Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Independent Booksellers Week & The Guardian's List of Indie Bookshops

It's Independent Booksellers Week from tomorrow, the 26th June, to the 5th of July. And we should celebrate our appreciation of them and show our support not only during this coming week, but throughout the year.

We all know that independent bookshops are becoming a rare bread. I would like to say that the love of books will keep them going forever, but convenience, the high-street, digitalization, competition, sometimes a lack of foresight and, in cases, a slow reaction to change, as well as ever shrinking margins and ever higher rents and rates are enough to squeeze the passion out of any business, never mind one based on a creative industry.

Having said that, in the last few years, huge effort has been put into showing these surviving mavericks our appreciation and support. More and more we see communities getting together to protect local libraries and bookshops, from small country towns to big metropolises, including famous people like acclaimed crime author James Patterson who is to donate £250K to keep indie booksellers going. It's hard to keep a foot in the future while appreciating the present and preserving the past, but some are managing to do just that. A newspaper both online and on print, The Guardian is also a reference for culture and literature. I'm a fan of its style guide, which keeps my spelling in check the British way, and now I'm a big fan of their UK Independent Bookshop Directory. According to their website, you can order what looks like a paper copy, but online you can use the interactive map to find your nearest treasure trove.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Vision Aid Overseas ~ Recycling Old Glasses

As you might have seen on social media, if you follow my rumblings there, I have just changed my specs. I no longer look like a librarian; I now officially look like a geek! :) Either are just fine by me, but I'm blessed enough to be able to change my specs whenever I get bored of them and have the excuse of a new prescription. So when I got back home with my brand new pair of eyes (and I'm like a child with a new toy. Sad, but true.), I had a problem: what to do with my old boring pair of glasses?
The rubbish bin looked very tempting, with its big mouth that swallows everything I don't want to see in my house and solves quite a few of my problems. But I decided earlier this year that I would try to recycle things that were on working order, rather than letting the very capitalist consumerist in me use and dispose of everything in the path of my 30 seconds attention span. So I set off looking for a way to ethically dispose of my perfectly good, but now unwanted, pair of glasses. This is when I came across Vision Aid Overseas.
Vision Aid Overseas works mostly in Africa; it provides glasses for free for adults and children, builds vision centres and trains local people to work in them as specialists. Here in the UK, we take for granted the fact opticians are widely available and wearing glasses is within anyone's reach even if you can't fund them yourself, but poor vision can really halt a child's education and an adult's job prospects elsewhere in the world. I remember when I was younger and it became apparent I needed glasses. I couldn't read anything in the board at school and I had constant headaches from straining my vision trying to read it. Not fun. 

In the UK, a lot of the optical practices will collect your old specs and send it to them. So why not let them have it and recycle it by giving it to someone who needs them and can't afford to buy them? Mine are on their way. If you have unwanted specs lying around your house for whatever reason, you can really help someone else by decluttering. And if you are feeling truly generous, you can also donate to this amazing project. People can't read if they can't see.

The video below is a little old, Blogger wouldn't let me find the newer ones on YouTube, but this one gives you a good insight into the amazing work Vision Aid Overseas is doing. You can also visit their YouTube channel here.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Music Monday ~ Slave by Jakwob

The man behind Ellie Goulding's hugely successful Starry Eyed, British music producer Jakwob is better known for his work with other artists, but he also produces his own music. Some people are just born with a talent and this certainly seems to be his case. He started playing music when he was only 10 years-old and now, he not only produces music and works with an array of other artists, but he also owns his own record label - Boom Ting Recordings, worth checking if you like something edgy and cool.

His new song, the summer tune Somebody New, is out now but I would highly recommend you check all the others too. Fade is another one of my favourites, but here we will talk about the song Slave. I struggled finding the lyrics for this song anywhere, so this is my transcription as I understand it. It might be completely off the mark in some lines, but I like the lyrics I hear. If you notice something different, ignore my version. :)

I hope you guys have a wonderful week and thank you for popping by!

Happy Monday!!


Saturday, 21 June 2014

#THISBOOK ~ The Books That Changed My Life

If you love to read, chances are, you'll have come across a book that provokes you, makes you think, makes you happy, angry, sad, elicits your sympathy... A book that has marked your life in one way or another. This is what #THISBOOK celebrates, as well as the achievement of women in fiction writing.

#THISBOOK is a conversation on Twitter and, as I wanted to take part in it, I sat here trying to think of what book written by a woman changed my life. I managed to narrow it down to two. I know, I know... It's meant to be only one but, like any woman, I'm a complicated and multifaceted nutcase. This is what you get with creative people, untamed vision and an unwillingness to conform at times!!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Out & About ~ Mr Baker

As a Brazilian who has been living away from her homeland for a good 15 years, I know what it feels like to crave the food you love. Trust me, sometimes I can even smell it!! This is for the expats living in Brazil and for anyone in Brazil wanting to try something new.

