Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Reading Habits Tag & 500 Likes

Firstly, I just wanted to say a massive thank you! I received this notification: 


I can’t believe it! Thanks for all the support guys. I really appreciate it and I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve it, but it means a lot. Now onto the latest tag! 


I was tagged by the wonderful Calliope The Book Goddess to complete this tag. It’s a good one so thank you very much!!

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

I usually read in bed. More often than not I read before I go to sleep. I find it really relaxing. Sometimes if I wake up really early I’ll read then as well. I also read on my sofa. It’s a bit of a posh one, a cream leather recliner. So, I associating reading with comfort. 

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

I have hundreds of bookmarks from all kinds of people and places. I try and collect them if I’ve been somewhere or if I see one that I thinks really pretty. Sometimes I use postcards as well, but these can be too big for my books. 

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop at the end of a chapter/a certain amount of pages? 

I’m a bit funny about this actually… Don’t judge! I have to finish the chapter otherwise I get confused or forget what’s happened. I can’t just leave it, I can’t physically do it. I’m not too fussed about a certain amount of pages, but I do like to see how many I’ve got left and how much progress I’ve made as well. 

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Oh dear. I’m quite clumsy, so I try to keep this to a bare minimum. Sometimes you do get peckish though so that’s always a slight problem. I make sure the book is away from any food or drink. But, I read in coffee shops all the time and there’s food and drink near me. Hmmmm. I think I need to think about this more! I realise I sound crazy. 

Multitasking: music or TV whilst reading?

Nope, not really. I am good at blocking out sound though, so I could do it if I wanted to. But, I’d rather enjoy the book/music/TV individually rather than blurring them all together. 

One book at a time or several at once?

I can only concentrate on one book at a time. If not, I get the plot, characters and themes all mixed up and I don’t remember which goes with what story. Nightmare! 

Read at home or everywhere?

Anywhere and everywhere. I read at home, at work (perks of the English teacher job!) in cars, coffee shops, trains, parks etc. you get the gist! 

Read aloud or silently in your head?

I prefer to read in my head because I can read quicker that way. I’m actually not a fan of reading aloud because I tend to miss words out. I hated it at school. I read aloud at work as well (another perk of the job!?) but I much prefer it in my head. 

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

Nope to both. Short and sweet answer for this one! 

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I’m funny about this as well. I try really hard to keep my spines as new. I understand that creases and marks show how well read and loved a book is, but for me I like to keep things as smart as possible. Books are there to be celebrated and loved, and for me keeping them as new is my way of showing my love and appreciation. However, the majority of my books are from second hand shops so they have all kinds of marks on them. I always wonder where they came from and what types of people owned them before. 

Do you write in books?

I used to write in my books when I was doing my A levels because it was easier, but never ever since then. Since then, I always write my notes on any extra bits of paper or a notebook. Then I put my notes in folders. Super organised! 

What are your reading habits? I tag:

Liam @ Liam’s Library

Erika @ Bookventureland

Amy @ Curiouser and Curiouser

Miss Quickly

Giovanna @ Book Coma Blog

Claire @ Art and Soul

Giselle @ Hardwork Boulevard

Lara @ Katnisspotterbooklover

If you’re too busy, or you’ve done this before don’t worry! Im really rubbish at keeping up with who has done what! Thanks again for this tag. 



Filed under Award, Blog, Nomination, Tag

The Clothes On Their Backs – Linda Grant

Morning all!

Today, I’m going to review The Clothes on Their Backs. The Clothes on Their Backs was a really interesting, if not predictable novel. I’ve read a Linda Grant novel before, We Had It So Good, but I really did not enjoy it. I found it a bit flat. Therefore, I went into reading this novel with little expectations. I was surprised! The plot was seamlessly fluid. The themes are not lightweight, but the artful crafting of language makes it feel like you are breezing through the plot. The themes are as relevant today as they were when this novel was originally published in 2008, they tend to stay with you after you’ve read the novel. 

