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January 30, 2016 / ljbradburn-Smith

Outside Enemies

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You’ll probably know by now about my overprotective nature when it comes to my baby animals so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I struggled when it was Moon’s turn to venture out in to the big bad world where cars live. I was of course worried about all the usual suspects that might harm a young kitty, wild animals, other cats, roads, sharp fences and thorns and some more unusual ones too (her own brother who might finally see her being outside as a way to dispose of her and claim back his kingdom).

But what I wasn’t worried about, when I clearly should have been, was the leaf epidemic which is rife around our front door. Poor Moony, with no support from the other cats or her loving human parents, has taken it upon herself to round up these terrors, bravely assassinate them and drag them singlehandly through the catflap to try and open our eyes to the harsh reality of leaf hunting and the dangers we all face on a daily basis (particularly in Autumn).

Thank god for her kitten courage. We salute you Moony.

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October 18, 2015 / ljbradburn-Smith

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

we area a

When I started reading this book, on our honeymoon, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the emotional rollercoaster I found myself on. I think it is safe to say that had I not mainly been reading this novel in public, by the side of a pool, I would have cried even more than I did! Be prepared for this novel to shock you and to force you to open your eyes to some unpleasant truths about the world we live in.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves begins in the middle and is told through the eyes of Rosemary, Karen Joy Fowler’s twenty-something protagonist, who, until the age of 5, had two parents, one brother and a twin sister. That was until the visit to her Grandparents, which Rosemary remembers being accompanied by feelings of guilt and exclusion, when everything changed. Fowler’s protagonist describes her 5-year-old self’s confusion and distress over returning from the week-long trip to find her sister gone and her family in equal measures distraught and angry. With no trace of her twin, Fern, left in the house, and no-one mentioning her name or why she disappeared, Rosemary is left wondering what happened to her sister and if she will ever see her again. A few years later her older brother, Lowell, who has never forgiven his parents for Fern’s disappearance, takes off, leaving Rosemary as an only child to two parents whose ability to talk about anything remotely relating to feelings seems to have become pretty much non-existent. Rosemary’s chatter is replaced by silence as she comes to terms with the breakdown of her family and loneliness in the face of losing her childhood companions.

We join Rosemary at the point that she leaves for college and meets Harlow, a drama student whose wild and impulsive character resonates with Rosemary’s past. This life transition, along with meeting Harlow seems to spark a chain of events which lead to Rosemary finally facing up to her past and coming to terms with her own role in Fern’s disappearance.

The structure of this novel is interesting because it isn’t told in chronological order. We first meet Rosemary in her twenties, only to be taken back to the beginning of her story, to the middle again, back to the beginning and to many years later as she describes the events before and after her sister’s disappearance and how they affected the whole family. In her novel Fowler explores the importance of what is not said as well as the things that are. She pits action against blind eyes and screams against silent grief. Of all her themes and stories within this novel what struck me were her observations on human and animal behaviors and the importance of the first few years of a child’s life in shaping its future. The way in which Fowler tells the story of Rosemary’s childhood from her adult self’s perspective allows her to explore the way in which retrospect can shape and twist experiences in our past.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves has a secret. A secret which is the key to the novel and which, once it is revealed, means you would never be able to read the novel in the same way a second time. Looking back now to when I started the novel I feel that I immediately sensed a difference in Rosemary and her behaviour, that hinted at the yet-to-be-revealed plot twist, but that is probably just retrospect talking.

Well written, stark and thought-provoking this wasn’t quite the lighthearted holiday read I expected, but then what use is a novel really if it doesn’t make you think? Rosemary and Fern; two very different plants but plants all the same.

October 8, 2015 / ljbradburn-Smith

When I am Queen of The world…

It won’t be called a dictatorship, it will be called a friend-ship and no-one will be able to argue because I will be the Queen 😉

Here are the rules:

  • There will be world peace.
  • Potatoes, peanut butter, pasta and bread will be free (and have no calories).
  • Money will grow on trees – it is paper after all.
  • No-one will suffer.
  • Floors will be self-cleaning and hoovers will only be kept as pets.
  • All parks will have giant cinema screens in them.
  • There will be an extra day off in the week called duvet day which involves being incredibly comfortable all day. By law.
  • There will be smiling competitions.
  • Adults will get play times!
  • Headaches will be obsolete.
  • Everyone will have enough food.
  • Chocolate will be slimming.
  • Teleportation will be commonplace.
  • Blankets will be acceptable work attire.
  • Animals will talk.
  • Unicorns will exist.
  • It will be normal to admit you are crazy.
  • Kisses will be currency.
  • Cars will drive and more importantly park themselves.
  • Heels will not hurt your feet.
  • Reading in fields will be a legitimate job.
  • Magic will be real.
  • Ghosts won’t be shy.
  • It will snow in England every year.
  • Confidence won’t ever turn into arrogance.
  • Everyone will own a hoverboard.
  • Christmas will be quarterly.
  • and pigs will fly
September 30, 2015 / ljbradburn-Smith

Lio’s Bookerview

lio and moon

It’s true i’m biased, but it is also true that Liorah is one of the cutest children in existence. Not only is she my beautiful littlest sister but she is also a lovely, kind and considerate friend. Here is her Bookerview. I dare you not to find her more than a little bit cute..

