Archive for the ‘events’ Category

Event Recap: An Evening with Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult Waterstones event

Since the middle of October, New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult has been touring the USA, Canada and the UK with her latest novel, Leaving Time. The first stop of Jodi’s tour was an event at St James’s Church, near Piccadilly, and when Waterstones asked me if I wanted to come along, I knew I had to say yes.

Although some of them have been on my to-be-read list for a long time and my friends keep recommending them to me constantly, I haven’t got round to reading Jodi’s books yet. (I will guys, I promise.) But I was interested to hear more about her new novel and see why people fall in love with her stories on the very first page. And, after hearing her talk about the research, the preparation that came before the book, and stories I have to say I get it.

Even within a 90-minute talk, you could hear she’s an amazing storyteller. I don’t know if it’s possible to fall in love with an author’s books before you’ve actually read them but if it is, I’m pretty sure I just did.

And since I know a lot of you live too far away from London and couldn’t make it to the event, I wanted to write a short recap and tell you how the evening went. I don’t want to go into details about the plot and what happens in the book for obvious reasons, but Jodi’s speech about its background was so fascinating that I wanted to share it with you.

Jodi Picoult Waterstones

Waiting for Jodi at St James’s Church, Piccadilly

The book’s original title was Elephant Graveyard but, as Jodi said, her publisher wasn’t too happy about the word elephant… or graveyard, so they changed it to Leaving Time. Since the book is very scientific and elephants feature heavily in the story, Jodi talked a lot about her research on elephants’ behaviour, which I found fascinating.

One of the things I found the most interesting was how elephants deal with death and mourning. According to Jodi, elephants remember and mourn their loved ones even many years after their death. When an elephant walks past a place where another elephant died, he or she will stop and become quiet for a while. They remember this spot and return to it even years after the other elephant’s death. Interestingly, they don’t do any of these with any other animals, only elephants.

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Bloomsbury Book Club – Grantchester Christmas Special

Grantchester banner

Regular readers of the blog will know that I love good murder mystery. Whether it’s a book, a film or a TV series, I’m game. My shelves are overflowing with crime novels and I’ve been on the lookout for a new TV show to watch since (the utterly brilliant) Broadchurch came to an end last year. And then I discovered Grantchester.

Based on The Grantchester Mysteries, a series of novels written by James Runcie, Grantchester is now a major TV drama set in 1953 England. It’s not as intense as Broadchurch or some other shows out there (more like Midsomer Murders or Agatha Christie’s stories, I’d say) but it makes for great Monday night telly. I’m only halfway through the series as I’ve been quite busy lately and haven’t had time to catch up, but I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet.

The reason why I’m writing about the show tonight is because I’ve been invited to the Bloomsbury Book Club’s Grantchester Christmas Special event on the 3rd December, and I’d love you to come along! It will be a fantastic evening and it’d be so lovely to meet fellow mystery and Grantchester fans.

In case you’re not convinced, author James Runcie and ITV scriptwriter Daisy Coulam will both be there discussing the the inspiration behind Sidney Chambers’ character and revealing the challenges of adapting the enchanting Sidney Chambers stories. Runcie and Coulam will reveal how Sidney Chambers’ investigations into suspect suicides, a scandalous jewellery theft, a shocking art forgery and unexplained deaths went from novel to screen.

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James Dawson’s ‘Say Her Name’ Book Launch: In Pictures

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend James Dawson’s book launch for his newest novel, Say Her Name. Being a massive fan of one of his previous books, Cruel Summer, I knew I had to be there. So, armed with my copy of CS, which I desperately wanted to get signed, I was heading to Islington to meet James and fellow book bloggers.

I met Zarina before the event and we made our way to Waterstones together. We were a tiny bit early so we had the chance to say hello to James, get our books signed AND grab a cupcake before the crowd arrived. (Mine happened to match my book’s cover. #madskillz)

My signed copy of James Dawson's Cruel Summer

Before the speeches began, we spotted Sabrina in the crowd (who has the cutest, most awesome tote bag and coin purse ever) so we had a little chat. I’ve been following her on Twitter for quite a while so it was lovely to finally meet her in the flesh. I also met the lovely Faye who, I think, is one of those few people who I’ve known pretty much since this blog exists but don’t seem to meet too often so it’s always great to see her. :)

