Wonder.land at the National Theatre London

Writer's Block and Broken Lenses

For my birthday last year, the wonderful Charlie, Distracted booked me tickets to see Wonder.land, the new musical by Damon Albarn (Blur... if you didn't know that). BUT THEN, we had the Great Crash of 2015... where the shelves my boyfriend put up in the kitchen fell off the wall and smashed all my Le Creuset so Charlie then bought me a new pie dish to make me feel better and the Wonder.land tickets became a Christmas present instead.

(TL:DR, birthday present became Christmas present. I went to the theatre, innit)

As you may be able to guess from the title, Wonder.land is another look at Alice in Wonderland... except it's set in present day... and focuses around the concept of being addicted to technology, especially our phones and the internet.

I'm a MASSIVE Alice in Wonderland fan and had been considering buying tickets to see this anyway until Charlie surprised me with tickets. I have the Cheshire Cat tattooed on the back on my neck, my mum's old copy of the book (kind of falling part due to much reading) and I even enjoyed the Tim Burton versions... #Controversial.

Wonder.land, however? Meh.

To be brutally honest, the most exciting part to me was the gift shop.

Writer's Block and Broken Lenses

Well, that's probably not exactly true. Around the theatre there are interactive experiences which are pretty cool but also make me think that the whole thing is trying a little too hard. I thought the script of the play was weak and the songs poor and the whole thing doesn't really make much sense so having these things (like a table you can whack to make noises, VR and selfie walls) are compensating for how weak the play was.

Nothing seemed to be quite in balance, and at some points we were all laughing at how ridiculous everything was. It's a real shame because I was really looking forward to it. The only things that Wonder.land had going for it were the costumes and set design. So much colour and glitter, it was amazing, it's a shame that they were overlooked/overshadowed.

I had a really nice time as a whole but I certainly won't be recommending the play to fellow Alice in Wonderland fans. However, this is all my personal opinion and there may be people out there who did enjoy it. It just really wasn't for me.

THIS VIEW THOUGH!




Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London



In October 2007, I made a big jump and moved to London to study film making at University. Before I came here I was adamant I wouldn't stay much longer than my degree and that I would be home every summer. Neither of those things happened (except for the odd week or two I was at home) and nine years later I am still here.

When I was at university, one of my lecture halls looked out onto the Tower of London. It was literally a stone's throw away but I never went. There was always an excuse not to go... like I couldn't afford it or because I was going to the pub and would much rather spend my last fiver there with my friends. Such a student cliche.

Last year, Gary and I finally got to go to the Tower with his mum and not long afterwards I had a message from Charlie, Distracted that she had already booked tickets for us to go to the Ceremony of the Keys in January 2016, that's six months in advance. Girl is good.

I'm sure like most people in London/the country/the world, I had absolutely no idea what the Ceremony of the Keys was or that it was even a thing. Turns out it's pretty damn important.

The Ceremony of the Keys is deep rooted in tradition dating back roughly 700 years. Little has changed over this except for the names of the monarchs who come and go. The Ceremony has never been photographed or filmed and is, in a way, super secret. We were in a group of about 20 people and tickets need to be booked months in advance because they sell out so fast.

Everything about the ceremony screams splendour, from the pristine uniforms of the beefeaters, to the dimly lit streets within the Tower's walls. Watching the Ceremony of the Keys makes you feel (well, me anyway) that you're a part of something truly intimate and I think it's amazing that something like this is still going today. I mean, they're just locking up the Tower but all the pomp and circumstance makes it more than that.

If you want to experience this for yourself, go right here just bear in mind that they're free so you could also be making plans for six months time too. It's worth the wait though!

Creed: Rocky is back!

writers block and broken lenses


I have grown up watching the Rocky series. When I was little, my brother and I used to sit in our parents bedroom watching the Anthology on VHS, my mum would want to be watching Emmerdale or something so we'd go watch it on their TV VHS combi player thing (remember those?).

I'm adamant to this day that Rocky IV is the best and Rocky V doesn't exist. It just doesn't, OK?!

After the shiteness that was the aforementioned film that doesn't exist, I didn't see Balboa until some point last year (FYI, loved it) and that's only because the trailer for Creed came out and I was SO EXCITED.


