Best films and books 2012

For the first time in about five years I've barely been to the cinema. I even cancelled my Cineworld card at the start of November, which speaks volumes about how often I am frequenting the flicks. Out of the films I did manage to see in 2012 though - you can find all the films I saw at the cinema and all the books I read in 2012 here - my favourites were: 
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Descendants
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Skyfall
  • Life of Pi

Books-wise, I also loved the book versions of two of my favourite 2012 films, The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings and Yann Martel's Life of Pi - the films are based on the respective books. Other favourites reads in 2012 were (in no order):
  • The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
  • The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson
  • Einstein's Dreams - Alan Lightman
  • Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane
  • Perfect People - Peter James
  • Little Girl Lost - Brian McGilloway
  • The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness
  • The Marchwood Vampire series - Shalini Boland
  • Outside - Shalini Boland
  • The Blessing - Nancy Mitford
  • The Kindest Thing - Cath Staincliffe
  • Babies in Waiting - Rosie Fiore
  • The Declaration - Gemma Malley
  • Mortal Chaos - Matt Dickinson
  • Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes
  • Pretty Little Liars series - Sara Shepard
  • Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
  • Clockwork Angel - Clare Cassandra
  • The Secret Keeper - Kate Morton 
  • Behind a Closed Door - Mel Sherratt
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
How about you? What have been your favourite books and films of 2012? x

2012 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]. I can definitely say that my Kindle is the reason that I've read more in 2012!

