes established historical figures, such as Wolsey and Cromwell, and makes them into living, breathing people. Only 170 pages in and I can see why she won the Booker Prize for this.

On another note, the booking for the Edinburgh Book Festival opened yesterday. Surprisingly I managed to get access to it at 10am and booked tickets to see the almighty Lionel Shriver. Funds this year mean financially I could only afford to attend one 'paid' event. Shriver won hands down. Cargo Publishing is hosting a free showcase of new Scottish writing one evening so I may venture through for that. Unfortunately the Book Festival is a tiny bit too close to the dissertation hand in date (31st August) so I might be limited for time to play.

This afternoon I'm going to watch the England v Germany match at a friend's house. Alas I am working early tomorrow so it will be a tame time (for me anyway). Him Indoors has volunteered to make a complex dinner (Leek and Cheese Souffles) so there might be time for some book reviews later on. Cannae wait.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Mailbox Monday

OK, a bit of a cheat because these were books awaiting on me when I got back from my holidays:



Dystopian fiction is working for me at the moment. Before I went on holiday Spook Country by William Gibson arrived at my local library via an ILL.

This one is a bit iffy. A couple of weekends ago I was watching Cabaret and I popped onto the IMDB boards. Cut a long story of wading through posts and I came across this book. It is the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf who was born a boy in Germany. Alas this was post-Weimar and pre-Nazi Germany so having a queer identity was not a good idea. Charlotte is, apparently, one of the few openly gay individuals who survived the Nazis' cull of atypical individuals within their society (or boundaries of what being atypical was). von Mahlsdoft received a lot of criticism because her wealth came from helping clear out Jewish homes after they had been deported. Still, the book looks like an interesting read and the historian inside me will enjoy comparing the book with the facts.


And the final one, the latest Sookie Stackhouse adventure. I started it yesterday morning and finished it over my morning coffee. More characters are being introduced but Harris has a helpful knack of introducing or re-introducing characters with helpful tid bits such as "Claude loved guys. And he's a fairy. Literally. Not just because he's a homosexual." All fun and giggles.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Holidays & Writing

After promising to update more; I go off and disappear. Last week I was on holiday in Yorkshire with Him Indoors. Saying in such a public sphere that I am leaving my home empty does not appeal to me. Of course I am not suggesting anyone on my friends' list has a history of breaking and entering but you can never be too careful ;)

The holiday was lovely and was spent doing things such as: ambling along at the local market, pints, good grub, reading and making coal fires. I took lots of photographs and am toying with trying to keep a camera on me at all times. Mind you, I've said that often enough about keeping a notepad on me yet I'm always scrabbling around, writing things on bus tickets. Then getting annoyed when I find them, months later, and have no idea what "Badgers, tuna and a time travelling towel" means. A post on Southside Happenings alerted me to the foundation of a new writers' group on the south side. I enjoy writing but do need a kick up the bum to get things done. I shall go along to this meeting and see what it's like. Alas my experience of the writing scene in Glasgow has not been terribly positive so fear. Fingers crossed this does not go down the same U-bend.

Another writing venture I like the sound of is Write In For Writing's Sake which encourages participants to write 1, 000 words of fiction based on the 'word of the week'. A fellow blogger has been participating in these ventures and I quite fancy giving it a crack myself. In my writing class the tutor liked doing off the cuff exercises. Such as "You have 20 minutes to write a piece of fiction involved pineapples, the Moon and Harry Potter." Classmates groaned at this and many dreaded these assignments. The tutor would pick on people to read out their unedited pieces at random. Personally I am a bad editor and very rarely re-write my work; including university assignments. There's the odd re-draft here and there but the differences between that and the original piece of work are very limited. Oh to have my own editor who can tell me where I'm going right or wrong! Perhaps when I win the lottery.

Whilst I was on holiday, the latest Sookie Stackhouse book arrived. Tonight I plan to stay up late and finish gulping it down. Nothing like some guilty McDonald's literature to end a holiday.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

May Reads Round Up

May 2010

1. After the Fire - Karen Campbell
2. The Tin-Kin - Eleanor Thom
3. The Declaration - Gemma Malley
4. Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger
5. A Perfectly Good Family - Lionel Shriver
6. Plan B - Emily Barr
7. The Mobile Library: Mr Dixon Disappears - Ian Sansom
8. So Much For That - Lionel Shriver

Sadly I stayed up a bit later on Monday (last day in May) to finish off my last read, So Much For That. My lack of reading n' reviewing activity should pick up after the lack of activity that was May. After my exam I reverted to my usual lazy state. May saw more social invitations and overtime at work so I haven't been at home too much.

I'm quite pleased that I am sticking to my rule of only reading female writers. The exception is Ian Sansom, purely because it was a ILL. There's an outstanding Library Loot post I should really get round to writing. It may not surprise people to know that one of my library requests includes a time management book.

