Walk the Lines: The London Underground by Mark Mason

“A man once said “A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else,” and I might have to agree. I guess it will come as no surprise that since I moved to London books that revolve around London have been cropping up on my radar a little more. I want to talk extensively about my move here at some point and how it’s honestly changed me but for now I want to talk a little about a book I’ve been dipping in and out of not, truly ‘reading’ in giant hunks, but one I’ve enjoyed all the same. Walk the Lines by Mark Mason.

The only way to truly discover a city, they say, is on foot. Taking this to extremes, Mark Mason sets out to walk the entire length of the London Underground – overground – passing every station on the way.

img_1963In a story packed with historical trivia, personal musings and eavesdropped conversations, Mark learns how to get the best gossip in the City, where to find a pint at 7am, and why the Bank of England won’t let you join the M11 northbound at Junction 5. He has an East End cup of tea with the Krays’ official biographer, discovers what cabbies mean by ‘on the cotton’, and meets the Archers star who was the voice of ‘Mind the Gap’.

Over the course of several hundred miles, Mark contemplates London’s contradictions as well as its charms. He gains insights into our fascination with maps and sees how walking changes our view of the world. Above all, in this love letter to a complicated friend, he celebrates the sights, sounds and soul of the greatest city on earth.

As the blurb suggests the book follows Mason who has lived in around London during is twenties and thirties and like many Londoner’s (I assume) has become interested in the ever changing and evolving map of the Underground. Wandering around where he lives, he travels up a side-street he hasn’t before and realizes if he continues he’ll create a triangle back to his house – a realization he hasn’t made before. Through this realization he decides to walk the entirety of each length of the line in a type of homage to the city. Line by line and with the help of his friend Richard he beings to walk these tube lines and learns and tells us a lot about the city I bloody adore.

I just want to put in a little aside here – Mason only walks 11 of the London Underground Lines refusing to walk the Overground Line and the DLR (which I find a little unfair – definitely still part of London.) Mason wanders the line giving snippets of local history, miscellaneous facts that might one day help on a pub quiz and changes in the line themselves. He is a really entertaining narrator (especially in the beginning of the book) and I found myself desperate to undertake the walks myself especially the Circle Line Pub Crawl.

I guess it’s important to explain I haven’t finished this book and it’s one of the reasons why I’mimg_1962 also yet to finish a Bill Bryson book (which this author certainly reminded me of.) The beginning of the book is really interesting, it’s new ground, it’s a non-fiction book written in a fiction style (in terms of the narration) but soon, as you can imagine we do end up walking through endless housing estates and then leading back into the same famous central locations that we all know and love. As the lines cross we do get quite a bit of repetition.

Due to this a lot of stations do end up being cut; the first couple of stations take up a couple of chapters but as we go further in stops between Whitechaple and Upminster take up a quarter of this. I think a big selling point to this (unless you live along the DLR or the Over Ground shrugs) is that you get to pick out your station and read about it, but many don’t get the coverage unless they’re big names (ie Wimbledon or Morden.) Finally, Mason appears to get a little bored with his own story; although the pub crawl is fun it does feel as though Mason realized that he’d lost a little passion and needed something to inject to make it fun. Following this certain walks are undertaken in the snow and done at night (which does stop the author seeing a lot of the highlights.)

I think a main problem is that it doesn’t really reference people, it references buildings and so it lacks a little passion. I’ve seen it described in context with Bleeding London by Geoff Nicholson but they have two very different ways of telling this story that don’t really overlap.

So, what did I think. I really enjoy dipping in and out of this book – read one tube line, put the book down for a bit, read another tube line, put it down for a bit. It’s not a book I think I could physically read in one go because for me it just lacks a little something. A little bit of a human touch. However – perfect gift for a new Londoner and even more perfect gift for a walker who might be tempted to walk the 11 (cough) lines. For me a great dip in and out but not quite there.

