Friday, 29 July 2016

Cecelia Ahern's 'The Marble Collector'

I had read Ahern's Love, Rosie (Where Rainbows End) after watching the film and falling in love with it but that is a book review for another day, as it is something I want to go into in depth. For those more interested in a review of the film here it is:

Having enjoyed reading Rosie and Alex's tale so much (both in film and book version though I must admit this is one of those cases where the film is actually better in my opinion), I thought why not choose one of her books for my Agenda Bookshop sponsored reviews on

So for those who have either already read some of this author's books or who've been seeing this particular title listed in the best-seller lists (even here in Malta), here's my take on what to expect:

Saturday, 23 July 2016

My First Beer Fest

Call me weird but I'd never been to a Beer Festival before. I sort of always imagined it was something aimed solely at beer-lovers, which I definitely am not. I did not imagine the food stalls (though truly I'm not a food-lover either and preferred to fill up my tummy at home, ensuring I ate something I liked as I am so picky) or the cool live performances. Even up to the second when I actually got there, I had a totally different impression of what the venue would be like, too. So yes, I can say I truly enjoyed the night and now I wish I'd done it every year previously too!!

Yesterday was the opening night of the Farsons Beer Festival, which is on till the 31st of July and boasts fantastic music that lures the crowds. It has bars with enough tenders not to keep you waiting and they are all wearing cool matching t-shirts to boot. They stock not only beer but also soft drinks and other beverages and whilst alcohol is strictly served only to over 17s, the atmosphere itself was child-friendly and even my six-year-old enjoyed the outing and got into the groove, listening to Claudia Faniello whilst goofing around with his dad.

For anyone interested, entrance is free and there is ample parking space, also free. It opens at 7.30pm and the line-up can be found here:!the-programme/cee5 For those reading this blog who are foreigners (which would be more than half my audience), the Festival is being held at the National Park in Ta' Qali, Malta.

N.B. This is not a paid advert, I am only sharing interesting information with my readers based on an experience which was new to me and therefore worthy of a blog post.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Hilarious and #OMG! Read

Buying books has become a nightmare for me. They cost a lot (considering how long, or not, it takes me to read them) and I read most of them just the once for remembering all the details in them or else not being too impressed by them. This, as well as that I know for a fact that most of them won't make it to my permanent bookshelf (I'm a Minimalist, for those who're new here) have made parting with hard-earned cash for books an irrational thought.

So whilst I do buy some books (mostly if I know they'll probably be keepers) I also visit the library, borrow from friends (though not too often as I'm quite picky) and have a sponsorship from Agenda Bookshop when it comes to books I review professionally. That said, there is another last option for those of us who want to get hold of books without forking out too much for them... the second hand option. Amazon and Rakuten are brilliant in this area but I also occasionally shop at the Happy Paws Charity Shop that's minutes away from my home. Usually priced at only a few euro, their books are a good enough deal for me to read and then donate back for them to resell!

A couple of weeks ago, I turned up at Happy Paws with some bagfuls of stuff for them to sell and seeing as my son wasn't too keen on getting out of the shop before going through their collection of pre-loved toys, I myself opted to spend some time browsing the bookshelves. Sticking out like a sore thumb between lots of boring or romantic (I usually class the two under the same title!) novels, I found a gem. There was no way I was leaving the shop without the Graham Norton-written The Life and Loves of a He Devil. What could be the worse to happen? I'd return the book unread if I found it not to my liking.

Norton happens to be my all-time favourite TV presenter and yet I was not sure what I would find between those naughty-seeming pages. Enough to say the Sunday Times wrote about it 'I defy anyone not to snort, howl and recoil'. What a review! And what a review I am about to give it myself! Suffice to say, this one is not returning to the charity shop for resale. Instead it will be getting a place in my Hall of Fame (i.e. my home library which is as Minimalist as I am). I am now at the end of the fifth of the very long chapters in this un-put-downable read. Truly, I couldn't put it down from the very first chapter, in which Graham Norton relates anecdotes from his life as a dog owner, including a Labradoodle gate-crashing a picnic and another pet dog's unexpected midnight swim in The Thames (not to mention an episode involving a missing condom which seems to have made its way into the mouth of a dog and out the other end!)

After a dogful of episodes that would put anyone off becoming a dog-owner, the following chapters I have read up to now have dealt with anything from episodes about Norton's mother, his pursuit of Madonna, his relationship with booze as well as that with his native Ireland. Mentioning these I am only just skimming the surface of the pages brimming not only with biographical facts and anecdotes from his life but also with enough humorous content to have you laughing your head off almost literally.