Monday, 31 May 2010

What?!

Lately I have been keeping a note of books I've read in a Google Doc file. This evening I checked it to add a book to the list. According to this list I have only read six books so far in May! Which is a shocking state of affairs.

Hopefully June will be a more fruitful month.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Sunday Salon: 16/05/10

The Sunday Salon.com

It is a lovely sunny Sunday morning here in Glasgow. I went out to buy morning rolls and newspapers and the street felt rather tranquil. Except for someone playing rather loud jazz which I stopped to appreciate. Although I wouldn't like to be their neighbour. Tellingly, the flat below them had a 'To Let' sign on it. Perhaps loud early morning jazz isn't to everyone's taste.

This week my attention has been occupied by

It was due back at the library on Friday and I didn't start it until Tuesday. Other readers had forewarned me that it takes some suspension of belief to read this novel. Not a hard task considering Niffenegger's debut deals with time travelling as a 'normal' condition. Anyway, to start, a synopsis here:

From Amazon.co.uk
Julia and Valentina Poole are normal American teenagers - normal, at least, for identical 'mirror' twins who have no interest in college or jobs or possibly anything outside their cozy suburban home. But everything changes when they receive notice that an aunt whom they didn't know existed has died and left them her flat in an apartment block overlooking Highgate Cemetery in London. They feel that at last their own lives can begin ...but have no idea that they've been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt's mysterious and elusive lover who lives below them, and even to their aunt herself, who never got over her estrangement from the twins' mother - and who can't even seem to quite leave her flat. With Highgate Cemetery itself a character and echoes of Henry James and Charles Dickens, "Her Fearful Symmetry" is a delicious and deadly twenty-first-century ghost story about Niffenegger's familiar themes of love, loss and identity. It is certain to cement her standing as one of the most singular and remarkable novelists of our time.

There is so much that happens in this book. The running theme throughout the book is grief and loss of a lover (or two), of youth, of a sister, of a sense of being and purpose. The book deals with the idea of a life after death that isn't filled with angels or meeting with loved ones. It's a grim existence with the spirit required to stay within the boundaries of their flat (slightly confusing as this character died in a hospital in the first couple of chapters). I am reluctant to talk too much about this book because I feel it's a wonderful discovery of a story. There are other sub plots, such as Martin who suffers from OCD and is unable to leave his flat, even to find his wife. Niffenegger writes about a sense of longing very well.

One criticism I have is the characterisation of Julia, the dominant of the twins. For storyline purposes, more time is spent on Valentina's development. We don't hear much from Julia until later in the book and we only glimpse clues behind her personality and character.

On a personal note, I enjoyed the sub-character that was an archivist. Albeit a ninety-five year old gent with too much time on his hands. Damn, I forgot to type up an extract before I took the book back. At the beginning of one of the later chapters, volunteers at Highgate Cemetery were commentated about user expectations and assumptions that all records are being digitised now. This is something I came up against when I was working in archives and it was nice to see reference to my chosen profession.

I have been very lazy with book reviews this week. In fact this entire week has been one of laziness. Although I did decide on a personal reading challenge. I was looking at my Mount TBR and noticed a lot of books are by female authors. So I am going to set myself the challenge of only reading female authors for the next couple of months. Please note, this will not be a 'strict' exercise. Female writers do deserve more attention but not at the expense of male writers. I shall attempt to justify my decision if I review a book by a non-male author *grins*

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, folks. I have coffee, Spotify and buttered morning rolls. Canny get much better than that.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Politics

Those living in the UK can't have failed to have noticed that an election took place last week. For non UK readers, two centres of power control my life. One is the devolved parliament of Scotland which is based in Edinburgh. Its representatives are elected using a proportional representation system. The Scottish National Power has the biggest share of seats but not enough to claim a majority of government. They have 47 seats of a potential 129. At the moment they are puttering along and doing reasonably well. Although I strongly think they will lose their hold in the next Scottish elections but that's for another time. The Scottish Parliament deals with a lot of issues excluding taxation and foreign policy. These powers belong to Westminister, which was the subject of the elections last week.

Despite having a devolved parliament, Scotland is not a sovereign country. As much as I would love to live in a completely independent country, I do not think we have the economy to support this. Scotland has been hit badly by the recession (not as bad as previous recessions but still.....) and would have probably been crippled if we had been operating outwith the UK political framework. Anyway, the representation system at Westminister is slightly different. It operates on a First Past the Post system. The party that reaches 326 seats first wins the election. So far, so unfair. But that didn't happen this time round. The problem has arisen due to the Conservatives only polling 306 seats. Not enough to make a majority government. The British political scene has been interesting to watch the past couple of days. Unfortunately talks have resulted in a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.

