Reading… The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes. I forgot how easy and fun her books are to read. I did not forget how funny she is. Her sense of humour is just brilliant.

Watching… Still hooked on Grey’s Anatomy. I’m almost at the end of season 9 now. What the hell am I going to do with my evenings when I catch up?

Listening to… TED Talks on my Podcast app while I drive. I’m learning all sorts of things in mostly 16-18 minute time slots.

Drinking… more water….finally!

Focussing on… getting back on track with my weight loss. I’ve been seriously slacking since December. Losing & gaining the same few pounds but I’m trying to be a bit more disciplined again.

Enjoying… some May sunshine in Ireland. Hopefully it lasts through the weekend!Although he hates the sun, my partner in crime, Chief, can’t help but sit out there with me when I’m reading.

Pinning… my own blog posts!

Considering… a trip to Bratislava in the summer.

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A book that was made into a movie:

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

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The third book I read as part of The Big Book Challenge was Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. I thought this would be a good one to read as ‘a book that was made into movie’ because I had just recently been to see it in the cinema. I really loved the movie so I’d hoped I’d enjoy the book as much.

Brooklyn is a romantic drama about a young Irish immigrant moving from a small town in Ireland to Brooklyn, New York. The story follows Eilis as she falls in love, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a romantic novel, it’s much much more than that. 

For many reasons, this book didn’t disappoint. The first thing I loved was that it included my two favourite places in the world, my lovely country Ireland and New York. The second thing I loved was that although it was based in the 1950’s, there was still so much to recognise about Irish culture today. Apparently busy bodies are timeless.

My favourite characters in the book were Eilis, the main character (which is unusual for me because I normally don’t like main characters), Tony, the Italian-American who captures Eilis’ heart and Mrs. Keogh. Although I think I loved this character even more because of the brilliant portrayal of her in the movie by Julie Walters.

The only thing that let the book down for me was a piece of dialogue that really stuck with me from the movie. In it, Eilis has a conversation with Father Flood that goes like this:

Father Flood: We need Irish girls in Brooklyn.
Eilis Lacey: I wish that I could stop feeling that I want to be an Irish girl in Ireland.

I loved Eilis’ line and I looked for it in the book. I suppose if that’s the only fault I can find, it’s not bad going. 

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is from Ireland, wants to read about Irish culture in the 1950s and the reality of immigration, likes romantic drama novels or indeed just enjoys good writing.

Rating: 9.5/10.

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A book “everyone” but you has read:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir written by an American women on a year long journey to Italy, India and Indonesia in an effort to find what is missing from her life. It seems to me that everyone has read Eat, Pray, Love or has at least seen the movie so it seemed like an obvious choice for me for this topic.

I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a book and been frustrated by it at the same time, the way I was with Eat, Pray, Love. The memoir is broken down into 3 sections – Italy, India and Indonesia. Each section has 36 stories, most of which are really well written. I loved everything about her time living in Rome. It transported me to a time and a place and I lapped up her stories of learning Italian, meeting Italian people and most of all, eating delicious Italian food. For a real home-bird, there was a moment or two were I really imagined myself packing my bags and heading for Rome. My favourite character from Elizabeth’s time in Rome was Luca Spaghetti.

India was where my frustrations kicked in. I’ve taken a real interest in meditation lately and I was looking forward to learning all about the author’s spiritual journey. I found this section of the book extremely difficult to read and I think Elizabeth came across really narcissistic. There was a LOT of wallowing and feeling sorry for herself and if I’m honest the term ‘first world problems’ came to mind a couple of times. What salvaged this section of the book for me was Richard from Texas, who was a ‘say it as you find it’ character who often brought Elizabeth back down to earth.

The final part of the book took part in Bali, Indonesia. I learned a lot about Balinese people and how quirky the traditions of the island are. The purpose of Elizabeth’s trip to Bali was to find balance and it seems to me like the perfect place to do it. I hadn’t really considered it before but it is definitely on my list of places to go now. My favourite character from Indonesia, and probably entire book, was the medicine man Ketut. I loved his take on things, his unusual method of measuring age and his broken English. 

Overall, the writing was very good and the author has a great method of capturing the essence of a character. I would give this book a 7 out of 10 and would recommend it. I would just suggest you take the India stage with a pinch of salt.

Yes Please

Amy Poehler is fricking hilarious. I lost count of how many times I laughed out loud whilst reading this book.

All I was expecting from this book was to read something over the Christmas that wasn’t heavy and was entertaining but I actually learned some very valuable lessons from it.

The lessons I learned from ‘Yes Please’:

  1. A good book should make you feel both happy and sad at different times. When a comedian writes a book that does this I’m more impressed because their default  is to make you laugh.
  2. It’s very important to write down the little details about your children, and it’s very important to do it regularly. The small details Amy writes about her children are so important but they’re also easily forgotten as time goes on and their personalities change. I don’t have children but if I ever do I’ve learned how important it is to find a way to record the little things. This goes for other important people in your life too.
  3. It’s never too late to apologise and mean it.
  4. Writing a book is not easy.
  5. You don’t have to stay in a job that you don’t enjoy or stay with a bad boyfriend.
  6. I rely on technology waaaay too much. I should do something about that but I probably won’t.

