Books · Jottings

Jottings #1

I had noticed that I had been rather quiet on the blog lately, not because I have nothing to say because actually I do but I have not had the inclination to get writing. Upon reflection, I should have been writing as I realise how therapeutic it is or at least can be.

So I thought I would just do a jottings post and tap into the title of the blog which makes sense really. So here are my thoughts on various topics, books plus a few links along the way.

I seem to have slightly lost my reading mojo for two reasons

a. having too many books on the go!

b. knowing that I was not enjoying the book I was reading and how on earth was I going to review it. The book in question was Helen Dunmore’s Zennor in Darkness. Thank you to everyone who commented and it is interesting to see how we take on some sort of guilt about not liking a book that others rave about!

My mojo is probably back as I was lucky enough to be sent a wonderful debut novel by M.L. Stedman – The Light Between the Oceans. Thank you to Alison Barrow from Transworld. I have not reviewed it as of yet, because this is a book and a review which I want to take my time over, and there are lots of things I want to say about the book but I will publish the review around the time of publication on 26 April. In the meantime here is the ‘blurb’

This is a story of right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same.

1926. Tom Sherbourne is a young lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The only inhabitants of Janus Rock, he and his wife Isabel live a quiet life, cocooned from the rest of the world.  One April morning a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a crying infant – and the path of the couple’s lives hits an unthinkable crossroads.  Only years later do they discover the devastating consequences of the decision they make that day – as the baby’s real story unfolds …

M L Stedman’s debut is a mesmerising novel of love and loss and unbearable choices.

Once I had finished this book I could not decide what next to read, it felt disloyal to start something new. So I have carried on reading a rather 2012 themed book which is Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith. It is quite interesting although I do not feel I have learnt anything outstandingly new about her. The Queen not the author. I feel it is rather geared to an American audience, but I will not let that put me off and it is written chronologically and I have just got up to the Silver Jubilee celebrations so about half way through.

However I do not think this book is a patch on Andrew Marr’s The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and her People which I have yet to read but thoroughly enjoying the BBC TV series for which this book accompanies. (It was also a Kindle Daily Deal – and worth the £1.59) I have learnt from this programme  – that the HMY Britannia (which should never have been decommissioned – but that is a another story) was actually meant to be a nuclear bunker for the Queen in the event of nuclear war. Fascinating and even more so because I work with an ex RN Petty Officer who served on the ship that guarded the Royal Yacht and even he did not know about it. Some secrets can be kept.  I look forward to reading this book. I also have The Final Curtsey by Margaret Rhodes, (The Queen’s first cousin) to read. 2012 could be the year for reading royally!

In all things celebration in 2012, I give you the link for you to read at your leisure. Why is 2012 a year to remember? Although we are only two months into this celebratory year, who would have thought that it was 70 years since the film Casablanca was made! And with the Olympics happening this year, 2012 will remain a year to remember in the future.

World Book Night is in its second year this year and I have been lucky enough to be chosen to give out 25 books – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It is my favourite book and also my mum’s who first got me into the book and we both have watched the film version, the TV series and also a stage play. Fabulous. I am so excited about this and I hope to give some of the books away on this blog for anyone that has not read it or for those who have but just want to take part!

The old reading mojo might be a little wobbly, but the swimming one seems to be there. I have swam 4Km in the last week, mainly because I have not had any PT sessions. Some days are harder than others, especially when you have had only 5 hours sleep the night before and up at 0515. Power through and I got there, but I am glad of the weekend to have some time to relax (and sleep!)

Reading newspapers is not something I do on a frequent basis unless I am on holiday, I see it as a luxury especially in the days of instant news on 24 hour television and the internet. Saturday is the day I do buy a paper (Daily Express) mianly for the TV listings for the following week and because it is bliss to settle down and spend the time to read the paper. However I signed up to reading The Telegraph on the iPad because I had a subscription through work and was just going to try out and see what it was like. I am hooked. Secretly a bit like feeling guilty about not liking a book you are reading, I always feel I should be reading a newspaper which is a bit more highbrow and less tabloidy. All the news aside I have got into doing the quick crossword, and seeing the next day whether I was right or not is quite satisfying and I am surprising myself with what I know.

This post has turned into a bit of a reading, book related post which is fine as I am going to continue that theme with words. Whilst flicking through the Which magazine that arrived at work this week, I came across the article about Food Labelling, you can read the online article in full here. I read the one from the magazine, not that dissimilar. What interested me was the ‘creative writing’ that supermarkets and food manufacturers use on products.

A visit to the supermarket can bombard you with labels that use creative language…Words such as ‘real’, ‘homemade’ and ‘hearty’ draw people in because they allude to feelings of comfort. Although not legally defined…on the use of the term ‘homemade’ – it shouldn’t be used on factory-made foods, only on products prepared in a domestic kitchen.

Now here is a term that I think could catch on ‘Weasel Words’, wonderful alliteration. Defining ‘Weasel Words’

Heather Hartwell, associate professor in food service and applied nutrition at Bournemouth University told us [Which] “These words fall into the “affective” category. They allude to emotions tat can trigger happy memories such as grandma’s apple pie. Other words provide a sensory description – ‘crisp’, ‘succulent’ and ‘rich’ are used frequently on premium products to indicate luxury. In the industry these are known as ‘Weasel Words’.

Who knew that doing your weekly shop could be such a literary experience. And apparently we are all being conned by the difference between ‘flavour’ and ‘flavoured’.  Manufacturers are banking on us not realising the difference, so to inform you all as i feel this sort of information should be shared:

Flavour – can mean something from artificial flavouring.

Flavoured – has to contain the natural ingredient.

Rest assured that I am going to eat my “Homemade Butternut Squash Soup flavoured with garlic. It has been made in a domestic kitchen – Tick!. It has got the natural ingredient garlic in it – Tick! And there is not a food manufacturer with a labelling problem within sight – Tick!

6 thoughts on “Jottings #1

  1. I’ve been enjoying Andrew Marr’s new doc series about the queen too. very very interesting and I agree with you about Britannia. I’d forgotten it was Blair’s gov. that was responsible for that bit of meaness. It seemed in the interview that he now regretted it.

    I like the sound of The Light Between Oceans so will keep an eye out for that in a couple of months.

    Congrats on your success in being chosen for World Book Night!

    I have Zennor in Darkness on my tbr pile. I come from that region so thought I ought to try it. I’ll have to give it go sometime and see what I think.

    We only buy a paper on Saturdays too and it’s always The Telegraph. I like their various supplements, especially the Review for all its book talk.

    1. Andrew Marr did make him squirm – good! If we did not pay Blair so much, we could afford another yacht!

      1. Hi Jo and Cath,

        I couldn’t agree with you more about the terrible decisions made by Tony Blair, with regard to Britannia. The sight of The Queen crying as she said goodbye to her, was heart-wrenching.

        I am also enjoying the documentary, one of the most personal and comprehensive ever IMHO.

        Whilst I may be slightly of the opinion that we pay too much to many of the ‘hangers on’ on the outskirts of The Royal Family, the propsect of the UK ever becoming a Republic, doesn’t bear thinking about …. ‘President Cameroon’ ….. I think not!

  2. Ooh, I got The Diamond Queen on the daily deal too, and now I can’t wait to start reading it!

    And I have added The Light Between Oceans to my wishlist, it sounds wonderful.

  3. I feel exactly the same about the Marr programme and Britannia, I still haven’t got around to visiting her at Leith, Edinburgh. I really admire the Queen but Charles is too opinionated and he’ll have to change if he is going to be a good king – something which I dread!

    I love Rebecca too, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read it, it’s like an old friend.

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