It’s all about the books…

I’ve found reading one of the greatest escapes in these current times. My New Year’s resolution was to read as many books as I could from my bookshelf. Little did I realise I’d be granted the time to do so! Having never really read Orwell before – bar an attempt at 1984 when I was way too young – I read Keep The Aspidistra Flying and couldn’t quite believe how accessible it was. I’m guilty of shying away from anything I think is going to be hard work and it shamed me into realising my mistake! On that note, I read Pachinko which my mum gave me and has sat on my bookshelf unread for a while. But oh my god, I LOVED it. And still miss the characters now. Years ago, I bought The Thorn Birds from a car boot sale with the most amazing classic cover. TBH, I bought it for the cover rather than to read it, but I’m on the last few pages now and so pleased I didn’t let it sit on the shelf forgotten.

I haven’t stuck purely to the resolution, however. My shopaholic tendencies have been steered from browsing the TKMaxx and Hennes aisles to Waterstones.com, thehive.com and my lovely local bookshop, The Open Book, who are rustling me up a copy of Alexandra Shulman’s Clothes and Other Things That Matter. I love a book that’s hit the headlines, and I’ve just finished Such a Fun Age which had me gripped. As did American Dirt. And Daisy Jones and the Six was a refreshingly unique interlude. Yesterday a new box arrived on the doorstep packed with goodies including The Binding, Uprooted and a jigsaw (don’t get me started on my new OBSESSION with jigsaws!)

Lots of little things come together to create good things in troubled times. As well as reading, these have been mine:

The smell of Aesop geranium leaf body cleanser that I was given ages ago and saved for ‘best’. Well now seemed like a GREAT time for indulgence.

The family-walk ritual which is always to the same patch of parkland where we’ve flown a kite in the wind, fished unsuccessfully with a twig and a piece of nylon thread, collected too many pine cones and stared up at the clear blue sky.

Listening to Masterclass while doing the afore mentioned jigsaw and drinking a well-earned glass of post-homeschool wine.

Clapping on a Thursday for the wonderful NHS and seeing all the neighbours out on the road or on their balconies, the kids in their pyjamas bashing saucepans and drums. It’s amazing.

I’d love to hear what’s getting you through the day at the moment. What are you loving? What books are you reading?

Don’t forget, you can preorder THE SUMMER WE RAN AWAY now. It’s out in June. And CHELSEA HIGH, my debut young adult book, is out in August. Both perfect escapist reading 😉

Lots of love. Stay safe.

Jenny x

The Great Christmas Make-Over!

It’s all very exciting and Christmassy – The Little Christmas Kitchen has had a fab makeover and will be hitting the shelves of your local Sainsbury’s from November 16th! Of course, if you can’t wait that long then you can always order a copy online 😉
XMAS KITCHEN
The Little Christmas Kitchen is a real favourite of mine. All my memories from childhood holidays to Greece sit side by side with all my favourite moments of a Christmas in London. It’s the story of two sisters who swap lives (and countries) over the festive season and find themselves, their dreams and even possibly their hearts along the way! Enjoy xx

 

Kindle                   iBooks                   Google Play                    Kobo

 

Laughing, trying, weeping, buying, looking, reading, finding, keeping…

LAUGHING…

At Maria Semple’s TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT – sitcom witty in a book. And at Jim Gaffigan on Netflix. I like that he collaborates with his wife.

20170303_124810.jpg

TRYING…

To break old habits and start new. Firstly to read more and check social media less. Every time I go for my phone I have to go to my book instead. I’ve never read more in my life! Currently reading THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR by Jennifer Ryan. Just read the haunting, addictive THE SILENT FOUNTAIN by the brilliant Victoria Fox.

The best way to start a new habit, apparently, is to attach it to an old one. So now a Tuesday nursery drop-off is followed by a jog. So far, so successful. Except when it’s raining, and also except this week when I was home alone and completely exhausted! (So not quite worthy of the title ‘habit’ just yet.)

WEEPING…

Not me but Keith Brymer Jones – I’m loving the new series of The Great Pottery Throw Down and, as always, the tears of ceramic joy.

I have been sobbing quite regularly however to the Desert Island Discs podcast which I am listening to religiously. Emma Bridgewater made me have to pull over in a car park because I couldn’t stop crying. This week Nicole Farhi, June Brown and Ali Smith have made my car and train journeys much more interesting.

BUYING…

Daffodils! And lots of birthday presents. Everyone seems to have been born around now! But I sneaked in a spotty t-shirt from & Other Stories for me.

20170303_124850

LOOKING…

For houses. It’s a nightmare. One house that I’ve coveted for years came on the market for 24 hours then the owners changed their minds about selling. I’m plucking up the courage for a Kirsty and Phil-esque note through the letter box.

READING…

The New York Times

FINDING…

ABSTRACT on Netflix. Whoop whoop!

