Photograph of a blogger breakfast

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to go along to a Blogger event. I have had this blog for nearly five years and have never been to an event! When I saw the Foyles Birmingham Blogger Brekkie advertised on the Birmingham Bloggers UK Facebook group I thought it would be the perfect starter event as I had been to Foyles before so knew the layout and I love books!

The Blogger Brekkie was advertised as a place to have the book shop to yourself for an hour, meet with other like-minded bloggers to chat and occasionally listen to a guest speaker. Brekkie was laid out, a table of freebies ranging from smarties to a few books (all of it which was YA) and a few other bits and pieces was laid out too. The best part was just having the opportunity to talk to other bloggers. It was really nice to speak to people who were from the region talk about blogging and what they did as a day job. There was a really good mix of ages as well, I thought it would be more 18-21 but it wasn’t.

Table with books, pencils and sweets

The benefits you get from going to the event’s is 25% of if you buy a book that day. The option to fill out the bloggerpicks (little handwritten notes you see in the shop usually from staff members saying why you should read this particular book) and the chance to be part of the blogger affiliate programme with Foyles where you get 7% of each purchase made from the site if a user clicks on your ad.

Crowd of book lovers in Foyles

I found Foyles very willing and actively wanting to work with bloggers of all audiences which I really liked and think it is a good ethos to follow.

It has certainly made me want to go to more blogger events so will be keeping an eye out for ones in and around the West Mids and further afield.

To book yourself onto the Foyles Blogger Brekkie, click here.

Brooklyn Girls Pia by Gemma Burgess on a white table

The deets:

Author: Gemma Burgess
Pages: 292
Publish Date: 2013
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Fiction
Brooklyn Girls tells the story of Pia living in a Brownstone ( yes I had to google it, it looks like Carries flat in SATC) with three other girls in Brooklyn (Julia, Coco and Angie). They have all finished their education and so trying to find their way in life. The book attracted me to it because I wanted something a bit light hearted, I also really want to visit New York someday so therefore any literature going about New York is good for me.
Pia is a trouble maker, her parents bale her out time after time again. When she gets fired from her latest job that her father managed to get her. Her parents give her six weeks, if Pia does not have a job then she will have to fly back and live with them in Zurich. 
After a series of failed interviews, Pia manages to get a job at a restaurant but then after a confrontation because a customer was making racist remarks at her she gets sacked. Pia finds herself wondering around a food fair and guess what- she gets the idea of running her own food business. After visiting a loan shark and getting $10,000 she gets a clapped out food truck and starts earning a living selling healthy food to busy New Yorkers. 
To add to all this, Pia keeps bumping into this guy with a London accent. She fancies him but as he is always with a woman she thinks he is single. Until the woman turns out to be his sister, Pia goes on a disastrous date so we are left wondering will she finally get together with him?
I thought the book was good. A bit unrealistic ( I can’t give away too much but put it this way it does have a fairy tale ending). It was a Young Adult book so I am just a little old to be able to relate to the girls and their experiences as I am settled now. If you are in university or just finished it is more relatable. The realisation of (‘oh shit, I have this degree and now I need to do something with it!). As Brooklyn Girls is a series  from reading this book that you get a glimpse into all of the girls lives. This does make you want to read the other books I see what you are doing here Gemma! So now I want to read the rest of the books because I am invested now. To round up if you want some humour, a quick read and somebody that is really trying but struggling to sort there life out then this is the book for you!     
    

The Year Of Living Danishly- Helen Russell. Image of Book
Image Source: Authors own
The deets:
Author: Helen Russell
Pages: 354
Publish Date: 2015
Publisher: Iconbooks
Genre: Non- fiction
Journalist Helen Russell just a year ago was living in London working in an extremely stressful job when her husband gets the opportunity to work at Lego for a year. Not being sure at first Helen does some research and finds that Denmark is one of the most happiest countries on the planet and she is intrigued why. Helen’s Danish journey is set out in 13 stages that follow the months of the year and an extra chapter called Christmas (the  layout reminded me of Gretchen Rubins books). Throughout, the book is littered with quotes from specialists in Denmark ranging from culture to health and her journey of adjusting to a new culture and all the crazy traditions that come with it.
So what is so different about Denmark than the UK that makes them happier? What I found interesting was that Danes as a whole prefer paying high taxes because they know that one day they will need either the health service or education and have faith that their taxes will be spent wisely. Danes also value family time, in winter whole towns shut down as they prefer to stay in with lots of candles lit. Danes have a good work culture as well as it is mainly 8am- 4pm (Helen was shocked to find her husband back before five some days) and also father’s are given long paternity leave and that working very late is viewed as a negative as it is showing you cannot get your work done within the allotted time. 
Danish people as a whole and this is what I think and what Helen thought underpinned their happiness was the level of trust Danes had for each other. The trust that Danes had in the state and their politicians was high (unlike the UK) and the level of trust for each other meant that people were happy to leave their children in prams outside the shops! What I also loved and picked up in the book about the Danish is that traditions are valued. I feel that in the UK sometimes we don’t value our traditions as we should or we have to be apologetic all the time for being British. Whereas the Danes just don’t care they will set fire to things and throw plates at houses to greet the new year in because they can.
So what did I think of the book? Overall I enjoyed the book, it really gave me an insight to Danish culture  in a candid and fun way from someone who has experienced it first hand. At times, I was starting to find it boring and was ready for the book to finish. Nonetheless if you are interested in Scandinavian culture this book is worth buying. 