The novel centres around Vivien Kovaks. She comes from a family of Jewish-Hungairian immigrants who arrived in 1938. They are relieved and grateful to England for giving them refuge. Vivien is the niece of Sandor Kovacs. He is presented as a deeply layered character throughout the novel. He is a rent baron, who made his fortune from the new London Afro-Caribbean immigrants in the 50s and 60s. The houses were a disgrace and incredibly small. Violence was used to remove tenants that were deemed unprofitable. Grant notes that this character was inspired by Peter Rachman. 

Sandor is a distant figure in Vivien’s childhood. Her father, Ervin, alludes to a past history where her uncle is a bad character and influence. At this time, it is still secret. Vivien has a vivid memory of Sandor and his girlfriend at the time appearing at the door of the family’s London apartment. She was 10 years old. The visit from her uncle threatens to disrupt their new peaceful lives in England. Sandor had bought a Toblerone for his niece, which her father forbade Vivien to have. Instead, she saw the girlfriend eat it as they walked away. 

‘He opened the gilt clasp of the girl’s crocodile bag and pulled out a bar of Toblerone the size and weight of a hammer.’

Ervin is adamant that nothing good will come out of his brother, and rather predictably (Ervin’s opinion), 8 months later, Sandor is sent to prison in a blaze of newspaper headlines. It is here that Ervin decides to change one letter of their last name, in order to break away any links between himself and Sandor. Vivien, like any curious 10 year old, is fascinated by the colourful character she saw for a split second at the door. The men parallel each other. Ervin is repeatedly seen hiding behind the door, scared of everything, whereas Sandor is presented as open, honest with nothing to hide. 

“Don’t ask questions. No one ever had a quiet life by asking questions, and a life that isn’t peaceful is no life at all.” 

Whilst Sandor is in prison, Vivien’s life takes a dramatic and tragic turn. Her husband dies in a freak accident days into their honeymoon. She returns home to her parents where it seems she is destined to live her previous life. However, a chance encounter with Sandor in a park saves her. It’s obvious that they know each other’s identities, but Vivien and Sandor act as if they are really strangers. Vivien gives him a false name, Miranda, as she is employed as his secretary. Sandor is writing his memoirs and needs her to take notes. The story she is given appears to be the story she’s been searching for all her life: her history. Questions regarding her parents, her uncle, where they came from and why. 

‘There were several moments in this conversation when I could have told my uncle who I was, and there were times too, I later understood, when he could have revealed himself to me too, for her recognised me at once, and not because he had a good memory, but because my father had gloatingly gone to see him in prison…’

Here the plot splits into Sandor’s relevations regarding his life, and Vivien’s intimate relations with Claude, one of Sandor’s tenants. Initially skeptical of what she is being told, she does come to empathise with her uncle. Someone is bound to make a profit out of a bad situation, what’s the harm if it’s you? In the background of the plot, contextually, the rise of the National Front in the 1970s is gaining momentum, and there is a feeling of increasing racial tension within London. Sandor worries about his girlfriend, Eunice. Vivien hands out leaflets for the Anti-Nazi League. There is a growing feeling of unease that this is all going to explode. Of course, it does when Sandor throws Vivien a 25th birthday party. It’s lavish and beautiful and results in the two admitting who they are, partly because Vivien’s parents attend. 

Throughout that summer, my parents’ fear and paranoia had been growing, until their anxiety burst out on to the surface and what had been a dream existence, a pleasant half-life, suddenly seemed to them like a walking nightmare.’ 

The party, overall, was a success, despite her father insulting Eunice. Despite this, Vivien felt unable to return home, so her uncle gave her a flat for free and she continued to make notes on her uncle’s memoirs. She also spends a lot of time reading and being with Claude. Sandor and Eunice plan their wedding and move in together. Sandor is more and more concerned about the types of people in the area where Eunice lives and is desperate for her to move in with him. 

“A different class of person lives over there… And not a nice class.” 