Mr Baker is the jazzy combination of a Brazilian/English pair. Set to be an organic café that makes everything from scratch, this is the spot in São Paulo where you might be able to find some British goodies, such as Cumberland sausages and English tea. My guess is that it could not escape the owner's husband's English influence. He probably missed his food!! So if you are an English expat in São Paulo and you have been missing English yummies, head to Mr Baker.

Mostly organic, they bake a good and exotic selection of fresh artisan breads everyday. Not only that, but the food is cooked behind a glass panel, so you can see it being done, and all the juices are made from real fruit right in front of you if you want to watch it. You don't get much fresher than that!! The last time I was there, I had a steak sandwich with fresh orange and passion fruit juice that was just sublime. The steak was a good tender cut, soft and juicy. It makes me hungry just thinking about it and I can honestly tell you I was short of eating the plate!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

BBC Radio Lancashire Interview with John Gillmore {2}

It's always interesting to be on the opposite side of the fence. Yesterday, instead of interrogating an unsuspecting victim, I was the one having a great chinwag with John Gillmore over at BBC Radio Lancashire.

We talked about Brazil, blogging and football. Gilly's program went on for most of the afternoon, but to make it easier, and because the link over at BBC Radio Lancashire's website only stays up for 7 days, disappearing into the abyss after,  I have created and edited (very badly) a little video for you.

Apologies in advance for the state of it. I'm a novice to the art of video making and I had problems accessing the original source audio, hence why you will hear hiccups and the odd repetition here and there.

To Gilly, thank you so much for having me (again!). I had a great time! 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Music Monday ~ Translation of Largadinho by Claudia Leitte
Following the World Cup and staying with the Brazilian theme, it's time you learn some Brazilian dancing!! :) This is one you should recognise if you like Rumba. If not, together with Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, Claudia Leitte is the Brazilian singer who performs the official song for the World Cup 2014.

Brazilians love choreographed dancing, with steps that everybody knows and follows in a mass performance. Think something like line dancing, Cha Cha Slide or even, if you must, the Macarena! But way cooler and sexier. :)

There are certain genres of Brazilian music in which this is more common, in particular Brazilian Funk/ Funk Carioca and Axé. Clique on the links for the definition of these if you haven't come across them before or if you rather have examples, check our Music Monday with Brazilian "funkeira" Flora Matos and the song below is an example of Axé. If you are in Brazil at the moment, you should most definitely come across this one, so leave your inhibitions behind and let it loose! :)

Have a wonderful Monday!!!

Image Credit: Brazilian flag by leaod


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Father's Day Gift Ideas

My attempt at a Father's Day blog post comes far too late, this is due to the fact I thought Father's Day wasn't until June 25th!!! And I checked the calendar, would you believe? Epic fail. Anyway... if, like me, you are now desperately running around looking for a gift, because you are a last minute shopper and only work under pressure (yikes!!), here are some ideas:

1. Take you dad to his favourite restaurant. Have you ever heard them say you can get a man by his stomach? It's true. Chances are, this is going to cost you some money, but the old boy deserves it. If you don't know what is your old man's favourite eating spot or it's not in Lancashire, click here for ideas of where to take him.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Bookish Nerd Facts {1} - The Making and Smell of Paper Books

I always talk about the book-lovers' obsession with good writing, paper books and the smell of them, and how to proudly display your book love in your house and on your person, but there are some very interesting facts on the actual making of them, which book-lovers some times are blissfully unaware of or just never think about. Here are some bookish nerd facts I learned this week.

We love paper books, but have you ever stopped to think about their design? Well... Any ignorance on the matter is about to be squashed. Designers Insights published an interesting image of the anatomy of a hardcover and, being a nerd, I found this quite interesting, as I had never stopped to think about it.

Did you know there are different types of binding processes by which book pages are put together? No? Neither did I. The Discovery Channel helped me with that one. Here is How It's Made for you.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Movie Review ~ Maleficent

Fairy tales are on the up for movies. In the last two years, we already had Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood... and now, Sleeping Beauty.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. If I am honest, I was expecting either the story we know well to be told from a different point of view or a cliché - a history of suffering or abuse as a child that explains the anger and evilness at later life. Granted, there was a little of that, but I wasn't quite expecting the twist at the end. It's hard to talk too much about it without giving the end away, so I will be brief. I don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't watched it yet. 

As expected, Angelina Jolie does a really great job as Maleficent and the character suits her well. I have also become a big fan of the crow Diaval (Sam Riley), which was transformed into a man for a good part of the movie. Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), on the other hand, was incredibly annoying and so was the prince and the three fairies. However, I thought it was quite interesting that on this version the fairies don't really know how to look after a human child, which brought a level of realism to it. Why would they? But I suppose my biggest surprise was Sharlto Copley, who plays King Stefan, Aurora's father. Bearing in mind I haven't watched any other films he has starred on and had never heard of the guy before, I thought he was quite good at portraying an obsessed man who slowly descents into madness.