I kept going through stages, similarly to when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out where I was terrified that it wouldn't be as good as I wanted it to be. What if it was Rocky V all over again?

But it wasn't, it was brilliant.

It had all the elements that make a classic Rocky film, we were lucky enough to have TWO TRAINING MONTAGES and during the fight, the audience started cheering and applauding.

As with the other Rocky films we have to deal with some variety of emotional trauma... In Rocky II, Adrienne ended up in a coma, in Rocky III, Micky dies,  In Rocky IV, we lose Apollo and Rocky V almost killed the franchise by itself. With Creed we see the struggling childhood of Adonis (Creed's son), his desperate want to be accepted and, the turning point, his relationship with Rocky.  (shall not do the spoiler thing).

On a geeky side of things, the camera work is incredible with some parts being done in one take (cue the fight scene at Godison Park). The fight scene also represents more than just man on man violence. We can clearly see the differing relationships between coach and boxer (we've seen this before with Micky but this is different) and also the difference between a fighter who just wants a quick win, and one who wants to make a name on his own and not his legacy.

All in all Creed is a beautiful film, whether you're into boxing or not. AND WE FINALLY FIND OUT WHO WON THAT THIRD FIGHT BETWEEN ROCKY AND APOLLO! I will happily see it again and will definitely own it on DVD to keep our collection going.

Might be time for another Rocky marathon soon...

What's the best film you've seen this year so far?




(OK, so I actually saw this weeks a go but went through a 'I'm staying off the internet' phase. Oh well, the review is here now.)

Pancake Day at My Old Dutch

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OK, so after being a tad sad that I would have to wait until Ash Wednesday before I got to have any pancakes (I couldn't quite bring myself to make a whole stack just for me), at 10pm on Pancake Day we caved after many a cocktail and went straight to My Old Dutch in Holborn.

I LOVE me a pancake yet had never been to My Old Dutch before so couldn't really gauge how much food we would get. After much deliberation we went for four different varieties... and my god were they absolutely huge...

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Clockwise from left to right, we had cheese and mushroom, bacon and apple syrup, apple and cinnamon with ice cream and Nutella and banana. Turns out you have choices of whether you want a flat or stack of pancakes... I didn't even know there was a difference, I just wanted all the food!

Considering it was Pancake Day, we only had to wait for 10 minutes before we were seated and had our food within 20 minutes, this always feels like longer when you're hungry but pretty damn good when you consider it's a national day where a pancake induced coma is a requirement.

writer's block and broken lenses


Personally I thought everything was amazing but some of the girls said one of the pancakes was burnt, something I actually don't mind because I can't make pancakes WITHOUT burning them (because I'm crap) so I honestly didn't notice. My favourite was the cheese and mushroom but felt a lot of love for the apple and cinnamon despite me hating cinnamon. Looks like you've converted me, My Old Dutch.

The best part? All of this only cost us £9 each! I had eaten so much that at one point I felt like I was going to cry because I was so full. This feeling stopped rather quickly when Charlie, Distracted hit me in the face with a pancake... (see Little Miss Katy's YouTube channel for a clip of this very soon) at that point all I could do was cackle and struggle to breathe.

If you're after all the pancakes, sweet or savoury, and want to leave feeling so full you're going to burst without your wallet screaming at you for abusing it so much, go to My Old Dutch. Just be prepared to queue because there's clearly a reason why. And it's worth it.

What pancakes did you stuff your face with on Pancake Day?



Good things last week #2




Last week was a busy one! It was one of those weeks that was finished before I realised it had even started. In short, there was a lot of alcohol involved and I feel that I need a couple of days off! Days where I pretty much do nothing except drink tea and watch How I met your mother. I'm cool.

Here are the good things that knackered me out last week but were so awesome I don't really care.

LUMAS ART NOW - Art, cake and a night with the girls



The #Bangarang girls and I had an evening of chuckles at the launch of ART NOW with LUMAS, the gallery was filled with beautiful artwork (affordable too, yo), STAR WARS STUFF and all the cake. We had a lot of cake.



The evening ended with burgers, milkshake and dancing at Ed's Easy Diner plus having to deal with the horror that Milly has never seen Dirty Dancing. I mean, what the hell, Milly????