LIIIIINKS

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Week Commencing Nov 21

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I’m currently sat writing this in my writing spot (i.e. the bed) with cup of tea and a bowl of cinnamon grahams and it feels so good. Like so, so, good. I haven’t mentioned but T is currently taking an intensive French course on a Saturday (which kind of sucks) but allows me a couple of hours to get the house sorted – he’s so messy and also get some lazy blogging done. I’ll insert a picture of my set up but it’s basically me blogging and then I have T’s laptop playing a film in the background while I eat my breakfast? Perfect – yes pretty much. These are the other things this week that have made me happy.

Getting back into Photography

Since starting my blog I haven’t been the biggest photographer. It’s something I’ve wanted to change for a long time but I just haven’t put it as a priority which is silly of me. I’ve been ill this week and when I got up to make tea I managed to take a couple of snaps of my breakfast and the light in the lounge was perfect. This Saturday is going to be spent taking hella load of photos.

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Tea in bed

I managed to get the lurgy this week which sucked. However, for the first time since we moved in T brought tea in bed after seeing how much pain I was in. Perfect morning.

Gym Gym Gym

I went to the gym last week and managed to smash my lovely iPhone 5C on the treadmill and I’m just too broke to fix it; but I did finally get hold of a gym bag and a padlock so I can finally start using the gym without having to drag everything next to the treadmill. I’m actually really enjoying it – which is a sentence I never thought I would hear myself say/write.

Cinnamon Grahams

I’ve been tracking my calories for a couple of weeks now; it’s not an obsessive thing but when I try to lose weight at the beginning I make sure to track to get myself back into the swing of it. I did however take a look at the vitamin section and for the last year I’ve been getting no-where near enough Calcium. So, I BOUGHT CINNAMON GRAHAMS (so, so, so good,) and I’ve been having them with yoghurt and milk #calciumgoalz screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-16-43-30

Dinner at Brasserie Blanks

We took my Grandma for Dinner at Brasserie Blanc in Milton Keynes and it was bloody lovely. I started with bread with oils, olive tapenade and aioli and then followed with beef bourguignon. Oh my. Fantastic. Will definitely be back because it was a stunning meal.

So there’s my week – full of amazing food, cereal and the gym. How was your week?

 

 

The Book Sacrifice Tag

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Helllllllo readers, today I’m going to do the Book Sacrifice Tag! Now I know that that sounds a little bit aggressive, but ya know it’s always a little fun to do a SACRIFICE tag. So enjoy – and if you fancy doing this tag then please tag me. 

1) An Over-Hyped Book: Let’s start this off with a Zombie Apocalypse! Let’s say you’re in a book store, just browsing, when BAM! ZOMBIE ATTACK. An announcement comes over the PA System saying that the military has discovered that the zombies’ only weakness is over-hyped books. What book that everyone else says is amazing but you really hated so you start chucking at the zombies knowing that it will count as an over-hyped book and successfully wipe them out?!

I actually adore this situation – how amazing to be able to wipe out zombie apocalypse with just books. I think I would pick The Fault in Our Stars from John Green. I actually really enjoyed the book, but when it came out – well you couldn’t get away from it. Maybe I’m just too old. 

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2) A Sequel: Let’s say you’ve just left the salon with a SMASHING new haircut and BOOM: Torrential downpour. What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?

I can’t lie I did actually enjoy the second book in the Fifty Shades trilogy and I mean that in the kind of trashy way that I think everyone that enjoys 50 shades does. There’s no shame – TRASH ROMANCE IS OKAY. However, the third book was just goddamn disappointing. It just got UBER boring and I can’t lie, I didn’t finish it. 

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3) A Classic: Let’s say you’re in a lecture and your English teacher is going on and on about how this classic changed the world, how it revolutionized literature and you get so sick of it that you chuck the classic right at his face because you know what? This classic is stupid and it’s worth detention just to show everyone how you feel! What Classic did you chuck?