And despite the darkness that seems to envelop most of the recent fairy tale remakes, as every Disney film, Maleficent surely comes with a big moral lesson - ruthless greed is the evil of the world and love and the good in people always prevail.

I would say Angelina Jolie and Sharlto Copley are definitely worth the watch.



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Book-Turned-Movie {6} - Belle, Secret Sharer, Devil's Knot, The Fault in Our Stars, Cold in July

There are a series of interesting movies out this month and although some of them may not have a book connection, they still tell really interesting stories.

Fri 13th June sees the release of Belle, the film based on a painting and the real life story of Dido Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a navy officer who on his return to England caused a stir when, at the height of the slavery trade, he decided to bring his daughter up as an aristocrat. The painting of her and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, the inspiration for the movie, was one of the first paintings to ever depict a person of colour at the same level as a white aristocrat. You can read more about Dido and said painting here.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

June 2014 ~ Events for Book Lovers, Writers and Curious Souls

Exhibitions, festivals, signings, competitions, courses and workshops, and regular events... There is a lot going on in June and some of it it's free, so don't stay at home!! 

Today!!! 10th June ~ Screening of Common People I don't usually add film screenings to the monthly event lists, but this indie gem will be screening just for today in selected cities in the North West and because it is so cute and I am dying to watch it, I think it deserves a spot. Common People is a British comedy about 30 characters in 6 stories, intertwined by a escapee parrot and a London park. I laughed just reading the synopsis!! If you are near York or Liverpool, this is a 'must watch'. Book tickets here.

Until the 30th June ~ The Portico Library in Manchester hosts A Northern Narrative Exhibition, a collaboration of four artists inspired by the life up North and its people. Admission is free and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I have already mention how beautiful The Portico Library is as a building. Definitely worth the visit. More details here.

Until the 9th July ~ The Text Festival celebrates the connection in between language and art. It's main idea is to be experimental, finding new ways to mix the two and creating something any geek linguist like me might find fascinating. There are some really interesting exhibitions on offer and admission is free at the Bury Sculpture Centre. More information here.

Fri 20th - Sun 22nd June ~ The first ever London Short Story Festival is taking place at Waterstones Piccadilly, London, with a whole array of events from workshops to readings and interviews. If you are from that neck of the woods, check it out! More info and tickets here.

Thu 26th Jun - Sun 6th July ~ the Manchester Children's Book Festival takes place in iconic locations all over Manchester and this year, it will host events with famous authors such as Michael Morpurgo. For the full list of events click here.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Music Monday ~ Translation of Todo Mundo by Gaby Amarantos & Monobloco

So the World Cup is around the corner and, despite not really agreeing with the huge amount of money spent on it, I will give in to the football mania for a matter of national pride and indeed parade the beautiful Brazilian flag on all my windows! :)

If you are wondering why people in Brazil are protesting against the World Cup, it's simple. While Brazil is spending more than the cost of the last 3 World Cups put together on its peacock display, the cases of relatives holding their elderly family members in their arms in hospital waiting rooms and pregnant women giving birth in the waiting areas of overloaded maternity units are becoming the norm in our overloaded public health system. Don't even get me started on the educational system, corruption or violence! In case you don't know how much money the amount above is, Japan and South Korea spent 5 billion dollars on the 2002 World Cup, Germany 6 billion on the 2006 games, and South Africa 4 billion on the 2010 festivities. Brazil has so far spent 16 billion dollars, an investment much needed elsewhere. My advice, if you are traveling to Brazil, is don't get ill or have any accidents. You might never make it to the top of the queue in a public hospital.

I know this sounds awful. But don't be mistaken, I love my country, I really do. It just makes me sad that, like they say, "men in denim build the land, men in suits destroy it." Brazil is a wonderful and warm country full of warm people who are happy-go-lucky despite the unfairness of life. If you have the chance to experience the real Brazil, you will fall in love not only with the country itself, but with its fun-loving people too. You can read more about my beautiful country here, including some places worth visiting.

On a happier note, FIFA released the official soundtrack for the World Cup 2014 a while ago, but if I am honest, despite pulling some big names out of the bag, none of the tracks sound really Brazilian to me. In fact, a lot of them seem to be sung in Spanish, which is not our language by the way. So when I was looking for a World Cup 2014 song, I found that the tune that most made me feel like I was back home was actually the Coca Cola's official Brazilian song for the games. A little sad, I know; but I have always admired Coca Cola's marketing power and market placement knowledge. They surely seem to understand Brazilian Culture more than FIFA!

So enjoy and I hope the Brazilian warmth finds you wherever you are today. :)

Happy Monday!!! 

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