Vivien and Claude’s sexual relationship comes to an end, as they argue about Viven’s abortion. Knowing that violence would be the answer, she remained vague regarding the details to her uncle. Nevertheless, Vivien walks in on her uncle, Claude, blood and a knife. Knowing the police would send Sandor back to prison, only an ambulance was ordered. Vivien makes the call, and the police come. It was the end of Sandor. 

‘My uncle was in a cell and as soon as I saw him, I knew he was finished. I could tell that he would not survive and he didn’t.’ 

The novel ends with Vivien back in her parents flat listening to the tapes of her uncle. She gives them to Eunice, who still defends her love Sandor. The circular narration of the plot means the novel ends with Vivien and Eunice, some years later, just as the novel started. We as a reader have been on a whole journey of Viven’s life throughout the space of just under 300 pages. Eunice persuades Vivien to buy a red dress in order to reinvent herself. Clothes in this novel act as a means to show how they make you feel. They are the disguise we can take on and off or discarded if we no longer want them. We can’t trust that Vivien really knows who she is, despite the events within the novel. 

‘Whether they are true or false (and I have no cause to doubt them), this past is the only one I’ve got, there is no other available.’ 

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s not overly political, it doesn’t punch you in the face, but it leaves you questioning the hypocrisy of it all. Is it predictable? Potentially. However, the novel is successful at presenting a female view of this period of time. The growing unease nationally matches the growing unease felt by Ervin. There is a reason why this novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and why it won an Orange prize. Definitely worth a read. 

BL xx

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Filed under Book review, Historical Fiction, Literature

The Dragon Loyalty Award 

Hello everyone!! 

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet for a few days, I went back to my old school for results day. I’m so proud of my Year 11s. Hard work pays off! Anyway, I’ve got some free time now so I’m back!

I was tagged by the lovely Sumana @ An Artsy Appetite for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. Thank you so much! I need to apologise for the amount of time it’s taken me to do this. Thank you so much and I’m sorry!!


Here are the rules:

1) Display the award on your blog/website.

2) Announce your win and post the link and thank the person who nominated you.

3) Present/Pass on the award to deserving bloggers

4) Drop them a comment and let them know that you’ve nominated them.

5)Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

7 Interesting things about me!

1. I love a good thunderstorm. I genuinely think you can’t quite beat it. It clears the air and somehow, it just feels different after a storm, as if some of the pressure has been lifted. This has been brought back intomy consciousness because of the number of thunderstorms we’ve had in the past couple of days. 

2. I write a lot of lists. I can’t live without them. I have lists about lists. Of course, they are all written on pretty paper or colourful post it notes. The reminder to complete this blog post when I was back from work, was written on a list. 

3. I like to grow things. As a family we grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables. This summer we have had a brilliant crop of potatoes. I’m currently growing a lemon tree. He’s doubled in size since I bought him a couple of months ago, and I’ve had two lemons from him. He’s called Lionel. 

4. I’m a bit ‘OCD’ about things. I have to have things in their right places and in order or I don’t really function too well. My books and DVDs are in alphabetical order for example. As I always say: a tidy house is a tidy mind! 

5. When I was little, I had really long, straight hair that I could sit on. But, because I wouldn’t brush it, or let anyone else brush it, my mum took me to the hairdressers to have it cut into a bob. It took so long that I fell asleep and it was cut with a kink in it. I had to have it cut again the next day! I wasn’t a happy bunny. However, my hair did go on to make a nice wig. Also, I’ve never had naturally straight hair since then. 

6. Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, is one of my favourite places. It’s where I go on book pilgrimages with my dad. There’s so many quirky and interesting shops. I’ve attached a photo at the bottom of one of my favourites. It’s just so amazing there. I’ve genuinely never seen a place like it. 

7. I try to live life being a nice, honest, friendly person. I think you should always treat people as you wish to be treated back. The world would be a better place if we were all kind to one another. 