Having the Conservatives in power does not bode well for Scotland. I am too young to remember the Poll Tax protests yet the effects are still being felt. In my last job an older colleague admitted he was still paying back his Poll Tax 'debt' after refusing to pay for it. It speaks volumes that Scotland only has one elected MP at Westminister. Scotland was once the jewel in Britain's heavy industry crown; the Clydeside in Glasgow had hundreds of shipyards churning out ships day and night. Now there are only two active shipyards if my memory serves me right. The Tories do not care about what happens in the UK, outside of their southern English strong hold. The Scottish Parliament's purse strings are controlled by Westminister. With the Tories in power, I can see those funds being dramatically cut.

Alas the SNP became something of a joke during this election, with their attempts to the broadcast of the televised debates. It smacked of a child spitting its dummy out of the pram. I do believe that more parties should have been present in these debates. It was the first time such debates had been broadcast. I understand these are a staple part of the American Presidential campaign and I hope we keep them. The SNP could have teamed up with the other 'minority' parties and presented a united, dignified front for other parties to have a chance at the debating podium. Instead they cried "WAAAAAHHHHHH!" and stamped their feet.

All I can say is that I did not vote for any of the big three parties (Labour, Lib Dems or Conservatives) or the SNP. I vote but rarely find a party that corresponds to all of my political beliefs. Yet I find myself unable to not vote. Perhaps it's because I'm a woman and am well versed at the struggle for female voters. To be quite frank, the struggle for women is still going on. At least I live somewhere that I have the freedom to vote, for whichever party I please and for my political voice to at least have the illusion it is being heard.

With the Conservatives in power, I hope for more people to engage with politics. Not to think politics is boring or a waste of time or useless. This time I am old enough to take part in the protests because there will be protests. Anyone who is not exclusively white, male, upper middle class, married with children and leans politically to the right of the centre is going to be fucked over by this new government.

Will the revolution be televised?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Service Resumed

The awful exam was on Saturday. It went not as bad as it could have done and I stayed in for the full 3 hours. I had spent a lot of time studying Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation and it didn't come up. I was not amused. We finished at 5pm so it was straight to the pub and then to a friend's party. There was some good chat and I really enjoyed it. One major benefit to doing this course has been the new friends I've made. The archives world is rather small (well, in the UK it is) so no doubt we'll meet up again. There's already talk of us heading to Edinburgh in 2011/12 when the ICA have their conference. I have started saving my pennies. Although a lot of people are staying in Glasgow to write their dissertations which is good. Ah the dissertation *sighs*

I am trying to get get up at the same time during the week to avoid slinking around the house in my PJs. Also if I get up early then I see Him Indoors for a bit before he goes to work. And I quite like making morning coffees for us both. Hark at me, I sound like a Stepford Wife.

Not watching television is going well. I've stuck to my guns and actually find it rather hard to be around the television now. I'm enjoying having free time and not building my evening around what's on the box that night. At a study session last week I admitted I had 'given' up television. People were gob smacked but calmed down when I admitted that I was sticking with Glee and Doctor Who. After some soul searching I have decided to abandon any attempts to get back into Lost again. I may pick it up in the future but right now it doesn't interest me. The radio gives me much more satisfaction and the BBC programs are rather good. Also Stereo Mood has been a God-send for studying. Music is a much better way of killing my free time. It has been lovely lying on my comfy sofa and listening to the different lyrics and music styles coming through my Interwebs box.

Also I am taking up knitting lessons, kindly supplied by Not Just Laura. Knitting is something I have always scoffed at but I'm attracted to making something with my own hands. I'm not a very good cook, baker, woodwork, crafty person. If you screw up knitting, you can always turn it into a scarf. I quite fancy making a hat or tea cosy but shall start small with a scarf.

Giving up TV has allowed me to spend more time reading. This month I have decided to keep track of what I read and I am reading more fiction by female authors. Reviews shall follow shortly.

So yeh, I am back.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Belated introduction.

There have been some new faces appearing on this blog. Hello and welcome :) I thought it would be nice to do a quick introduction and explain a bit more about me.

My name is Laura and I am a 25 year old student living in Glasgow, Scotland. Currently I am studying towards a MSc in Information Management and Preservation. Hopefully this will allow me to enter the field of archives and records management. Unfortunately, as with every other industry at the moment, jobs are a bit thin on the ground. There are big sporting events taking place in the UK over the next four years: the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow and the Olympics in London in 2012. Funding for public archives tends to fall under the umbrella of 'Culture' which includes sport. As a result a lot of money is disappearing into this black hole and fewer permanent non-project jobs are available. I highly doubt I will be able to get a job in my chosen field for the next couple of years. At the moment I am trying to fix up some volunteer posts once I have finished my course.

