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Book Review: The Book Ninja

Plot:

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried – Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough.
Deciding to embark on the ultimate dating experiment, inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Bookshop, Frankie places her hope in her favourite books to find her the perfect man… Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books.
But one spontaneous kiss later and Frankie begins to fall for a guy called Sunny. There’s just one tiny problem – Frankie is strictly a Jane Austen kind of woman and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Seriously, obsessively into it…
Can Frankie overcome her book snobbery for the man of her dreams? Or will she be left searching the trains for her modern-day Mr Darcy forever?

Review:

Frankie is a character we all aspire to be [book lovers], she’s a lover of books, she works in a bookstore with her best friend and she’s hilariously witty. Frankie is also unlucky in love and creatively devises a plan to find a partner by dropping her favourite books on different trains with her contact information in the back.

It sounds like a great way to meet people until she finds out there can be some pretty strange encounters but while she’s conducting that experiment she happens to stumbles across a gorgeous guy [not met from the experiment itself] that loves to read but seems to be all wrong for her because he only read Young Adult novels! As a strong lover of Young Adult, I was totally in love with Sunny from the start and I knew she would come around at the end of the book once she realised how diverse and creative they are.

I basically breathed this novel in as it was such a quick read and the characters were so outrageously funny and loveable. Frankie had a real charm to her and she was constantly making me laugh, while Sunny made you swoon as a great guy and her best friend and other characters were always making my eyes widen with the crazy things they would say and do.

This novel is definitely a feel-good romcom right off the pages. Frankie’s best friend Cat also had a pretty interesting and slightly scandalous storyline and I think they could easily write a whole novel about her character too with some appearances from Frankie and the gang after these events.

4/5 Stars

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Meal Recipe: Marinated Chicken Salad

Similar to the other recipes!

Essential ingredients

  • Chicken breast – 170 g / 6 oz
  • Garlic Clove [minced] – 1,5 tbsp
  • Soy sauce – 4 tbsp
  1. In a large, nonporous bowl, combine the garlic and the soy sauce.
  2. Add the chicken and turn to coat well.
  3. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  4. Grill chicken over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 80 degrees C
  5. Discard any remaining marinade.
  6. Add some salad, some rice too your liking and viola a very tasty meal.
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Road Trip: Antrim Castle Gardens

As you stroll along this beautiful setting you pass the Large Parterre, Her Ladyship’s Pleasure Garden and Yew Tree Pound.

They have won awards a year years ago.

There is so much to see here as you can see however on this occasion I did not get to explore.

I think I was more concerned about visiting as many road trips as possible in a short space of time!

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Book Review: You, Me and Other Things

Plot:

A witty, coming-of-age, romantic comedy about friendship, unrequited love and betrayal.

Declan’s a tad annoyed; not only has the love of his life run off with ‘Superman’ but she’s also unwittingly caused his current hostage status.

‘You, Me and Other Stuff,’ is about Sarah Quinn and Declan Murphy and the other stuff that gets in the way of their relationship. Mostly the fact that Sarah is engaged to another man and Declan is being held as a prisoner. Both of which would be huge obstacles in any normal relationship.

Find out what Sarah did to cause this unusual situation.

Can Declan overcome his hatred for Sarah and can Sarah overcome her doubts to end up with the right man?

Review:

Look at the cover. It’s dark, vibrant and colourful all at the same time. 

This is the story of Sarah and Declan who do not realise they are meant for each other. 

Warm, light romantic comedy read. 

Loved it from the beginning. 

Through love and hate, empathy and hurt moments. This novel keeps pulling you in every time you are finished a chapter to do other things. There’s always a hook, which is the best type of novel. 

When the author originally sent me the plot to review in exchange I thought I am going to love this because why wouldn’t you? The plot is interesting and it reminds me of One Day which I adore. 

Getting to see these characters grow and develop into young adults and seeing all the big moments that define who you are. 

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Little Bakery On Rosemary Lane

Plot:

Growing up in a quiet Yorkshire village, Roxanne couldn’t wait to escape and find her place in the world in London. As a high-powered fashion editor she lives a glamorous life of perennial singlehood – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne gets her heart broken by a fashion photographer, she runs away, back to Della’s welcoming home above her bookshop in Burley Bridge.

But Burley Bridge, Roxanne discovers, is even quieter than she remembered. There’s nothing to do, so Roxanne agrees to walk Della’s dog Stanley. It’s on these walks that Roxanne makes a startling discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a widower trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into a comforting friendship.

Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent 46 years trying to escape?

Review:

Roxanne works for “Your style”- A high end fashion magazine as their fashion director in London. Her background is Yorkshire. 3 hours and a million miles away from the life she now leads and enjoys. Her bubble is burst when changes are a foot at the magazine and Roxanne decides to get away from it all, especially as her relationship with Sean is rather wobbly to say the least. This is a well written book that took me awhile to get into, probably as from the title I was expecting the bakery to feature early on. Once I accepted that is wasn’t, I enjoyed the lighthearted story and Roxanne’s character. A feel-good read for any time of year.

3/5 Stars

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Quick Vegan Friendly Meal: Seared Sesame Tofu with Noodle Salad

Before you freak out, this is actually so quick to make, the portion may look big however I ate half for breakfast, it is quite filling and nutritious!

Essential Ingredients:

  • Tofu – 50g / 2 oz
  • Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Noodles – 70g / 2.8 oz
  • Onion (finely chopped) – 1

Ingredients to your taste:

  • red chili (seeded and chopped) – 1
  • soy sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Salad

Preparations:

  1. Wrap the tofu in heavy layers of kitchen paper then, press gently to remove as much excess water as possible. Repeat a couple of times.
  2. Slice the tofu in half horizontally into 2 flat pieces. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  3. Mix the chili with the soy, and one tablespoon of water.
  4. Cook the noodles in salted boiling water until al dente and drain.
  5. Sear the tofu for about 2 minutes each side or until golden and crisp. In the frying pan
  6. Put the noodles on two plates, top with the tofu and pour the dressing over both. Finish with onions.

This quick and tasty meal took me 10 minutes to make!

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Recipe: Pasta & Tuna Bake

This is so delicious, I forgot to take the image before I began preparing this meal to eat!

Ingredients:

  • 600g rigatoni
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 600ml milk
  • 250g strong cheese, grated
  • 2 x 160g cans tuna steak in sunflower oil, drained (whichever tuna you prefer)
  • 330g can sweetcorn, drained
  • large handful chopped parsley

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C
  2. Boil 600g rigatoni for 2 mins less time than stated on the pack.
  3. To make the sauce – melt 50g butter in a sauce pan and stir in 50g plain flour.
  4. Cook for 1 min, then gradually stir in 600ml milk to make a thick white sauce.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in all but a handful of the 250g grated cheddar.
  6. Drain the pasta, mix with the white sauce, two 160g drained cans tuna, one 330g drained can sweetcorn and a large handful of chopped parsley, then season.
  7. Transfer to a baking dish and top with the rest of the grated cheese.
  8. Bake for 15-20 mins until the cheese on top is golden and starting to brown.

This can feed 6 people. Defrost it, or save it in the fridge, it makes a handy and delicious meal when you are constantly busy.

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Book Review: London Shortlist

Plot:

Time Out’s Shortlist pocket guide selects the very best that London has to offer. Our expert local authors introduce London s past and present with their trademark appreciation of contemporary culture and in-depth coverage of the city s architectural and artistic treasures. The guide provides insight into the most compelling attractions and listings that are bang up to date with cafes, restaurants, shops and the pick of venues to visit after dark. The book s easy to use format, suggested itineraries, selected listings, coverage of main sights and detailed mapping make it the perfect pocket-sized companion for a visit to the city.

Review:

The city of creativity.

I really enjoyed learning about the areas of London. What to see, where is most affordable and so on.

So much information was packed into this.

Alongside were little itineraries to follow if you were looking for a cheap, expensive, or quick weekend away.

It had a bit of everything for everyone.

4/5 Stars

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Thursday Thoughts

Happy Halloween to those that celebrate it.

Now, today’s thoughts are:

words shape your world,
may even change your world.
they are powerful things.
and you’re just at the beginning of your journey with them.
ease yourself in gradually.
learn how to express how they make you feel.

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Tuesday Thoughts

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

purpose of life

what is the actual purpose of life?
is it to aspire to be a mother?
is it to stay in education for as long as possible?
to find a career that pays a lot?
to find happiness?
to give back?
to travel?
i think the purpose of life is to find happiness in everything you do.
to make a difference, a good difference

Featured

Meal Recipe: Paprika Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast – 190 g / 6.7 oz
  • Paprika – 1/2 tbsp
  • Garlic – 1/2 tsp
  • Vegetables – handful

Preparations:

  1. After cooking the chicken from frozen at 250 degrees for 45 minutes [using a dash of paprika and garlic powder]
  2. Fry some mushrooms, peppers, and whatever else you may like with it until it turns a brown colour.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add some salad as well for a delicious meal!

The given recipe is for lunch and dinner so that you don’t have to cook twice. Consume the bigger part of the meal at lunch and leave the remainder for dinner.

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BookClub Reads: Pet Sematary

Plot:

The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.

Review:

Well, this was certainly the creepiest book I’ve ever read. It was an intense, brilliant thriller full of scary stuff brought straight out of nightmares.

Louis Creed, his wife Rachel and his two kids Eileen and Gage move to a new house. We get a little insight into the family’s past and we just realise that they are all nice people. Bad things start happen when they discover the Pet Sematary, their cat dies and everything starts going to hell.

This book is based around the idea of death and how some people are afraid of death. We see how people who are afraid of death react towards it and how people who are supposedly fearless of death cope with it. The problem is no one is ever ready for death, we may be accustomed to the idea of it but we are certainly not ready and not brave enough to face the death of people we hold dear in our hearts.

This novel is also about how people are genuinely pulled by things they can’t control, how they pretend that everything is alright when it most certainly it’s not. Louis let something control him, he kept it all to himself and he didn’t trust those he loved when he should have. It all ended bad for him and everyone else in his family.

However, with all of this in mind I did find it to be a slow read at times which took me forever to push through.

3/5 Stars

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Meal Recipe: Zucchini Chicken

Ingredients:

Chicken Breast – 180 g

Zucchini/Courgette – 75 g

Onion – 2 tbsp

Garlic Powder -1/2 tsp

Black Pepper – 2 pinch

Preparations:

  1. Season both sides of chicken breasts with garlic powder and black pepper.
  2. I cooked my chicken from frozen so this took 45 minutes
  3. Add onion and cook and stir until onion is browned, 5 minutes, add vegetables, salad, courgette etc. in to your tasting.
  4. I made one chicken breast for lunch and one for dinner.
  5. Heat rice in a rice cooker to have a little bit for lunch and dinner.

You can also add some sauce for taste as I did

Enjoy!

