Monthly Archives: July 2015

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside…

Morning all! 

As you know I’m on a little holiday at the moment. I started at Weston-Super-Mare and now I’m in Ilfracombe, Devon. Goodness me it is breathtaking. I really am at a loss for words. Eveyrtime I walk along the coast, I see something different that catches my eye. 

Thankfully the weather decided to clear up yesterday, with the skies clearing to a gorgeous blue. There is hope of me getting a tan yet! So, before my day on the beach with a number of books, I wanted to share with you the view from my holiday apartment. 
 

It’s really quite therapeutic hearing the waves crash against the rocks, seeing the different boats, each on their own adventures. I’m feeling very lucky to have this on my doorstep – for a little while at least. 

Have a fabulous day everyone!

BL xx 

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Filed under Holiday, Photography, Seaside, UK

The Blogger Recognition Award

  
Wow! Another nomination. I can’t believe it and don’t really know why I deserve it, but a special thank you to Erika @ Erika in Bookventureland for the nomination. Her blog really is amazing. I urge you all to check it out and like/follow her posts. 

This award was originally created by Eve @ Edge of the Night

The Rules:

Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. Do some digging if you must! Find those blogs. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you.
Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you’ve nominated in the post. Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above.)

Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.

Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing!


My Story:
What got me into blogging was reading the book 60 Postcards by Rachel Chadwick. The book is absolutely amazing and I felt truly heartbroken but uplifted by the end of it. The use of a blog in that novel was to bring lots of people together who found postcards Rachel left around Paris in memory of her mother. I love the fact that a blog can bring people together, so this was one of my reasons for starting. I wanted to be a part of something that essentially brings people from around the world together. The second reason was that I could read and learn about different people and places. The feeling of bringing people together from all over is quite special. We all have different opinions and talents and I really enjoy learning about them. Also, writing seems very cathartic. I like this feeling too. There’s nothing quite like getting everything out on a page. 

Then came the issue of what, exactly, I would blog about. Well, I’ve always got my head in a book of some sort and I’m usually supplying baked goods to my students at work. Therefore, my premise came alive. Not original, but personal to me. 

Finally, and only recently I’ve started to branch out by adding posts with my visits to places and my ‘photography’. I use the term photography lightly. It’s basically snaps I’ve taken with my iPhone when I’m out and about. I’m hardly an expert! I do like taking photos though. It’s nice to document where you’ve been and what you’ve seen I think. I’m trying really hard to balance my work/life matters out. Hence why I’m going to lots of places and trying to experience new things. It’s easier at the minute because I’m on my summer holiday. We’ll see how that works out in September!

Basically, that’s my story. I feel lucky because I have some lovely followers who always leave me supportive messages. I’m really enjoying my blog and I think it reflects me well. I hope everyone else enjoys it too! 


My Advice:

I was really scared when I started if I’m honest. What if people disagree with the books I like/dislike and shout at me? What if people find my posts silly and uninteresting? Eventually, I thought sod it! I am doing it for me. So, I post about things I care about and enjoy. But, the best advice I think I could give anyone is to be yourself. Also, blogging is a lot of fun so enjoy it. Go in with no expectations. I’m having the best time and I genuinely thought I was the only one reading my posts. Post about what you want to post about, share posts of things you enjoy. Who cares about what others think? To be fair, the likelihood is that people will like it too! If they don’t, so what? Your blog is for you. So: have fun, enjoy yourself and read around. There are some brilliant blogs out there. 


My Nominations: 

I’ve really no idea if these lovely people have been nominated before, so if you have, well done and I apologise! Feel free to leave if you’re too busy to do also. 🙂 

Smiling Notes

Analee @ Book Snacks

Brandi and Stacy @ Paper Plane Lane

Gail @ Snap Shot Incursive

Emily @ The Geek Undergraduate

Karen @ Simple Life Happy Thoughts

Claire @ Art and Soul

Dublin Bookworm

The Literary Counsellor

Vacation Mode

Nicola @ Literary Ramblings

Miranda @ Violets Vegnecomics

Be Different Buddy

Giovanna @ Book Coma Blog

Daniel @ Daniel Waltztwt

Well done everyone! Enjoy the nomination 🙂 I am looking forward to reading your replies if you take part! 

BL X

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Filed under Award, Nomination

Weston-Super-Mare

It’s holiday time! So, I won’t be posting about book and bakes for a week, (sorry!) but I will be sharing some lovely seaside snaps and photos of different places I’m visiting! 

I’ve also decided that work takes over my life. I’ve already been planning lessons and writing schemes of work for next year. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to make the most of my time and visit lots of new places and be a bit more adventurous. Here’s hoping! 