I hope my answers have been different again and acceptable! I nominate the following blogs for this award: 

Jesse @ Books at Dawn

Smiling Notes

Nicola @ Literary Ramblings

Mara @ Across the Books

Claire @ Coffee Bookworm

Please feel free to ignore if you’ve done this before or if you’re too busy. Having a couple of days away means I’ve no idea who has been nominated for what! 

Big love xx


Filed under Award, Nomination, Tag

The Bedtime Book Tag

Morning all! 

I was tagged by the lovely Shannon @ Books That Love You Back to complete this tag! Being as I do most of my reading in bed normally, it made perfect sense to take part in this tag. Thank you Shannon! I urge you all to check out her blog too!

Again, I’ve tried to think of different answers. I wouldn’t want to bore you all now by blabbering on about the same books!! Sometimes I can’t resist a bit of Harry Potter though! 

So, the tag:

A book that kept you up all night: 


Oh this book was so good! I decided to branch out into the thriller genre and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve not seen the film yet, but I couldn’t recommend the book more. It kept me up because I just couldn’t put it down. I wanted to find out what was going to happen. All I’ll say is, I didn’t expect the ending! 

A book that made you too scared to sleep:

I started my love affair with Oscar when I was at university. I adore him, his work is genius and he never ceases to make me laugh. The Picture of Dorian Gray is his only novel, and it was used against him in his trial which sent him to prison. The picture changing in the novel gave me some serious nightmares. It’s that well written! 

A book that made you go to sleep:


Oh dear. This book sent me to sleep a number of times. I’m not complaining, I enjoy my good nights sleep. This book was sooooo big and soooo detailed. I know it’s about a girl called Pamela, but I can’t tell you much else. 

A book that kept you tossing and turning all night in anticipation of its release:

I loved the first one, I got angry when people blew Rowling’s cover and I couldn’t wait for the second book, which also didn’t disappoint. I’m experiencing the same sorts of feelings in the wait for the third installment. I’m quite excited that Rowling has said there’s more instalments here for Galbraith than Harry Potter. I’ll need a new bookcase. 

A book that has your dream boyfriend:


Oh Mr. Big. What a man. The TV series and films only add to the fact that he’s my dream man. What a dish. Amazingly, I’m not a massive fan of the books, but I love the characters. 

A book that would be your worst nightmare to live in:


I genuinely don’t know how people survived on the front line. I have massive respect for them. This book was so detailed in its description that when I closed my eyes I could see it. It was really incredible. I would not be strong enough to survive. 

A book that reminds you of night time:


I’ve recently finished this book, it was a cracker. It reminds me of night time because all the action within the plot happens at night. There are a number of scenes of deep, dark brooding as well. Exciting stuff! 

A book that has a nightmarish cliff-hanger:


Ok, so this is a play, but I think it counts! The ending is incredibly bleak. It is a Shakespearean tragedy after all, but there fails to be any sort of glimmer of hope in this play. I cried when I saw it at the RSC. It is sublime.  At the end of reading, or seeing the play, you will leave feeling a bit ‘hmph’. 

A book you actually dreamed about: 

Like most people in the world! Dreams from Hogwarts to Quidditch to Voldemort nightmares. I may or may not have dreamed about being Hermoine’s best friend and sneaking into the restricted section of the library. Naughty! 

A book monster you would not want to find under your bed:


(Image from Google!)

The Three Headed Dog from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone terrifies me. I’m scared if big dogs anyway, so three big dogs. Oh my days I wouldn’t sleep. I doubt I’ll even be able to go to bed again. Also, the fact that he’s called Fluffy doesn’t seem to make the situation any better for me. Haha! 

Thanks again Shannon for the tag. I really appreciate it and enjoyed taking part! I nominate the following fabulous people:

Bianca & Ultimate Fangirl

Erika & Bookventureland

The Literary Counsellor

The Blue Bore

Amy @ Curiouser and Curiouser

Feel free to ignore if you’re busy, or come back to it another time. I’ve lost track of who’s been nominated for what, so if you want to take part, feel free! 