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Road Trip: Portrush

A little snippet from early this year. I like visiting here, it makes great little seaside visits.

I wouldn’t like to live in that type of small town forever.

I mean, what kind of life is that?

To have your entire life in a small little town, yes it can be modern in its own ways to some extent.

But I’m the type of person that craves adventure, I am capable of a lot. So why settle for less?

C

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ARC Book Review: The Broken Canvas: Good Woman Gone Bad

Plot:

Natasha Bishop has come a long way from painting pictures of landscapes in her Caribbean homeland to being a successful Hollywood Screen writer. Fame and popularity however do not fit the mold of the life that Natasha yearns for and though she finds solace and sincerity with her swooning younger boyfriend Andrew Kingston, she finds herself hopelessly drawn to Brody Banister, the ruggedly handsome playboy Scottish actor who starts igniting new feelings of raw passion for the Screen writer.

Tormented by her thoughts of infidelity toward Andrew, while harboring a deep and surfacing secret from Brody, Natasha finds herself navigating through the contours of her life, each time racked by new challenges. She soon finds out that the greatest challenge of all is yet to emerge, and with its imminent manifestation will test the mettle of Natasha like nothing else she has ever experienced.

Review:

ARC Book Review:

Thank you for this ARC review copy I received, now here’s my voluntary review:

The Broken Canvas by Stacey Facey portrays Natasha Bishop as a strong,  independent, Hollywood screenwriter, whose vocation brings her in contact with arrogant actors. Brody Banister is one of the worse.

The cover of The Broken Canvas looked pretty however I did not like the writing style at all. I’m sorry to say however I cannot lie for reviews.

It was not consistent at all. The themes from the beginning I was thinking can this be over already because it was not consistent, the thoughts where everywhere and it was immature. For example, when the Vernon went back to Louisiana, or when it was it was supposed to be Brody speaking, or even Michael or Lauren, it was Natasha speaking and describing events when she wasn’t even present. Natasha was also very immature for someone over 40.

Also, the fact Natasha had 3 children from 3 different men was a bit disturbing. Then after all of that nonsense, Natasha dies. I am not sure where the witchcraft themes fell in. This book was a mixture of different topics like it wanted to be everything however it has not had a proper edit. Also there was a LOT of grammatical errors.

1/5 Stars

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Road Trip: Malin Head

Malin Head lies on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal, at the most northerly tip of the island of Ireland.

It is the start (or end, depending on your point of view) of the Wild Atlantic Way and has long been renowned for its epic coastal scenery, thriving birdlife and historical curiosities.

This place is so pretty to walk by therefore I highly recommend as it is. It’s also quiet and peaceful to walk on 😊

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Book Review: Riders

Plot:

Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the playgrounds of the world, Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles, Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata and Score!, offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery, swooning romance, sexual adventure and hilarious high jinks.

Riders, the first and steamiest in the series, takes the lid off international showjumping, a sport where the brave horses are almost human, but the humans behave like animals.

The brooding hero, gypsy Jake Lovell, under whose magic hands the most difficult horse or woman becomes biddable, is driven to the top by his loathing of the beautiful bounder and darling of the show ring, Rupert Campbell-Black. Having filched each other’s horses, and fought and fornicated their way around the capitals of Europe, the feud between the two men finally erupts with devastating consequences during the Los Angeles Olympics.

Review:

Some could argue that the book is a product of its time. However, I don’t think that’s sufficient. This reads as a: racist, sexist, homophobic, classist soap opera with horses.

The plot meandered so much I had no sense of where it was going or which characters would be the final focus.

And there is a rape scene. It is never acknowledged as such. It was extremely upsetting, not just because of the content but because of the flippant way it was handled and also because of the absolutely natural way it developed from the atrocious attitudes towards men, women, and relationships throughout the entire book.

I had to give this a rating sadly.

1/5 Stars

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Book Review: Five Years From Now

Plot:

What if you met the right person at the wrong time?

Nell and Van meet as children when their parents fall in love, but soon they are forced worlds apart.

Five years later, they find each other.  Their bond is rekindled and new feelings take hold, but once again they must separate.

For the next two decades, fate brings Nell and Van together every five years, as life and circumstance continue to divide them. Will they ever find true happiness? And will it be together?

‘One day, maybe five years from now, you’ll look back and understand why this happened…’

Review:

Nell and Van met when they were 5-years old, sharing bunk beds in her father’s cottage. They became the best of friends and over the next few years, they have adventure after adventure together. Sadly, when they’re 10-years old, a tragedy tears them apart, sending Van to Australia to live with his father, leaving Nell behind to live with hers in England.

5-years later, Nell and Van are reunited and it’s like all the years between them have melted away. But in the place of their once strong friendship is a budding romance. They’re madly in love like teenagers usually are, but once again they’re torn apart, living on opposite sides of the world.

The story follows their journey every 5-years. Countless times, Van and Nell are brought back together, only to live separate lives, again and again. But one thing remains: their unwavering love for each other.

This is Van and Nell’s love story—but not every love story has a happy ending.

This novel reminds me of Love Rosie and a bit of One Day.

Five Years From Now is an emotional, soft-spoken story about love.

Paige Toon has done it again—she’s written a story that had me tearing up.

I enjoy books that span over decades, where we see bits and pieces of the main character’s lives every few years. This story had me thinking about how people come into our lives for a reason, but not all people you care about are meant to stay. Life is inconvenient and tears apart even soulmates, as we get to see firsthand here. While the ending was bittersweet, it felt right. I’ll leave it at that, as I don’t want to reveal too much here. Yet another heartfelt book from Paige Toon

4/5 Stars


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Road Trip: Benone Beach

Benone Strand is one of the most popular beaches in Northern Ireland because of its location, activities and easy access. This seven mile stretch of sand incorporates three beaches in one; Downhill Beach, Benone Strand and Magilligan Beach.

However, when I visit it I tend to visit one at a time.

As you can see from the video I decided to take a peaceful zen approach.

Those little zen gardens you have can create a nice peaceful activity however I took the task to the beach this time and it was relaxing 🙂

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Road Trip: Dark Hedges

This is originally a road which people still intend on driving fast on when it is now a big tourist spot!

The trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. In fact, the iconic trees have been used as a filming location in HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones®, representing the Kingsroad.

It’s a nice walk when it is quiet. Including the walk from the car park at the hotel as they have little lights from the trees next to it.

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Thursday Thoughts

“From my lips
And kissed you in a way
That begged to reverse ownership
But instead it sellotaped my wrists
Together tight around your hips
Whilst my internal monologue screamed
You’re hopeless at this
You don’t want to do this
You always do this
You don’t have to be this
Person
You don’t have to quench your thirst on
Him
Tell your body it’s anxiety isn’t a passion to burst on
Him
Don’t try and fill the void with empty consumption
This moment in time that youllbliebajdbsay was sweet seduction
Was another episode of you orchestrating a personality reduction
Into a girl you have no business being
No pleasing being
Stop teasing feeling
From an inner drought
That only dried to be that way
Because you gave all your kindness out
Instead of spending it on yourself. “

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Book Review: She must be mad

Plot:

She Must be Mad explores coming-of-age: the pain and beauty of love, the relief and the agony of turning from girl to woman, the isolation of an untethered mind and the power and subjugation of the body.

Charly captures the formative experiences of today’s young women from the poignant to the prosaic in writing that is at once witty, wry and heartfelt. Wayward nights out that don’t go as planned; the righteous anger at those men with no talent or skill or smarts who occupy the most powerful positions in the world; the strange banality of madness and, of course, the hurt and indecision of unrequited love.

For every woman surviving and thriving in today’s world, for every girl who feels too much; this is a call for communion, and you are not alone

Review:

Some of the poems were brilliant, but after a few poems the themes were quite repetitive. I really liked the writing style though, with a bit more variety to the centric topics of the single poems this could have been a favourite. I didn’t like the main topics of these poems compared to other authors. All she goes on about is sex.

2/5 Stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

phases

life comes in phases
you grow in each phase
sometimes begin to wonder
what is each one supposed to teach me?
not to make the same mistakes again
or to continue doing things the way you have been
the people you meet on these journeys
help you grow into the next phase

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Road Trip: Buncrana

This short little walk is a traffic free walk, along the shore of Lough Swilly between Buncrana and Stragill Strand. It passes along the quiet beaches, old forts and numerous sites of historical interest. I find the views to be quite peaceful.

It’s a simple walk as well apart from some stone areas.

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ARC Book Review: Welcome to New York

Plot:

Harry has a secret.

He led a well-planned life and knew exactly what he wanted. Until…

Something chased him away from his hometown in England. He arrives in New York wishing to erase his past, eager for a fresh start. A new life. Everybody here was someone else before.

Alana has a secret.

She left her small town in the Midwest chasing a dream. She arrives in New York determined to see her name flashing in bright lights on Broadway billboards. Everybody here wanted something more. She was on the right path, but then…

When Harry and Alana meet, they recognize each other’s scars. They bond over the things they don’t say. They find comfort in long silences. But as they learn how to deal with life’s plot twists, they find out the Big Apple has its own plans for them.

For how long can they hide? How long can they keep everyone else at a distance? How long until their past catches up with their present?

Their lives are about to get irreversibly intertwined. Do you want to know how?

First of all, welcome to New York!

Review:

First of all, long plot.

Secondly, thank you for this ARC review copy I received, now here’s my voluntary review:

At first it was a bit slow, the characters could be more developed at the start instead of taking a long time to understand them. Eventually the novel became interesting. Although it was like Harry and Alana were being forced to be together based on its writing. I do like the way it is set in New York. It is a good start for a novel. However more editing could have been done to make this novel grab my attention more.

I do appreciate that the characters were very developed in the end as it did have you invested in the characters. This novel inspires love, family and following your dreams. 

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: Start To Lead

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Plot:

Leadership is like beauty, hard to define but you know it when you see it. And sadly, we are rarely seeing it. We have thousands of books, hundreds of speakers and much training in leadership – yet we are still crying out for it. In the chaotic and turbulent world we live in, we need the emergence of truly great leaders to sort things out. So, what does the leadership journey look like? How do you become a leader? How do you successfully lead people and organisations? How do you become a truly great leader? Simple. Read this book

Review:

I enjoyed that this novel was written in the point of view from a person who’s been there, done it and wants to share the lessons he’s learned to help others. I find it difficult to finish a lot of business books, they bore me with people who take a simple message and spin it out endlessly repeating the same point until it’s something that will enable them to sell a book. Philip’s book from start to finish is packed with real stories and advice for how to handle different situations and different people in different types of company. I finished it in a matter of days.