1. What is your favourite book?
Young Sherlock Holmes

2. What are you reading at the moment?
Young Sherlock Holmes

3. Do you prefer reading by yourself or with someone else?
By myself

4. Books or the wii?
Wii

5. Do you think it is important to read?
Yes – So you can find out some important things/Find out how to spell some things…….

6. How many bookcases do you have in your house?
4 – Just enough

7. Do you prefer films or book? Why?
Book –
A)Because it dosen’t break when it gets scratched
B)Because it dosen’t get picsalated in the middle
C)Because you can use your imaginationon what the characters look like

8. How many books would it take to reach the clouds?
It depends on how thick they are

9. What have you learnt from reading?
A lot

10. Who is your favourite author?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

11. Me or books?
You

12. If you wrote a book what would you call it?
ALL ABOUT BENEDICT C – I’m his biggest fan

13. If you had a pen-name what would it be?
Zoey Red

14. How many books could you carry at once?
Depends on the size

15. Quickfire questions:

Books or Milkshakes? Books
Kindle or paperback? Paperback
Fiction or non-fiction? Fiction
Male authors or female authors? Male Authors
Books or maths? Books

16. Finish the sentence:
Books are awesome because….your imagination can go wild.

September 29, 2015 / ljbradburn-Smith

Festival season for me starts in the Autumn and involves tents…

….full of books.

It’s Cheltenham Literature Festival time again, and having learnt my lesson last year, when I missed out on Margaret Atwood tickets, I signed up as a member, crossed my fingers and stared at my computer screen as my place in the queue ticked down. Luckily for me (and my Mum) the finger crossing and breath holding paid off and I managed to get the tickets we wanted. Thank you sneaky advanced tickets for members!

I might have mentioned to you before that I love Audrey Niffenegger‘s novels and that I am not-so-patiently waiting for her to write more. I might have even confessed that I think she is one of the greatest writers ever, so when I tell you that I will soon be seeing the real life her (in the actual flesh) you can imagine my excitement.

If you are still in any doubt as to just how excited I am about the possibility of seeing, and possibly even meeting, one of my favourite authors then i’ll just tell you this, last year when I caught sight of Margaret Atwood, doing a book signing I cried. Actual tears.

September 2, 2015 / ljbradburn-Smith

Stardust

Stardust

Stardust is awesome. It has an awesome plot, awesome imagery and awesome characters. Oh and Neil Gaiman is awesome too. I could leave it there but I won’t…

Unusually for me, I watched the film of Stardust before I read the novel. As a general rule I am a big fan of reading the book first and having fun in my own little imaginary world (where nearly all male characters look like Ben) before someone else inserts their imaginings in to my visual brainbank, but in this case watching Stardust made me realise how much I was bound to love Neil Gaiman and his books, because, to my shame, I hadn’t really thought about him much before. I decided then and there that a film so quirky and delightfully sarcastic could only be based on an equally funny and bizarre book and I wasn’t wrong.

Stardust is set in Victorian England and recounts the story of a young man, Tristran (changed to Tristan in the film), who goes on a journey to prove to his unrequited love, Victoria, that he is worthy of her hand in marriage. Promising to bring her a fallen star, they witnessed crashing to earth one night, he makes the brave and reckless decision to venture beyond the wall that separates his village, Wall, from Faerie, the magical world beyond. Oblivious to the dangers he faces or what he will find when he reaches the fallen star, Tristran embarks on a journey which ends up becoming less and less about claiming a prize for the superficial Victoria and more and more about discovering the magical world of Faerie and love’s true face.

Stardust has been referred to, by the great Gaiman, as a fairytale for adults and, like the more traditional fairytales it certainly depicts the darker side of life as well as the wonderful. The fairytale simplicity to Gaiman’s writing, coupled with his complex and enticing imagination and unrivaled sense of humour, makes him a truly wonderful storyteller and makes Stardust a novel like no other. With his Victorian setting intertwined with modern ideas and humour Gaiman spans space and time seamlessly and takes the reader on a beautiful, strange journey.

As delightful and funny as it is dark and occasionally disturbing this book has it all……long-lost parents, unlikely heroes, flying pirates, witches, lust, gore, sex and talking stars.

In the words of Neil Gaiman “It’s a fairytale, It’s like an ice cream. It’s to make you feel happy when you finish it.” I can tell you now there really is nothing else your heart could possibly desire.

p.s If you would like more of his words on Stardust you can find them here.

August 27, 2015 / ljbradburn-Smith

Work Versus Fluffy Things

I have been accused, in the past, of overanalysing situations and some may say that what I am about to describe falls in to this category, but I challenge you to prove that when I am trying to work from home and my kitten, Moon, is spending all her precious kitten playing time and energy trying to drag my hand away from the computer mouse, desperately beating up the screen with her tiny little paws and then blocking my view, whilst looking at me as if to say ‘this is not what life is all about’, that she isn’t trying to tell me that we, as a society, spend too much time consumed by work.

I am pretty sure that I am not misinterpreting this, as most non-cat communicators would probably have me believe, and that her wildly energetic display and defiant glare was her way of showing me that my days would be much better spent doing something worthwhile, like working for an animal charity or running around playing kitteny games.

As if any further proof was needed, the second I took a break from work to write this blog post, satisfied that I was finally doing something useful with my day, she instantly moved on to her next campaign, involving the current fly-in-the-house situation, and is now trying to catch the fly, whilst also swatting at my dreamcatcher to rid it of the bad dreams of work it has undoubtedly caught. I mean who likes flies and nightmares!

This kitten; she knows.

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