My situation is part of the reason why I have become more interested in book blogging. My free time is going to rapidly increase and I am not very good if left to my own devices. Much as I hate to admit it, I need some form of schedule or routine. Hopefully I can get a better structure to my blog by timetabling topics for different days, such as the Library Loot posts on a Tuesday/Wednesday.

That's the doom and gloom over! What else? I live with my lovely boyfriend, Him Indoors, our goldfish, Dougal, and our lovely kakariki, Dante. Him Indoors is not a big reader but he does try. We're currently going through an experiment to cut down the amount of television we watch. We have a nasty habit, me in particular, of having the television on as background noise. I read Living Outside the Box this week and a lot of comments in the book struck home. The author explains watching television is a passive experience. Whilst watching a favourite TV show can be good for us, watching TV for the sake of it can have a negative effect. I was one of those people who would say "I don't watch much TV apart from the news. And Wife Swap. And *insert reality show title here*....." Once I thought about how much television I watched, I was rather horrified. Him Indoors and I discussed it and decided we are going to seriously trim the time we spend watching TV. Exceptions are Glee and Doctor Who which amounts to under 2 hours a week. We are currently working our way through Battlestar Galatica so that maybe takes us to six hours a week. Also, we are going to have one evening a week with no scree time; including laptops and other computers (between us we own one PC, two laptops and one netbook!).

I switched to the radio for my 'background' noise this week and have really enjoyed it. BBC Radio 4 has had some excellent programs and their breakfast show is a lot better than the fluff BBC1 has become. The threatened BBC Radio 6 is fantastic and has some wonderful music choices. Apparently audience figures have risen dramatically since the BBC announced it was being axed next year. Fingers crossed they keep it.

Next Saturday is my exam so I shall be a tad quiet this week. Last minute panic works for my studying method so I will be tearing through my class notes at rapid speed. I have got some books I want to review in the near future. Google Docs lets you post directly to your blog which is excellent. I am going to try and keep a list of the books I read to keep track of potential reviews.

Enjoy your Sunday, fellow bloggers. I have coffee, BBC Radio 6 and some chilling out to do.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Service Announcement

"Attention those at platform 9 and 3/4, please move away because IT DOESN'T EXIST!"

Although it didn't stop a friend of mine going to check when he was in London at the weekend.

This post is to say that I might not be blogging as much. A week on Saturday I have my exam. I also need to put some serious work into my dissertation. I'll still be reading but may not be posting as many reviews as I have been lately.

It's typical of me to get into something then need to take a break from it. So if it all goes quiet, I haven't abandoned my blog. I'm just frantically cramming for my exam!

Library Loot 27th April - 4th May





Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Technically I went to the library yesterday but didn't have time to make my post. Next weekend it's a bank holiday weekend which means the library will be closed this Monday. Also, I have my exam the following Saturday so will need to avoid extra distractions such as books. So I have binged on the following books:


The above are all two week loan books. The librarian was a bit grumpy when he pointed this out to me! Although he was the chap that dealt with me when I had to pay off a rather large overdue fine *ahem* so that may explain the grumpiness. I started After the Fire last night and am hooked already. It's set in my neck of the woods (the south of Glasgow) which I'm always a sucker for. It's a novel about the police but not really a detective story as such. It's such a good read that I even turned down on catching up with myself and Him Indoors's box set watch.

And I am the first person to take out The Long Song which always makes me a bit excited!



Diary of a Chav: Too Cool for School is my YA pick this week. It's part of a series and I read them a little out of sequence. I've read books 2 and 4 and this is book 3. Nevermind, the story is not terribly complicated but still a funny read.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sunday Salon: Mini Reviews

The Sunday Salon.com

Time for another Sunday Salon. This week has simply flown by!

After last week's Sunday Salon post I have joined Bookmooch. I have joined quite a few book swapping sites in my Internet life by this seems to be the best one by far. Most sites I've used mean you have to choose a book from the requester's collection. Instead Bookmooch lets you gather points that you can request from other Moochers. Fab idea. Also, Royal Mail allows you to pay and print surface mail at home which makes sending books internationally a lot easier. As I type two books are parcelled up and waiting to be posted (when the rain stops....) and I have a third I need to do later.

This week I have read three books but none "wowed" me enough to assign each one an individual review. So here we go:



I have been a fan of Alexander McCall Smith for such a long time. His books are great for dipping in and out of. That might be why he was commissioned by newspapers to write a mini story column. The fantastic Scotland Street series was born from such a serial in The Scotsman. Corduroy Mansions came from The Daily Telegraph and has some similarities to Scotland Street. The main characters either live or are connected to someone who lives in this building in London.

