Odds and Ends

I realize I haven't posted a blog entry for more than a month. I have a good excuse - I recently came back from a family holiday in Spain and the Netherlands. I forgot to mention it before I left but I had hoped to post from there as I've done in the past but there's a big difference between traveling with one child and two children, one of whom is a five-month-old baby. Our hands were literally full...but in a good way! I also didn't get much reading done. It took me over two weeks to read the supposedly 'unputdownable' Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. To be honest, I thought this novel was just ok. I actually didn't find it so thrilling. It has an interesting premise - a woman who lives a perpetual Groundhog Day life because she wakes up everyday with no memory of the days before. In my opinion, it was predictable. I could see the end coming a mile away. So far, I haven't read any negative reviews so I wonder who else felt this way about Before I Go To Sleep?  I also finally finished Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. While definitely not a literary novel, it is fun! I plan to read the second book sometime this year.

With regards to book buying (not counting children's books), I've been very good and only bought two books for myself. Since I took my Kindle, I decided to only buy books that are not available as e-books. It's funny but while usually I can't wait to get to the local bookshops as soon as I land in any country, this time I wasn't that fussed at all. I think the Kindle has changed all that. Now, I can buy a book with just one-click and have it instantly and usually it's even cheaper than the bookshop price especially in the Netherlands where English books tend to cost between 15 to 20 euros! And that's not even a hardbound edition. I was still excited to visit the Waterstones in Amsterdam just to check out their recommendation displays which is always fun plus they have an excellent selection of children's books.

So the two books I bought are:

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris - I've just started reading this and so far it's very good. A spinster in her 30s gets embroiled in the lives of a strange family with tragic results.

Imperium by Ryznard Kapuscinski -I don't usually read these type of books but my youngest brother highly recommended this work of non-fiction by the late Polish journalist Kapuscinski. It's a travelogue account of the Soviet Union detailing the writer's travels and experiences with the people of this very vast and interesting country.

Books aside, I discovered this hilarious British sitcom while in the Netherlands, Miranda starring Miranda Hart. Oh my god, it's laugh out loud hilarious! I love it and I luckily managed to get a hold of both seasons. This is the type of show that is reminiscent of beloved Brit sitcoms such as Fawlty Towers and Keeping Up Appearances.  Miranda is over 6 feet tall and desperate to fit in and get a date. Her mother constantly tries to find her a husband but Miranda just keeps getting herself into embarrassing situations with her friends and acquaintances not to mention her 'crush,' Gary the chef. As Miranda's mum would say, 'such fun!'

On a personal note, during this holiday my five-year-old discovered an old favorite of ours, Tintin (known as Kuifje in Dutch). Ok, so he's not actually reading the comic books. He loved looking at the pictures and listening to us read to him every night. It's fun for us to reread them too and to make up voices for Captain Haddock and Bianca Castafiore. Reading the books now as a grown up, I suddenly realize that Hergé is a genius.

Have you read any of the books I mentioned or seen Miranda? Let me know what you think. I'm curious to see what you've all been reading so I'm off to check out my Google Reader now...


  1. Such a beautiful son, Mrs. B! And such a wonderful vacation, it seems.:) I haven't read any of the books you mentioned, except Game of Thrones. And I'm not familiar with Miranda, but I'll definitely be on the look out for it if you say it's laugh-out-loud funny.

  2. When I lived in The Netherlands I loved that Waterstones. It was where I cued for book 6 of Harry Potter - they had an great party going.

    I love the photo of your son :)

  3. I've seen her on The Graham Norton Show which runs on BBC America. She's hilarious! I've also seen her on Not Going Out, which I didn't much care for. I liked her but didn't care for the show's premise. I do hope they bring her show to BBC America!

  4. Glad you're back but glad you had a great vacation, too!

    I am in the middle of Game of Thrones, now, and half-loving it, half-afraid. Because I know that by letting myself love it, I am committing myself to eight thousand or so more pages of text!

  5. @fantaghiro23 - Thanks Honey!

    @Alex - Living in Amsterdam must have been great. I love the Waterstones!

    @KarenK- She is hilarious! I think you can get the dvds on Amazon.

    @Constance Reader - That's exactly the reason why I didn't want to start this series but I liked the TV show so much that I had to start reading it.

  6. Glad you had such a great vacation -- travel with two children is definitely a different adventure than traveling with one. As my girls are 6 years apart, I can report that in a few years trips are way easier, as they have a constant companion :) I'm still trying to get through A Game of Thrones!

  7. Agree with you about the SJ Watson novel. Not only was it predictable but the idea is hardly original. Anyone who has seen the film '50 First Dates' or watched 'Neighbours' when Susan Kennedy slipped on the spilt milk and lost her memory for a year (!) will be familiar with the central conceit of the novel.
    It's not a bad novel but it does not live up to the hype, especially not when that hype tries to suggest that this is a unique take on a brain condition. Not the author's fault I'm sure - that will be down to the publicists.

  8. @YvonneJohnston - Glad someone else agrees with me. Yes, Before I Go To Sleep wasn't bad but not good enough to merit all the acclaim its received.

  9. That picture of your son is priceless :) I used to love Tintin....still do! Very excited about the movie that's coming up. Hope you had a great holiday! :)

  10. @Vaishnavi - Thanks! I'm excited about the movie too! The trailer looks good. Can't wait to see it.

  11. Yes, I watched Miranda just last night - it's hilarious. I think it was on BBC rather than Dutch tv, but can't remember for sure.

    Anyway, I love that kind of tv series. And btw I'm also 6 feet tall. :-)


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