  1.  A Handful of Dust - Evelyn Waugh [B] 
  2. The Alchemyst - Michael Scott [B]  
  3. The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov [B]
  4. The Boy in the Dress - David Walliams [B] 
  5. Catch Me If You Can - Frank W. Abagnale [R] 
  6. Passenger 13 - Scott Mariani [B] 
  7. The Chocolate Run - Dorothy Koomson [R]
  8. Six Geese a-Laying - Sophie Kinsella [B]
  9. Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare [B]
  10. Pretty Little Liars - Sara Shepard [B]
  11. Dating A Cougar - Donna McDonald [B]
  12. Flawless - Sara Shepard [B]
  13. Beautiful Creatures - Lulu Taylor [B]
  14. Perfect - Sara Shepard [B]
  15. Unbelievable - Sara Shepard [B]
  16. Abandon - Meg Cabot [B]
  17. The Cross - Scott G Mariani [B]
  18. Suffer A Witch - Morgana Gallaway [B]
  19. Build A Man - Talli Roland [B]
  20. The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux [B]
  21. Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare [B]
  22. Afterwards - Rosamund Lupton [B] 
  23. Wicked - Sara Shepard [B]
  24. Killer - Sara Shepard [B]
  25. Heartless - Sara Shepard [B]
  26. Wanted - Sara Shepard [B]
  27. Boys Don't Cry - Malorie Blackman [B] 
  28. Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo [B] 
  29. The Hating Game - Talli Roland [B]
  30. Watching Willow Watts - Talli Roland [B] 
  31. Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson [B]
  32. Dirty Tricks - Jo Carnegie [B] 
  33. Girl - Blake Nelson [B] 
  34. The Descendants - Kaui Hart Hemmings [B] 
  35. The Lying Game - Sara Shepard [B] 
  36. Never Have I Ever - Sara Shepard [B]  
  37. The Woman in Black - Susan Hill [B] 
  38. Delirium - Lauren Oliver [B] 
  39. How to be a Woman - Caitlin Moran [B] 
  40. Dead Reckoning - Charlaine Harris [B] 
  41. The Wicked Games - Alex Marwood [B] 
  42. Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts - Talli Roland [B] 
  43. Fortune - Megan Cole [B] 
  44. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Deborah Moggach [B] 
  45. The Fallen Star - Jessica Sorensen [B] 
  46. Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes [B]
  47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins [R]
  48. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts [B] 
  49. The Declaration - Gemma Malley [B] 
  50. Mortal Chaos - Matt Dickinson [B] 
  51. Nine Uses for an Ex-boyfriend - Sarra Manning [B] 
  52. One Night Only - Sue Welfare [B]
  53. The Darker Side of Love - Jessica Ruston [B]
  54. Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris [B]
  55. Pear Shaped - Stella Newman [B]
  56. The Making of Modern Britain - Andrew Marr [B] 
  57. The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson [B] 
  58. The Girl in the Mask - Marie-Louise Jensen [B] 
  59. Riders - Jilly Cooper [B] 
  60. Two Truths and a Lie - Sara Shepard [B]
  61. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein [B] 
  62. The Kindest Thing - Cath Staincliffe [B] 
  63. Outrageous Fortune - Lulu Taylor [B] 
  64. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins [R]
  65. A Vision of Loveliness – Louise Levene [B]
  66. Mum on the Run - Fiona Gibson [B]
  67. Babies in Waiting - Rosie Fiore [B]
  68. Heist Society - Ally Carter [B]
  69. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins [R] 
  70. Divergent - Veronica Roth [R]
  71. Insurgent - Veronica Roth [B]
  72. Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson [B] 
  73. America Unchained - Dave Gorman [B] 
  74. The Gift of Rain - Tan Twan Eng [R] 
  75. Outside - Shalini Boland [B] 
  76. How to Thrive in the Digital Age - Tom Chatfield [B]
  77. Hidden - Shalini Boland [B] 
  78. Thicker than Blood - Shalini Boland [B] 
  79. Truth Dare Kill - Gordon Ferris [B]
  80. Marked - Kim Richardson [B] 
  81. The Diamond Queen - Andrew Marr [B]
  82. Fifty Shades of Grey - E. L. James [B] 
  83. Fifty Shades Darker - E. L. James [B]
  84. Londoners - Craig Taylor [B] 
  85. Fallen Idols - Neil White [B] 
  86. Fifty Shades Freed - E. L. James [B]
  87. The Resistance - Gemma Malley [B] 
  88. Adorkable - Sarra Manning [B]
  89. Angelfall - Susan Ee [B] 
  90. Yesterday's Gone: Season One - Sean Platt and David W. Wright [B] 
  91. We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver [B] 
  92. Legacy of Blood - Alex Connor [B]
  93. First Bitten - Samantha Towle [B] 
  94. Yesterday's Gone: Season Two - Sean Platt and David W. Wright [B]
  95. Here Be Sexist Vampires - Suzanne Wright [B]
  96. Mr China: A Memoir - Tim Clissold [B]
  97. The Immortalists - Kyle Mills [B]
  98. The Bringer - Samantha Towle [B] 
  99. The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng [B]
  100. Drive - James Sallis [B]
  101. Aleph - Paulo Coelho [B]
  102. The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness [B] 
  103. The Secret of Happy Ever After - Lucy Dillon [B]
  104.  The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness [B] 
  105. Construct A Couple - Talli Roland [B]
  106. Monsters of Men - Patrick Ness [B]
  107. The New World - Patrick Ness [B]
  108. Monday to Friday Man - Alice Peterson [B] 
  109. A Shirtful of Frogs - Shalini Boland [B] 
  110. Switched - Amanda Hocking [B] 
  111. Torn - Amanda Hocking [B] 
  112. Ascend - Amanda Hocking [B]
  113. Partitions - Amit Majmudar [B] 
  114. Bronson - Charles Bronson [B] 
  115. An Idiot Abroad - Karl Pilkington [B] 
  116. Perfect People - Peter James [B]
  117. At the Sign of the Sugared Plum - Mary Hooper [B] 
  118. The Saturday Supper Club - Amy Bratley [B] 
  119. Lizzy Harrison Loses Control - Pippa Wright [B]
  120. The Private Life of Palaces - Julian Humphrys [B]
  121. The Beach Cafe - Lucy Diamond [B] 
  122. The Child Who - Simon Lelic [B]
  123. Hide and Seek - Sara Shepard [B] 
  124. A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness [B]
  125. L.A. Candy - Lauren Conrad [B] 
  126. Revenge of the Tide - Elizabeth Haynes [B]
  127. The Book of Lies - Mary Horlock [B] 
  128. From Rags - Suzanne Wright [B]
  129. Sweet Little Lies - Lauren Conrad [B] 
  130. Sugar and Spice - Lauren Conrad [B] 
  131. The Stepford Wives - Ira Levin [B]
  132. Unsuitable Men - Pippa Wright [B]
  133. Hollowland - Amanda Hocking [B] 
  134. Pretty Twisted - Gina Blaxill [B] 
  135. Id - Paul Craig [B] 
  136. Playground - 50 Cent [B]
  137. Little Girl Lost - Brian McGilloway [B]
  138. Watch Over Me - Daniela Sacerdoti [B] 
  139. The Happiness Trap - Russ Harris [B]
  140. Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane [B] 
  141. Wannabe a Writer? - Jane Wenham-Jones [B] 
  142. Beautiful Disaster - Jamie McGuire [B] 
  143. How Many Friends Does One Person Need? - Robin Dunbar [B]
  144. The Moth Diaries - Rachel Klein [B]
  145. The Uiverse Inside You - Brian Clegg [B] 
  146. Among the Living - Timothy W. Long [B]
  147. The Unquiet Heart - Gordon Ferris [B]
  148. Mockingbird - Kathryn Erskine [B] 
  149. The Proof of Love - Katherine Hall [B]
  150. The Sacred Sword - Scott Mariani [B] 
  151. Bared to You - Sylvia Day [B] 
  152. Einstein's Dreams - Alan Lightman [B]
  153. The Little Book of London - David Long [B] 
  154. Mountains of the Mind - Robert Macfarlane [B]
  155. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare [B]
  156. The Rock Star's Daughter - Caitlyn Duffy [B] 
  157. A Kind of Loving - Stan Barstow [B] 
  158. Fantastic Mr Dahl - Michael Rosen [B]
  159. The Wife Who Ran Away - Tess Stimson [B] 
  160. Yours Truly - Kirsty Greenwood [B]
  161. All That Glitters - Ilana Fox [B] 
  162. What I Did On My Holidays - Chrissie Manby [B]
  163. Pursued by Love - Georgia Hill [B] 
  164. The Expats - Chris Pavone [B] 
  165. VII - H M Castor [B]
  166. The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling [B]
  167. A History of Modern Britain - Andrew Marr [B]  
  168. Fracture - Megan Miranda [B] 
  169. When Lightning Strikes - Meg Cabot [B]
  170. Code Name Cassandra - Meg Cabot [B]
  171. Safe House - Meg Cabot [B]
  172. Sanctuary - Meg Cabot [B] 
  173. Talent is Overrated - Geoff Colvin [B] 
  174. The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson [B]
  175. The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum [B] 
  176. Fifth Avenue - Christopher Smith [B]
  177. Your Writing Coach - Jurgen Wolff [B] 
  178. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern [B] 
  179. Perfect Alibis - Jane Wenham-Jones [B] 
  180. The Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWitt [B]
  181. The Rose Petal Beach - Dorothy Koomson [B] 
  182. Reflected in You - Sylvia Day [B]
  183. Millie and the American Wedding - Anna Bell [B]
  184. A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle [B]
  185. One Perfect Summer - Paige Toon [B] 
  186. Thank you for Smoking - Christopher Buckley [B] 
  187. Devilish - Maureen Johnson [B]
  188. The White Lie - Andrea Gillies [B] 
  189. Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry [B]
  190. Life of Pi - Yann Martel [B]
  191. The Blessing - Nancy Mitford B]
  192. Time's Echo - Pamela Hartshorne [B]
  193. The Midwife's Confession - Diane Chamberlain [B] 
  194. This Thirtysomething Life - Jon Rance [B]
  195. The Secret Keeper - Kate Morton [B]
  196. Thursdays in the Park - Hilary Boyd [B] 
  197. The Half-life of Hannah - Nick Alexander [B]
  198. 1,227 QI Facts to Blow your Socks off - John Lloyd [B]
  199. The Island of Adventure - Enid Blyton [R]
  200. The Legacy - Gemma Malley [B] 
  201. Blood and Snow, Volumes 1-4 - RaShelle Workman [B]
  202. Street Duty, Case One: Knock Down - Chris Ould [B] 
  203. Safe House - Chris Ewan [B]
  204. Blood and Snow, Volume 5 - RaShelle Workman [B]
  205. The Siren - Tiffany Reisz [B] 
  206. The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins [B]  
  207. The Last Telegram - Liz Trenow [B]
  208. The Villa Triste - Lucretia Grindle [B] 
  209. The Men Who Stare at Goats - Jon Ronson [B] 
  210. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood [B] 
  211. The Night Before Christmas - Clement Clark Moore [B] 
  212. The Blackhouse - Peter May [B] 
  213. 600 Hours of Edward - Craig Lancaster [B]
  214. The Nightmare Stone - Finian Black [B] 
  215. Somewhere to Hide - Mel Sherratt [B] 
  216. Behind A Closed Door - Mel Sherratt [B] 
  217. Taunting the Dead - Mel Sherratt [B]  
  218. Little Red Riding Crop - Tiffany Reisz [B] 
  219. Fighting for Survival - Mel Sherratt [B] 
  220. Me Before You - JoJo Moyes [B] 
  221. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer [B] 
  222. Camp David - David Walliams [B]
  223. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky [B] 
 Did not finish: The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing

