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6528531-sweet-birthday-cake-with-bottle-of-champagne-and-glasses-stock-vectorAnd I nearly missed it! Though to be fair I never remember to write the date down and the reminder from the nice people at Wordpress wanders from 20th to 22nd January and back again. But hey, never mind that, this here little blog is 10, can you believe it.

I was 10 in 1972.

The Rock and Idris Elba were born. One of my heroes, Margaret Rutherford died. It was a leap year. Watership Down was published. David Cassidy, T-Rex and (swoon) Donny Osmond all had number one hits in the the UK.

It was a rubbish year for my family as a relative was killed serving in Northern Ireland but you know I was 10 so there was lots of other stuff going on too. I was still in primary school. I was a demon street roller-skater (4 wheels and a key, none of your modern nonsense).

I wonder what my 10 year old blog will be dealing with in 2017? Shudder to think.

Anyway, as is traditional, please help yourself to some of the virtual cake & champagne, and thanks as always, for reading 😀

1216180084465863391Chrisdesign_birthday_cake_svg_medEvery year I think my blogiversary is 21 January and every year the good folks at WordPress send me a wee message reminding me that it is in fact today, 20 January. My blog is 9 years old. It is only fitting that I managed to finish my first read of the year today; seems a long way into the year but it was a chunkster and one that I think I just might enjoy talking about on here…….

When I was 9 it was 1971, and on my birthday Apollo 14 launched which I didn’t know until I was skimming Wikipedia to look for interesting 1971-related things. I was probably reading lots of Nancy Drew. I took a quick look at the BBC website to see what exciting things are happening on the Bride’s birthday but it was a bit depressing so let’s ignore that. Have some virtual cake instead! Oh and thank you for reading 😀

Costa-Book-Awards-LogoAstonishingly and for the second year in a row there are books on the category winners’ list that I have, and one I have actually read:

  • the winner in the novel category is A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson which I read last year (mostly on a train journey from Edinburgh) and enjoyed very much (though I think I still prefer Life after Life which I just found amazing)
  • the first novel winner, The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley which I bought on the recommendation of various people on Twitter and which was already close to the top of Mount TBR; and
  • the children’s book winner is The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, lurking around the fringes of my wish list but not yet in my possession, and as I’m not buying at the moment it will have to wait until April. But I have read at least one other of her books (the creepy Cuckoo Song) and have a couple in the stacks

I must admit the smart money is probably on Kate Atkinson but I would love The Loney to win simply because it’s horror 🙂

23926130I was very pleased to be able to attend this event at Bloomsbury Publishing earlier this week where the biographer Frances Spalding carried out a joint interview with Priya Parmar, author of Vanessa and Her Sister (which I reviewed here) and Amanda Coe, writer of Life in Squares, the upcoming BBC series about the Bloomsbury Group.

It was a really pleasant evening, and I found out some interesting stuff:

  • Priya took 7 years to research and write the novel, immersing herself in the mountain of correspondence
  • she didn’t originally intend the novel to be in the form of a diary
  • her view was is that it definitely can’t have been easy to be Virginia Woolf’s sister (knowing laughter from the audience)
  • Amanda’s TV series will also have Vanessa Bell as the central character
  • it will cover the period 1905 to 1948, compared to Priya’s novel which covers 1905 to 1912
  • why Vanessa Bell – the most visual and last verbal of the group, but very much the “silent lynchpin”, and there is a lot in the literature about her, but very little by her apart from her letters, which are silent on some of the really important things such as The Great Betrayal

There was also a very interesting discussion about views of the Bloomsbury Set, seen as a cliquey group with many having the impression that there is a lot of material about them which may be true of the written word but there is in fact very little in drama. Both had been warned about potential backlash from people who loathe Bloomsbury and all that it appears to stand for but also the very knowledgeable “fans” who will have their own view of how it should all be done. But both Amanda and Priya agreed that they were just fascinating people who knew that they were interesting which made it all worthwhile.

I was able to have a quick chat with Priya and got my book signed which was great.

IMG_0366Image credit Chris Riddell

So one of the great things about a love of all things bookish is getting to talk about them with like-minded people, most of which I do on this blog but IRL not so much. But when I do actually talk to actual people in real time then if it isn’t the Book God (and let’s face it, how else would he have achieved said title?) it will be my great friend Silvery Dude.

Thanks to his recommendations (and the occasional birthday gift) I discovered authors like Ben Aaronovitch and Lloyd Shepherd (to name only two), and in return I got him to read Christopher Fowler and Jon Ajvide Lindqvist.

Which seems a fair exchange.

And as I was trawling through my TBR Mountain recently looking for future reads I found quite a number he had suggested, so it seemed to me that it was time for a Silvery Dude Recommends Reading List

I’m positive there are loads more, and there are certainly books that I already owned that have climbed their way to the top of the pile because the Dudester had read them before me (I am looking at you The Night Circus).

Long may this continue 😀

10950697_10153076729134664_1858964010029395326_oFor once I actually got to an exhibition close to its opening date rather than turning up just as it’s about to shut down, but John Singer Sargent has always been one of my favourite painters and I wanted to get there as soon as I could. So yesterday, on a sunny Sunday afternoon and undaunted by no trains running on our line due to planned engineering works we braved alternative means of transport (OK, the bus and tube) to get to the NPG.