Dear Stranger Book Review BecBe
(Image Source: Authors Own)

The deets:

Author: Various
Pages: 286
Publish Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Dear Stranger is a collection of letters written by a variety of people from celebrities (such as Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson and Caitlin Moran) to those who have mental health issues regarding the subject of happiness. The book which is in the aid of Mind a mental health charity with at least £3 from every book sold going towards the organisation.
As the variety of authors is so different, it means the letters are all completely different. Some letters were illustrations, others based on personal experience and others were critiquing happiness. At most the letters were two pages long which is enough to create a real impact and leave you thinking about what has been written. Letters I particularly liked were ones by Arianna Huffington, Nicholas Allan, Nick Harkaway, Rachel Joyce, Seaneen Molloy- Vaughan and Thomas Harding. 
  

My thoughts on the texts I read at school (six years on!)

A few of the texts I still kept from school!
(Source: Authors Own)

I often write about the books I read recently on here, however, I have been thinking lately back to the texts I read at school. I studied English Literature to A- Level so went through school studying one text or another. Some books I didn’t like, others I really loved. However, one thing that I do stand by is that I glad I studied English Literature at GCSE and A-level.
Although I read a lot, I rarely got my head stuck in a classic and there are some books and genres as you will see below that I really like that I would have never picked up otherwise. Today’s post is split up into what I thought of the book at the time (from what I can remember) and what I think about it now.
Just to note this post is not to be read as a review post, it is my thoughts on what I can remember now from back then.

Two Weeks With The Queen- Morris Gleitzman

My earliest book I studied at high school, I must have been 11 or 12 so over 10 years ago now. It is about a boy whose brother has cancer and he writes to the queen to see if she has a cure. This book I wasn’t a fan of at first. I think I thought it was too ‘primary school’ for me. I do remember having this slight feeling of sadness when the letter he receives back from the Queen is just a general Buckingham Palace one and he knows that his brother is going to die.

Apart from that moment in the book I don’t remember too much about it. I don’t see myself reading it again unless I have kids and happen to come across the book!

Sherlock Holmes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A GCSE text, I remember not being thrilled about Sherlock Holmes being a module, but then I absolutely loved it. So much so I bought the box set of all his books.

Postcards- Annie Proulx
An A-level text this book was part of an American Literature module. It is about Loyal Blood who murders his girlfriend, buries her and then worried he will be caught drives off and never see’s his family again. Each chapter is marked by a postcard. It is a stunning read filled to the brim with symbolism. I have read it more than once but not recently. At school, I loved the book.

The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Another A-level text. I wasn’t keen on Gatsby. I remember at school this was the first book I read where I was thinking I didn’t want to go to university if it was going to be this hard. I didn’t like the way it was written which meant I struggled to write essays. I thought the characters were spoilt and self- indulgent and completely unrelatable. All I remember is Daisy being lazy and selfish and West Egg and East Egg! However, years later I watched the film with Leonardo Dicaprio in (which I loved) and I can understand completely why the book is iconic. I have still kept my school copy.

Tender is the Night is another A- Level text that I studied in Upper Sixth. I don’t remember much of this book at all, which says it all really.

The Old Man and the Sea- Ernest Hemingway
A GCSE text I loved, The Old Man and the Sea I think was more of the ‘harder’ texts we studied. I think I got an A in either the coursework or exam I had taken on this text so was pleased. I want to read the book again as I remember so little.

Atonement- Ian McEwan
An A- level text which I have read time and time again. It is a story about Cecelia and Robbie who start a relationship together just before the second world war. They keep it a secret because Cecelia comes from a very wealthy family whilst Robbie is poor (Robbie and his mother both worked for Cecelia’s family), therefore, it is likely the parents wouldn’t approve. Bryony who is Cecelia’s sister is jealous of this relationship and so tells a lie that disadvantages Robbie throwing the story into a wicked twist.

I loved this book, luckily for me the movie had come out that year as well, which was done well. I loved all of the symbolism that came with the book. I enjoy World War Two fiction anyway which helped. This book also opened my mind up to other books by Ian McEwan such as ‘On Chesil Beach, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam and Saturday amongst others. I really recommend this book.

Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It – William Shakespeare
Macbeth was a SAT text I think, I don’t remember much at all of Macbeth, but I do remember Romeo and Juliet. I liked Romeo and Juliet because of all the rivalry between the Montagues and the Capulets and the romance. It was a fun play to study. As You Like It was an A- Level text. I enjoyed reading out parts in class. I always seemed to be reading one line or another.

The Franklin’s and The Merchant’s Tale- Geoffrey Chaucer
Ahh Chaucer. All I remember about both books was that chivalry was a theme throughout. I didn’t detest Chaucer but looking back I can understand why those books were core texts, as they are important historically. But they were just so plain and boring. I appreciate not every text can be fun but seriously when are you ever going to read something in Middle English?

Whose Life Is It Anyway- Brian Clark
A play this time! Whose Life Is It is about Ken an architect who was paralysed after a car accident. He doesn’t want to be alive and is fighting for his right to die.  It was a really good play to study as there are so many ways you can analyse the theme. I also think the play was ahead of its time considering the debate about euthanasia – I got an A* for my exam in this 🙂

Mirror- Sylvia Plath
Ok it is a poem and it was in an anthology but I remember this poem so well because it is dark. The mirror seeing this woman grow old and thinking it’s part of the wall but as night falls it serves as a reminder that it isn’t part of her. I could go on.

That is it, these are the books I remember studying at school. Did you read any of these texts?