The first place I have visited it Weston-Super-Mare. Super by name, super by nature. I have and always will love Weston-Super-Mare. There’s something about popping to the seaside, having £1 on the arcades, hearing the waves crash against the rocks and walking along the beach. I always feel at my calmest and my best when I’m by the sea. It’s another childhood love of mine and I have fond memories in Weston. 

The Grand Pier at night.  The Grand Pier in the day.One of the gorgeous views. The otherside with the big wheel. It was a huge success. At the arcades we managed to win: two Minion mugs, 3 Minion rubbers, 2 drumstick lollies and a Pier donkey souvenir. Not bad for a couple of hours entertainment. What a super day. 

Hope everyone is having a lovely day! If you’re on holiday as well share some snaps! I love seeing them 🙂 

BL x

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Filed under Photography, Seaside, UK

The American Fountain – Stratford upon Avon

Whilst I was bimbling around Stratford-upon-Avon today, I noticed in the corner of my eye just how beautiful the American Fountain looked. The clouds seemed to be carpeting it, the flowers showing signs of how summer is here. It brought memories back from my childhood, that made me smile fondly today and look up and admire this stunning clock tower.

When I was a little girl, my family used to tell me that a giant lived in the clock tower and he watched over the town through the windows, keeping everyone safe. My parents told me it was bad manners to walk past without saying anything or knocking to greet the giant. So, every time I walked past the clock tower, I would knock on the door in the hope that I would meet the giant as I always wanted to thank him for keeping an eye on the town I love.

Obviously there is no giant, but whenever I walk past this fountain I always smile, remembering this story. Sometimes life is just too busy and we don’t get chance to stop and look at what is around us. But, today I spent some time re-living a tiny segment of my own history.

IMG_3908

What is the real history behind this clock tower?

In 1887 the town was presented with this Shakespeare Memorial Fountain and Clock Tower (as it is officially known) by an American journalist George W Child’s of Philadelphia. The fountain was built to honour William Shakespeare and Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and was revealed to the town by actor Sir Henry Irving.

The clock tower is Victorian Gothic in style and used to provide water to the town, but doesn’t anymore. It is constructed mainly from Peterhead granite and freestone. It resembles a small gothic cathedral of some sorts. It has its own set of bells which were designed by JA Cossin’s of Birmingham. Each side has a clock, where above each clock face, sits a caricature of a fairy from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Nevertheless, for me, it will always be the tower where the giant lives, who watches over the town. There’s something quite special about that for me. Do you have a place with a story from when you were a child?

Big love x

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Filed under Photography, Stratford upon Avon

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

  
This was one of the books I received for my birthday, and I wanted to get started with it right away. The cover and title incorporates two of my great loves: Paris and books. I know we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but I always do, and this cover doesn’t disappoint. It has a timeless and vintage feel about it, and of course looks very beautiful. 

Originally written and published in German in 2013, we are lucky enough now to have a translated version, by Simon Pare, published this summer. However, it doesn’t read like a translated book. In fact the translation needs to be praised. It reads beautifully, like a song. The prose is delicate yet incredibly moving. There are also some incredibly humorous parts in the novel. The description of the Seine brought all my own memories from my trip back, showing how realistic the description is. 

The novel centres on Monsieru Perdu. French translation = Mr Lost. This sums up the majority of the novel and Perdu himself. He is completely lost and in search of the resolution he desperately needs. 

However, in terms of his work, he is more than a book seller. He calls himself the literary apothecary. 

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

His floating bookstore in a barge on the river Seine is where he describes books for the problems of daily life. He has a talent, and after speaking to visitors to his boat, Perdu mends the broken hearts and souls of his guests by prescribing books. He is pictured as refusing to sell a certain book to a lady, because she isn’t ready for it. This is when he meets Max Jordan, the famous writer of one novel, who has become blocked and seeks relief from his swarm of followers. 

“That customer didn’t need Night right now. She couldn’t have coped with it. The side effects are too severe.”

The twist in the tale, so to speak, is that Perdu is unable to heal himself through literature. His life is marred and haunted almost by his great love, Manon, who disappeared, only leaving in with a letter, that he has refused to open for 21 years. It lies hidden, within his very sparse flat. The description of his own living space actually made me feel incredibly sad. There is virtually nothing there. The characters who show the most life at this stage are his two cats, Kafka and Lindren. 