4/5 Stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

accomplish everything you set out to do
whether it’s desires or career goals
do not live wondering what if
or having that kind of regrets
open-minded
exploring all your options
pros and cons
of every option available to you
especially when it dictates your next goal in life
for me, it’s the next chapter after university
like when you’re young you’re told to work hard as you need good grades to get to good schools then; to get to university so you come out with a great degree.

that’s always been the goal. after that, what’s next?
you realise you’ve been too focused on that one goal that it can be overwhelming deciding what the next goal is since this is your goal usually for the first 21-22 years of your life.

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Lush Face Mask Review: Don’t Look At Me

To Apply:

Smooth a rich layer of this vibrant blue mask over the skin and allow it to sink in for 10-15 minutes before gently removing with fresh water.

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Thoughts:

I love this face mask, the brilliant blue colour makes it so different and eye catching, and I just love the smell. Because it has to stay in the fridge, it always feels really refreshing and cool on my oily skin, and I’m also encouraged to used a good amount at a time because it will go out of date otherwise. The salt acts as a really nice natural exfoliant too!

5/5 Stars!

Ingredients:

  • Kaolin
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Glycerine
  • Rice Syrup
  • Ground White Rice
  • Organic Silken Tofu
  • Murumuru Butter
  • Bentone gel
  • Rice Milk
  • Grapefruit Oil
  • Neroli Oil
  • Water (Aqua)
  • *Limonene
  • *Linalool
  • Perfume
  • Colour 42090
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Road Trip: Giants Causeway

The historic Giants Causeway! So much to see and do, the walking trails, stories, the history it holds, and what a great walk it makes, although it is a bit on the expensive side compared to a couple of years ago which I still find is not worth the price. if you are like me you find a way in as it is the biggest marketing scheme that they are doing / getting away with charging the amount they are for walking along the coast and rocks.

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Thursday Thoughts

eyes

it’s the way they seem to naturally shine
especially when you look into my eyes
so captivating

comforting and nerve wrecking.
like the ocean when waves are crashing against the shore
beautiful and calm

drawing me in,
i don’t want it to stop
your pretty eyes

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Book Review: Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit

Plot:

In this heartfelt tribute to his mother, Sean Hepburn Ferrer offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the life of one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit is a stunning compilation of nearly 300 photographs, many straight from the family album and never before published; archival documents, personal correspondence, and mementos; even paintings and illustrations from the actress herself.

Sean tells Audrey Hepburn’s remarkable story, from her childhood in war-torn Holland to the height of her fame to her autumn years far from the camera and the crush of the paparazzi. Sean introduces us to someone whose grace, charm, and beauty were matched only by her insecurity about her appearance and talent, and who used her hard-won recognition as a means to help children less fortunate than her own. With this unique biography, Sean celebrates his mother’s history and humanity—and continues her charitable work by donating proceeds from this book to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.

Review:

I love anything and everything about Audrey Hepburn and this book was definitely an enjoyable and worthwhile read. I loved getting to read about her life from her son’s perspective. He spoke of her with such love and adoration. I especially loved the tons and tons of family photos that he shared. 

His writing was all over the place and not very organised at times just to point out. I wanted a glimpse into her life from someone who knew her and this book fit the bill perfectly. I especially loved his emphasis on her humanitarian work at the end of her life. Reading about her passion for children and her work with UNICEF was inspiring and just made me love her more.

3/5 Stars

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Exercise Routine

So, I thought it would be an interesting addition to add, I do three (well, try to) different types of exercises per week alongside my swimming 3-5 times a week. This week, this was the first one.

Do the following in these steps, then repeat another 2 times so, in total it is 3 rounds

  1. Box hip thrusts | 20 times


2. Side to side squats | 24 times

3. Narrow squats | 20 times

4. Donkey kick back | 20 each side


5. Standing leg abduction | 15 reps each side

6. Clams | 20 each side


7. Pulse sumo squats | 20 times

First exercise post that actually belongs under the fitness category of my blog so I would appreciate if you would like more of these posts or sticking to recipes 🙂

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C’s Coconut Buns – Vegan Friendly

Ingredients
– 1 cup of desiccated coconut
– 1 cup self-rising flour
– 1/2 cup caster sugar
– 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
– 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
– 1 tbsp lime juice
– 1 tsp vanilla extract

After mixing the above ingredients together, bake at 180C for 30 minutes.

If you fee like making your own icing:
– 250g vegan butter
– 400g icing sugar
– 1 tbsp non-dairy milk
– 1 tsp vanilla extract

Feel free to add a bit of fruit to your delicious cupcake!

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Road Trip: Dunluce Castle

I don’t know about you, but living in this castle right next to the ocean seems pretty exciting but scary at the same time!

It was first built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500, the earliest written record of the castle was in 1513.

It was then seized by the ambitious MacDonnell clan in the 1550’s, who set about stamping their mark on the castle under the leadership of the famous warrior chieftain Sorely Boy MacDonnell during an era of violence, intrigue and rebellion.

It has so much history, but I really went to enjoy the views it contains.

I was told the Golf course in this place is quite expensive too, between the views and the championships that goes on around here I still think it isn’t reasonable to charge a-lot of money just to view this place below.

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Thursday Thoughts

Quote that came to mind recently as it applied so much to me earlier this month:

“Travelling is brutality.
It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.
You are constantly off balance.
Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

Cesare Pavese

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BookClub Reads: The Little Book Cafe

Plot:

Tash, Emma and Amy couldn’t be more different.
A successful estate agent who has her life pretty much on track, Tash has ticked all the boxes. Hasn’t she?

Emma is a budding writer who yearns to flex her writing skills and shake up her life that has become, well, a little stale…

And then there’s Amy, the manager of The Little Book Café, a hopeless romantic who had her heart broken, but quietly refuses to give up on love.

Brought together by their love of books and delicious cake from the café next door, they are in for a year of romance, crime and classic novels that will help them get through all that life will throw at them…

Review:

This is the first book I have read in a while where I have taken a disliking to a specific character’s personality, I am talking about Adrian he’s manipulative and possessive but it does make Tasha’s story a lot more interesting (if it’s even possible to get more interesting)

I am really drawn to Tasha, you want her to do well from the beginning, I won’t go into specific parts as I don’t want to spoil it for everyone. However, her relationship with Adrian does add a lot of drama to the storyline. I have to put my hands up to Georgia for putting issues like domestic violence in her writing. It was brave! Does Tasha get her happy ending?

Well what can I say about Emma…she is totally different to Tasha yet they are best friends. It took me a few chapters to get into her story but again I persevered and I’m glad I did. Emma is a strong independent woman, she is determined to fight for what she wants and stands up for herself if she needs to. You really get a sense of Emma’s feelings in parts and you want her to get the happy ending she deserves.

Amy literally has my dream job I am so jealous, she manages a quirky bookshop with tea and delicious cake on tap! I was hoping she would at least stand up for what she believes in, you will have to read about Amy to find out.

Overall, I enjoyed the book as a whole and I would have enjoyed them equally had I of read them separately. I found this to be such a lovely, feel-good book full of anticipation and I won’t hesitate in reading more of Georgia’s creations.

One quote I really enjoyed: “Words are important. They can change you. They can change the world”

4/5 Stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

Life

life is about finding a purpose
and things in life have to be built by people to create the purpose
always strive to do something with your life that has a real purpose
because otherwise what is the point in existence if you are not contributing?
it would drive me insane if i lived like that, without a purpose
because i think that is the purpose of life,
finding a goal, an ambition to work towards something every time
a goal is completed.

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Road Trip: Glenveagh

Every time I am here I will always be seen taking pictures of its beautiful scenery!

Glenveagh is a pretty place, whether you are viewing it for walking, cycling or going for a stroll.

It’s a great place for taking pictures, whether you are posing or for sight-seeing as well.

I have yet to cycle using their own cycling gear.

I find it intriguing how this place used to be someone’s home, imagine living like this with all the space and beautiful scenery. It’s one of my favourite spots to go back to, time and time again. It’s that big that I always discover something new each time I visit.

Below is a video capturing some of its beauty. Enjoy.

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Book Review: The Sun Also Rises

Plot:

Paris in the twenties: Pernod, parties and expatriate Americans, loose-living on money from home. Jake is wildly in love with Brett Ashley, aristocratic and irresistibly beautiful, but with an abandoned, sensuous nature that she cannot change. 

When the couple drifts to Spain to the dazzle of the fiesta and the heady atmosphere of the bullfight, their affair is strained by new passions, new jealousies, and Jake must finally learn that he will never possess the woman he loves.

Review:

Hemingway’s writing is superb, pared to the bone however this paints a vivid picture of his life/friends/actions. Unfortunately, most of these are completely unsympathetic to the extent of being irritating. I longed to tell some of the characters to have a look at reality, get outside themselves and take part in the real world. There is an in-built arrogance in most of them which seems to allow them to view everything from a position apart, nothing really matters. I just could not really get into this

1/5 Stars

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Sunday Thoughts

summer

feel the sun shining on your skin,
glistening and giving you heat whilst
a cool breeze refreshes your skin.

the whole day is ahead of you.
sunny walks along the beach with loved ones.
nature walks in the forest in this happy season.

travels are all around you.
the feelings of adventure and freedom
are alive more than ever.

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Book Review: Return to the Italian Quarter

Plot:

The Di Napolis may have been raised in England, but their souls are Italian… Charismatic, irascible and defiantly Italian, Cesare presides over his large family much like his Roman namesake. But when a journalist begins asking questions about his allegiances during the war, Sophie realises how little she really knows her adored grandfather. She embarks with him on a journey of discovery through turn of the century Naples, 1920s Clerkenwell and the war years, in the course which she learns something else: whom it is that she really loves.

Review:

I found this novel to be confusing as the story switched from Cesare to Sophie quite quickly throughout the entire novel, leaving me wanting more from each point-of-view.

The story between Sophie and Antonio/Guido lacked any real emotion with not much of a background of the characters for each of their relationships. It was hard to follow at times however, Cesare’s description of the past was intriguing, which kept me entertained most of the time.

3/5 Stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

What do you want out of life?

I want to see the world. I want to travel and actually live the stories that are told to me throughout the novels I read. 

That novel Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World has made me hungry for this desire. 

I want fun and adventure in travelling. 

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Book Review: Mr.S: The Last Word On Frank Sinatra

Plot:

An insider’s account of life with Sinatra during the heady years of the Rat Pack that’s as cool, original and dazzling as the man himself. George Jacobs is generally considered ‘the last of the Rat Pack’, a member of the exclusive club that has fascinated us for decades. He worked as Sinatra’s valet and confidant from 1953, when Ava Gardner had just left him until the end of his marriage to Mia Farrow in 1968. Racy and revealing. Mr S, is a record of one of the longest and most outrageous mid-life crises ever as George helped Sinatra juggle his multiple mistresses – women like Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Grace Kelly and Peggy Lee. And it wasn’t just women: Hollywood stars and Mafia bosses, the Kennedys and European royalty all have a part to play in Frank’s glory years. But above all there was the Rat Pack who accepted George as one of their own. Dean Martin tried his comedy routines out on him and Peter Lawford did his drugs in front of him. Mr S gives an insider’s view of the highs and lows of life with the Rat Pack – the spectacle, the sex, the unrecounted brawls, violence, tensions and hatreds among the revellers at the wildest moveable feast of the century

Review:

Jacobs has written a memoir of his time as valet to the super star of the 50’s and ’60’s, Frank Sinatra. Every movement he made was chronicled by the press.