I Am Malala

‘I Am Malala’  is the autobiography of a courageous young girl called Malala Yousafzai. She is a 16 year old girl from Pakistan, shot by the Taliban for speaking out about her right to be educated.There is roughly 125 million children in the world today without a school place.  This is a story of  just one girl’s struggle to simply exercise her right to an education.

This book allows you to see life from Malala’s point of view, which is vital, as it allows you to see that she is brave beyond her years while also giving you gentle reminders that she is  just a teenage girl who fights with her little brother and likes to wear pink.

The  book is broken down into 5 sections. The story starts with a background on where Malala comes from, specifically her father’s story. To be perfectly honest, the first section of the book is a bit slow and I picked it up and put it down A LOT. By a lot I mean over about a 3 month period. If this happens, persevere, it will be worth it. Once I got past section 1 I read section 2 in about a week and section 3,4 and 5 in one day. I could not put it down.

Malala’s story gave me goosebumps and left me with a sense of guilt for resenting the fact that I had  to go to school all those years. At 26, I enjoyed the book and learned a lot. I believe teenagers could gain some invaluable insight from Malala.  If they are not using this book in second level schools, it’s a crying shame.

The Mystery of Mercy Close Marian Keyes

Challenge Post 1: A Book Review (kinda)

I’m sure you’re all familiar with a well-known Irish author called Marian Keyes and if you’re not, you should be. She’s written dozens of books and I’ve read them all. Typically I like to read sci-fi (ish) books and her writing wouldn’t fall into this category at all. Mostly, I like to read fiction  (which her books are) and typically stories about things that couldn’t happen in real life (there’s enough real life in real life, am I right?). Although Marian’s books wouldn’t fall into this category at all, I adore her style of writing. In my opinion, an author who can make you laugh out loud and sob your heart out on the same page, let alone in the same book is an absolute genius at what they do. I’ve yet to come across a Marian Keyes book where this failed to happen. Her comic timing and sense of humour are second to none. In her latest book –  The Mystery of Mercy Close – she coins the phrase ‘The Shovel List’ which simply is a list of people, things, characteristics etc., that make you want to hit them in the face with a shovel. For me, this was comedy gold and I spent weeks after reading the book hastily adding things to my ‘Shovel List’. As anyone who knows me knows, I’m slightly fond, okay maybe obsessed, with making lists. Any kind of lists. So naturally I decided this blog was a perfect place to share my very own ‘Shovel list’. So here goes (in no particular order, as it changes from day to day):

 

  • Men who find it appropriate to ask me what the offside rule is when they learn I like football, even though they would never ask another man the same question. 
  • People who have seen the way I drink tea a million times saying “sure that’s milky water, not tea”.
  • Wagon wheels (the edible kind. I got them going to school everyday for a million years) Everything about the stupid reality TV show ‘The Only Way is Essex’
  • People who say I need to ‘just’ relax when I’m stressing out. Oh I forgot it was so easy, sure why didn’t I think of that.
  • Getting Diet Pepsi when you ask for Diet Coke
  • Pointy toe shoes on men
  • People who don’t indicate on roundabouts
  • Wasps
  • Skinny people who give out about being fat
  • Cryptic Facebook statuses, such as, “just so happy today” and then when people comment asking why, the answer is always “I’ll private message you”Just don’t post this status if it’s some kind of secret.  
  • Bankers
  • All of the deductions from my pay packet – universal service charge, pension related deductions, spouse & children deductions. I don’t even have a husband or a child?
  • Clowns
  • People who tell you every time they see you that you’ve lost LOOOOADS of weight. No I haven’t. Jesus I must have been the size of a house when you first met me.
  • People who don’t keep their dog on a lead. The law states that you have to, so when your dog comes running up to mine at full speed & my dogs snap a warning of ‘go away’, don’t expect to complain to me.
  • Extremely bold children being extremely bold while their parents look on & do NOTHING
  • People who speak really loudly on the phone whilst using public transport.
  • Actually…public transport itself, for many reasons. People touching off you, the waiting and wondering if it will arrive on time, people eating…don’t they know about all the germs? Ahhh!
  • Construction work on your day off…at ridiculous o clock in the morning.
  • People who ask you a question & then reword your answer into another question. For example…”what time is it?” “3 o clock” “it’s not 3 o clock is it?”
  • People who say “you’d love it” about food to people they hardly know.
  • People who say they don’t like something they’ve never tasted.
  • Pat Kenny
  • People working in supermarkets who put your change down instead of putting it into your open, stretched out hand. Just plain rude.
  • The Irish government

 

Feel free to add to it. I’m sure I will.

 

 For more information on Marian Keyes and her books, check outhttp://www.mariankeyes.com/Home