Potentially the best musical score ever

On Wednesday I finally went back to Orchestra after having some time off to deal with the shiteness that has been 2016 so far. When I got there I found out that not only is our theme for the term awesome (Heroes and Heroines) but also we will be playing a medley from Star Wars. As a brass player, this is fricking awesome. I've always wanted to play Star Wars with an orchestra and even after the first rehearsal it sounded amazing. 


First Waitangi Day



I had never herd of Waitangi day until this year. Our Kiwi friend is moving back to New Zealand at the end of the month so we thought we'd tag a long to help him celebrate his last one in the UK. That morning we decided to skip out on the big circle line pub tour because... liver... but went along to the mass gathering at Westminster where we found our Kiwi and headed off to watch the rugby.


The first pictures of me and Gary

For the #DebsFirstPhoto valentines campaign, I had to get involved. During this time I realised that there are very few photos of me and Gary where we haven't been drinking but also that some of them are down right hilarious. Just look at this one, It's not the first photo but it's still pretty awkward...



Not five like last time but this week isn't looking like it'll be any quieter.

What good things did you get up to last week?

Good things last week #1



THANK GOD JANUARY IS OVER!

*breathes*

So, 2016 has not been following the rule of 'Even numbered years = good' and I'm far from happy about it. 2015 ended on a shitty note and 2016 showed absolutely no sign of improvement for that first god damn month.

BUT it's over.

Hopefully it all goes up from here.

In an attempt to ignore the bad things and 'put a new positive spin on things, yo', I have decided to join the trend of THESE ARE THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY blog posts. A couple of friends of mine do theirs SOOO WELL *cough* Katy *cough* that they genuinely do make me smile every week so I may as well give it a go.

So, here are some things that managed to defeat the odds and made me happy last week!

1. Gryffindoooooooor!

OK, so the Sorting Hat is now back on Pottermore. All my #Bangarang girls did it and there was all the excitement over what Houses we were in. I have always been Gryffindor, I have a Gryffindor scarf and a bunch of t-shirts and jumpers too (thank you, Primark!) and I had a ridiculous moment of doubt that if I was Sorted again I wouldn't be in Gryffindor. Retarded, I know. PANIC NOT! I am definitely a Gryffindor and my wand (Cedar with Phoenix Feather) essentially says 'don't fuck with people she loves because she will own you'. Totally true. You know me so well JK.

2. #EricaWatchesPotter

So a lot of you may have already noticed that the lovely Erica has finally given in and has started watching Harry Potter. I couldn't be more proud. Not only that though, she's also live tweeting the whole thing and sending us all the most wonderfully confused voice memos about it and seems to be making me laugh pretty much every day. I love her.

3. Katie B, Cabaret Queen

On Friday, we all went down to see the wonderful Bloody Hell Brennan perform her Quarter Life Crisis Cabaret again and it was just as wonderful as last time. Except with more tears.

She's performing again in March, go and see it. I will happily quote Bernard Black here and say 'You'll laugh you'll cry, it'll change your life'.

4. ROAST BEEF

I love cooking, and I love beef. I have never actually cooked a roast beef joint though becuase I'm terrified of getting it wrong. But I succeeded and it was so bloody yummy.

5. Amusing myself at football

My boyfriend plays football and I foolishly agreed to go and watch one of their games at the weekend. In the wind and rain. It was cold. I amused myself by counting the number of times people fell over on the wet mud. It was 69.

Two of these things are a little bit simple and shit but they still made me happy. The other three... well, needless to say, the #Bangarang Girls are definitely keeping me sane. Thanks girls.


Looking back on 2015

So, this year ended on a kind of shit note but, to be honest, 2015 was quite good! A friend and I have a theory that even numbered years tend to be good so I am looking forward to 2016 and hoping it smashes 2015 out of the park.

This year I have done some pretty exciting things so I thought that, like every blogger on the planet, I would follow the trend (for once... Still not doing a 30 by 30...) and do a quick round up of the good bits.

New friends

I went through a period recently where I felt I only had a handful of friends in London, one who has been my partner in crime since we were teenagers, my boyfriend and a couple of people I genuinely haven't had time to see. To be honest, I was kinda sad about it. This year though, I made friends on the internet. This is a thing that genuinely happens! Not really sure how this year would really have gone without my #Bangarang Babes. Thank you ladies!