In this, we’ve learned that George lived with Sinatra longer than anyone. He can tell us from the inside. Everyone else is telling it from mostly the outside. The stories in this is told with love.

Another difference of this novel is the way the story is told. It is like George is your friend and he is just having a casual conversation with you. It seems he is confiding in you, showing his vulnerability, showing you his heart. He tells us of all the sides of Sinatra, and even when it is less than flattering,

This novel is an easy, quick read. If one loves to read about pop culture this novel is for you.

2/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Art of Thinking Clearly

Plot:

Have you ever:
• Invested time in something that, with hindsight, just wasn’t worth it?
• Overpayed in an Ebay auction?
• Continued doing something you knew was bad for you?
• Sold stocks too late, or too early?
• Taken credit for success, but blamed failure on external circumstances?
• Backed the wrong horse?

These are examples of cognitive biases, simple errors we all make in our day-to-day thinking. But by knowing what they are and how to spot them, we can avoid them and make better choices-whether dealing with a personal problem or a business negotiation; trying to save money or make money; working out what we do or don’t want in life: and how best to get it.

Simple, clear and always surprising, this indispensable book will change the way you think and transform your decision-making-work, at home, every day. It reveals, in 99 short chapters, the most common errors of judgment, and how to avoid them.

Review:

There are many examples which are explained in other texts by other authors. It’s a nice book if you want a detailed description of the cognitive biases. I found this novel to be a little too aggressive mostly the way Dobelli explains “his” point of view, words well executed but not much statistics were shown and maybe that’s the part that dragged for me. It could have been better with facts and numbers that only stories, felt like he was trying to defend something and trying to show the era of communication and technology as the bad guy.

2/5 Stars

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Recipe: Almond Cupcakes – Vegan Friendly

Another delicious recipe!

This time I wondered, what would almonds taste like in a cupcake, I haven’t really had any cupcakes that are almond flavour unless it has the nuts and such throughout them when I want to enjoy a smooth non-nutty snack but with the taste only.

Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour (220g)

1/2 cup (100g) sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (240ml) soy milk

1/3 (80ml) vegetable oil

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2.5 tsp almond extract

Despite how the icing looks, these are very tasty!

Instructions:

Mix the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, baking soda and salt. 

Then add the soy milk, vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla, almond ingredients. 

Stir briefly with a hand whisk to combine properly and remove any lumps

Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners and divide the batter between them

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Then, bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

I found these cupcakes to be far more tasty than lemon. Have you tried these, which do you prefer?

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Antrim Castle Gardens

This beautiful place has four centuries of culture and heritage.

You can easily get lost here as there is plenty to see in terms of walking about; parterres, canals, castle ruins and a very pleasant walk to the shore of Lough Neagh along Six Mile Water. I was most interested in the little book posts as it had books where you can borrow.

I loved visiting these beautiful 17th century gardens. I wish I had time to visit the Oriel Gallery’s range of stunning art exhibitions as well as the cute little garden coffee shop.

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Book Review: The Bookshop

Plot:

In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop – the only bookshop – in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors’ lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence’s warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn’t always a town that wants one.

Review:

I found this to be a nice quick read about a widow setting up a bookshop in a small village where most of the folks are hostile to her as an outsider. However the biggest problem was the pace and the interest in this novel. I really wanted to enjoy it however I did not find it interesting from how it was told. Especially with the main character, I was never sorry for her as a person or witnessed any emotional developments when some characters gang up on her and use every legal means at their disposal to shut down her bookshop.

2/5 Stars

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Book Review: Whisper Network

Plot:

Four women learn their boss (a man who’s always been surrounded by rumors about how he treats women) is next in line to be CEO—what will happen when they decide enough is enough?

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by…whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough. 

Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

“If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one, “none of this would have happened.”

Review:

The author introduces us to four female​ colleagues who complain a lot. There’s a lot going on in the narrative, and I appreciated the duality Baker gives to her protagonists, however, the story dragged and, wasn’t that interesting. Even though each chapter includes testimony of the women from a future investigation—further nudging the plot forward—I didn’t really care that much if I ever found out what happened to warrant such an investigation (or even who did the thing they were attempting to explain). In the end, I couldn’t put myself through the additional four and a half hours it would take to finish.

I really could not get through this terrible novel.

1/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Wild Woman’s Guide to Travelling the World

Plot:

Objectively, Sophie is a success: she’s got a coveted job at a top consulting firm, a Manhattan apartment, and a passport full of stamps. It isn’t quite what she dreamed of when she was a teenager dog-earing pages in exotic travel guides, but it’s secure. Then her best friend bails just hours after they arrive in Hong Kong for a girls’ trip, and Sophie falls for Carson, a free spirited, globetrotting American artist. He begs her to join him on his haphazard journey, but she chooses responsibility and her five-year plan. 

Back in New York, that plan feels less and less appealing. As Sophie recalls the dreams she’s suppressed, the brief international jaunts she sneaks in between business trips no longer feel like enough. Carson isn’t ready to let her go either, but as they try to figure out their relationship, Sophie realizes she may have to pursue her passions with or without him.

Review:

LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Just to sum up why I loved this so much, here are some life quotes which I especially agree with in this point in my life right now that were in this novel:

If it’s something you’re really passionate about , you’ll find a way to make it work

“In that moment, I realised I did have a choice. My life wasn’t something that happened without my input. I guided my life where I wanted it to go. There were two paths stretched out in front of me: the safe, sensible, no-nonsense plan and the wild, risky, unchartered territory. I only knew where one of those paths ended up, and it definitely wasn’t in a place that would make me happy.”

“Passion is worthless without the courage to see it through. So I pushed past all my fears and found a way to make it work.”

“That’s what courage is. Doing what you need to do even when you’re scared out of your mind. Changing your plans when they’re no longer working for you.”

“Stop being so afraid to fail that you never allow yourself to succeed.”

“Success means being happy. As long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.”

There are so many vivid descriptions of the sights and smells of Hong Kong, Macau, and New York City which made me feel like I was traveling the world right along with the narrator, Sophie. Her questions about pursuing “success” as others define it versus success on her own terms definitely is me this summer. The love story satisfying with obstacles that relate to how we merge our desire to love and be loved with our other life ambitions. It might be the case that all vacations must come to an end, but new experiences can shape who we are long after we have returned home.

Overall, this novel’s message is about embarking on new adventures and ultimately doing what it takes to be happy is one that will stick with me for a long time.

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: Recipes for a Happy Marriage

Plot:

“They say there is no such thing as a perfect marriage, but of course there is. A perfect marriage is where two people live together for most of their lives until death separates them. What there is no such thing as is an easy marriage. And when it comes to love, people have somehow come around to equating love with ease”. New York food writer Tressa returns from honeymoon worried that she has married her impossibly handsome new husband Dan out of late-thirties panic instead of love. In 1930’s Ireland, her grandmother, Bernadine, is married off to the local schoolteacher after her family are unable to raise a dowry for her to marry her true love, Michael. During the first year of her marriage, Tressa distracts herself from her stay-or-go dilemma by working on her grandmother’s recipes, searching for solace and answers through their preparation. Through the stories of these two women RECIPES FOR A PERFECT MARRIAGE challenges the modern ideal of romantic love as a given and ponders whether true love can really be learned. ‘This story is written with so much heart, its beat is palpable in every word on every page’ Cecelia Ahern, author of P.S., I LOVE YOU

Review:

I really didn’t want to finish this novel as well as having to write a review for it, so here goes.

The author/main person in this novel annoyed me so very much – she is not affectionate or caring at all. She married a very lovely man who somehow is beneath her standards even though she is nothing special. She was lonely and old enough to be married, so she made it happen. However, she invests nothing into her marriage or relationship – all she does is complain about the things he is not. This ungrateful and conceited woman never realised how lucky she is to have a good man like her husband–as it is obvious when she books a hotel room to have an affair with a loser she finds in a bar.. I truly despise people who would do something like this when they have someone in their life as good as what this person the protagonist showed her husband was.

If I could give 0 I would.

1/5 Stars

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BookClub Reads: A Favourite Of the Gods

Plot:

One autumn in the late 1920s, Constanza boards a train in Italy en route to Brussels and a new marriage. With her is her young daughter Flavia. Through an odd incident Constanza makes a casual decision that changes both their lives.

Review:

This novel opens up in the late 1920’s with Constanza and her daughter Flavia in the French Riviera. Neither of them have any real idea of what they are doing, or indeed where they are. The loss of a ring leads Constanza to make a life altering decision. Then, the story moves back, to Constanza’s childhood, her life with warring parents, a New England heiress and an Italian prince.

This novel I found to be quite confusing at times to follow as you are getting your head around these characters and the time change.
Oh my god, we get it that the parents had an odd relationship however I really disliked Constanza’s point of view of cheating within relationships.

Constanza, when she has an open-relationship point of view about her mother leaving her father when he lied to her for 17 years by having an affair. I disliked this very much as Constanza thought it is okay to have fun and that people are not owned. 

When you commit to someone. Whether it is on paper or you just commit to them before it leads to something like that it is very important because no, you are not owned however you made the commitment to commit to only that person. They do not own you but you committed to only them is what Constanza cannot seem to understand.

However, I did enjoy this novel in terms with how it was written, for the most part however it took me a good while to finish this novel. Constanza marrying for the sake of it – having to be pushed into it then realising she does love him but doesn’t in that way? Oh she infuriates me.

I like that this novel tries to tell it in an elegant way however there are some silly opinions that are supposed to show the younger and fresh generation at that time’s point of view.

After the war and everything that happens throughout, the novel closes with Fascism taking over, where the specter of Marxism causes the Italian aristocracy to make unhealthy allegiances with Mussolini, and the fate of Europe is uncertain by the end.

The only thing that has been consistent in this is that Flavia and Constanza have no real desire to settle down

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: Saturday

Plot:

Henry Perowne is a contented man — a successful neurosurgeon, happily married to a newspaper lawyer, and enjoying good relations with his children. Henry wakes to the comfort of his large home in central London on this, his day off. He is as at ease here as he is in the operating room. Outside the hospital, the world is not so easy or predictable. There is an impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the New York and Washington attacks two years before.