Vicky from Books, Biscuits and Tea and Sabrina from I Have to Read That

Sabrina & me with James’ books

After we’ve been chatting and stuffing our faces with cupcakes for a while, James reappeared. Dressed as Bloody Mary, in tights, a kilt, a black wig, terrifying contact lenses and blood all over his face. And then the speeches began. I’ve never met James before last week but all I can say is, he’s such a genuinely lovely guy. He made all of us feel welcome and he was so, so funny. I’ve been to a few book launches in the past couple of months but this was definitely the most fun so far. :)

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Bloggiesta Spring 2014 – Goals

Bloggiesta 2014

Bloggiesta is back! If you haven’t seen my Bloggiesta posts some time last year and are wondering what it is exactly, it’s a blogging marathon between 27 and 30 March, 2014 revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.” Basically, four days of blogging and improving your blog (or writing those reviews you were supposed to finish weeks ago) in the virtual company of many other bloggers. It’s fun and it’s a great way to catch up on blogging tasks you’ve been meaning to do for a while.

I haven’t had as much time for my blog as I would have wanted recently so I decided to dedicate this weekend to Bloggiesta and FINALLY getting back on track.

My goals for this year’s Bloggiesta:

  • write all my unwritten reviews (about 3, I think)
  • update my contact and about me page
  • comment on other blogs
  • schedule blog posts for the next two weeks. That should give me some time to catch up on reading!
  • put together a media kit
  • come up with discussion and/or new feature ideas
  • try and think about a new blog template. I’m thinking about giving my blog a new look – not a complete makeover (I really like the colours and my header), just a new template maybe.
  • make my blog mobile friendly
  • participate in at least one Twitter chat

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Lucy Dillon’s Launch Party: In Pictures

The eagle eyed among you might have noticed that I haven’t been online too much in the past couple of days. The reason for that is that Hodder & Stoughton has invited me to the book launch of A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon, and when I wasn’t working or running errands I had my nose buried in the book, trying to finish it before Wednesday’s party.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, Zarina from Page to Stage Reviews and myself headed off to Central London to toast Lucy and her wonderful new novel in a gorgeous Edwardian bookshop, Daunt Books. Neither of us have been there before so we weren’t prepared for how stunning it is with its skylights and long galleries – it was definitely the perfect setting for such an event. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist sneaking upstairs with a glass of wine and taking a few pictures of the beautiful interior and the gathering crowd below us.

Lucy Dillon's launch party at Daunt Books Marylebone

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John Lewis Secret Santa Goodies

You might remember that I posted about the John Lewis Secret Santa Challenge that I was lucky enough to take part in this time last month. I received my presents nearly two weeks ago and I thought I’d show you what my Secret Santa chose me. :)

When I opened the first box I  found a big box of hot chocolates inside and was absolutely thrilled. I’m obsessed with hot chocolate and it’s one of my favourite hot beverages to drink while reading. And then literally an hour later two other boxes showed up. You can imagine my surprise as I honestly thought the hot choc selection was all I’d get! But it turns out it was only one third of a complete gift set.

John Lewis Secret Santa Challenge

John Lewis hot chocolate selectionJohn Lewis Annoushka Hot Water Bottle£20
Jolly Hot Chocolate Selection, £12.50

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John Lewis’s Secret Santa Challenge

Christmas

I know, I know. It’s not even December yet and here I am talking about Christmas. I can’t help it (and I know I’m not the only one). It’s my favourite time of the year and once the Halloween decorations are stored away at the end of October I’m ready for the Christmas holidays. What makes it even more exciting this year is that I’ve been chosen as one of the lucky bloggers who get to take part in the John Lewis Secret Santa Challenge.

I was thinking about signing up for a bookish Secret Santa last year but my December turned out to be a bit hectic and in the end I didn’t manage to do so. But I absolutely love looking for Christmas presents for friends and family and I love the idea of sending a lovely surprise to someone I don’t know (I mean, who doesn’t like browsing for presents and meeting new people online?) so I’m really looking forward to this one. :)

For this challenge, John Lewis will send me the details of another blogger early next week and I’ll have two days to research their blog – read their posts and get an idea of their personality – and choose a gift from a list provided by the John Lewis team. Once I’ve chosen the perfect gift (and enclosed a personal message to the blogger) JL will send it to them at the end of November and I’ll be able to show you what my Secret Santa gave me as well.

I. Can’t. Wait. *runs around in circles*

Are you guys participating in this challenge or any other Secret Santa this year? Or if you did it last year, what did you get? Would you sign up again?