This book was just hell to read. Not only did it send me to sleep on numerous occasions, but it was impossible to finish. I have still never finished it, and you know what #noregrets. 

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4) Your Least Favourite Book of Life!: Let’s say that you’re hanging out at the library when BAM global warming explodes and the world outside becomes a frozen wasteland. You’re trapped and your only chance for survival is to burn a book. What is the book you first run to, your least favourite book of all life, what book do you not fully regret lighting?

THIS BOOK IS ONE OF THE WORST BOOKS I’VE MAYBE EVER READ. I think it would be a service to the reading community if this book was just taken to save the world from global warming. If you want to read my whole review it’s here. 

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If you’d like to do this tag – feel free to take the questions from here. Please tweet me (@littlebookblog1) a link to your answers if you choose to do it and have a beautiful day. 

Street Preacher by Aaron Davis

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Helllo readers, cheeky little Sunday posting for you. I’ve got a really exciting post for you next week which I’m going to be typing up tomorrow *eeee* but for now, a really super lovely guest post from Aaron Davis and the book Street Preacher.

When John begins shouting his sermons in the middle of crowded downtown sidewalks, his only goal is to collect enough money for some food and a place to sleep.

. . . INSTEAD . . .

. . . he finds himself on the path to faith, a path that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

Can you describe your book to my readers in three ish sentences?

Street Preacher is somewhat inspired by Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” That is to say, I was reading that a lot while I wrote my novel. Mine, however, is about the struggle to find faith beyond just simply saying “I believe” or affiliating with a church. This struggle is observed by various characters that each reflect different views of faith. There is John who is the protagonist. George who has no faith. Marty who is a sort of jaded, ministry-worn sort of Christian. Jennifer is an idealist. And Walter usually comes into the book to speak truth, though he is not without his faults.


Who is your favourite character from the book and why?

My favorite character is Walter, because he authentically loves others despite his own homeless situation. It was tempting to make him perfect so I had to add a bit of pride to him, but I think that is common. Even at our best, we all struggle somewhere.

Is there anything in the book you wish you had changed now that it’s out there in the world; a different sub-plot or maybe a new character completely? (I love asking this question!)

If I were to add more to this book, I would have developed Marty a little more. He runs the shelter, so he cares, but he also has an almost jaded view from working there so long

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So is this the only book in the series? (Or will there be more?)

This book is not part of a series, no.

Do you have any other books, or plans to write more?

I have two other projects in the works.  I am writing a book of my own struggles with depression and I am writing a novel about a police detective tracking down a serial killer. The theme of that book is vengeance vs justice.

Where can my readers follow more of your writing?

People can learn all about my writing, plus read blogs and poetry at www.authoraarondavis.com

So there we go, a lovely little post with the author Aaron Davis! Have a fantastic evening and thank you to this wonderful author for letting me feature his book on MLBB!

Links

Amazon

 

 

Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson by William Hazelgrove

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Hellllllo readers, it’s the weekend and I’m currently in Loughborough watching the X Factor  whilst typing this and I haven’t seen anyone I like yet? Is this something everyone feels (just a note it’s the only thing I can find that is entertaining but not distracting) because I have a fantastic post to share with you. I’m here today with the brilliant William Hazelgrove and his brilliant book Madam President: The Secret Presidency.

After President Woodrow Wilson suffered a paralyzing stroke in the fall of 1919, his wife, First Lady Edith Wilson, began to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of the Executive Office. Mrs. Wilson had had little formal education and had only been married to President Wilson for four years; yet, in the tenuous peace following the end of World War I, Mrs. Wilson dedicated herself to managing the office of the President, reading all correspondence intended for her bedridden husband.

Though her Oval Office authority was acknowledged in Washington, D.C. circles at the time–one senator called her “the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man”–her legacy as “First Woman President” is now largely forgotten.

If you had to describe your book to an alien species what would you say?

