Monthly Archives

February 2011

An Olympic effort…

The last couple of months have been frantic at work and partly to blame for my lack of blogging prowess. But it’s all been worth it as this week we launched the new version of Platform, the Open University’s community website, which is a monumental improvement on the old site and a much more user-focused tool. I won’t bore you with the science of it all here, but instead ask you to check it out. Or, in the name of fun, take a leaf out of our book and give the After Eight game a go. London 2012 is on its way and this is something we can all put some Olympic effort into. Enjoy.


Huge thanks to @Documentally, @rachel_james and @AnneWalton for taking part.

Five for Friday: my weekend antics

So, I actually wrote this last Friday but forgot to post it. I haven’t had time to write a new Five for Friday so in the interests of reducing waste and recycling (good for the online environment perhaps?) here’s last week’s post:

(with some new comments added in italics)

Okay, we’re working on an exciting website relaunch at work which means all my working days have been spent working. Yes, yes, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, I know, but I mean early starts, working through lunch and leaving at the end of the day with a mushed and frazzled brain. So no time for thinking about or writing blog posts.

So this Five for Friday is dead simple, what I’m doing this weekend.

1. Taking Ralphie for walkies. Will he finally move from energetic paddling to actual swimming? How many rabbits, squirrels, ducks will he chase? Will he fetch the ball AND give it back instead of run off with it? Who knows.

He chased all of the above, still can’t swim or bring the ball back AND we had to use scissors to cut shrubbery out of his knotted fur after a vigorous off the lead experience *sigh*

2. Romantical Come Dine With Me at my buddy Buchy’s house. We (three couples) have to wear something romantic apparently and spend the evening eating, drinking and talking all things romantic.  I really hope her husband is cooking though, there’s nowt romantic about food poisoning.

Had an awesome time, the food (rack of lamb!) was yummers and I had the hangover from hell the following day. Always the sign of a good night. I heart my friends.

Heart socks

3. Looking at some properties. Me and hubby are considering our next step on the ladder of life and this means upgrading to a bigger house. The spare room cum office cum drying room is driving us mad and we need more space, and of course an adequate garden for Ralphie and nearby greenery so he can do his off lead thing. And we don’t want red carpet (so many rentals have red carpet, what’s that all about!!?) So we have a challenge on our hands. We saw a house in the week which smelled like a dead pig and had an unflushed poo in the toilet. Nice.

This seems like a very important decision to make and is proving stressful. It seems I can’t have everything I want for the budget I have and without red carpet. This means compromise, bleurgh.

4. Research on characterisation for the Mistresses of Trope blog and a spot of reading – currently Bodies Electric by Colin Harrison.

Didn’t get round to doing this although I did read some of my book. It’s very long so gonna take me a while.

5. Changing my name on important documents. Since getting married I spend copious amounts of time flitting between surnames and email addresses and generally getting confused. So I’m going to attempt to swap everything over into my married name, and the sooner the better. Paypal seem to want photo ID, bank statements, marriage certificate and fingerprints to change the name on my account. Slight exaggeration, but still, surely it’s easier to delete the account and open a new one?

£90 for a new passport!!! It’s not just the wedding that eats all your money, it never ends. Obviously TOTALLY worth it though, my husband rocks.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

The main reason for choosing to read this book is because it had been branded by some as “the next Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. That was a mistake and I was left feeling a tad disappointed – not because the book isn’t excellent, it is, but because it’s not a patch on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, three books which I devoured with glee.

Without that comparison, The Snowman stands alone as an excellent read, jumping between time zones and character’s perspectives without making it clear that’s what’s happening. You’re not confused throughout the book, just intrigued as each sub plot starts to become clear.

Author Jo Nesbo’s main character,Harry Hole, is great, I loved him. A messed up cop with talent, a good heart and a whole lot of issues.  I enjoyed the humour in the book and Harry’s dry wit, the banter with his colleagues and his on/off love interest Rakel.

