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Theatre and Themes

My family and the boy will be the first people to agree with the statement that I am a dramatic person (for me though, the jury is still out on that one!) and so, unsurprisingly, I completely love the theatre! Knowing this, a lot of people have been asking me if I’m going to see The Cursed Child and yes, I am… in March next year! As such, I have no plans to read the book or any of the 5 star reviews until after I’ve been – it’s going to be a LONG seven months!

HP and the Cursed child

Come on March 2017!!

On the flip side, I was incredibly privileged to nab tickets for the preview of Tim Minchin’s new musical Groundhog Day and it was STUPENDOUS! The film was a staple in our household growing up and although Bill Murray is absent, the stage adaptation is so clever and so quick-witted that you just don’t care! If you get the chance to see either of Tim Minchin’s musicals (Matilda or GD) do go, he is a theatrical wizard!

Groundhog Day

“Phil? Phil Connors? Is that you?”

I also need to announce(/warn!) you that two very strong recurring themes are about to hit my Twitter and here at TTW. These will only be for the next few weeks but it’s going to get busy!

The first theme is to do with my job. I am incredibly privileged to have the job of children’s editor and in my company I have the added bonus of being able to write as well. Every book, no matter what the subject or extent, is incredibly special to me but there is one title, due to publish next month, which means even more! More news will follow but here’s a clue… (yes I’m being mildly mysterious!)

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The second theme is the gloriousness that is Roald Dahl. I have been attempting to organise myself enough to set up this challenge for two years and it is only this year I am ready! I will explain a bit more on the 31st August, so keep an eye out for that – you may want to join in with me. Fortuitously this challenge coincides with the celebration of 100 years since the birth of this wonderful man so I think it was exceptionally well planned…(by complete accident!)

Roald Dahl

Happy bank-holiday weekending everyone!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books That Are On My Shelf From Before I Started Blogging That I STILL Haven’t Read

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Every week the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish conjure up a new Top Ten list for us book bloggers to write about and this week is all about those titles that have been gathering dust, waiting to be picked. I started Through the Wardrobe in May 2013 and since then my bookshelves have been growing, and subsequently groaning under the weight of new shiny titles! But this post is about recognising those stalwart books that have stood patiently on my bookshelves over the years waiting for my attention so let’s give them some…

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Every time I’m tempted to read this book, I always read the blurb and put it back on the shelves. It never seems the right time for a book of this subject matter but I have heard very good things about it.

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
I bought this after a reread of Anne of Green Gables but then shelved it because it sounded too much like Anne’s story and nothing can touch the original!

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
As a Londoner and a book lover, I was immediately drawn to this book – particularly the striking cover. I know that it has fallen subject to my occasional ‘I own it therefore I must have read it’ mentality… need to remedy that sometime!

Heartburn by Nora Ephron
I love Nora Ephron’s films (who doesn’t?!) so really should make the time to explore her literary voice too.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M Valante
I desperately need a reread of the first Fairyland instalment before embarking on the rest of the series. I clearly remember loving Valente’s imagined world and language so I must get round to a reread soon.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I think this book came out at the same time as The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared and I chose to read that one instead. I’ve heard very good things about Joyce’s book though – clearly, I bought it!

The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Now I love this story without ever having read it because I had the dramatized version on audiobook when I was a child. It’s so wonderfully magical and Christmassy! I’ll try really hard this year to get around to this one when the winter’s close in – it is criminal that I haven’t yet read it.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
This book is heralded as the book to read if you love Dracula and, as you may know, Bram Stoker’s classic is one of my favourite all-time reads. It’s been sitting on the shelf for a while because when I’m in the mood for some vampiric action, I always turn to the original!

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
I am about to rectify this one, having just finished the first instalment and loved it so this won’t be an unread book for long!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
It’s mainly the size of this one that has prevented my reading – it’s not exactly commuter-friendly! I have dipped in and out and admired the beauty of the artwork every time – a book for when I have a quiet weekend methinks.

What books have been waiting patiently on your shelves?

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Stranger Danger

The Girl On The Train

She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks, her grave marked with a cairn.

This book was everywhere when it came out in January 2015 – and I mean everywhere! Commuters were racing through it, friends were talking about it, you couldn’t walk past a Waterstones without seeing the stark black cover plastered across the windows… it was everywhere. Now, regular TTW readers will know that this kind of popularity will automatically put me off reading a book until the euphoria dies down but also, in the case of The Girl on the Train, I had to wait longer than normal because I wanted to read the paperback and that was only released this May – a long wait indeed!

The mundane, everyday commute would almost be depressive for Rachel if it weren’t for ‘Jess and Jason’ – her friends, travel companions and complete strangers. Every day her train passes this house of perfect domesticity and gives her peace in her chaotic, lonely life. Or rather it did… One morning she witnesses the cracks and takes it upon herself to play detective and give a new purpose to the life of the girl on the train.

It is very difficult to say you enjoy a book when all the characters, bar an incredibly young infant, are morally or emotionally repugnant. And yet I did! The three main narrators – a cheat, an alcoholic and a liar – are completely untrustworthy and this makes for an unstable and unpredictable thriller to read. I genuinely raced through the last hundred pages, desperate to find out what happens and why!

If you like psychological thrillers, this book matches the delivery of Before I Go To Sleep and Gone Girl, possibly even surpassing the latter. Is it going to be an all-time favourite novel, a long-standing classic? No. But it is an addictive read, Hawkin’s writing flows with pace – twisting, turning and unsettling the reader right up to the end. She establishes her characters early on, allowing the mystery to be as much about the narrators of the story as it is about the journey towards finding the truth.