My favourite character was Oedipus Snark, a nasty Liberal Democrat. For non-UK readers, the Lib Dems (as they are called) are the "third" party in UK politics and are regarded as being a bit nicey nice. Snark is a loathesome toad who declines events six months in advance "because he is attending a funeral." The UK has a General Election on 6th May and it's looking exciting because the Lib Dems have an excellent chance to gain quite a number of seats. Corduroy Mansions was published in 2009, a good bit before the announcement of the election.

This was a good bedtime read because I could dip and out of it. There are 100 chapters in total; each one no more than 4 pages. There are plenty of characters to keep you amused. William whose feckless son Eddie refuses to take the hint and move out. Caroline, art student who has a dilemma about men (which art student doesn't?) and one time graced the cover of Rural Living. Bertha Snark, Oedipus's mother, who loathes him too and is writing a 'warts an' all' biography about him.  Plenty of characters to keep the reader amused and memorable enough to have numerous storylines running through the book.

My other reads this week have been:



















Both books dealing with various teen issues. The Divorce Express deals with the aftermath of a divorce. Phoebe spends the week with her father in Woodstock and travels to New York to spend weekends with her mother. She also manages to find the time to acquire a new best friend, lead a protest about school meals and a new potential boyfriend. Can You Sue Your Parents? has similar themes. Lauren's parents are not happy (although they didn't divorce in this book I would not be surprised to see a sequel about that!) but Lauren has other problems. She likes a new boy at school  but he's the year below her. It's funny but I remember that being such a big issue when I was at school. Yet it was OK for a boy to date a girl younger than him. *sighs*

Again both books are a little dated. Can You Sue... was published in 1979 and one storyline revolves around Lauren's father refusing to let her mother go out and work. Another storyline is about her sister moving in with her boyfriend before getting married. Society has relaxed a little since then but other issues, such as 'how far to go with a boy?', are still there.

It has been fun reading these books with an adult eye. I'm 25 and probably read these books when I was 13/14. Scary, back then 25 seemed like a million miles away. But I can still remember what I was worried about. My hair, what my friends thought, how my marks were doing and so on. Somehow I don't think much has changed.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Book Blogger Hop: Who did I meet?


Thank you to all who visited my blog during the hop. I'm looking forward to reading most posts from fellow book bloggers :) 

Apologies for the belated post. Yesterday turned into one of those days when Real Life and Socialising With Other People came into play.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Book Blogger Hop: 23rd April - 29th April



For the past couple of weeks I have been watching this hop from afar. This is my first Friday without a pending deadline so I thought I would give it a go.

Book Blogger Hop is host by Jen at Crazy for Books and is a weekly opportunity to get to know fellow book bloggers. Follow the link below to add your blog to the list. Make sure you put the following information in the link:
*Name of your blog
*How long you've been blogging
*A brief description of the genres you enjoy reading
Clicky here for more detailed rules.

Happy hopping!
And if you've stopped here as part of the hop, please say hello :)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins



Amazon.co.uk does not appear to have a full review for this book. So, in a nutshell, this book is the second in a trilogy called The Hunger Games. Society has crumbled and, what I assume are the remains of America, has been divided up into twelve districts. The Capital is the tyrant over this civilisation. As punishment for previous rebellions, and a form of social control, each year two children from each district have to compete in what is called 'The Hunger Games'. If you have seen Battle Royale that is a mild interpretation of what happens.

I discovered this book in a Ms magazine article that recommended books with positive feminist role models. Katniss, the lead character and from whose perspective the story is told, is a kick ass girl. However, the kick ass-ness is partly due to survival. In the first book, she manages to win 'The Hunger Games' along with Peeta. To appeal to the Capital's thirst for reality styles, she and Peeta create a believable love affair.

Unfortunately the Capital are not terribly happy with this. This sinister note is how the second book opens. Katniss is now back in her home district with her mother and younger sister. This happiness does not last for long. To celebrate the 75th Hunger Games, it is announced all previous contestants are to compete instead of choosing new participants. This includes Katniss and Peeta. Then all the fun starts.

This book was a terrible distraction from coursework I had due in last week. Collins keeps the reader hooked. The story is seen from Katniss's perspective so the reader is left guessing. What are people's true intentions in the Hunger Games? Why has there been a crackdown on activity in the districts? Who can Katniss really trust? Which is probably why I read this book in an entire sitting.

Collins paints a torturous and futuristic world. In an interview (at the back of printed copy of the first book) she admits the idea came from channel hopping on the television on evening. She was going from Survivor, other reality TV shows to news coverage of war, famine, people fighting for daily survival. This may explain the emphasis she gives to 'manufacturing' of Katniss. As a participant in the Hunger Games she is given a team to spruce up her hair, nails, everything. In the Capital, presentation is everything. A stance I think our current society is not a million miles away from.

