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2011 books and films

This year I've read these books and watched the following films at the cinema.  A brand new read is [B] and a book I've read before is denoted with a [R].

Books:
  1. 31 Songs - Nick Hornby [B]
  2. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens [B]
  3. The Chimes - Charles Dickens [B]
  4. The Golden Prince - Rebecca Dean [B]
  5. The Fall - Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan [B]
  6. When I Lived in Modern Times - Linda Grant [B]
  7. The Cricket on the Hearth - Charles Dickens [B]
  8. Soulless - Gail Carriger [B]
  9. The Help - Kathryn Stockett [B]
  10. Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult [B]
  11. A Fool's Alphabet - Sebastian Faulks [B]
  12. The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl - Belle de Jour [R]
  13. A Crowded Marriage - Catherine Alliot [B]
  14. Mad About The Boy - Maggie Alderson [R]
  15. Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford [B]
  16. The Nightingale - Morgana Gallaway [R]
  17. Veronika Decides To Die - Paulo Coelho [R]
  18. The Information - Martin Amis [B]
  19. The Lost Relic - Scott Mariani [B]
  20. JPod - Douglas Coupland [B] 
  21. I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore [B] 
  22. The Group - Mary McCarthy [B] 
  23. The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters [B] 
  24. The Glass Room - Simon Mawer [B] 
  25. The Gatecrasher - Madeleine Wickham [B] 
  26. Brighton Rock - Graham Greene [B] 
  27. The Love Verb - Jane Green [B] 
  28. The End of the Affair - Graham Greene [B]
  29. Pandora's Box - Giselle Green [B]
  30. Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston [B]
  31. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - David Mitchell [B]
  32. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer [B]
  33. The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood [B]
  34. Divergent - Veronica Roth [B]
  35. Harvesting the Heart - Jodi Picoult [B]
  36. Matched - Ally Condie [B]
  37. Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead [B]
  38. Summer and the City - Candace Bushnell [B]
  39. Die for Me - Amy Plum [B]
  40. Runaway - Meg Cabot [B] 
  41. Forgotten - Cat Patrick [B] 
  42. Baby Be Mine - Paige Toon [B]
  43. Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini [B]
  44. The Rembrandt Secret - Alex Connor [B]
  45. Sin Tropez - Aita Ighodaro [B]
  46. To Touch The Stars - Jessica Ruston [B] 
  47. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - Sarra Manning [B]
  48. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger [B]
  49. Temptation - Olivia Darling [B] 
  50. The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory [B] 
  51. The Dark Tourist - Dom Joly [B] 
  52. Miracle on Regent Street - Ali Harris [B]
  53. The Lost Estate - Henri Alain-Fournier [B] 
  54. Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell [B]
  55. Friends Like These - Danny Wallace [B]
  56. Crossed - Ally Condie [B]
  57. 0.4 - Mike Lancaster [B]
  58. The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me - Colin Clark [B]
  59. My Week with Marilyn - Colin Clark [B]
  60. Gangster - Lorenzo Carcaterra [B]
  61. Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion [B] 
  62. Bad Sisters - Rebecca Chance [B]
Cinema:
  1. The Tourist - Seen on 12/01 - Pretty, but quite bad. 5/10
  2. The King's Speech - Seen on 19/01 - Glorious portrayal. 9/10
  3. Black Swan - Seen on 24/01 - Highly charged, erotic, neurotic, twisted, disturbing, hot, AMAZING! 10/10
  4. 127 Hours - Seen on 27/01 - Just long enough. 7/10
  5. How Do You Know - Seen on 03/02 - Dire. 4/10
  6. Tangled 3D - Seen on 04/02 - Heart-warming Disney take on the story of Rapunzel. 8/10
  7. Brighton Rock - Seen on 08/02 - Gloomy. 6/10
  8. Biutiful - Seen on 11/02. 7/10
  9. Gnomeo and Juliet 3D - Seen on 14/02 - Best bits were shown in the trailer; very short. 5/10
  10. I Am Number Four - Seen on 28/02 - A bit OTT with the fight scenes, but an interesting plot. 7/10
  11. Never Let Me Go - Seen on 01/03 - Works better as a book. 6/10 
  12. Rango - Seen on 05/03 - Johnny Depp as a lizard. Enough said. 7/10 
  13. Unknown - Seen on 20/03 - Far-fetched, but good plot twist. 6/10 
  14. Submarine - Seen on 21/03. 7/10 
  15. Limitless - Seen on 13/04. 7/10 
  16. Source Code - Seen on 20/04. 8/10
  17. Scream 4 - Seen on 25/04. 6/10
  18. Water for Elephants - Seen on 16/05. 6/10
  19. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3D - Seen on 21/05. 5/10
  20. Thor 3D - Seen on 30/05. 7/10
  21. X-Men: First Class - Seen on 03/06. 7/10
  22. The Hangover Part II - Seen on 08/06 - Not as good as the original. 5/10
  23. Senna - Seen on 16/06 - Brillliant and fitting tribute to a F1 legend. 9/10
  24. Bridesmaids - Seen on 04/07 - Hilarious. 9/10 
  25. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, 3D - Seen on 27/07. 7/10 
  26. Captain America, 3D - Seen on 30/07 - Musical number included. Win. 7/10
  27. 3D Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Seen on 11/08 - All style (awesome visually), but NO SUBSTANCE. 5/10
  28. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Seen on 06/09 - Narrative nicely done. 8/10 
  29. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Seen on 22/09 - 6/10 
  30. Jurassic Park - Seen on 28/09 - Horrifically AWESOME on the big screen. 9/10 
  31. Drive - Seen on 05/10 - Awesome soundtrack; not-so-awesome violence. 7/10  
  32. The Lion King 3D - Seen on 17/10. 9/10 
  33. Midnight in Paris - Seen on 18/10 - Charming and magical. 8/10 
  34. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - Seen on 08/11 - Blistering barnacles! Brilliant. 8/10 
  35. Breaking Dawn - Part One - Seen on 29/11 - Dreadful. 3/10 
  36. My Week With Marilyn - Seen on 04/12 - Beautifully twee. 9/10 

