Friday, December 31, 2010

What I've read in 2010

Most recent books are at the top and those starred * are book club choices.

One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
This Charming Man by Marian Keyes
A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore
The Hating Game by Talli Roland
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
In Grandmother’s House by Sorasing and Peter….
Wife in the North by Judith O’Reilly
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie*
Your Blue-Eyed Boy by Helen Dunmore
Emma's Baby by Abbie Taylor
Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall
The Waiting Room by FG Cottam
Choral Society by Prue Leith
The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
The Bed I Made by Lucie Whitehouse
Without Alice by DJ Kirkby
Turning The Tide by Christine Stovell
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Dad's Life by Dave Hill
The Man Who Disappeared by Clare Morrall
Mr Rosenblum's List by Natasha Solomons
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (again)
Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
One Day by David Nicholls
The Daughter Game by Kate Long
Tell It To The Bees by Fiona Shaw
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson*
The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison
My So-Called Afterlife by Tamsyn Murray
Wasted by Nicola Morgan
The Lessons by Naomi Alderman
The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe*
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Thaw by Fiona Robyn
A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth
Cut Short by Leigh Russell
Looking For Alaska by John Green
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
Lottery by Patricia Wood
Black Boxes by Caroline Smailes
The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux*
Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn
The Machine Stops by EM Forster
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver*
Ox-Tales EARTH by lots of great writers
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bangkok at Christmas 2

These trees were spotted at (from top left) MBK, Thong Lor, Asok, Siam Centre, Times Square, between sois 19 and 21, Siam Discovery and Robinson's (Sukhumvit Soi 19)

Outside Emporium (and Siam Paragon, not pictured) is the Christmas rabbit outside his coach.

You know the tale, right? The Christmas rabbit?

No. Nor me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Photo

This isn't really as bizarre as it seems.

Thais traditionally use squat loos which are close to the floor (rather than chair height) and as the name suggest the user squats to use them. Even in the time we've been here we've seen more and more western loos appearing but you can't guarantee a life without coming across a squat loo so strong leg muscles are a must!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Christmas Miracle

Yesterday I had about twenty minutes to spare. I had my book so I went to Starbucks where I stood at the counter trying to decide what minimum investment could justify my backside on a Starbucks seat for the short time I’d got available. The staff behind the counter were all busy, clearing, making drinks, retrieving muffins from the oven etc.

One of the girls began to approach me. I knew she was going to take my order but before I could issue it our attention was taken by a kerfuffle to our side with the barista.

It happened in slow motion as these things do…

The Starbucks cream dispenser had come to life.

The barista had grown at least four pairs of cartoon arms as she tried to control the malfunctioning Starbucks cream vacuum dispenser. For three metres cubed the air was filled with a fine spray of squirty cream.

The other personnel collapsed into giggles before realizing there was a customer present.

‘So sorry madam…’ she said in between hysterics.

I had no idea I was so firmly within the radius of the cream, but truly, what is the point of being upset? ‘It’s no problem.’ We shared some more grinning.

Mortified but still hysterical with laughter her face lit up, ‘Ah madam,’ she laughed. ‘It’s snowing in Bangkok; happy Christmas.’

Monday, December 13, 2010

A special Christmas post

It’s a December tradition on Tea Stains that I roll out my Bangkok Christmas pictures.

The collection of the Christmas pictures started for me back in November when I was in KL. One afternoon I made my way to one of the hundred malls, Pavilion, in search of Bookbinders Design. Inside, a lavish exhibition space of ballroom proportions was bedecked with red carpeting, hundreds of yards of billowing gold fabric and a Christmas scene to rival any in Northern Europe – probably even the real one at the North Pole.

Here we were, the third week in November, and already we were knee deep in Christmas hysteria spirit. I made my way up the escalators to the sixth floor to find my shop but first I stopped and marvelled - even in cynicism - for a moment.

I peered down to the ground floor, bemused and I spied this: what looked like a life size display of Father Christmas’s sleigh and a complement of reindeer.

After I’d failed to find my shop I went down to check out the flamboyant spectacle so that I could include it in my Christmas Decoration posts. And really, who wouldn't be moved? Just maybe not quite as I first imagined...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The slippery slope

I like electronic gadgets but I like books more. If I had to choose (who would be so cruel? I luurve my iPhone/mac) I'd choose books; you know the things, the paper, ink, binding, gorgeous front cover, bit of blurb on the back to entice me in…

I've watched the growth of the e-reader with interest. I haven't been so rash as to declare 'they'll never catch on' but I have felt a certain smugness that there will always be books with pages you can turn, whose spines crease as you work your way through the story. There are too many others like me who love real books.

But will there?

On 1 December this year I was part of Talli Roland's blog splash. Her debut novel The Hating Game was released in Kindle format and wanting to help push the book up the Amazon Kindle ranks I purchased a copy. I don't have any e-reader so I downloaded the Kindle app for my iPhone and bought an electronic copy of The Hating Game.

OMG. I LOVED it. I loved having something entertaining to read wherever I was. As I raced around Bangkok dropping and picking up Daughter who's been rehearsing for three different shows simultaneously I always had something to read without the weight of a book. E-readers are not exclusive; I can like books at the same time as reading on my iPhone.

I knew immediately I finished The Hating Game that I had to have another book on my iPhone for those out and about moments... Think of the reading time you can snatch: waiting in a queue, in a taxi/bus/train. Back at Amazon I realized I will always need real flesh and blood books (To Kill a Mockingbird); those volumes you treasure but there can also be books for your e-reader.

There I've said it. There's room for both. I just hope it isn't the slippery slope. 

So in the meantime what would be your must have, flesh and blood, actual book?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Where I've been...

Sorry for my absence; but perhaps you hadn’t noticed I’d gone.

For the past two weeks The House has resembled Santa’s workshop.

I came back from Kuala Lumpur raring to meet my deadline on Polite Lies, my never-ending novel, instead I found my time wasn’t my own. Father Christmas had outsourced some of his work… to me.

That’s not true. I volunteered. (Why? Why do I do these things? I’ve told Husband I won’t do it again. He laughed and said it defined me… I’m not sure I like that.)

So three weeks work was over and done with a two-hour lunch.

Uh oh. This seemed like a good idea at the time:

I've made a start...

A veritable forest:

And it's all over...

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Photo

Yeah, yeah, it's a cheap shot to laugh at their English (when my written Thai is non existent and my spoken Thai is so shabby) but it made me smile.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Talli Roland's Amazon Web Splash!

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at and by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback.  Keep up with the latest at


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?