Two years with my boyfriend

A little bit lovey dovey but the past two years have been pretty damn good. He treats me like an absolute queen and is my ultimate geek out partner. Ta Gary. 


Holidays 

Yup. After years of nada I went on holiday this year. To Nice with Gary and then to Barcelona for his birthday with his friends. It's kind of given me the itch. Roll on getting a new job and I'll be getting off for another break!! At least for a weekend...


Weddings

I've been to a bunch of them now but most importantly, this year one of my oldest friends got married. I cried a lot.


I have also been to one where this happened and I regret nothing.


Star Wars 

OK, this one isn't exclusive to me nor is it an achievement/milestone but this year has been full of it. Star Wars is one of my (and Gary's) favourite things. This year we got to go to Secret Cinema for Empire Strikes Back (the best one), seen The Force Awakens twice (I screamed and cried in joy and sadness) and we're currently spending our New Years Eve playing Battlefront on the XBox with friends. Geek Central down here.


There's definitely so much more I could tell you about but I did have to narrow it down. Plus, I'm writing this post on my phone so Lord knows what the format will be like etc. I'll fix it later if it's crap. (update: Blogger wouldn't let me change it...)

Happy New Year everyone! Roll on 2016 with more laughs, new adventures and who knows what else.

*kiss*

Glam Clam Blogger Christmas Bash


The #GlamClamMeatSlamSquad

This year I went to three Christmas Parties. Everyone loves a Christmas Party but,  let's face it, they tend to get a bit same-y. There are loads of 'safe' options that everyone goes for and (especially when you go to a couple a year) they all tend to get a bit repetitive. When organising a blogger Christmas bash we knew we had to take the whole Christmas Party shenanigans one step further. On an 'average' night out we tend to do the likes of Musical Bingo and Gospeloke... expectations are obviously high. We were stuck for a while but were luckily saved by Charlie, Distracted and her amazing list of restaurants to go to and awesome Googling skills. Some food and cocktails in Camden followed by a BLOODY DRAG SHOW! Hell yeah.

writer's block and broken lenses
Image courtesy of Little Miss Katy
No one likes organising a Christmas Party though, especially when there are loads of you involved. Not only do you have to find something to do (turns out a lot of our outrageous ideas either too expensive or had sold out months ago) but there's also the drama of the money. Either splitting a bill ten ways, much to the enjoyment of the waitress who has to do some intense A-level maths in her head, or work out who owes who money when you're already three bottles of wine in. This year w were able to take all that drama away with the help of Santander and their new App KiTTi. The app works just like an old-school kitty, you can all pop money into the KiTTi (ha!) and you can then transfer it straight over to the card they send you so you can spend it all easily using card machines, t'internet and even over the phone. One of the plus sides is that you can use the app to track exactly how much money you have left on the card. Awesome.

For the first half of the evening, we went to have much needed cocktails and dinner at Q Grill in Camden.

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There was much excitement over this and after out first cocktail and starters, it appeared we made a good choice. To start Charlie and I shared the Spiced Cornbread Waffle and Blackened Butterfish. Both were incredible and as I don't really eat fish, I was very impressed. I wanted more of it.

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Blackened Butterfish

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Cornbread Waffles
With this to set us off and how amazing the Smokes Beef Hash we had as a main sounded and looked, it was a disappointment. Soz guys!

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Smoked Beef Hash with Duck Egg
Next, onto the highlight of the night. The Queens of the Glam Clam, a pop up dining experience with food by Gizzie Erskine. Obviously, we were only in it for the drag though.

I'm a massive RuPaul fan (Sharon Needles is obviously the best winner) and love drag as a whole but had never been to a show. I expected a lot of 'lip sync for your life' moments and was not disappointed.

writer's block and broken lenses


writer's block and broken lenses

The evening was broken up into different musical numbers from Diva of the evening Colette Cooper, jazz from her band and, obviously, some drag.

Image courtesy of Little Miss Katy
The Queens themselves (I think) took a shine to us. Always making appearances at our table and, at one point, presented us all with shots. In between causing havoc around the room and making some of the clearly uncomfortable men in the room feel even more uncomfortable. One poor guy had one of the Queens clamber all over him pretty much naked. He took it well though!