I would say my book is about the real first woman President who ruled the country from 1919 to 1921. Her name was Edith Wilson and her husband had a stroke and the public was never told. She took over with only two years of school and having only been married to the president for four years.

Where do your ideas come from?

Reading about Historical events gives me a lot of my ideas.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I prefer just to let the ideas take me along. I keep an open notebook to sketch out the days next scene.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The Research – it’s a time consuming part of writing a historically based book.

Finally, where can me readers keep an eye on you and your work?

You can visit www.williamhazelgrove.com or follow me on twitter @rocketman46 

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So there you go a lovely little interview with a fantastic author – if you fancy getting a hold of the book you can click here. Otherwise have a fantastic weekend lovely readers. 

Books On My Autumn Read List

HELLLLLLOOOO readers it’s another Tuesday and it’s time for another list of books that might take ten years for Lizzy to read. Ergh. These are books that are coming out in or after October so there’s a little time before you can get your mitts on them.

Also I’m tempted to start a new thing which is basically documenting my time journalling? I’m going to try a bullet journals, artistic journal, and just kinda writing stuff down. I’ll maybe let you know more in the future. For now books on my Autumn list (not fall – I’m British.)

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

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Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart.

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology.

^ This just sounds bloody fantastic. I love books like this, slightly dystopian, probably kinda creepy, probably a little romance. I’m excited for this. 

The Other Einstein: A Novel by Marie Benedict

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I promise I will write less on each of the descriptions just sometimes it’s difficult not to write lots. This book depicts the life of  Mileva “Mitza” Marić Einstein’s Wife. I think it could be super interesting.

If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson

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This feels like one of your stereotypical YA books but the reviews are just too good to miss. The book talks about the leaving of the main character’s mother and the rumours and secrets that surround this. With a pinch of romance mixed in this looks like a stunner.

Be Good Be Real Be Crazy by Chelsey Philpot

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I utterly adored Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour  and apparently this a book for you if you loved that so I’m up for it. A YA road trip to remember and to be honest, Be Good, Be Real, Be Crazy is a pretty good life motto.

We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

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I’m really moving towards the romantic YA sweet story kinda books this post but I really want to have a really diverse list this week.

Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends their entire lives. Cath would help Scott with his English homework, he would make her mix tapes (it’s the 80’s after all), and any fight they had would be forgotten over TV and cookies. But now they’ve graduated high school and Cath is off to college while Scott is at home pursuing his musical dreams.

During their first year apart, Scott and Cath’s letters help them understand heartache, annoying roommates, family drama and the pressure to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they want to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should be more than friends?

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

^ Okay maybe the list isn’t going to be so diverse but this is basically girl meets boy, with a little bit of science mixed in. I think the cover is gorgeous, the reviews are good and it would be a lovely little cosy read.

Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys

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Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she might win some real money.

^ But I bet all is not as it seems. I love books like this, there’s a little danger, a little mystery and there’s excitement. I think this would be the perfect book to banish some winter blues.

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

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I saw the film of this recently and absolutely adored it although it did scare me a little. Not scared as in it was scary just very, very tense. It was a brilliant film and I really want to see how it was created from the book.

The Hermit by Thomas Rydahl, K.E. Semmel

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Another murder mystery but this time it’s going to be solved by someone that is kinda cut off from the modern world.

The question is: can an old man who knows nothing about mobile phones, the internet or social media possibly solve a murder in the modern world, especially one that stretches far beyond the sandy beaches of Fuerteventura?

^ Pretty fricken cool no.

The Infinite by Nicholas Mainieri

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I won’t put the wholeeeee blurb here but basically read it here – and then wait with trepidation like me for the book to come out.

SEE IT HERE.

I guess, there we are, ten books that I want to read in the Autumn. Let me know if you’ve read any of them or if there’s any that I’ve left off my list. Hope you enjoyed the list and have a fantastic Tuesday.