Monthly Archives: January 2015

Think Smarter on… Starting up with Nicholas Lovell

Penguin Blog

This week, we’re sharing insight from top business experts on starting up, whatever your business idea this January. Author of The Curve and digital business expert Nicholas Lovell shares his five ways to kick-start your startup idea in 2015 exclusively for Think Smarter. Sign up to the Think Smarter newsletter to get a wealth of brain boosting content from some of our top non-fiction authors sent straight to your inbox, every week this January. 

1. Watch a movie

No, not The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin’s tale of how Facebook was founded: it’s a terrible representation of the genesis of a startup and showcases Hollywood’s obsession with the big idea. People who write stories for a living think that the idea is everything; people who build successful businesses that employ people and generate profits know that execution is everything. Every successful entrepreneur says that hard work, resilience and smart execution are key; very…

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The Hobbit (book) – Guest Review


* * * * * SPOILERS * * * * *
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One of our regular book clubbers has very kindly agreed to put (virtual) pen to (virtual) page and write us a superb review of this excellent book. 
Please join me in saying WELL DONE and THANKS to Helen who tweets at @isfromupnorth and blogs at Hello from me to you! I didn’t actually know that Helen blogged until tonight and have really enjoyed the few posts I’ve scanned tonight! Huzzah!

BLURB (from Waterstones)
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of…

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The Vet’s Daughter – Book review

The Vet’s Daughter

by Barbara Comyns
*possible spoilers*

The Book

18131268Growing up in Edwardian south London, Alice Rowlands longs for romance and excitement, for a release from a life that is dreary, restrictive and lonely. Her father, a vet, is harsh and domineering; his new girlfriend, brash and lascivious. Alice seeks refuge in memories and fantasies, in her rapturous longing for Nicholas, a handsome young sailor, and in the blossoming of what she perceives as her occult powers. A series of strange events unfolds that leads her, dressed in bridal white, to a scene of ecstatic triumph and disaster among the crowds on Clapham Common. The Vet’s Daughter is a uniquely vivid, witty and touching story of love and mystery.

‘It’s not about enchantment!, It’s about evil, the evil that can exist in the most humdrum of people.’


About the Author

280994 Barbara Comyns (1909-92) was born in Bidford-on-Avon in Warwickshire. She was an artist and writer, worked in advertising, dealt in old cars and antiques, bred poodles and developed property. She was twice married, and she and her second husband lived in Spain for eighteen years, returning to the UK in the early 1970s. She is the author of eleven books, including Sisters by a River (1947), Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (1950), The Vet’s Daughter (1959), The Skin Chairs (1962) and A Touch of Mistletoe (1967). She died in Shropshire in 1992

My review

This was the first choice of the year for LBCWhiteswan, my second book club of the year and I have to say, what a pick!, I have never heard about this author or the book and ended up borrowing a copy to read. I didn’t know anything about the book when I started reading, I had tried to find the blurb originally but there seem very little. So going in blind turned out to lead to a wonderful little read. It’s a small book, and I managed to read it with a few hours, admittedly stopping and starting when things got a bit off track, by this I mean ‘what the heck moments’. I had to stop and think about what was going on then dived right back in.

‘Besides the beauty, there were the sounds: the snap of a stick, the hard rustle of a frozen leaf, the crack of the breaking ice.’

The story is about a young girl who lives with her parents, her dad is a vet and believes that living in London will be better for the family only to get there and find the advert had glorified the state of the city.  Alice helps her father with the animals, walking the dogs and looking after the animals that nobody wants or are ailing, like the talking parrot who ends up living in the toilet, poor thing. Her mother who didn’t work, then becomes ill, and is dying, the family have help from a Mrs Churchill to nurse her and a locum vet, who Alice calls Blinkers.

The story is told from Alice’s point of view and to me it was such a lovely story.  It was like we were dipping our toes into a moment of time and hearing and seeing about a whimsical girl’s point of view who didn’t know much about the world thanks to her father having control on watch she did.

I loved the writing style, I loved the descriptions she gave of the ice cracking, or the people going up the stairs, I loved the character descriptions,  although short I felt I knew what they were like. It was the typical story of there’s a man who likes her but she doesn’t feel the same way because ‘he doesn’t fit’ her description of men.

‘If only men were like the heroes in books, how lovely it would be to get married and have a cake like that!’

But I think we’re all like that in some way. The characters were wide and varied and could be liked or disliked. But in the end it’s a short story of a girl’s view on life.

‘The gratitude for life itself!’

At book club is caused quite a stir and you can read more of it here

But please pick up a copy and let me know what you think, I thought it was a lovely little book and would recommend it to people, it’s actually made me realise how good book club is in getting me to read stuff I wouldn’t think of. This year could be the one to open my eyes to some fantastic authors

In the meantime, I’m going to try to get a copy of her book – Our spoons came from Woolworth’s

Thank you for reading


The Travelled Reader’s next meeting @JDWLeedsStation Leeds


Join us on the 25th January from 6pm at Weatherspoons in Leeds Train Station to discuss The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien.


The book!


The Hobbit (Middle-earth Universe)

by J.R.R. Tolkien
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback…

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live a life you’re proud of…

JUMP FOR JOY Photo Project

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – Eric Roth

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James and the Giant Peach at the West Yorkshire Playhouse


When poor James Henry Trotter loses his parents in a horrible rhinoceros accident, he is forced to live with his two wicked aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. After three years he becomes “the saddest and loneliest boy you could find”. Then one day, a wizened old man in a dark-green suit gives James a bag of magic green things that promise to reverse his misery forever.

When James accidentally spills the things on his aunts’ withered peach tree, he sets the adventure in motion. From the old tree a single peach grows, and grows, and grows some more, until finally James climbs inside the giant fruit and rolls away from his despicable aunts to a whole new life. James befriends an assortment of hilarious characters, including Grasshopper, Earthworm, Miss Spider and Centipede–each with his or her own song to sing


As this was one of my favourite Roald Dahl…

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Reading Resolutions 2015



For the most part, I’m attempting to avoid the New Year, New Me trap – every year I get all excited and then realise that it’s the same me after all!

Just with attached guilt for failing to become a fit, healthy eating, multi-linguistic musician!

However, I do find it useful to reflect on the previous years reading habits.

For 2015


Read 1 book every 2 months that’s just for me

In 2014, I  arrived at December and realised that across the year, I’d read exactly 2 books of my own choosing. Don’t get me wrong – I love the book clubs and the huge variety of styles and generas that get picked.

However, I miss me MY books too (even my grammar is effected!). Science Fiction; poetry; an Agatha Christie re-read; perhaps the odd non-fiction book – it doesn’t matter *what* as long as it’s something purely for me.


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