Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas on the road

I feel like I'm cheating by only blogging photos these days, but for now that's all I've got!

Steve and I just returned from a lovely holiday in England. Very festive, but also extremely exhausting. (The flight back always does me in.) Thought I'd share five photos with links to a few more.

This isn't a great photo, but I had to include a shot of the Christmas market at Winchester Cathedral. We stayed four nights in Winchester -- such a charming city! -- and enjoyed poking around the market, partaking of the food and drink (hooray for mulled wine!) and watching the ice skaters fall on their bottoms. Also visited Jane Austen's grave in the cathedral and saw the house where she spent her final days (pardon my inappropriate grin).

One of our side trips from Winchester was to Salisbury. We revisited the cathedral (seen here during a brief appearance of the sun), and afterwards we made the 2 mile walk out to Old Sarum, where we enjoyed the remains of the hillfort in the twilight.

Our second side trip from Winchester was to Brockenhurst, a charming little town in the New Forest. After fortifying ourselves with a cream tea, we set out into the forest, got ourselves a little lost, petted some ponies, and finally ended up at our destination -- an adorable pub in a town called Bank. On our way back to Brockenhurst we admired a quaint cottage that could have been transplanted from Middle Earth.

Christmas Eve in London -- the lights are always so pretty! The previous night we attended a sing-along Christmas carol performance at Royal Albert Hall (where I sang so boisterously that I wrecked my throat). On Christmas Eve we took it fairly easy, doing a little shopping and playing/eating at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Christmas Day we visited the Dickens Museum for their special Christmas activities (including mulled wine & mince pies) and then attended Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. That night we watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special (which was brilliant!) before heading down to the hotel restaurant for a Christmas feast.

On Boxing Day we tried to do a little shopping at Selfridges (madness!), made our first ever visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum (silliness and kitsch!), walked in Regent's Park (seen above) and had lunch at the Garden Cafe. That night we enjoyed a lovely Baroque concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

A great trip, but it's so good to be home. Happy New Year, everyone!

[cross-posted at Livejournal]

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Authors Against Animal Abuse

Recently my friend Christine Johnson had a very sad experience with a neighbor's maltreated dog. Though she couldn't save that dog, she had to do something, and thus she decided to hold an auction to benefit her local Humane Society. Happily, many YA authors have joined her effort by donating signed books and even offering to match auction bids with donations to their local Humane Societies.

Please go to Christine's blog for all the details on auction offerings.

You'll find signed books by:
Cassandra Clare, Christine Johnson, Carrie Ryan, Julia Karr, Julie Kagawa, John Skovron, Beth Revis, Mike Mullin, Saundra Mitchell, Angie Frazier, Lauren Oliver, Michelle Hodkin, Deva Fagan, Diana Peterfreund, Jeri Smith-Ready, Liv Spencer, and ME (hee!)

I'm keeping an eye on the bids for the package containing BEFORE I FALL, THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER and THE REVENANT, because I'd love to donate an amount equal to the winning bid to my local Humane Society.

Hope you can help out! By bidding, you could win great books AND help vulnerable animals.

Bidding ends December 20 (check auction items for precise time). THANK YOU!

Monday, December 12, 2011


First thing -- I've heard from a couple of people that they've had trouble posting comments on this blog. And the other day I received an email notification of a comment that never actually appeared on the blog. (Maybe it was deleted?) So . . . if you have any suggestions on how to fix this, please let me know!

We had a great time in Boston, once Steve got his presentation out of the way. Met up with my friend Ellen Thursday morning and she kindly showed me around. I was jabbering so much that I didn't take many photos, and those I did take weren't that great, but it was SUCH a nice time.

Steve and I walked until we dropped Thursday afternoon. I offer you a random selection of photos:

I have to ask -- what's up with the obese squirrels in Boston Common?

The Revenant is shelved in YA Mystery at the Boston Public Library. So cool! Steve faced it out, probably to the great annoyance of the librarian who checked the shelves before closing.

Quincy Market was very festive! (We walked through after dinner in the North End)

I couldn't resist getting a photo in front of the tree. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Miscellany

I've been MIA as far as blogging goes. I blame it on writing projects and holiday hoopla -- wonderful things, to be sure, but also crazy-making.

Let's see . . .

-- This week Steve is giving a presentation in Boston and I'm tagging along, so prepare to be spammed with travel photos. I'm very excited to stay at a haunted hotel, meet a friend for tea at the Boston Public Library, and generally soak up the beauty of this old city during the holidays.

-- Speaking of tea, a friend posted this video on my Facebook wall a few days ago. Why didn't I watch more Kids in the Hall back in the day? Tea lovers MUST watch; everyone else is strongly encouraged to do so:

-- More than 3 months after our return from Oxford, I FINALLY have photos online at Flickr. I posted some of them on the blog a while back, but if you're desperately in need of a distraction -- and want to see, among other things, photos from film locations for movies like Pride & Prejudice '05 and Jane Eyre '11 -- you should check out my Oxford 2011 photo collection.

Here's a little preview -- can you guess what this is?

-- As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been watching 1930s movies as research for a certain project, and I can highly recommend 1932's Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Grand Hotel.

Yes, the performances will seem quite broad by today's standards (and I confess to getting annoyed with Garbo's stagey wriggling and hand-fluttering), but the cinematography is pretty spectacular, the script -- which features a shocking twist I totally didn't see coming -- is nuanced, and Lionel Barrymore's penultimate scene with Joan Crawford brought me to tears.

Joan Crawford, seen above in a charming scene with John Barrymore, was SEXY. I vaguely remembered her as the "Mommy Dearest" psycho-lady, but watching her in this film was a revelation. I'd love to see more of her early work -- any recommendations?

[Next up on the 1930s film queue: Design for Living!]

Happy Monday, everyone!