Everything from the show itself to the decor just screamed glamour. With people around us enjoying their food while dressed to the nines, in evening gowns and tuxedos, with light up mirrors a la Hollywood dressing room all over the joint. It was just amazing

sneaky photo of me reapplying lippy by Captain Charley

Little 'n' large - a photo op too good to miss by Charlie, Distracted
Selfie with one of the Queens by Charlie, Distracted
One of the best pictures ever. Dancing with Captain Charley by Milly
A fun night of food, booze and ALL THE DANCING was had by all and I'm proud to say that our Christmas Party must have put so many others to shame. Massive thanks to Santander for letting the #GlamSlamMeatSlam girls kick off the party season in style.

#SquadGoals - photo courtesy of Little Miss Katy




*This post was sponsored by Santander and KiTTi.

Films they should not remake. Ever.


Earlier this week, news was announced that Christopher Nolan's Momento is going to be remade. And I was angry. It's barely 15 years old and it's already going to go through the Hollywood rehash.

Obviously, I'm not the only person in the world who expresses fury when someone decides 'well, we're out of ideas again, so let's redo something else'. Most recently, the American version of The Returned. Just no.

I did a shout out on Twitter and fellow film nerds started to emerge listing some of their favourites that SHOULD NOT BE TOUCHED! A lot of them are bang on point.
I clearly have a lot in common with a lot of people (especially my #Bangarang girls).  There are a bunch of films in this discussion that are pinnacles of filmmaking and to touch them would be the ultimate insult. As you can probably tell from my header photo I have quite an extensive lists of films that need to be protected. Somehow I have managed to nail it down to a top 5...

Gone with the Wind

Writer's block and broken lenses


Gone with the Wind has always been my favourite films. Yes, it goes on for about 4 hours but they are 4 hours of brilliance. Plus there's the interval which gives you the perfect opportunity to make a cup of tea in the middle.

Gone with the Wind is the best example of Hollywood at its finest. A not quite love story throughout the American Civil War. Scarlet O'Hara always throws aside her own happiness in order to save her family and home and it's not until the very end where she's experienced the greatest tragedy when she realises what will truly make her happy but unfortunately it's too late. Vivienne Leigh is absolutely perfect in this role and it's strange how much of the character is reflected in her real life. It's almost like it's a role that was MADE for her.

True Romance

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Christian Slater when he was still hot? CHECK. Written by Tarantino? CHECK. Stellar cast in general? ABSOLUTE CHECK! It's a love story with guns, people!

Seriously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this film. From Samuel L. Jackson's grand five minutes on screen, Brad Pitt playing a stoner to Gary Oldman as a rasta pimp... it's just brilliant. Plus the score is by Hans Zimmer... all the win.

This is definitely one of my favourite films. And my boyfriend's for that matter. We both love it so much we went to see it on 35mm at the Prince Charles Cinema.

Please just watch this film.

The whole Harry Potter series

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Especially The Half Blood Prince. 

I'm counting these as all one film. I know that they will be remade at some point in the future because it is one of the most successful franchises of all time and it has gripped the hearts of more than one generation for nearly 20 years. It has certainly been a massive part of my life since I was 9-10 years old.

Yes, it's fun to go back and laugh at some of the bad child acting at the very beginning but there further along you go, the darker they get and all the more perfect. There are obviously a couple of things from the books I wish they kept and I am always a broken mess from The Half Blood Prince onwards but if anyone were to remake them, I will be beyond heartbroken. No one will ever be as good as Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and we all know it.

The Princess Bride

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Possibly one of the most quotable films and a family favourite. It's one of those films that takes the piss out of itself, so much so it has really stood the test of time and I will happily always watch it again. It's not to everyone's taste and I have noticed that unless you've grown up with it, you possibly don't 'get' it. That's how I try to justify people don't liking it anyway.

The Red Shoes

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We studied this when at Uni for our British Cinema module. It's a story within a story based on the Hans Cristian Anderson fairytale. There are many rumours around this film, like how Moira Shearer wasn't allowed to become Prima Ballerina for a leading ballet company because she made the artform available to the masses through a 'vulgar' film.

A triumph of Powell and Pressburger, The Red Shoes is an explosion of colour and art in a previous monochrome period of British Cinema. It was cited to be a failure but received a massive cult following and is as popular today. It's just beautiful.