Katniss is a true icon for feminist teens. If I had a teen daughter I would prefer she was reading about strong women than love sick girls; mooning over vampires. Collins' book is full of more admirable role models. Katniss's mother who has powerful healing skills but struggles to cope with the loss of her husband (Katniss's father died in a mining accident prior to the events in the first book). Johannes, a contestant in the Hunger Games who has lost everyone she cares about but is still fighting. Even Prim, Katniss's sister, is a character worthy of admiration.

A fantastic, gripping book that appeals to both teens and adults alike. Can't say fairer than that.

(Belated) Library Loot: 20th April - 27th April





Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Belated post this week due to looming deadline. Then I had a revision session on Tuesday and a dissertation meeting yesterday that sent my head spinning a little.

Onto Library Loot! As I have mentioned in previous posts I have access to two libraries. One is located in the Current District I live in. The other is Next Door To Current District; where I grew up. Both libraries have their pros and cons. One district charges for Inter Library Loans; the other doesn't. One charges more for late fines (oops!) than the other. The list goes on.

This week's loot comes from Next Door Library. It has recently been refurbished and I was feeling nostalgia when I went there. Hence the large number of YA fiction present:



I am trying very hard to avoid this book until after my exam. There have been some mixed reviews and I have a feeling I might be sucked in by the story. So this book will be hanging out on my TBR table for some time.



Another pick from the library selection table (am awfully fond of them!). It's a novel about the Victorian period (tick!) and is about Spiritualism (double tick!) and torrid affairs (ding, we have a winner!). The Crimson Petal and the White appears to have me addicted to this genre of fiction. I don't think Cover the Mirrors will be as awesome as The Crimson.... was but I can keep my fingers crossed.





I loved Paula Danziger when I was a teen. She used to have a book slot on a Saturday morning kid's show called Live and Kicking. Her outfits were always cool with big earrings and chunky jewellery. She may have been responsible for my own fascination with similar accessories. Alas I could not carry them off as well. These books have been a nice distraction although seem a little dated now. Not many teen girls these days would go out on a date wearing a nice sweater and jeans. But the humour is still there with the silly pranks (such as Super Glue-ing everything in the school building). Need to find out if I still have these at my parents' house:

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sunday Salon: What to Read?

The Sunday Salon.com

As some may notice I have been floating around other book blogs the past week. Partly due to course work avoidance. Partly due to looming 'no job post-qualification' which means I need a project to keep me going through unemployment.

Unfortunately nearly every blog I read has books on it I want to read. Two problems arise. One: a majority of the blogs I have found are American-centric. No disrespect to fellow readers on the other side of the pond but their book supplies seem a lot richer. My lack of funds means I am relying on the local library. Well *ahem* technically I still have access to the library near where I used to live which is part of another local authority. So I have access to two sources of books. Yet most books supplied by these bodies are UK-centric. It makes sense, of course. Library users in the UK are more likely to borrow books from writers known in the UK.

E-books are an option. That brings me to Two: Money. Again, with low lack of funds, buying books is something I'd like to avoid. With a looming Mount TBR I really should be tackling that instead of moping about books I can't borrow from either of my local libraries. But it is so tempting when I go into the library and see lots of books smiling back at me (not literally of course, that would be a bit weird!). Or read some fantastic reviews on a book blog.

For those who read many book blogs: how do you decide what to read? How much are you influenced by your fellow bloggers' reviews? Do you access your existing resources, such as a local library? Is there a magic book fairy that leaves you books under your pillow at night? Or kind relatives who supply you with book tokens on birthdays and other celebratory occasions?

Finally, I have not been reading as much as I'd like this week. My sleep patterns are a bit out of kilter. When that happens, I stop reading in bed to help kick start my routine again. There are other things I give up, such as no TV or Internet an hour before bed, but I really dislike giving up reading in my lovely, cosy bed.

Yesterday I gorged myself on the fantastic The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. It's a fabulous YA series and has been touted by Ms as a great feminist book for teen girls. I was going to write a review under this post but I don't think I can do it justice at the moment. Because tomorrow, a deadline is a-looming and I still need to finish off two reports. That's what I get for reading instead of studying.

Despite the attempts by a mad, bad, volcano it is a lovely day here. Blue sky, lots of cheerful looking white clouds. Before I knuckle down to work, I shall be taking a short walk to pick up Sunday rolls and some newspapers for tonight's entertainment.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Book Review: The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom




This is a book I should have mentioned in my library loot post. It has a bright red cover and chickens; a combination that made me look twice. It's a terrible thing to judge a book by its cover but a crime I can be guilty of.

At the moment I'm tweaking some of my review structure. Previously I didn't have a synopsis or outline of the plot. This is due to my personal preference of finding out for myself what a book is about. I can read the blurb on the back; sometimes quite a misleading piece of text. However some people have commented that they prefer a synopsis and that seems in line with some of the other book blogs I've been reading.