KEEPING…

My head down too much. When I look up I realise it’s March and Spring. From now on I will make a habit of looking up more (and just hope it’s more successful than the jogging.)

20170303_125245

 

 

 

This month I have been mostly reading and watching…

The first part of this year has involved a lot of reading and film watching! The desire for escapism is at its peak at the moment.

So here are my highlights…

perry-durrant

LIE WITH ME – Sabine Durrant.

Brilliant. Addictive. Clever and witty and sharp, like I was watching in real life. Not a word on the page wasted.

THE ESSEX SERPENT – Sarah Perry

I was given this to read. It wouldn’t have been my first choice because I’d have assumed it would take too long and I have very little time. But I was surprised by the pace and the quirks. You can actually whip through it and then go back and linger on the clever, beautiful bits. A bundle of unique characters all vividly still with you long after the book is finished.

20170213_122546THE NAKANO THRIFT SHOP – Hiromi Kawakami

I LOVED this! It was a present and I’ve never read any Japanese translated fiction before but I will now. I realised while reading this that there are some books you want to race through to the end and others that you just want to live inside. You go to bed half an hour early to be in the pages. This for me was that. I just adored being in the gentle, clever, sweet, interesting, intriguing world. A lovely book.

20170213_121258LA LA LAND

I’ve already written a whole piece about this. But I would say, it’s the only film I’ve been to the cinema to see twice. And the only film I’ve been to the cinema to see on my own! Shock horror. But the seal has been broken, I’m going to go solo way more often. It’s very mellow (once you’ve moved away from the people chatting over popcorn through all the emotional bits).

WESTWORLD (TV version)

This was a roller coaster for me. Brilliant at the beginning. Bit slow in the middle and a bit too focused on the violence. Excellent at the end.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

Completely not what I expected! I sat down thinking it would be all Wes Anderson kooky and then suddenly everyone is running around half-naked killing deer. But it’s really good! And Viggo’s great.

BRIDGET JONES’S BABY

So nice to be back in Bridget’s world. Fall-off-the-sofa funny at times. Best choice at the end but worried that Bridget would still be lonely once credits rolled.

digby-etc

And, in case you’re interested, in the Under 3s world I have enjoyed:

TOPSY AND TIM – massive nostalgia, so strong I can almost taste it.

TOR FREEMAN – Brilliant illustrator.

More SHIRLEY HUGHES – can’t get enough of Alfie and Lucy & Tom

TOY STORY 1, 2 & 3 – just get better every time you watch them (I may live to regret that statement).

 

 

Not a bad start to the year, as far as excellent escapism goes.

J x

Wow! Sunshine & Biscotti is on the RNA Awards shortlist…

Today is a great day. Not only does it feel like spring is in the air, The Sunshine & Biscotti Club has been nominated for The Contemporary Romantic Novel Award at this year’s RoNAs!

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-11-30-47

Woo hoo. I am totally delighted.

There are some fantastic authors on the list and you couldn’t go wrong picking any of them for a little escapism in the sunshine…

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-11-30-02

The only thing now is to work out what to wear to the awards. And only a month to decide!

Help! I’m addicted to La La Land…

Oh god, I bought the really expensive bag. (See previous post.)

It was a direct result of La La Land. I needed something to counter the freewheeling filmic comedown.

As a cinema experience La La Land was one unlike very few previously. I had no desire to make a witty whispered aside, glance around in moments of boredom to contemplate the audience, think about whether or not I needed the loo, wish I’d got popcorn. My face was glued to the screen, a mesmerised smile glued to my face. I never looked left to see if my partner was enjoying it. I barely acknowledged the people getting up to pee mid-showing. I was just slap bang there, in full technicolour, cinemascope, all-singing all-dancing, blissful enjoyment.

I’d forgotten the searing, heart-thumping exquisite delight I get from a musical. From Singin’ in the Rain to Grease 2. But from the opening set piece I was instantly reminded how much I love a spontaneous burst into song. Coupled with Gosling, added to which Emma Stone, it was two hours of heaven. As Variety so perfectly puts it, La La Land’s ‘most convincing pleasures are the moments when it lifts the audience into a state of old-movie exaltation, leading us to think, “What a glorious feeling. I’m happy again.”’

Happy, I was ecstatic. Since leaving the cinema – feeling dangerously like an accomplished singer and dancer  – I’ve wasted hours reading every review and every interview. I’m immersed. One of my friends is furious with the film and I can’t wait for our forthcoming debate. I’m pining for La La Land 2 which my husband scoffs will never happen (and I want it even more now just to prove him wrong). I can feel my fingers tug, for the first time ever, towards fan fiction just to satisfy the craving left by the credits rolling.

I know in reality I need to stop mooning about and get to work. To write something. But for now the new bag is doing sterling work plugging the La La Land gap.