The Labyrinth

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Dude. It's David Bowie in tights, as an adult I can now appreciate this (*giggle*). Similarly to The Princess Bride I think that unless you grew up for it, it's probably not for you. 

BUT! What's not to love, the aforementioned Bowie as the goblin king, songs you can actually sing all day, a Strong female lead who doesn't want to live up to everyone's expectations, or even the dark side of love? Well... obsession at least. It's kind of adult muppets with a dark twist and it makes me happy every time I watch it.

Plus, Bowie.

OK, yes. I'm aware that's not 5... I changed my mind so many times while writing this list that I just decided to go for 6. What of it?

What films do you think should never be remade, EVER?

Winter boots wishlist



Dresses in Winter can work, I promise. I know a lot of people aren't brave enough to even contemplate it, especially since it is currently still technically Autumn and it's bloody freezing! I'm just too stubborn to pack a lot of my dresses away. The best way I have found for this to work is to wear multiple pairs of tights with boots.

I have an annoying habit where I buy a pair of boots every year but they're always something cheap, from Primark or other highstreet stores, so they always end up looking battered after a couple of months or break. It's not the most cost effective thing and, quite frankly, it's a pain in the arse. You think I would have learnt by now.

I've been saying for ages that I'm going to 'invest' in some boots but as it's so close to Christmas, I have put together a wishlist instead of just running out and buying them. I do have other people to shop for!

Riding boots

You really can't go wrong with a pair of riding boots. They pretty much work with everything. They're what I have mostly been keeping my eyes out for and have really struggled to find the perfect pair. These brown ones from Jones the Bootmaker* however are ideal.

writer's block and broken lenses.


Such 90s. Very Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know suede boots probably aren't the best choice for winter in Britain but they look so comfortable and I'm pretty sure they're something I would wear to death. Not only would they look great with casual winter/let's pretend it's still summer dresses but with the right accessories, they could work with a more formal outfit. Especially for Christmas parties...



Boots with a slight heel are always a good choice. I have several pairs at home but they tend to be more ankle-ish length. Something a bit higher would definitely warmer. Annoyingly these ones in particular don't come in my size but they're a good example of something I want.


Brogues!

Well, kind of. I bought a pair of boots like this a few years ago. They didn't last me very long and I was very upset when they broke. I still insisted on wearing them when they had holes in though which meant I had wet feet quite often. Stupid me. 

These brogue-ish boots are pretty much identical and it's clear that they're of a much higher quality than the ones I previously had. Much want. Especially since it would be like releasing my inner Mary Poppins!



Do you have any boots on your Christmas list this year?



*Disclaimer. This post was sponsored by Jones the Bootmaker


The Bridges of Madison County

writer's block and broken lenses
Image Source

It's been a while since I last did a book review so it's about time I bring them back! Mostly because it means I sometimes forget what I have read...

When I read, I tend to stick to the same genres, most generally Fantasy and Science Fiction with the off YA thrown in occasionally. Last year my grandparents came down from Scotland and we went shopping to find a copy if a specific book as a present for someone. As the title suggests, it was The Bridges of Madison County. It turns out that this is a bit of a family favourite so in order to see why I got it on my Kindle. Its one of the best decisions I have made in terms of books for a long time.

The Bridges of Madison County is centred around two characters and their four day romance that would change their lives forever. A take of one of 'the last cowboys' and a farmers wife.

I don't really like romance tales. I barely read them and unless there happens to be a touch of romance in one of the fantasy books, I tend to ignore them. But this was different. When we realise from the very beginning that these two people only have four days together, I felt automatically engaged and sympathising with the characters even though I hadn't really met them yet.

If I could describe this book in one word it would be 'wonderful' without a shadow of a doubt. The fact that there are only two characters throughout the story and an ended that's so sad yet happy will make you want to read it over and over again. There are so few books that will truly grip you from the very first chapter so when you do find one it's like you're finally experiencing a thrill that is lacking from other books you may have read recently.

If you're like me and don't like romance novels normally, this would be one for you. It's far from chick-lit and far from those typical romance books you normally find in your local charity shop. Give it a go and see what I mean.

What's your favourite book of 2015?