On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne’s day moves through the ordinary to the extraordinary. After an unusual sighting in the early morning sky, he makes his way to his regular squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands of marchers filling the streets of London, protesting against the war. A minor accident in his car brings him into a confrontation with a small-time thug. To Perowne’s professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young man, who in turn believes the surgeon has humiliated him — with savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to keep his family alive.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this novel. At times I thought the amount of detail is great however some of the sums of the one-star review this novel up perfectly at the same time! Particularly the ones that went into great detail, hence the mocking of this novel in terms of how it is written in excruciating detail that was difficult to follow at times because it is boring listening to the smallest mundane details.

Henry Perowne judges all of the protestors as being uninformed about the true nature of Saddam’s regime, all due to speaking with ONE person he spoke with who were tortured there. It is a very clumsy attempt to give the character’s opinion in this case.

Perowne’s character is a person with Western values which is clear to see this is really McEwan voicing his own opinions with the amount of boring detail in this rather than a character who simply comes down on one well-defined side of an issue. To me, it is seen as a busy neurosurgeon who has no time to search out other opinions or else truly feels that war is the right move and that it is as his leaders say, for humanitarian reasons.

Later on, we see a different view from Daisy, in the form of an argument in the kitchen. There is a bet where Perowne says that Iraq will be flowering in freedom in five years and Daisy says it will be a mess. I found it interesting that the opposing view is personified by a very young person, implying immaturity, youthful idealism and so on.

The car crash scene with the tough guy was simply farcical. Where the brain surgeon has to think fast, and recognises some horrible debilitating disease in his assailant, who, it turns out, is self-conscious about it.

The talented children I found very annoying: the boy plays the blues from the comfort of his London mansion and the girl is a poet. Some lines of her poetry that McEwan proudly mentions are “watermarks of ecstasy”. Watermarks of ecstasy? She won the Newdigate prize for it. Does McEwan consider that good poetry? The title of her collection is, “My Saucy Bark.” What? It is a bark as in boat but the other definitions work just as well.

One quote I did enjoy, however: “Fiction is too humanly flawed, too sprawling and hit-and-miss to inspire uncomplicated wonder at the magnificence of human ingenuity, of the impossible dazzling achieved. Perhaps only music has such purity.”

Overall, this was a densely written book that took a bit of patience. I enjoyed it at times and found it tedious at others. Although it was well written, the prose was a bit pretentious and the main character’s stream of consciousness narrative could be so boring. At times the family at the center of the story was a little too perfect to believe. The plot and details stretched far too long; you could read from page 2, skip 30 pages and not much has changed.

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: The last Mrs. Parrish

Plot:

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

Review:

The novel goes through Amber’s mind and her annoying jealousy and though you start to feel bad for gullible Daphne who is being scammed right under her nose – you also feel annoyed that she is missing the signs that are so clear to the reader. 

Throughout the first half of the novel, where we are Amber on the outside looking in, we begin to suspect something is amiss but nothing prepares us for what’s really happening in the Parrish household – and that surprise and the psychology behind it all is where it all lays.

I could talk all day about the psychology of Jackson Parrish, Daphne and Amber – but all I will say is that their characteristics played off of each really well and the topics were well researched.

I had issues of giving this a 3 or 4 because the juxtaposition between Amber’s viewpoint and Daphne’s is so stark it’s like you’re reading a completely different novel. The language and tone changes so distinctively that you are pulled in again with renewed interest just as the novel was starting to lose your interest.

As a newbie in this category of a psychological thriller I would definitely recommend this for an interesting read!

4/5 Stars

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Recipe: Vegan Friendly – Lemon Cupcakes

Finally another recipe!

This time I had a craving for lemon cupcakes since I love lemon related bakery goods.

Above are the ingredients you will need.

Below is the exact amounts needed:

1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour (220g)

1 cup (200g) sugar

1 tsp baking soda (or 3x the amount of this, if using baking powder)

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (240ml) soy milk

1/3 (80ml) vegetable oil

1 tbsp white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp lemon extract

Did not have lemon zest (if do, another 2 tsp of lemon zest)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees 

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, baking soda and salt. 

Then add the soy milk, vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla, lemon ingredients. 

Whisk briefly with a hand whisk to combine properly and remove any lumps

Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners and divide the batter between them

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre comes out clean

And voila.

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Book Review: Losing My Inhibitions – Finally free and ready to have fun

Plot:

A year after leaving her controlling ex, Roxy’s divorce is finally official. She’s got her confidence and career back on track and is ready to start enjoying some no-strings-attached fun.

But just when Roxy thinks she has her dating plan all mapped out, a hot younger single man unexpectedly appears. On paper, he sounds like exactly what Roxy’s been looking for, until she’s warned that he’s strictly off limits. Getting involved with him will put her career, home and everything she’s worked for in extreme jeopardy. There’s a million reasons why Roxy shouldn’t give into his charms. The trouble is, he’s just too tempting…

Will Roxy take a chance and risk it all to pursue a forbidden fling? And if she does, can she find a way to let him rock her world, without turning it upside down?

Losing My Inhibitions is a sexy, laugh-out-loud, romantic comedy with a modern twist, which is about self-love, new beginnings, forging your own path in life and being true to yourself. It can be read as a standalone novel or as a prequel to The Middle-Aged Virgin and Only When It’s Love. Ideal for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes and Lindsey Kelk. 

Review:

First of all, big thank you to Olivia for sending me this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Are you seeking a new, fresh voice of funny, romantic fiction? Here we go.

Losing My Inhibitions was a brilliant read and in some ways, it was spooky the comparisons between Roxy’s life and those in the past.

This book is very understanding as it is about having a new start – at any age.

Roxy is starting a fresh chapter in her life. At forty-one and newly divorced she is finding herself for the first time in years. She is very ready for love and eager to live life to the fullest. Then, life throws her a sexy curveball. However, with all ball sports, there is always the danger of getting hurt.

Colette (boss) has given Roxy her job and put her up whilst she is finding her feet again. Of course Roxy feels she owes her boss for all the help given. She is working flat out on the Northern Beauty Live! Exhibition and when Colette agrees to get her help she can’t believe her luck. But when her boss reveals this to be her son (the baby boy in all the photos on Colette’s desk) Roxy’s earlier happiness quickly dissolves.

Colette’s son, Finn, tries to ‘break into’ his mothers home and comes face to face with a semi-naked Roxy they both know working together is going to be different than expected. Finn is no longer a baby boy instead, he has turned into a ripped, gorgeous and charming man. He is the toy-boy she’s been looking for but the one she can’t have.

In order to keep her job and her friendship with the woman that saved her in a time of crisis Roxy knows she will have to keep focused but can she do that and more importantly does she want to? Is Finn the answer to the fun she needs?

A brilliant and saucy read with cringe-worthy moments captured perfectly and genius comedy that had me laughing out loud. You can really hear the personality coming out throughout the writing which is refreshing. You have been warned if you read this on the bus prepare for funny looks, I am serious.

I can’t wait to see what Olivia Spring creates next! I love that the characters in this novel is relate-able. I cannot wait to get my hands on Olivia’s other novels if they are as good as this one.

4/5 Stars

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Book Review: Something in the water

Plot:

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Review:

I first discovered this novel when looking up Reece’s bookclub books. Otherwise, this would not be my usual cup of tea.

I never really got into thrillers when I have attempted reading them. So, I guess there is a first for everything. I enjoy when novels are from the main character’s point of view. This novel has been thoroughly researched which you can clearly tell when you are reading it, from learning how to use guns, investment banking, the art world, the list goes on.

It took me a little while to get into this novel, which I think was due to me not having read much of thrillers.

A little background into the newly weds; Erin and Mark: Erin writes documentaries for a living, whilst Mark is an investment banker for the first few chapters of the novel. The author makes it very clear that he is handsome and loved by everyone. Newly weds going on their honeymoon, so much in-love – or so it seems from Erin’s point of view. Erin goes on about having a family. Later, whilst scuba-diving in Bora Bora, they discover something in the water that has the potential to change their lives forever. It becomes clear fairly quickly that they have gotten themselves into a boat-load of trouble.

One decision after another, they seem to have it all planned out. The problem is that sometimes Erin’s curiosity gets the best of her (more like her naviety as you soon learn) and it was times like this where I just want to scream at her. I couldn’t take it! There were parts in the novel where I just couldn’t stand her character and wanted to shake the idiot. It’s these events, however, that move the plot along and make it interesting. Not only that, Mark can be a jerk when he wants to be and I had a hard time figuring him out in the beginning. This novel had me questioning and suspecting everyone for something at some point. I had many theories.

After the first big introduction, the novel starts out slow and boring and gradually just keeps getting better. It takes me age when I first read a novel that’s what I hate about beginnings like that, although you’re left to wonder about Erin’s character throughout because of it. I don’t like when it shows you the future then it goes back. I’ve noticed that in last year’s Reece’s bookclub choices. Although by the end, the ending was fairly predictable and I could see where it was going, need something new.

The author spent a lot of time rambling Erin’s idiotic thoughts at times, of course when you use a gun without a safety option it won’t be safe – I don’t need remindings of this for another 20 pages. However there are some quotes I did enjoy and found interesting:

“I feel like people place too much emphasis on where we come from and not enough in where we’re going to”

You don’t sign up for certain things without knowing the rules, Erin. And if you’ve signed up for the game, then you can’t complain when you lose. You got to lose with dignity is all; a good sportsman always lets people lose with dignity

Personally, I found that the last one to be a dig at Erin, even if the theory isn’t correct on that one, it still applied to her. Especially when reflecting upon this novel.

There were too many details at times as it was not relevant, especially towards extra characters. With that said, I did still enjoy the book and there were a few times where I was on edge. I was very anxious a few times in the story. If you like thrillers, I would recommend you give this one a try!

4/5 Stars

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Book Review: From Scratch

Plot:

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.

Review:

I dislike novels that are heavily promoted and tend to only be famous due to their marketing. As they tend to lack in quality.

Tembi Locke definitely has a way with words. With the opening beautiful prose, she weaves a tale of love and loss, jumping back in forth in time from when she first meets Saro, to the present day when she is learning how to live without him. She discusses the obstacles overcame as Saro’s traditional Sicilian family disapproved of his relationship with an American black woman, and the long, painful fight they endured as Saro battled cancer. She describes the joy they felt as they adopted a baby girl, and the paralysing grief as she watched him take his last breath. She details the growth of her relationship with Saro’s mother, and how Sicily became a second home to her.

I found this to be such a touching story. One about love and loss, family, and learning to move on in the wake of insurmountable grief. Tembi makes us fall in love with Saro and mourn his passing. She makes us feel anger at his family for being so incredibly narrow-minded and traditional to the point of losing their son. She also educates us on Italian and Sicilian culture and perhaps most obviously, makes us hungry for the authentic Italian cuisine.

This is the first memoir I have read, and although at times I thought this novel felt a bit repetitive it was still an interesting read.