I was particularly interested in this selection of Sargent’s work because of its focus – Portraits of Artists and Friends – so we weren’t looking at the society portraits for which he became renowned but works, commissioned and otherwise, of other artists in a variety of fields from painting to theatre to music to literature. It was a wonderful chance to see paintings I’d seen rarely or on through reproductions, and it was a real delight. I would have lingered s bit longer but the exhibition was packed and it was also *whispers* a bit warm in the galleries but I may very well go back again to savour my favourites, especially the magnificent Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth.

I don’t have much in print form about Sargent (though quite a good  selection of postcards), apart from the following:

  • Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends which we bought in the gallery shop and which does not break the book buying embargo as (a) it was a joint purchase with the Book God and (b) I consider it to be a catalogue, albeit an enormous hardback one (I know that’s a rationalisation but as Jeff Goldblum says in The Big Chill “I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalisations”);
  • Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X by Deborah Davies which tells the story of the scandal around one of his most famous portraits and which sadly I read before I started this blog and don’t really remember what I thought of it;
  • John Singer Sargent: His Portrait by Stanley Olson which is unread in the stacks somewhere but about to be rediscovered (though sadly doesn’t seem to be available any longer);
  • Sargent: Portrait Drawings showing drawings in pencil, charcoal and pastels and just beautiful.

Oh and before we went to the exhibition we had a peep at The Real Tudors, a fine collection of portraits in a free display, brought together in advance of an extended exhibition in Paris. The fact that Wolf Hall has been on stage recently and currently on TV made this very popular as well. Much to enjoy.

herbertThe first James Herbert Award for horror fiction now has a shortlist:

I have half of the shortlist. Cuckoo Song and An English Ghost Story are on my TBR pile, and I read (and loved) The Girl With All the Gifts (my review is here). The others are unknown to me but I’ve gone off to have a look. I will be very interested to see what will win.

happy-birthday-chocolate-cake-4Yes, astoundingly Bride of the Book God is 8 years old today. I having been trying hard to remember what I might have been doing when I was actually 8 way back in 1970 but it made my brain ache so I’ll postpone that sort of thing to my actual birthday in a couple of weeks’ time.

But 8 years of blogging, still at it, still enjoying it and still reading up a storm though currently (due to illness and work and life and stuff) I’m currently behind with my reviews. I have still to tell you all about:

  • the one that’s a timey-wimey-metaphysical-thriller
  • the one that’s a weird-horror-short-story-anthology
  • the one that’s an academic-investigating-the-life-of-a-long-dead-poet-novel
  • the one that’s paranormal-civil-servanty-espionage
  • the one that’s Japanese military sci-fi

Anything there pique your interest? I’m off to have some virtual birthday cake. Thank you for reading. 😀

Costa-Book-Awards-LogoI don’t normally pay a huge amount of attention to book awards (well, I keep a bit of a weather eye on the Booker, who doesn’t?) but I was interested to see that for once we actually had a couple of the Costa category winners already chez Bride:

  • the first novel winner, Elizabeth is Missing, which I bought ages ago based on a  recommendation in a blog somewhere (I’m sure) and which will now be hoiked to (near) the top of Mount TBR; and
  • the children’s book winner, Five Children on the Western Front, which the Book God finished and enjoyed over the holidays (he’s a bit of an E Nesbit fan, I’ve only ever read The Railway Children)

I quite like the sound of the Ali Smith novel, The Ghosts of Heaven is already on my wish list (I’m not buying books at the moment) but none of the others are grabbing me at the moment. Wonder what will win.

Reading WomanWell this has been a bumper reading year for me. As always I aim for 52 books in 52 weeks, a challenge that got me into book blogging in the first place way back in 2007. This year I actually read 73 books, both a surprise and a delight. I think the reason I did so well is down to talking more about books with friends both online and in the real world (good thing) and several bouts of illness which meant I was sofa-bound and couldn’t do much other than read (bad thing). And taking part in the the 24 hour readathon in April also helped as I read 8 books in one night (and raised money for charity at the same time).

But what of these books you ask?

Well, I don’t really like best of lists,  and definitely not Top10s because it seems so arbitrary and I just don’t want to have to choose. So what I thought I’d do highlight the things that jump out to me from what I’ve read this year.

  • I’ve been good at keeping on top of or catching up with my favourite series – big stand-outs here were in August where I read four each of Charles Finch and Jacqueline Winspear which took me up to and including their latest published novels (though Finch cheated by bringing out a new volume later in the year, but I’ve read that too now);
  • I’ve rediscovered my love of (mostly genre) short stories;
  • zombies are a thing – if you’d asked me a year or so ago I would have pulled a face about zombie novels but I’ve read and enjoyed several this year;
  • the end of the world (as we know it) is also a thing, often combined with zombies of course but also viruses and such like, and I find them difficult to resist;
  • I still love classic crime – AA Milne’s one and only crime novel being a particular delight, but the British Library classic reprints also look excellent;
  • I read much more quickly on the Kindle app on my iPad;
  • lots of new authors but the two that struck me the most were James Smythe (I read four of his with another waiting to be picked up) and Jeff VanderMeer who’s been around for a while but whose Southern Reach trilogy was just brilliant.

So that was 2014. Wonder what delights 2015 has in store 🙂

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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