In fact, scratch my to-do list for tonight... I am delving into that sixth chapter for more!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Chasing Dreams and Staying Put Without Them!

I've been gone for over a week, which is not an ideal in my mind, and yet I would rather that and be mentally sane still than try to catch up with all the things I can't realistically do at the same time.

I thought long and hard about what this post should be about. I've been writing up notes for a review that explores not only a film and a book but also the differences, good and bad, between them. However it is not ready yet so it will have to wait until I have some decent time to dedicate to it. I also thought of doing the next photo and description in The 'I love' Series and trust my favoured item (digital weighing scales with sentimental value) to die on me and end up in the garbage bag instead of featured on here. Yes, you read that right... an item with sentimental value that still found its way out of my life once it could not serve me any longer. Did I mind? Well, I did mind that it won't work any more as it was a useful thing and looked good and had a story behind it to boot. But what's the use of a tile-sized glass plate sitting on my bathroom floor, teasing me about how I'll never know whether I've put on some more weight (I really should get myself together and limit the amount of junk I'm eating as quick fixes to hunger).

So if I can't present my awesome review and I can't show you my now-not-so-awesome scales, why am I still here? I decided to write instead about what's on my mind. As I said, I've not been around to the usual schedule purely because I keep running out of time in order to get everything done. By the time my son's in bed for the night I'm usually already nodding off from exhaustion (and the heat doesn't help especially when I've had to drive or get a bus in the afternoon horrific flaming hot hours, which tiredness funnily enough accompanies me through the rest of the day.)

Now lately my life has been on high gear, maybe too high a gear really, and I was functioning on that kind of momentum that keeps you going when you think you should be following your dreams, you can do anything and be anyone you want to be, blablabla. Well, it seems to be all b******t if I may say so. No, I haven't given up on the stuff I love, on being the best wife and mum I can be, or on any other thing in my life. But to try and get it all done without being realistic is the worse form of torture you can put yourself through. So I found myself juggling more than I can handle (truly, I can juggle only two balls at a time and it seems in line with how in real life I can't multitask).

So I stopped for some time (two hours to be exact) to just be, by myself, and cleared my mind. It was a process I'd started a few days before when I made myself see that I couldn't try to do all the things I'd committed myself to and that regardless of the fact that I would have to face the music when I said 'no' to something or someone, I should still go ahead and do it. Because sleeping too little won't do. And having a six-year-old point out that 'you were not even listening to me at any point today' won't do when you know he's right. And being with my little family matters, matters more than any money or anything else in the world (yes, including that DVD collection) can ever mean to me.

Unfortunately some things are still beyond my control. Some things that are pressing hard on both my heart and my mind, crushing me at the same time that I refuse to submit to them. People too - the kind that I lately realised are actually bullies and which are beyond my control to stop them trying to crush my spirit. You can stand up to bullies, and that I am doing, but sometimes all that does is make them more furious with you and try to beat you (figuratively in this case) even harder.

So you see, I was away because I've been forcing myself to sleep enough, to eat something even when the appetite is gone or more chores are beckoning at meal-times. I've been kept busy by laundry, trying to keep a sane house with our mad and weird working schedule, and even more frustrating hospital visits that seem to lead me nowhere in my quest to regaining normal function in my knee. I've been saved from writing elaborate entries twice in June - first by featuring Chris Evans' birthday and then that of Sam Claflin. I also just realised how this year I totally missed the anniversary of Hugh Grant's arrest on Sunset Boulevard and never even referred to it on social media. Because that is what exhaustion does to you - it makes you forget what would otherwise be important to you or interesting at the least.

To whoever suggests to always forge on and follow your dreams, I must add to that statement that we must always check our limitations too. Oh yes dreams are for overcoming those limitations, for spreading our wings and riding far above the limits imposed on ourselves. But to ignore the fact that health (physical and mental both) as well as family and close friends should not be put aside in our quest for greatness (or in my case perfection), can only lead to disaster. Believe me, I always tumble and fall before coming to terms with reality and then being so much happier accepting it than when I'm ploughing on trying to prove I can do it all. So some dreams we achieve and others remain just that, some things turn out perfect and some we should love just as they are. Some nights we need to sleep early to regain our strength and others are made for staying up sipping wine. It's 22:37 and the wet laundry sitting in the chest is beckoning, reminding me that however hard we try, sometimes sleeping enough or sipping wine will have to wait their turn. In fact, it's only the laundry that's consistent and steadfast in its presence in one's life!