4 star

Having seen the trailer for the film adaptation (due for release in the UK in October), I’m not too sure about it… The starting premise of the book works brilliantly because, as a London commuter myself, it’s so easy to people watch and I see the same people most days that they become part of your routine. I’m not entirely convinced how effective the film will be when set in the country setting of America but as Emily Blunt is starring, I’m willing to give it a whirl!

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A Big Friendly Blockbuster?

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Last weekend my lovely 6ft-something non-Dahl-fanatic boyfriend agreed to take me, his overly excited Dahl-loving girlfriend, to see The BFG. Now I will admit, I had exceptionally high hopes what with Spielberg adapting my favourite Dahl novel and easily the best stage actor I have ever seen, the great Mark Rylance, playing the title role. I wanted to sit next to the boy, utterly spellbound, watching a film that would make him fall in love with the story that made me fall in love with reading and language.

The cinematography of the film and the dreamcatching sequence are stunningly beautiful and Mark Rylance just is a perfect BFG – as a trained Shakespearean actor his natural love and understanding of wordplay matches the gobblefunking giant exquisitely. He was magical, twinkly eyed and just amazing.

Yet despite this, it was clear after the first half an hour it wasn’t all I was hoping it would be. I’ve hurriedly reread the book in order to cement my authority on this matter (review will be posted later) but there were too many things missing or misjudged which, when combined together, made for a pretty unmagical film. The beautifully delivered wordplay was bypassed and unreferenced a lot of the time. The giants were bumbling fools, not terrifying maneaters. Sophie was petulant and bossy, not a little girl who’s found her best friend in the BFG. A strange backstory was added in which made Sophie’s relationship with her giant less special. The capture of the giants was easy and straight-forward, no heroine moments from the extraordinary little girl. Overall, it just missed the mark.

I was desperate for this to be my new favourite film. For the boy to turn around to me at the end and declare that we had to see it again. For me to counts the days for the DVD release. But it’s just not meant to be. It was missing the magic that makes Dahl fantabulous.

I know books are better than films but I had hope going into this one. I will always have my BFG in the pages of my over-read, falling apart copy and that was always enough before and will forever continue to be – he is one utterly delumptious giant after all!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books You’d Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card

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Every week the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish conjure up a new Top Ten list for us book bloggers to write about and this week is all about bookish wish lists. I had to be really strict with myself this week and think very carefully about what types of books I would choose and why – because quite frankly, if someone gave me a fully loaded gift card, it wouldn’t last long! So here goes, the ten items I would choose first…

Novels to Read
The first thing I would do is would head straight to my book wish list and knock two titles off from the hundreds I have saved there! These two are brand new, so at the very top, and they both sound amazing – I would dive straight in!

Novels

Graphic Novels
My collection of graphic novels is slowly growing but it is a long process due to the price. The very intricate nature of graphic novel gorgeousness means that they are more expensive than fiction, though, often, completely worth it! But it takes a lot for me to risk a fair chunk of my pay packet if I’m not 100% sure. Fortunately I’ve seen these two already so they’d be next on my list!

Graphic Novels

Obscure But Classic
This is a strange category but one that will hopefully make sense in a second! When I’m book shopping, I often by-pass books that fall heavily into the ‘I know I’ll read them one day so I don’t need to buy them now’ section of my brain. I haven’t quite figured out that I’ll need to have them in my possession if I’m ever actually going to read them though…

Obscure

Interesting Non-Fiction
On my book-shopping travels I often head straight for the fiction or children’s sections, as they are so comforting, bright and shiny in comparison to the straightjacketed, solemn non-fiction area. But these books look genuinely fascinating and I hope I can hold off the distractions and challenge myself with these two one day – who knows, maybe I’ll learn something!

Non Fic

Lusted After Editions
Why have a fully loaded gift card if I can’t splash out? The last two are special editions of titles I already own but still would love to have anyway! Even though I am very limited on book space, I always like to have the best looking covers for my keep-forever books and I’ve been desperate for a spineless classic for a very long time indeed so these two would be perfect treats indeed!

Lusted After

What bookish wonders would you treat yourself to?

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Splendiferous Sightings

There’s something wondercrump happening in the city of London this summer and it’s not just the release of Steven Spielberg’s The BFG – though I am unbelievably excited about that cinematic joy!

Following the success of the elephants, the Shaun the Sheeps, the buses and the book benches (the last of which I have reviewed here), this summer sees the launch and landing of various dream jars in spots around the capital. And so, with ridiculous BFG enthusiasm, I set out on an early exploration to find some of the jars already in situ…

Choosing to follow the Majester’s trail, which started at Victoria train station, we were able to discover Henry’s Dream outside the Saatchi Gallery (1), Graham’s Dream in Harrods (2), Sabine’s Dream in the Madarin Oriental Hotel (3), Aston Martin’s Dream by the Wellington Arch (4) and finally ending with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s Dream in St James’ Park (5).

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The Duchess of Cornwall’s Dream, Read, was my favourite of the day and is not only beautifully designed by Michael Howells but is inspired by the dream that all children have access to and the ability to read. This is an ideal that drives me every day and I loved seeing it come to life! It is represents the reason I chose to work in children’s publishing and the reason why I love my job – making books for children that transforms them to new worlds and introduces new ideas and makes them readers.

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All the dreams have been submitted by celebrities and will be in place, on show, by 22nd July until 31st August before being auctioned off to raise money for Save the Children. Trails and more information can be found on the Visit London website.

If you do one of the trails please do let me know which one you do (I’m planning another one later on and recommendations would be very welcome!), let me know which dream jar is your favourite and please don’t forget to dream big!