There are some similarities with TGWTDT, namely that the book is set in Sweden and has been translated from the Swedish tongue. There are some words/sentences which haven’t translated well and I found it a bit harder to plough through the Swedish dialect than with TGWTDT, but it didn’t stop me enjoying this book and I found myself eager to return to its pages.

This is also the first book I’ve read on the iPad (using the Amazon Kindle app) and that added to the enjoyment; I like reading off a kindle – it’s easier to hold with one hand (making bed time reading a tad easier) and I liked watching the percentage at the bottom of the screen creep up as I got nearer to the end.

Anyway, enough of me and my new reading tools,  back to The Snowman. There are a lot of red herrings in the book but I’m afraid I sussed out whodunnit very early on.  But that didn’t ruin it for me, I was intrigued by how the sub plots would come together and the reasons for the killings. There were a fair few climaxes and each time the reader is led to believe The Snowman has been caught. But has he?

I have to confess to thinking the author was a woman because of the spelling of Jo. But it’s written by a guy, not that it makes any difference to me. Turns out I’m not alone.

I find it hard to review a book in immense detail without giving away the crux of it to the reader – the whole joy of reading is finding out where the story leads – so I will finish with this: The Snowman is a great book, an intriguing read and although the whodunnit is easily predicted, you’ll still want to get to the end to tie up all the loose ends. The clunky translation doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of this book and I’ll endeavor to read more of Jo Nesbo’s work.

Robyn’s rating: 8/10

Posted February 2011

Five for Friday – media and comms words

I have in my possession the Oxford Dictionary of Media and Communication, a handy little book which I’m sad to confess I quite enjoy browsing.

So, today’s Five for Friday is a random selection of words in said dictionary.

  • Anti hero

A central character in a narrative or drama who lacks the admirable qualities of fortitude, courage, honesty and decency that are usually possessed by traditional heroes. Examples include Alex in A Clockwork Orange (novel in 1962 and film in 1971) although they are not the antagonist or villain.

Hmm, I need to work on the main character in my own novel; she’s more anti than hero at the moment and that’s not my intention.

  • Cyborg

A hybrid being, half human, half machine, a term first coined by the Austrian-American space scientist Mafred Clynes.

Makes me think of the dodgy film starring Jean Claude Van Damme, who I had a HUGE crush on when I was a teenager. Until I found out he was short.

  • Lurker

A member of a newsgroup or other online forum who reads messages but does not contribute to the discussion.

I have the feeling my mum is one of these as she checks out my Twitter page on a semi-regular basis even though she doesn’t tweet herself. Although the word could also describe the sort of mythical creature you could find in one of my mate Buchy’s novels.

  • Mockumentary

A fictionalised documentary which can be comic, satirising the convention of documentary or film making, or where the verisimilitude of the documentary brings an ironic sense of realism to the presentation.

Still none the wiser, although I do know that I hate mockumentaries. What’s the point? I watch documentaries to find out things so if it’s fake then it defeats the object. For me, anyway.

  • Tropes

Rhetorical figures of speech that can be found not only in written and spoken language but in all forms of communication. Traditionally the four masters of trope are metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche and irony. Tropes are words in senses beyond their literal meaning.

I’m still struggling to get my head around a trope, although it has offered inspiration for a new blogging project I’m working on with my three writer buddies, Buchy, Bertie and Knives (their nicknames, obviously). It’s called the Mistresses of Trope (instead of masters, as there’s four of us) charting the highs and lows of a journey towards getting our books published, learning about characterisation, plot and language along the way. It’s early days but go check us out. And if it turns out pants we’ll just call ourselves the Mistresses of Tripe.

So, this dictionary, by Daniel Chandler and Rod Munday of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, is published by Oxford University press and contains over 2,200 entries on terms used in media and communication, and is priced at £9.99. A useful addition to my work bookshelf me thinks, what with me being a media/comms bod and all.