2011 resolutions review

My last post of 2010 had me looking forward rather than looking back on the year, which is how I came up with a bunch of resolutions neatly categorised into various life sections. This is how I fared:
  • Professionally I want to find a fabbity new job that challenges me:
I didn't have just one new job, in 2011 I worked for five different employers. Two I really loved - my freelance positions at Grayling and UNICEF - and then there were the two I really hated, to the point I quit both of those jobs without the security of another job to go to... like you do.
Luckily both times things worked out - the first time I was out of work for six weeks, but that did mean I got to finally watch all four seasons of Mad Men; the second time I was unemployed a grand total of half a day before I accepted the position I am in now. It's early days on that one...
  • Pipe dream-wise I shall dedicate more time to writing and submitting my books:
Didn't happen, but things are going to change in 2012. I don't care if I spend an hour a day writing or an hour a week, book writing shall be done and once it begins I suspect I'll fall in love with writing all over again. 
  • Money-wise I hope to clear my credit card debt and build up some savings:
Cheque! [Sic.]
  • Location-wise I need to move more central, hopefully with people I know and like:
When I wrote this resolution I was living in the French hell-hole, out in zone 3. Good news, I escaped to zone 1 and lived in Bloomsbury for 5 months, but moved again last month to zone 2. With my boyfriend. Who I can safely say I know and like. {^_^}
  • Travel-wise I'd like to spend some time in NYC and visit 2 or 3 new countries:
Will I ever get to NYC?! 2012's plan says YES, but I guess we'll only know this time next year!

I did visit those two new countries however - Italy and The Netherlands - and I guess I can claim three if I sneakily include Vatican City! Then there was the pre-Christmas getaway to Paris, a city I've been to a billion times, but somewhere Olly has never visited. Travel-wise, I had three lovely holidays in 2011. {^_^}
  • Taking lots of photos with my fabbity new camera, seeing a few new musicals and ticking off some more Michelin star restaurants should definitely be in the plans for 2011! 
Check, check, and check! I made it to the West End/The O2 17 times this year(!) - should have been 18 but I didn't make it to Blood Brothers because of the London riots - plus dined at the likes of Rhodes W1, Swan at The Globe, Paramount, Marco Pierre White, Seven Park Place by William Drabble, Benares, Arbutus, Barbecoa, The Ritz, Maze and Kai.