BL xxx



Filed under Literature, Nomination, Tag

The Inside Out Book Tag


Hi everyone! 

I was tagged by the wonderful Lia @ Bookland to complete this tag. She’s so lovely and her blog is just great. Go check her out if you’ve not done so already. 

Just to note, I’ve thought hard about these book choices, as I wanted to pick some different books (not my beloved Harry Potter for example). So, here goes! 


A book that brings you joy:


I love this book so much. I remember as a child reading this and obviously wanted to go to this factory. I also wanted to be Charlie’s friend. He and his family are just so humble. This book brings me joy because it is always ok to dream. I really would like to see this in London’s West End as well. I bet it’s magical. 


A book that makes you angry:


Oh gosh this book had me in tears. I don’t really do anger, but the historical facts behind this book make me incredibly sad. This book is just brilliant at rendering emotions though. 


A book that makes you sad: 

I love this book. Cecelia Ahern is brilliant at writing feel good books. It makes me sad, but in a happy kind of way. It deals with the emotion of losing someone and how life has to continue on afterwards. 


A book that disgusts you:


I dislike this book so much. I’m not a massive fan of novels that have graphic scenes. The plot within this novel isn’t my cup of tea at all. It deals with violence and rape. It’s a bit hard going for me if I’m honest. 


A book that brings you fear: 

This book genuinely gave me nightmares. It is a well written story though! That’s probably why it gave me nightmares. I’m not a massive fan of vampires and things that could potentially kill me. I know a lot of my blog followers do like vampires, so please don’t hate me! I had to teach Dracula this year, the kids loved it! 

Thanks again to Lia for this tag. I can’t wait to see this film as well. I nominate the following people:

Rae @ bookmarkchronicles 

Emily @ The Geek Undergraduate

Pooja @ thatweirdbrowngirl

Trisha Ann @ The Bookgasm Blog

Nicola @ Book Bunny

I’ve seen a lot of people doing this tag and nominating others, so if you’ve already been nominated I apologise! I’m looking forward to reading more answers 🙂

BL xx



Filed under Literature, Nomination, Tag

Sunny Stratford (upon Avon)


I was given the opportunity this week to spend a whole day along the Riverside in the glorious sunshine, whilst waiting for my poorly car to be fixed. I decided to be a mini tourist for the day! 

It was a little trip down memory lane for me, I must admit. I took this first picture in my favourite spot along the river. It’s quite a way back along the RSC gardens, just before the Holy Trinity Church. You can just see the top of the RSC Theatre Tower in the background. I also had a friendly swan for company. 


From here I took a slow stroll across to Holy Trinity Church. It really is a remarkable building. There’s some work going on at the moment to help restore the roof, but it’s still stunning. Inside is William Shakespeare’s grave. It brought back some memories from when I was at Primary school, because we used to walk here for Harvest Festival. 

I then walked all the way round back to the top of riverside, past the RSC Theatre and the many boats. The pictures below are taken from a bridge towards the end of the river. In the first, you can see the beautiful theatre which is also having some work done currently. The second, you can see the lock and the town.

This is only a tiny part of Stratford, but it is rather beautiful in the sunshine. It passed the time quite nicely. I remember sitting under the big tree in the bottom picture, drinking chocolate frappuccinos from Starbucks when I was 16 with my friends. Various people would perform and act. I also remember hiding my umbrella in the bush at the end when the fair was in town. I did get it back at the end of the night! 

Memories are so important, and I feel so lucky to have this town as my growing up place. I hope everyone enjoys these photos! I’d love to see some of your photos from where you grew up.  

Have a great weekend 🙂

BL xx


Filed under Days Out, Gardens, Photography, Stratford upon Avon, UK

The Pastry Book Tag

Hi everyone!! 

This tag was created by Aine & Writing on a Vintage Typewriter

I’ve been lucky enough to be tagged by the wonderful Erika @ Bookventureland for this tag. It links books and baking, so naturally I was thrilled to take part! Thanks Erika! I’ve spent some time on my answers for this, so here goes! 