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: The second chance teashop

Plot:

Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it’s time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.

But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto the new life she has built.

This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.

Review:

I loved Anna, Merry, and Ellie most in this cute little read! Matthew, on the other hand, I was going back and forth between loving and hating. The hating was sealed for me after the “mistake” he supposedly made and made worse for the way he treated Anna. This man was not good enough for caring Anna. 

However, with that being said this is a light, sweet romance story set in a cosy little village, it is good for a summer read with an adequate ending. The characters are real and believable. Overall, the story was entertaining enough, but the story is too predictable and a bit too much sex for this light read.

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: When Sally Comes Marching Home

Plot:

In 1945, World War II is ending. For Major Sally Honeychurch the war is just beginning.

Major Sally Honeychurch has spent two years as an agent behind enemy lines. Now the war is over, the women who risked their lives are no longer needed. Sally is back in civvy street, haunted by the French Resistance lover who died in her arms. 

When terrorists smuggle an atomic bomb into London, the Head of MI6 urgently summons her for one more mission. Sally has inside knowledge few possess. She was there when the first atom bomb was assembled and detonated. 

Sally is the only woman among hundreds of soldiers and intelligence agents hunting the terrorists. And she uncovers a clue to their identity that will rock the establishment to its foundations. To save London, she must not only track down the conspirators, she must also battle the prejudices of the men in charge.

Review:

Major Sally Honeychurch had fought in World War 2. Then, as it was coming to an end she like all women did get dismissed. Settling into normal life again she gets recruited for a new task. Again degraded for being a woman she is given a job she is overqualified for but she’s not a woman to do what she’s told and follows her own leads finding her very own evidence regardless of being ignored, shun and dismissed.

This isn’t my usual cup of tea if you see the fluffy books I tend to read however I found this to be an intriguing read. It took me a little while to get into due to this however, from the start I enjoyed the main character, Sally. She is not afraid to do as she pleases and is great at what she does which are qualities I really admire. For example, when a threat is in her city she does not stop to put herself forward to really fight for her city.

This novel is set during a male-dominated era therefore with this novel being focused on a woman’s point of view, the author wrote this in a powerful, strong point of view from a woman. I found this novel to be intriguing because you are being put through this era with a few cliffhangers after enticing chapters.

Therefore, I would recommend this novel to anyone that is into historic reads, or if you want to read from the perspective of a female lead.

Thank you to the author Richard Milton for sending me a free copy for an honest review.

4/5 Stars

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Book Review: Next Year in Havana

Plot:

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest – until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary… Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth…

Review:

New favourite author alert!

I really learnt a lot reading this book. I’m not going to lie, it is pretty political and I wish I spent more time researching a few things to help my understanding however at this time I did not have the luxury of time. That’s another thing I love about reading, it educates you.

The story is a mixture between the Havana of the late 1950s with Cuba on the brink of revolution, and modern-day Havana following the death of Fidel Castro. It centres around two women; nineteen year old Elisa who is forced to flee Cuba during the 1959 revolution; and Marisol, Elisa’s granddaughter who returns to modern-day Cuba to scatter her grandmother’s ashes following her death only to discover deep family secrets.

Elisa is the daughter of a sugar baron and sheltered from the political unrest sweeping her country until she falls in love with Pablo, a revolutionary close to Castro. Marisol is a Cuban-American, who grows up hearing the romantic stories of Cuba from her grandmother and clearly identifies herself as distinctly Cuban; that is, until she experiences first-hand the personal, political and sometimes dangerous struggles of Cubans today.

I loved how this novel was written I found it so compelling and insightful. It have a beautiful and romantic cover which I loved! This, is a gripping read that gives the world an authentic insight on what it is to be Cuban. Thanks to Reece’s Witherspoon’s Book clubs reads.

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Seduction Expert

Plot:

She’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationships, their breakups, and very often their partners’ affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a superheroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.

Review:

First, big thank you to VSP publishing for sending me this read in exchange for an honest review.

The Seduction Expert, The Baroness, is a powerful and very conceited woman who has designed her company and services in favour of the rich, yet poor women of Paris. Lately, I have been seeing novels and tv shows alike in favour of being a dominatrix. This woman is very happy to spy, humiliate and destroy, the husbands of Parisian wives who do not treat the women in their lives nicely, all for a very high price, of course.

I initially went into this novel a little unsure as I had a feeling it would be an interesting read and I was not disappointed. The Baroness’s personality is quite strong which is easy to see based on the words she uses, you can sense that strong-ness. This novel is a Parisian romance with its target audience being towards feminists.

As the Seduction Expert, she has expertly captured the attention of a man named Louis Beaumont, who is from one of the wealthiest families in Paris. Not long they are due to marry, her mother in law, gives her an ultimatum; ditch Louis and her climb up the social ladder or her mother in law will destroy her.

Even though she’s not in love with Louis, The Baroness has carefully formed a meticulous plan on how her marriage to Louis will bring about her reign of the world. Giving him up is simply not an option.

I definitely recommend this interesting read if you are looking for something new to read with a great way of writing.

One of the quotes I enjoyed:

“You will get a new lease on life, you’ll be full of joy and energy, you’ll become more beautiful, more fulfilled, more assertive, and you’ll thank me because you will then experience the most beautiful moment in your entire life”

The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. The conclusion was rushed considering the build up that was set from the beginning it made the finishing touches a tad disappointing. However I would enjoy to see that happens next in this series.

4/5 Stars

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Book Review: If you could go anywhere

Plot:

Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 29, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world – until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.

As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way?

Review:

In the mood to travel? Well, get into it because you are coming across many cultures in this one. Perfect summer read! 

I decided to really take in this novel. Every single chapter, short or long. Contained important elements to the story that made you stop to think and really take it in. To take in this adventure Angie (Angel) embarked on. 

This novel has been thoroughly researched and it was overwhelming at times with the amount of characters mentioned on a regular basis in this novel however I really enjoyed it. 

At the start, I was trying to get used to reading “Dugout” as I continuously thought “cave” in my head. 

I really enjoyed the soap opera banter between the restaurant staff and how Angie came in to save the day. Theresa and her dagger stares. Oh the hissy drama was entertaining. Stefano and Alessandro. Her relationship with her new father and his side of the family. Exploring Rome with Alessandro the lone wolf was very exciting as we got to see a soft side to him. 

Overall I think this novel is different from the majority of Toon’s other novels as they usually have the girl meets guy, girl travels to guy, dilemma. Yes I hear how this sounds and you’re thinking this is the same. But it’s different this time. Or is it? I feel like it is. Apart from the fact this novel is based about Italy there is something about this novel that is more different in comparison to the rest of Toon’s novels (the majority I have read) because I didn’t get the vibe of: give me something different. Instead, I found myself reading this book all the time whilst trying to slow myself down so I enjoy this journey to Italy for longer. 

Favourite quote: “I can go anywhere now. I’ve never felt more lost.”

5/5 Stars. 

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Book Review: Molly’s Millions

Plot:

Hard-up florist Molly Bailey has just won £4.2 million pounds in the National Lottery. And she needs to get rid of it – fast!

Tom Mackenzie is on the verge of losing his job. He needs one hell of a story if he hopes to secure his future in journalism.

With Ebenezer Scrooge for a brother, and a strong belief that sharing her good fortune is the only way forward, Molly unwittingly becomes the most sought-after person in the country as, in true Robin Hood style, she distributes her wealth to the masses.

With only her terrier pup, Fizz, for company, Molly embarks on the journey of her life, crossing the country in her trusty – or should that be ‘rusty’? – yellow Beetle. But with Tom Mackenzie hot on her heels and the nation on the look-out for her, Molly must outwit them all if she’s to achieve her grand finale.

Will she succeed before her family and the media catch up with her? And with Tom leading the pack, would that really be such a bad thing…?

Review:

What would you do if you won the lottery?

This novel has been on my TBR for quite a few months! 

I was not sure what to expect. Initially, I was reading and I was like: okay, enough of the story, let’s get to when you’ve won it since it is the plot. 

I like the contrasts: how Molly has came from a very stingy family. Yet, as soon as she got into this money her first actions was to get a companion; a dog from the shelter. Then, off Fizz and Molly where to the roads. Stopping by places in desperate need of a godsend of money. It’s amazing how peoples’ lives can be changed by some money. How happy it can make them. Molly realised this and wanted to spread her wealth as she believed there is a certain amount needed: to cover yourself, family and friends. However, the rest was excess and she wanted to get rid of it quickly before her family found out!

That is, until a reporter catches tail of this and manages to track her down and follows her trail!

I found this story to be an adventure with all the characters involved. Seeing the different points of views and dramas that are in everyone’s lives. It can be entertaining at times and I found it difficult to put down as I kept wanting to find out what happens next. 

Although, with fortune comes fame. With fame comes scandals! You would expect Molly to try to avoid this however, with some people she just spread herself a bit too easily which made her private life easy for the nation to find out about too. 

Yes, she is young and is doing no harm however, after drinking too much you lose your concentration and sleep with people you didn’t even intend on sleeping with and of course drinking too much was the blame to Molly. Well, if that is the case, don’t drink so much if you do not want your story of your personal life in the papers. Just pointing out the fact that her naivety of trusting someone to not steal, gain fame from her shouldn’t be used as an excuse to complain after accepting her decisions. Don’t drink if you’re going to make idiotic decisions that lead to consequences like that. 

Apart from that, I enjoyed the message of being kind. Truly kind of not expecting anything in return. All she wanted to do was spread her wealth to those that really needed it without asking. 

4/5 stars 

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Pros and Cons of Having Two Jobs

Last summer, when I originally wrote this post however I never got around to posting it. It was around a few weeks into having two jobs I thought this would be a great discussion!

I had recently came into a full time job, was in the process of quitting my part-time job. Then accepting a new part-time job on top of it as I was applying for everywhere. So, I thought why not? Let’s see how this will go. I was working over 60 hours per week over the summer on average.

Here is the post as it was written during the time, enjoy.

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To make money, you obviously have to work for it. At least, that is how most people see it. So far, from a personal point of view it has only been a few weeks but I’ve already found some pros and cons.

Let’s start with the cons:

  1. Stress comes into everyone’s lives at different times. However, when working two jobs, that stress can build on any other stress you have. Having to deal with two completely different jobs and people at the same time can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it is okay to take a step back and breathe. Knowing you do not have time for many of the activities you were able to do before because of two jobs can also add stress and make you feel overwhelmed, but it is okay. After working two jobs for about a month now, I’m still stressed and overwhelmed with the amount of activities I still need to get done. It’s just a matter of taking it one step at a time.
  2. Less time for yourself. With two jobs, chances are you are going to be working literally every single day, with the exception of requesting days off. You barely have time to do anything you really want to do. You are pressed for time, day in and day out. When I wake up every morning, I only have time to get up and get ready for work. Then, when I get home, I eat my dinner, prepare anything I’ll need for the next day, shower and go to sleep. The odd evening you may have free and find yourself wondering what to do with your time since you’re used to always being busy!
  3. Worn out. Between working everyday and sometimes working doubles, one can easily be worn out. Having two jobs can really drain you of your energy. Standard 9am-5:30pm and late nights will make you lose sleep, causing you to be more tired. The more and more tired you are, the more irritable you may become. It is best to try your hardest to get the most sleep you can every night. 