Catherine arrives on the scene, damaged herself from a relationship that went wrong. After meeting Catherine, who finds his letter, he is persuaded into opening it. He cannot believe what he has read, so he hauls anchor and leaves with Max, on a mission to the south of France. He has hopes of making peace with his loss, to find himself and who he really is, and to heal himself in order to discover the end of his own story. Max too, has high hopes of gathering material for his next novel. 

Whilst on their travels in the boat, they come across a number of interesting people and places. The description is just divine. I felt like I was on this journey with them. They have dealings with the police, spend some time with Anke, Ida and Corinna, meet some Brits when the boat ended up across the river and the wrong way round. Having little money, Perdu traded books for essentials that they needed. It seems to me, quite a delightful way of doing business. 

“Ahoy, you book paramedics. Doing some crazy cruising there!”

One of the most interesting characters they meet for me is Cuneo. He becomes the chef of the group. He creates the most stunning dishes that got my own mouth watering through the description. A lovely little touch at the end of the novel, is a selection of the recipes provided for us to recreate the magic at home. This really is a nice touch, and again for me, another love (baking/cooking). 

Their journey calmly continues, but is abruptly brought to shock as the men witness a woman swirling about in a raging storm in the sea. They haul her in and we learn she is called Samantha, she actively fell in on purpose and wanted to feel alive. For me, she is presented as being the female version of Perdu. Their interaction is significant within the novel – but I won’t reveal too much here! 

“I wanted to know what it felt like to jump into the river in this weather. The river looked so interesting, like soup gone wild. I wanted to know if I’d feel afraid in that soup or if my fear would tell me something important.”

A short while after Perdu decides he needs to find himself on his own. Max meets a girl, falls in love and eventually finds inspiration for writing in a new form. For Perdu he needs to follow his journey to find peace within himself. One thing he does realise is that he needs Catherine in his life, and thankfully she feels the same. 

“I don’t know if it’ll work out or if we can avoid hurting each other. Probably not, because we’re human. However, what I do know now, now that this moment I have craved has arrived, is that it’s easier to fall asleep with you in my life. And to wake up. And to love.”

The end of the journey circles back to his original love, Manon and her husband. They meet, and without revealing too much of the story, Perdu is healed and able to move onto a new relationship. Max has published a new story that is doing well and the novel ends tied up in a neat little bow, dusted with happiness.  

Whilst Perdu is essentially telling this story, there are also two other strands of narration via letters. There are the letters of Perdu and Catherine. As well as this, there is also the diary style of Manon. I appreciated that her chapters has titles and a different font. She is an interesting character and appears to show no mercy. However she acts for others, but this is not revealed until near the  close of the novel. 

“I came because you went.”

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s had to place it in a particular genre. There’s food, travel, healing, love, death, hurt and of course books. Some famous writers are also dropped within the narrative e.g. Orwell and Wilde. My only criticism is that there were a lot of characters, whom I really liked, but they were only fleeting. I wanted more time with them, but then the book would have been criticised for being incredibly long! The relationship between Max and Perdu I did like, they become close like father and son which is incredibly touching. 

As well as the recipes at the end, there is also ‘Jean Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy from Adams to Von Arnim’. Here there is a list of books, what they treat and a list of possible side effects. Again, I saw this as a lovely touch and another reason to make this novel stand out from the crowd. 

My only wish, and curiosity almost, is that I could visit and be recommended a book from the magic healer. Maybe in my dreams, or imagination? 

BL xx

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The BBC Big Read – How Many Have You Read?

The Big Read was a list of 100 books that BBC created after a survey was conducted to find the UK’s most loved novel.

I saw this on Stefani’s blog (I Read Books) and thought I would love to take part in this! It’s always good to look back and also it’s given me an reminder of what to read next. The list is always never ending.

So, here are the books I’ve read/not read/tried to read:

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    this is a bit embarrassing…
  3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling 
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
  7. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne 
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 
  11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    tried and failed… 
  12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 
  13. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
    the BBC series was emotional. Don’t know if I can handle the book yet…
  14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame 
  17. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
    started but didn’t really enjoy so gave up…
  20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling 
  23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling 
  24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
  25. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  26. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch by George Eliot
    a rather large book that I started and then put down…
  28. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  30. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 
  31. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson 
  32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl 
  36. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson 
  37. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  39. Dune by Frank Herbert
  40. Emma by Jane Austen 
  41. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  42. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  43. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
  44. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm by George Orwell 
  47. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 
  48. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian 
  50. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher – who?
  51. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 
  52. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 
  53. The Stand by Stephen King
  54. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG by Roald Dahl 
  57. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome 
  58. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  59. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  60. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman 
  62. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  63. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – I need to read this. 
  64. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  65. Mort by Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus by John Fowles
  68. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  69. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda by Roald Dahl 
  75. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding 
  76. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins 
  78. Ulysses by James Joyce
    a massive book. Maybe one day?
  79. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson 
  81. The Twits by Roald Dahl 
  82. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  83. Holes by Louis Sachar 
  84. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
  85. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson
  87. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons 
  89. Magician by Raymond E. Feist
  90. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  92. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
  93. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine by Anya Seton
  96. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
  98. Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson 
  99. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot 
  100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