I ate far more frequently at less name-dropping restaurant - The Giggling Squid in Brighton, Bodean's (across London) and Tumeric Gold in Tonbridge, to name some of the best - not to mention all the yummy meals that Olly has cooked for me. {^_^}
  • Finally, I must try not to over-analyse, be indecisive or unhappy, and I will surround myself with people who are worth it. I will remember that I cannot control everything, that nothing is a given, and that in life you make your own happy ending.
Definitely. I think I'm finally getting there, Treacles, although life? Well, it's just one big learning curve, isn't it? Hope your 2011 was as you hoped, and wishing you all a fabulous and fear-free 2012 to achieve what you've always wanted to achieve. How did you fare with your 2011 resolutions? xoxo

Best films and books 2011

I didn't make it to the cinema as much as I did in 2010 or read as many books, but I still have some clear winners of what my best films and books of 2011 are:

* The King's Speech
* Black Swan
* Source Code
* Senna
* Bridesmaids
* Rise of the Planet of the Apes
* The Adventures of Tintin
* My Week with Marilyn

Plus, it was awesome to see The Lion King and Jurassic Park on the big screen. {^_^}

Books:

* When I Lived in Modern Times - Linda Grant
* Soulless - Gail Carriger
* The Help - Kathryn Stockett
* Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford
* The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
* The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
* Matched - Ally Condie
* To Touch the Stars - Jessica Ruston
* Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
* Gangster - Lorenzo Carcaterra
* Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion

What were your 2011 favourites? x

A weekend in Paris

Last weekend I toodled off to Paris with Olly for a long weekend in the French capital. We went on the Eurostar, a easier and much more convenient way to get there than flying, and stayed in La Villa Royale. The hotel is billed as being "at the foot of Montmartre" but equally this means it's at the edge of the Red Light District and a mere stone's throw away from the ridiculously over-priced Moulin Rouge.

The hotel is perfectly located though, and each of the rooms are named after famous French people. We stayed in the lovely Maurice Chevalier room which overlooks Folie's Pigalle. Despite what the view from our window suggests, we found out that it's not actually a strip club as the red sign and devil lady indicates! And our hotel was perfectly respectable - honestly!

The weekend was full of countless yummy food, and big snaps go to Angelina where we feasted on yummy pastries and macaroons and sipped their world-famous hot chocolate l’Africain. It's a hot chocolate that really has to be savoured because of its bitter richness. It doesn't look like *much* above but, believe me, we were fit to burst.

We of course did the usual tourist things - cruised down the River Seine, walked around Montmarte, did the steep climb up to the Sacré-Cœur, took a trip up the Eiffel Tower, visited Notre Dame, admired the Arc de Triomphe, plus did a whistle-stop tour around the Louvre. There's this painting there, you see - I think it's called the Mona Lisa... ;)

Do you know what, the Mona Lisa is OK, but it's not as amazing as the building itself or all of the amazing sculptures that are housed there. I have to confess though, I was a little disappointed that we didn't get chance to pop next door and visit Les histoires de Babar exhibit at Musées des Arts Décoratifs. Babar!! Amazing! {^_^}

Unlike me, Olly had never been to Paris before, but it was lovely to show him the sights and for me to see them with him. Plus, I've never been to Paris in December so I got to see all the lovely Christmas markets dotted around and soak up the Christmas atmosphere. 


All in all, we had a brilliant long weekend, though I have to warn you that there is nothing romantic about going up the Eiffel Tower in December - it was utterly freezing! Still, at least our next holiday is on warmer shores. (India!) Until then though, we'll always have Paris. {^_^}


PS: I, of course, took a thousand lots of photos. Paris by night is up already, and I'll be posting the rest later this week. x

Bon voyage!

Au revoir, Treacles!

If you need me, I shall be over in Paris, definitely posing in front of the Eiffel Tower and definitely wearing a lot more clothes than I was the last time I was over in "La Ville-Lumière".

Oo-er. ;)

Expect lots more photos on my return. {^_^}

xoxo

Olly's Christmas Triple Play

Apparently *my* Christmas triple plays aren't good enough - here and here - so here are O's. I still don't get what's wrong with Cascada's version of "Last Christmas" mind... ;)





Winter Wonderland 2011

Photos taken last weekend at Winter Wonderland 2011. I'd love to say it was amazing, but it was rammed to the point of extreme hideousness - definitely wasn't that manic last year - plus we suffered at the hands of pickpockets. A true shame because there looked to be some gorgeous goodies at the Christmas Market, but we couldn't get close enough and we had that unexpected cash issue thrust upon us...

Still, at least there's one positive. Here are some photos to save you having to go down there:







Lo Stato della Città del Vaticano

Home to the Pope, the Swiss Guard and the Sistine Chapel, to name a few things, Vatican City is the smallest state in the world but it would still take you a fair few days to see everything that it houses.










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