  1.  The Iron Lady - Seen on 09/01 - Meryl was marvellous, but portrayal of an alive modern-day Maggie makes for uncomfortable viewing. 8/10
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Seen on 20/01 - Fab remake that made a long film not seem *that* long. Not sure why they changed the ending though. 9/10 
  3. Shame  - Seen on 24/01 - Pointless drawn-out scenes; little plot. 3/10
  4. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - Seen on 25/01 - OTT, yet enjoyable. 7/10
  5. The Artist - Seen on 03/02 - Charming at first, but grows a little old. 6/10 
  6. The Descendants - Seen on 29/02. 8/10 
  7. The Hunger Games - Seen on 22/03 - A great adaptation. 8/10 
  8. Avengers Assemble IMAX 3D - Seen on 02/05. 6/10 
  9. The Dictator - Seen on 06/06. How does he get away with it! Very short, but very enjoyable. 7/10 
  10. The Amazing Spiderman 3D - Seen on 10/7. 7/10 
  11. The Dark Knight Rises - Seen on 20/7. 9/10 
  12. Magic Mike - Seen on 24/7. 4/10
  13. Skyfall - Seen on 1/11. 8/10
  14. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 - Seen on 4/12 - Dreadful. 2/10
  15. Life of Pi - Seen on 28/12. 9/10