I’ve read a total of 35. I’m not sure if I’m pleased with this or not!! Haha. There’s some books on here that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read because they just aren’t my kind of thing e.g. Ulysses. However, there are some books on here that I completely forgot, and some which have been on my book shelves for years. Also, I’m ashamed to say that there are some writers on here I’ve never even heard of. Oops. Nevertheless, this has been great. Why don’t you give it a go?
Big love x

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My Top Ten Favourite Opening Lines In Literature

Morning everyone! 

So, I’ve been thinking about this post in the back of my mind for a while now as it’s something I really wanted to do, and it’s another perfect opportunity for people to take part with their own ideas also. 

We all have our favourite novels, characters, writers, genre etc, but sometimes we can experience that same ‘wow’ feeling just from an opening line. There’s even some novels I’m not a massive fan of, but there are lines within them that I just think are perfection. As author Richard Peck said “You’re only as good as your opening line.”

Just to say, these aren’t in any sort of order, just what came to me first on my lazy Sunday morning, with a little explanation of why I picked them. I hope you enjoy them! 

1.

“How on earth could I have let them talk me into it?”

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

This was one of the books I got for my birthday and what a cracker of an opening line. We’ve all been there. We’ve all asked ourselves that very question. I’ve got a review of this book to write up soon as well. 

  
2.

‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

I always ponder over whether or not Ms Rowling actually knew what a worldwide phenomenon this was going to become, or how many people she would inspire. 

  
3.

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.’

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens 

This is probably one of the most famous opening lines, and what a line it is. It is a paradox, representing the period of time during the French Revolution. I have a slight confession, I’ve never read this book, and yet I know the opening lines off by heart. 

  
4.

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green 

This opening line raises numerous questions, especially why a 17 year old is contemplating her own mortality. This book is tragic and heartwarming at the same time. I found Hazel and Augustus, two incredibly inspirational characters. 

  
5.

‘In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”.’

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

So, I may have cheated here and given the first two lines, but you really need both of them. Regardless of the novel (which I LOVE), this advice is useful to everyone. Personally, I believe that this advice is as relevant today as it was during Fitzgerald’s time. Gatsby is one of my all time favourite pieces of writing. 

  
6. 

‘The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.’

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde 

I studied Oscar Wilde at university and immediately fell in love. His way with language, how he creates stunning description, his comments on society, is an art. If I close my eyes I can visualise this scene. It’s almost unbelievable that this book was used in the trial against him that ultimately sent him to prison. 

  
7.

‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: one or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, and what is the use of a book, thought Alice, without pictures or conversation?’ 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

And so unlocked the doors to a world of magic and mystery. A world where it is perfectly acceptable to be different and quirky. Every young girl has always wanted to be Alice, and I am no exception. I always got annoyed that I wasn’t pretty and blonde like the Alice in the Disney film. 

  
8. 

‘It was as if a curtain had fallen, hiding everything I had ever known.’

Voyage in the Dark – Jean Rhys

For me, Jean Rhys is an unsung heroine of the mid-twentieth century. She writes about the treatment of women, the pain they suffer physically and mentally and how men act towards them. I met her through reading Wide Sargasso Sea, where she gives Bronte’s Bertha from Jane Eyre a voice. 

  
9.

“Who am I? And how, I wonder, will this story end?”

The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

Again, I’ve been naughty because I’ve used the first two lines, but, this novel is magical. Everyone deserves a love like this in their lives. Truly breathtaking. 

  
10.

‘Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him.’

The Bell – Iris Murdoch

I studied this text for my A levels and it was like a new world had opened up. I remember reading it on a sun lounger on holiday in Cyprus. I can see this image like it was yesterday (despite it being 7 years ago!) I don’t have that memory of the details of reading a book for many others. Murdoch is a talented writer. I must read more of her work. 

  
I hope you have enjoyed these opening lines. For me, it’s been nice to refresh my memory and remind myself of the writers I need to read more of! I challenge all of you to pick your own favourite lines – I can’t wait to read them. 

Have a great weekend, big love x

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Filed under Literature, Quotes