Croissant: Name a popular book or series that everyone (including you) loves.

Series: It has to be all the Harry Potter books. I grew up with it, I’m fairly obsessed with it and I am one of millions who want to go to Hogwarts. If only! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love it. 


Book: To Kill A Mockingbird. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love this story. I think it’s a massive shame that it’s been cut from the English Literature curriculum in the UK. It teaches us so much. It’s a classic for a reason. 


Macaron: Name a book that was hard to get through but worth it at the end.

For me, this has to be Wuthering Heights. I studied this for A level and it was so difficult to follow in terms of its narration. But, it was well worth it in the end. It’s a brilliant novel with some of the most iconic characters in literature. 


Vol-au-vent: Name a book that you thought would be amazing but fell flat.
I’m really sad to say this, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I just felt it was a little flat in plot. Also, the narration didn’t really grip me, and the characters I just seemed unable to connect me. Probably because I’m not called Will Grayson. I do love the authors though, especially John Green. 


Pain au chocolat: Name a book that you thought would be one thing but turned out to be something else.

This is 100% my own fault. I want to admit that right away. The Casual Vacancy. I loved it, but because it was Rowling I did not expect it to be about normal lives. How silly am I? There was some brilliant character development within this novel though. 


Profiterole: Name a book or series that doesn’t get enough attention.

Without a doubt, anything written by Jean Rhys. My favourite is A Voyage in the Dark. Rhys is almost a forgotten writer of the Victorian period. I remember comparing Jane Eyre with Wide Sargasso Sea at university and it just blew me away. She doesn’t discredit or insult Jane Eyre, she just gives a character (Bertha) a voice. And what a voice it is. I reccommend to everyone. 


Croquembouche: Name a book or series that’s extremely complex.

Hmmm this is quite tricky because sometimes I find books challenging because of silly reasons like I’m feeling tired or sick. However, one book that was too complex for me was Catch 22. I didn’t even finish it. I have no idea what happened or what went on in that book. I was reading it, but nothing seemed to stay in my mind. As I say, it could have just been me. 


Napoleon: Name a movie or TV show based off a book that you liked better than the book itself.

This is really hard. I have a rule that I don’t see the film unless I’ve read the book. I always get a bit worried about movies and TV shows based on books in case they lose some of their magic. I can’t really answer this one. However, one I did enjoy was the book and Robert Downey Junior film version of Sherlock Holmes. It was just brilliant. I’ve watched it A LOT. I’ve heard good things about the latest TV series as well, so I must try and catch up with that. 


Empanada: Name a book that was bittersweet.

Of Mice and Men. Every time. The ending. Oh my days. What an incredible book. So much happens, it tests your own beliefs. It’s really interesting for me teaching this to my students and how they react to it. I’ve seen tears from teenage boys at the ending! The film version as well is quite something. The characters of Lenny and George are played superbly. 


Kolompeh: Name a book or series that takes place somewhere other than your home country:

I love American Literature (I’m not sure if you can tell!) so it has to be The Great Gatsby. Like Holmes, he is one of those characters that I just wish was real, because I so want to meet him. If only I could find someone to love me that much. Ahhh. Again, another little book that packs a massive punch. 


Pate a Choux: Name one food from a book or series that you would like to try.

This will sound really greedy, but I would love to experience a proper tea party from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Imagine how chaotic but fun that would be! Naturally you’d have to get all dressed up for it like the book as well. 


Thanks again to the lovely Erika for this nomination. I’ve really enjoyed this tag! The only problem is, I now really fancy a piece of cake. 

I nominate:

Trisha Ann @ The Bookgasm 

Nicola @ Book Bunny

Lia @ BookLand

If you’re too busy, don’t worry! However, I am looking forward to reading your answers 🙂 YOU take part too, why not?

BL xx


Filed under Literature, Tag