Aladdin @ The O2

I was invited along to The O2 this festive season to go and see Aladdin A Wish Come True, starring Lily Savage as Widow Twanky and S Club 7's Jon Lee as Aladdin. We returned to London yesterday after a lovely Christmas in Kent and saw the 17.30 showing.

Now, pantomimes tend to fall into two types. They are either really good, or they are really bad. Thankfully, this is a good one and Lily Savage - Paul O'Grady's alter ego - really made the show. Funny with a fantastic pair of legs - not bad for a 57 year old man! - Lily Savage sets up everything negative that people tend to associate with pantos and made it seem humorous, as well as showcasing some awesome ensembles. Serious costume envy at times!

It feels modern for a "traditional" pantomime, and it's reasonably silly for the children but not *too* silly that the adults groan in despair. Abanazar was definitely my second favourite character after Lily Savage even though he *is* the baddie. What was great to see throughout the show was that you see the actors on stage were genuinely having a great time playing their roles and quite often could be spied cracking up at their fellow cast members stage antics.

The first half felt a bit slower than the second half, but it was an enjoyable show overall and we left the purpose-built theatre with a smile on our faces. If you want to catch it whilst it's on, it's only playing until January 5th 2013 so you'll have to be quick! Are you a fan of pantomimes? x

Mad Hatter's Tea @ The Sanderson

At the weekend I was at The Sanderson to celebrate my friend Hayley's 30th birthday. The Sanderson is situated just off Oxford Street and their classic afternoon tea, called the Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea, is £35 each. They also do a champagne version for £45.

There are lots of lovely little details that really make the afternoon tea special - sugar cubes are kept in ballerina music boxes, riddles are tied around the napkins and the menu is hidden in an old book, for example.

The negatives I would say about it is that the service wasn't that great, especially considering the 15% service charge they add on to the bill regardless... It also had "Jelly Wonderland" on the menu which they didn't offer us. I doubt we would have managed this as we were all pretty full but we should have been offered it at the very least - we'd paid for it!

Still, those negatives aside, it was a lovely afternoon. I'm not a sandwich person so my favourite bits were the scones, the strawberries and cream handmade marshmallow mushrooms, and the green tea and white chocolate mousse served in a dark chocolate tea cup. The top of the mousse had popping candy which was a nice surprise!

Harringay Market

Earlier today we went along to the Harringay Market to see if we could find any last minute Christmas gifts to buy and, of course, to sample some street food!

I went for Alley Katsu and had their delicious Chicken Katsu Curry (£5), whilst Olly went to the Burger Bear stall and had the Grizzly Bear (£6.50). He's now a big fan of bacon jam. 

We also took home with us a Batch Bakery brownie (£3 each); I can't remember for the life of me which ones we picked but they were yummy. Olly's tasted "just like Christmas", though I wasn't keen on his, and mine had a soft mousse-like texture that was much more my cup of tea.

The Harringay Market is on every Sunday, 11.00 until 15.00, at the North Harringay Primary School. If you're a North Londoner, it's well worth a visit! x

Get into London Theatre 2013

Every year, around this time of year, I keep my eye out for an email announcing that Get into London Theatre has launched. Get into London Theatre is basically top shows selling great seats for £10, £15, £25 or £35, with no booking or postage fees.

You can book tickets for performances that take place from 1 January - 15 February 2013. I've just booked War Horse. What would you go and see? x

Christmas Countdown!

December is well and truly here and Christmas is on its way! I've sorted all my presents and the only thing left to do before the big day is finish editing my two books. I'll have an announcement about those in the New Year.

Now, I've not blogged for a while and that's because I have been quite poorly, with one illness after another. I'm hoping I'm on the mend, but it's been a bleak few weeks and I'm going to be taking it easy for the rest of the month.

Other than battling several plagues, I did manage to go and see Robbie Williams when he was playing The O2 on his Take The Crown tour a few weeks ago. I was never a fan of Take That the first time round - I preferred Britpop and the likes of Blur to poppy boybands -  but I do like Robbie's solo stuff and Take That grew on me when they got back together. The video for Candy is a bit odd though!

How have you all been? Are you sorted for Christmas? x


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