So, a synopsis:
Introducing Israel Armstrong, one of literature's most unlikely detectives in the first of a series of novels from the author of the critically acclaimed Ring Road. Israel is an intelligent, shy, passionate, sensitive sort of soul: he's Jewish; he's a vegetarian; he could maybe do with losing a little weight. And he's just arrived in Ireland to take up his first post as a librarian. But the library's been shut down and Israel ends up stranded on the North Antrim coast driving an old mobile library. There's nice scenery, but 15,000 fewer books than there should be. Who on earth steals that many books? How? When would they have time to read them all? And is there anywhere in this godforsaken place where he can get a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper? Israel wants answers!
(From Amazon.co.uk)

First of all, this book really isn't a detective story. It is very much so a book about "books". The plot device of finding the books is a way for Sansom to introduce the story's reluctant hero, Israel Armstrong. Bless him, Israel reminded me a bit of myself. Poor lost soul who reads a bit too much and grows up wanting to be a librarian. Unfortunately he graduated with a 2:2 and has not been able to find a single library job. Instead he's been working in a discount bookshop. As someone who faces a similar future post-qualification, I read this book with a grim smile on my face.

The book is set in Northern Ireland and Sansom is not afraid to make mild jokes about the political situation. In one section Israel mentions the IRA to Ted, his unwilling sidekick, and is sharply reminded of the ceasefire in place (although a bit shaky these days, unfortunately). Due to the gentle and warm nature of the book, these references don't jar too much. Sansom makes other gentle jibs such as Israel trying to resist bacon his hosts have given him for dinner. He also pokes fun at people who say stuff like "My best friend's Jewish" then launch on a tirade of anti-Semite remarks. Alas have encountered some people like that in real life, sadly.

That is what I loved about the book was the people. England Robertson, the black South African minister whose mother loved the United Kingdom so much she named her sons after each country. England adds that Ireland did die as a young boy, a bit of irony there on the author's part methinks. Zelda and Minnie who run the local cybercafe that is not what it seems. The unpleasant Linda Wei, Deputy Head of Entertainment, Leisure and Community Services for Tumdrum and District Council who is addicted to crisps and Diet Coke. Pearce Pyper who seems to be aquintanted with almost any Western culture figure from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Irving Berlin.

The book is written with Sansom's tongue firmly in his cheek. In one sequence Israel is being chased by an Alsatian and shoves a copy of Life of Pi into its mouth to prevent being bitten. To quote "a fine use for a copy of Yann Martel's Life of Pi if Israel said so himself....The dog was whimpering and thrashing about to try and dislodge the Booker Prize-winning fable about the relationship between man and beasts from his mouth, so Israel didn't have much time."

Despite some of the melodrama (after all, many detective novels are melodramatic in nature) there are some true human moments. Israel and Ted attempt to round up the missing books by visiting various patrons in the area. One is Rosie, part-time childminder and part-time barmaid at the First and Last pub, established by an ex-member of the Plymouth Brethren. She lives on a mobile home site in a caravan that has seen better days. Israel comments he's from London and Rosie replies she has an aunt there she'd always love to visit. "Why not?" replies Israel. "Look around," Rosie replies. "Look at where I live."

I am cheered to find out this is indeed first in a series. The book does have that feel to it but that doesn't spoil the reading. To support the message of the book, I have requested an inter-library loan for the next installment.

EDIT: Would like to add that I have been so involved writing this book review that I ignored my glass of wine for an hour! Poor lonely little glass of rose :(

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Library Loot 13th-19th April 2010

I've had some time on my hands lately. This time really should be spent doing coursework but I like to work under pressure. As a distraction, I have been wandering around various book blogs and stumbled upon this rather interesting idea:


Library Loot which is a wonderful idea from Eva at A Striped Armchair.

My low funds mean I have started using my local library for books. Usually I bought them from Amazon Marketplace but I cannot justify that expense any longer. Last week I requested Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and recieved a phone call to say it was in. Yesterday was a surprisingly sunny day so I decided to wander down and collect my book. My local library is only 10 minutes walk from my flat. It's rather small but I was surprised how busy it was.

It's the Easter school holidays and the children's book department was full of toddlers, tweenagers, ratty parents and babes chewing on book corners. The available computers were all in use by the time I left. Turning a corner, I stumbled upon a book group having tea and a good old natter about the book they had been reading. Yes, it might be a small library but it was a used library. And there's nothing nicer than seeing a library in use.

The other advantage to the library is the book displays. I try to read a range of fiction but dislike Amazon's marketing choices sent to my email. One stand appeared to be devoted to How to Use.... books with an emphasis on Web 2.0 such as Twitter and Blogging. They are rather short books but I was amused to see printed books as a resource for Web based tools.