Pros

  1. Job skills. Not only is this good on a CV, but it will give you a chance to figure out more skills you have in certain areas of work. This will also give you more experience in the work field and help you build your resume. People want to hire others with experience and having said experience will help you overall in getting a well paid job in the area you want to be in.
  2. Money. Everyone wants to make money and with two jobs, it’s just well… double that amount. And let’s be real, everyone wants more money. Having more money will help you be able to pay bills, if any, or really help you save up quicker for something you want.
  3. New people. If you are a person that enjoys keeping yourself busy as well as meeting new people of all sorts this will DEFINITELY be a pro!

Having two jobs has its ups and downs, but as long as you are strong-willed and determined, you will be able to handle both at the same time and love that moment you tap into your bank account every time you get paid. It all really depends on who you are as a person to see if you will be able to handle it and see if it is really worth it.

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BookClub Reads: You are a bad ass : how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life

Plot:

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it now.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

Review:

First, I would like to say that this novel is very positive and helps towards positive thinking, especially if you happen to read it when you’re having a difficult week. This novel like a few self-help / life novels I’ve read this year has captivated my attention and inspires me to question life, actions, and innovation.

Some of my favourite quotes in this read:

Most people are living in an illusion based on someone else’s beliefs

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration

The universe will match whatever vibration you put out. And you can’t fool the universe

Any sort of mental barriers that are holding you back from achieving your goals is who this novel is for. Therefore, it applies to everyone at some stages in their lives. I enjoyed the American language that was clear to see as well as the idea of the universe and how the law of attraction is how you get your way. It is true! despite those that may be narrow-minded and not see that this is the case in how you change your way of thinking to get what you want. Like if you see yourself not living in your current Town and see yourself living a city, your thoughts will make it happen. This novel was more clear in how you get there.

5/5 Stars

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Strawberry Flavoured Water – Underrated

Strawberry water looks so pretty. I’m a sucker for pretty things in general!

It is also so delicious.

I never really thought too much about it until a trip recently. As well as being told it isn’t too strong of a flavour – just an extra element. So I tried it on my trip away since there wasn’t much point buying dilute for a few days away. I also realised there is really good benefits to it as well as its taste!

Immune System / Preventing Inflammation – Even if you have a very strong immune system it does not hurt to continue improving it! The anti-inflammatory properties of strawberries help protect your cells from damage as well as helping the immune system fight off an infection (currently still trying out this benefit as my mixture sore throat type infection I have has not disappeared completely). However, apparently the strawberries help as bacterial or viral infections can cause a high level of inflammation, this slows down your immune system here preventing it from becoming well again. Eating a lot of strawberries can speed recovery. 

Minimise Appetite – High Fibre content. Strawberries can absorb water and slow down digestive processes while expanding the stomach. This sends multiple signals to the brain, reducing cravings. 

Lower Blood Pressure – Strawberries has many benefits for your heart, one being it being that it lowers your blood pressure which could improve on your overall health. 

This drink is now my new favourite for daily use! What type of drinks do you drink for a bit of flavour?

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Book Review: The Library Book

Plot:

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.

Review:

This novel beings as a memoir in which we learns about the author’s introduction to books and libraries by her mother. As an adult, Orlean was brought to the LA Central Branch library by her son’s school project. During this visit, Orlean learned about the destruction of the LA Central Branch by fire in 1986. She wondered why had she never heard about this event.

The memoir slowly turns into a crime investigation. The fire occurred on April 29, 1986. It burned for over 7 hours. More than twenty people were injured and over fifty firefighters hospitalised. One million books were damaged, some beyond repair and other contents of the library destroyed irreparably. Fire investigators from both the LA Fire Department and the Federal Department of ATF concluded that the conflagration was caused by arson.

This is the story of a library that is more than just places for the storage of books. The LA Central Branch, has become a learning centre for new immigrants, refuge for the homeless and so fourth. It is a place for everyone. Who would want to destroy such a place?

I found myself intrigued by the diversity of the collection of novels it has as well as learning more on how a library is run as it is the place of novels for everyone so of course, as a reader it is interesting to read about.

Another element of this novel is that it is a romance – a love of books. Books not only teach, but transform our worlds. Libraries provide the raw material for our knowledge and transformation be that through hardbacks, paperbacks, e-books and so fourth. I loved this quote: “a library is a place that doesn’t belong to me, but feels like mine…marvellous and exceptional.”

This novel is for all readers alike as you will become captivated by the story and the author’s passion of books which we can all relate to in some way.

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: Daisy Jones & the Six

Plot:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

Review:

This is a unique book. It is not terribly deep but the story pulls you in and tries to make you care a lot.

The writing is odd. It reads more as a script. This novel is written as a set as a series of interviews years after the events retelling the story of the band. The interviews are stitched together to create the story arc. As for the characters, they annoyed me as they are very cliché. You have the; cool diva star, controlling and flawed band leader, difficult lead guitarist, annoying bassist, and wacky drummer. However despite all of this ,they formed well together as a group.

I don’t really have many thoughts on this novel maybe I am just not a band-reading person. However I will say it is probably a great read for those that love these types of novels.

2/5 Stars.

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New Schedule

So, a little update on how my new current schedule will be as I am currently in the middle of a few things. 

For a student that travels quite often during her final year of her University studies I somehow manage to maintain excellent marks as well as maintaining an online schedule for both my blog and instagrams. As well as undertaking important networking events through my University as well as my part time job and growing as a person in my spare time. 

I have had a good schedule of this so far however, I need some sort of break. Between trying to always read a book within a week and writing detailed reviews it can be difficult to manage all of this that I have going on therefore, there are two solutions, to pack it in for a short while or to minimise my posts. 

After this month I am aiming to read two new books per month as well as discussions on my the topics of my thoughts. Along with the occasional recipe and life post as I have been to quite a few places this season. 

The reason for this now? 

Between, focusing on the beginning of the start of the next chapter in my life which will eventually bring new found freedom in a new place for a good bit of my time currently – I have to put more focus on that as well as my new graduate position which both in itself are new challenges. 

I was going through some of my writings and discovered a post I had made last summer about having two jobs, one being a full time job and another being part-time and the pro’s and con’s so I will be uploading that later on this month. I am also taking time to focus more on my writing which I hopefully can talk about more so towards the end of this year.

What are your goals for this month?

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Book Review: The Night Tiger

Plot:

When 11-year-old Ren’s master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth, unable to rest in peace.

Ji Lin always wanted to be a doctor, but as a girl in 1930s Malaysia, apprentice dressmaker is a more suitable occupation. Secretly, though, Ji Lin also moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her beloved mother’s Mahjong debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir: a severed finger. Convinced the finger is bad luck, Ji Lin enlists the help of her erstwhile stepbrother to return it to its rightful owner.

As the 49 days tick down, and a prowling tiger wreaks havoc on the town, Ji Lin and Ren’s lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. Propulsive and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love. Braided through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.

Review:

This novel is based on a murder mystery set in Malaya in the 1930s. There is a LOT of superstitions about death which is mentioned in this novel. 

Character wise: Choo has her characters named after the five Confucian Virtues and their stories are brought together by fate. From the start, we are told one of the main characters Ren has a dead twin brother Yi. Ten is the virtue of humanity. Yi is righteousness. Ji Lin is named for knowledge/wisdom. I thought the retelling of dreams would be interesting however I did find the writing style could have been improved for the – not older audience but for those that need attention to detail. 

Ren is orphan who’s master is a dying British doctor who leaves a mission for Ren – to find his lost finger and bury it with the doctor within 49 days or his master’s soul will never be at peace. 

Ji Lin works in a dance hall (moonlighting at night) as she is trying to pay off her mother’s debt. One of the guys she dances with gives her a glass vial with a finger in it. This guy died shortly after. 

Choo’s plot intertwines the fate of these two characters. These characters are interesting the way they are described and written however the length of this novel did put me off at times. The novel shows an overlap of the British colonial rule on an Eastern society at this time as well as an ancient culture in which values are sometimes at odds with modern life. I like how Choo created a detailed environment that shows the ancient superstitions and how they can live with modern medicine and policing. 

3/5 Stars


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BookClub Reads: Sweet Tooth

Plot:

Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist as far as I am aware. This novel is the ultimate seduction. 

Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.” 

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one. 

Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self.

Review:

I enjoyed this novel. With McEwan, the novels are about the; writing, words, and the power of words. It is a lot to take in, but it is worth it.

Serena is a young woman whom stumbles into her new career. By stumbles I mean she is ‘groomed’ into it by an older man, a teacher who has actually brain washed her to do everything he wanted. I did not like that Serena spent a good portion of the start of this novel going on about this creep. Yes, it is naive and easy to see how she was manipulated as she is reflecting upon her younger years at the start of the novel. However, how foolish she was! I wish I could shake her at times.

Later on, she hopes for an assignment that will extend past the usual fate for MI5’s women of secretarial work. 1972, it does not seem too long ago, yet from these descriptions it seems like a much longer time difference. The repeated theme of how women cannot possibly have high-powered careers past filing. Yet, one of the women in the MI5 office is moving up fast through the ranks, and Serena notes that eventually Millie would become director of MI5.

It was interesting to learn that the setting of this novel is not so fictional. There have always been various arms-length or secret funding of arts organisations and individuals that will promote views sympathetic to those of the ruling classes.

Overall, I really enjoyed this read, it was very insightful and gripping. Definite must read.

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: Ivy Lane

Plot:

Tilly Parker needs a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude if she is ever to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she seeks out peace and quiet in a new town, taking on a plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution.

But the friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and gradually draw Tilly in to their cosy, comforting world of planting seedlings, organizing bake sales and planning seasonal parties.

As the seasons pass, will Tilly learn to stop hiding amongst the sweetpeas and let people back into her life – and her heart?

Review:

Someone that doesn’t know about gardening – be prepared to convert. Even in the slightest. Bramley makes it sound so fun and interesting. To sum it up, gardening is about hard work, reward for patience, accomplishment, peacefulness, and a sense of community. 

Bramley is creating a build up – slow that for some it can be difficult to see. However it is most noticeable when Tilly puts on a dress for the first time in almost two years and is awaiting to tell her best friend about her past (James) however of course there is a sudden delay. 