But hey, you want to know what I chose, right? Two books came from the The Herald/Tesco Summer Read campaign. The readers are either all Scottish or based in Scotland (Alexander McCall Smith for one) and small presses are represented as well as big sellers.

Finally (I hear you cry!) here is my library loot for this week:




(These two came from the library stand.)







It is doubtful I will get all of these read this week. Surviving and Corduroy Mansions are both two week loans whilst the rest are four week loans. Currently these books are proving good distraction techniques from looming deadlines.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Ask a stupid question......

Lately I have been dipping my toe back into the blogging waters. Not just writing posts but reading them as well. I have been rather impressed with people who post images of the books they're talking about. So, people who know more than me, what's the best way to do this? I know Blogger allows you to insert an image but is there a better method?

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Death of an ipod Touch

Earlier this week my second ipod Touch in a year died on me (this was a replacement after my first one had some sound problems). I took it to my local Apple store and was told it would cost £106 to repair or I could trade in the frazzled model and get 10% off a new model.

The thing is that I'm not too sure I want to. Sure, I loved my Touch when I first got it. It was so handy to check email, Facebook and Twitter while I was waiting for the kettle to boil. But recently I have become a little uneasy about how much of my life was being swallowed by this little device. Bit ironic posting about the Internet stealing my life on a blog but bear with me.

Sometimes I can't sleep and I would spend hours on the Touch, jumping from app to app. Check out the news? I had my Guardian app. See who else is up at this time? Twitter and Facebook. Still can't sleep? Then I have ZombieFarm to play (don't ask). Trouble is that this started to seep into my 'awake' time. A day before the Touch died, I was horrified to discover that I had spent an hour faffing around on it. An hour! Surely Facebook wasn't that interesting? Although I'm on study leave I still have lots and lots of work to do. Work that wasn't getting done because I was distracting myself with the sodding Touch.

So I have decided to go retro. Him Indoors has an old ipod that lacks the snazzy new Interwebs access that the Touch posses. By doing this I'm hoping I don't waste so much time on doing nothing.

And, on that note, I am going to log off and go to bed ;)

Sunday Salon: DNF

The Sunday Salon.com

I hate not finishing books. Absolutely hate it, even if I'm not enjoying reading it. Over years I have tried to implement a X page number rule. Always a little voice says in the back of my head "What if page X+1 is much better than the previous X pages? Keep going." Hard to do when I survey my Mount TBR which has been culled over the Easter break. I haven't counted my books but I have two tidy boxes and small piles scattered across my room. My two (small) bookcases are usually reserved for books that I plan to keep and are comprised of a mixture of books I have read and TBR books.

In the summer I am moving house after living in my current place for roughly two years. Despite the small space myself and Him Indoors live in, we have gathered a lot of stuff. Memories of our last move made me shudder, due to a combo of weak boxes and too many books. With this in mind the book scythe has been swift and without mercy.

But what book is this post about? The Book of Dave by Will Self. I like Will Self, I like his sarcastic opinion pieces, I liked his appearances on Shooting Stars. But, try as I might, I don't like this book. For those unfamiliar, the story is split between two time zones. One is set in the future after London has suffered from a major flood. This society follows the teachings from 'The Book of Dave'. The other time zone is set in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century and follows the story of Dave, an irate and clearly mental taxi driver going through a painful divorce and custody battle.

The problems I'm having centre around the sections set in the first time zone. Self has quite skillfully built a new world, complete with vernacular language. It's tricky to follow and my brain has been too lazy to follow it. Instead I've been skipping those sections and reading the 'easier' passages set in a more contemporary era. Though someone told me that those sections won't make much sense unless I read the A.D. (stands for After Dave) sections.

This is my second attempt to read this book. I think I'm going to add it to the pile of DNF (Did Not Finish). It hasn't put me off trying another Will Self book though so perhaps I'll return it again.

In other news, I have been re-reading The Crucible by Arthur Miller for a university project. I have to encode a text so I chose Act III of the play. Alas, due to copyright issues, there is no electronic version. I had to key in the Act whilst checking it against my paper copy. Twenty-eight pages later, it's proof read and I can start tagging it.

The Crucible is impossible to avoid if you study Drama or English at an advanced level. At least it was when I was at school (almost ten years ago now!). Due to this it's a favourite of local drama companies because it guarantees bums on seats. To me, a play is not there to be read, it's there to be performed. Although I'm not reading it for this purpose, I have enjoyed re-reading the dialogue and getting caught up in the action of Act III (the act when Proctor confronts the court, Abigail and his wife, amongst other things).

This week's entry might be getting posting a little early. Tomorrow I have Easter lunch with Him Indoors and his family. Then it's off to my parents for Easter dinner. Busy old Easter Sunday.