Cathy draws out all sorts of emotions, annoyance at Charlie at one point for how he behaved towards Tilly. Love towards some for friendship and love. Sadness for some characters. I really enjoy Bramley’s writing style. I cannot find a fault with it. 

I love how the folks at Ivy Lane got judgemental, even Tilly when some people arrive later on the seasons however, following some good advice Tilly learns to trust and not judge after hearing some peoples stories. Even bringing back characters we have not met, with their background story we are reminded to not judge so harshly on people. 

I really enjoyed this book throughout and my journey with Tilly throughout her development. I cannot find any faults with this book, 5 stars and to my favourites it is.

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Book Review: The Sea

Sunset Reads

Plot:

In this luminous new novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory, John Banville introduces us to Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child to cope with the recent loss of his wife. It is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of this elegiac, gorgeously written novel among the finest we have had from this masterful writer.”

Review:

Max Morden is a recent widower working through his relationship with his wife, Anna, and with his daughter, Claire, whilst trying to understand some events from his childhood. I found myself wading through descriptions in order to get on to the story. This for me was rather annoying as I found myself becoming impatient at the author. However, Max Morden was a man very confused about love. His relationship with his wife was not perfect, nor was it broken. Max loves his daughter, but does not know how to express his love for her.

I did enjoy how the story moves back and forth through time and events, relatively easily. Showing Max’s shifting thoughts and attention. I enjoyed the elegance of Banville’s writing style, although I found it broke up in too many parts therefore, never really found the rhythm in the writing style which is the true enjoyment for me. Overall, I had mixed feelings for my response to The Sea as Max Morden was about love. This was my first by Banville so maybe another novel might help.

3/5 Stars


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Cucumber Snacks + Benefits

Delicious and healthy snack!

I wasn’t sure of cucumbers for the longest time. Then the idea began to appeal to me as I realised it is mainly made from water. Plus everyone goes on about the benefits of how it is great for your skin.

What else is there to cucumber?

  • Aids weight-loss / metabolism
  • Helps maintain your blood sugar level
  • Helps the liver to reduce impurities if your liver is weak then these snacks would help.
  • Good for your eye health (on that side note, apparently if you eat anything red/pink-ish for a few months it is to improve your eyesight, have yet to try that)
  • Contains Silcia which helps strengthen weakened bones which I have noticed it helping slightly with my knee, which has been far more useful than prescribed pills I have noticed recently

And many more. However those ones caught my attention. as well as keeping your face glowing and all that.

What snack do you usually go for?

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Power Lips Colour

Lip colour that can do it all, at last.

This long-lasting lip colour contains a blend of skin-conditioning ingredients to help sooth and smooth the lips.

Infused with Sueded Comfort Cushion, Powerlips Fluid’s high-performance weightless formula cushions your lips. Hence the soft feeling.

If you are looking for a lip colour that honestly does not smudge or move throughout the day this is the actual product.

I didn’t believe I would actually find a decent lip product as I can be quite fussy to have perfect lips.

Benefits:

  • Soft lips
  • Light + silky, non-stick resistant consistency
  • Weightless formula
  • Includes Kaolin (Natural clay base that supports rich, long-lasting colour.
  • Layers nicely for highlighting or contouring
  • Available in colours specially developed for all skin tones and ethnicities.

How to:

As you can see from my video demonstration, begin on bare lips, line them slightly with the applicator, then fill lips in completely. Tip, for a smooth appearance, prepare your lips firstly by using a moisturising lip balm, wait until it is dry before applying the lip colour.

More tips for extending its wear:

  • Avoid oily foods and glosses for the longest wear
  • Sheer effect – try applying colours on your lips with a makeup brush
  • Contour and shape lips by applying a darker base layer and letting it dry. Then, apply a lighter (or more metallic) colour on top for a round, plump-lip look

Key Ingredients:

  • Vitamin E: Conditions and softens the skin while delivering antioxidant benefits
  • Beeswax: Soothes and conditions skin
  • Avocado Oil: Softens skin
  • Kaolin: Natural clay base that supports rich, long-lasting colour

Q+A

What makes Powerlips Fluid different from other liquid lip colours?

It has been specially formulated to be a powerful, long-lasting lip colour that also softens and soothes your skin. It is also formulated with our proprietary Sueded Comfort Cushion to cushion your lips, giving them a soft, suede-like texture. With Powerlips you can be confident that no other brands offer you these unique lip shades. Dermatologically tested, these keep your lips looking and feeling fabulous.

Is applying Powerlips Fluid difficult?

As it is weightless, non-stick and transfer-resistant formula, Powerlips can be easily applied anywhere, anytime.

How long does it take to dry when applied?

Depends on how many layers you have applied, as well as the shade used. Light shades tend to dry faster. If you’re only using one colour it should take about two minutes.

If you would like to order or find out more information please contact me on CCLaVieCo@gmail.com

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Book Review: The Summer House By The Sea

Plot:

Nestled on the Spanish coast, bustling café Estrella features in every one of Ava Brown’s happiest memories. It’s where she tasted her first delectably-chocolatey churros, fell head-over-heels for her first crush – where she has been her happiest. So the chance to spend one last summer in her grandmother’s house, is one Ava can’t refuse.

Once the heart of the sleepy seaside village, the café now feels more ramshackle than rustic. It’s time to bring back the lethally strong sangria and mouth-wateringly delicious tapas – and before Ava knows it, she’s thrown herself into bringing the café back to life – a summer project her grandmother would be proud of!

But once summer is over, can Ava really say goodbye to Spanish seaside life? Or could this be the new beginning Ava didn’t realise she needed…

Review:

This novel revolves around a family; Rory Fisher, wife Claire, their son Max & Ava, Rorys’ sister.
It’s about them & others, finding theirselves, realising their true potential & dealing with their baggage. It’s nice finding-your-self-story by the beach to read.
The Fishers’ think they’re so happy, have everything, well satisfied, until their Aunt dies. Ava goes to Spain to deal with their inheritance & rekindles memories of time spent, with her Aunt. Whilst there, she returns to Café Estrella, that she remembers from her childhood, to find it run down & lacking in customers, with a new cafe a few feet away, that is thriving. 
It’s there she meets all the characters of the café & keeps her going back. 
Not long later, Rory & Max join Ava in Spain & things start to change for everyone. I found it to be a nice read although it did drag for me at times which always makes it difficult to finish. Worth a read though for a nice sunny afternoon!

3/5 Stars from me.

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Book Review: The Little Cafe in Copenhagen

Plot:

Welcome to the little cafe in Copenhagen where the smell of cinnamon fills the air and the hot chocolate is as smooth as silk.

Publicist Kate Sinclair’s life in London is everything she thought she wanted: success, glamour and a charming boyfriend. Until that boyfriend goes behind her back and snatches a much sought-after promotion from her.Heartbroken and questioning everything, Kate needs to escape.

Leaving behind rush hour and late nights in the office for a city break in beautiful Copenhagen, Kate discovers how to live life ‘the Danish way’. From candles and cosy nights in to the easy smiles of tall, gorgeous Vikings and eating your body weight in pastries (ok, that’s just her), the city offers her a new perspective.

Can the secrets of hygge and happiness lead her to her own happily-ever-after?

Review originally written in December 2018:

I found this cute book in a charity shop at the start of summer, how has it taken me this long to finally be in the mood to read it?!

This novel is so heart-warming and funny. If you do not know what Hygge (hoo-ga pronunciation apparently) is then be sure you will learn a lot about Danish life and how Hygge is an important aspect of Denmark’s culture!

Hygge to sum up encourages you to drink tea, eat chocolate, make pastries, cosy up next to a fire with a good book with lots of lamps and light type of lights, and cosy throws. 

This novel is about a London based publicist – Kate Sinclair, who is career focused and missed out on a promotion due to her at-the-time boyfriend took from under her. In order to prove herself, she is tasked with the assignment of taking five unruly journalists to Denmark to promote the opening of a new store and experience the world of Hygge. 

All of the characters are well rounded. Caplin shows us the difficulties the characters are going through even though they put on a front, and a solution with friendship being a big part of it. 

The reason this novel lost a star – being a bit repetitive and exhausting with the sight-seeing commentary; the constant historical references which made it seem I am reading a travel novel rather than a fictional story. As well as at times I felt like shaking Kate at the beginning of the novel in times with reference to Josh her ex. 

However, with that being said, there is plenty of humour and romance to keep the story entertaining. Caplin’s warm and gentle writing style makes it easy for an enjoyable read.

4/5 Stars

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Best Gelato in Paris?

This place is known to be the best in Paris. However to gain such a famous title you should at least take into consideration the working environment and leadership that has come with it.

When it comes to running a successful business we are told that for a business to meet its aims and objectives it should have good leadership, being an authentic leader by having empathy and well as achieving your goals. However, when bad leadership is passed down the chain of authority it can be easy to mistaken. When you’re hiring people for a business it is key to hire people that meet your business’s goals. Those just in it for a job to pass the time could be a complete and utter ignorant person we will say.

Paris & Gelato.

Paris in general.

Paris is a tourist destination. Therefore when you visit a tourist based market (Rue Cler Market) you should be aware of the culture in any work environment. If it is known to be a tourist destination with the most common language (after Chinese) being English, should not be rude to those who speak English as their native language.

I have read reviews on Trip Advisor of the Amorino in Rue Cler Market and a lot of people are complaining about the same girl.

I get it if you are getting a job for money, but to work in a cultured based destination and to be that rude to English speakers?

What kind of hiring process is that? To have that much judgement towards tourists just because they speak English. Whoever does the hiring needs to have a better look as reputations can have a fall due to poor error in judgement. It does look like a nice gelato, it was okay however they should have waiting signs of how long it will be until you get served in that particular line – very small shop. 55 minute wait.

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BookClub Reads: A Room with a View


Plot:

“But you do,” he went on, not waiting for contradiction. “You love the boy body and soul, plainly, directly, as he loves you, and no other word expresses it …”

Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her, until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.

Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart?

Review:

OKAY, DEFINITE FAVOURITE!

A Room with a View is the story of Lucy Honeychurch, who unwittingly enters into a picture perfect love triangle after vacationing in Italy. Forster does such a fantastic job with describing the scenery that I had one of those rare experiences where I completely forgot where I was and came to, wondering why my surroundings were my living room and not a veranda with a spectacular view of Italian landscapes.

Here’s a snippet of a cultural description that transported me:

“He knew the people who never walked about with Baedekers, who had learnt to take a siesta after lunch, who took drives pension tourists had never heard of, and saw by private influence galleries which were closed to them. Living in delicate seclusion, some in furnished flats, others in Renaissance villas on Fiesole’s slope, the read, wrote, studied, and exchanged ideas, thus attaining to that intimate knowledge, or rather perception, of Florence which is denied to all who carry in their pockets the coupons of Cook.” (p. 48)

As for the story itself, I was on a whirlwind of emotions with this one. Young and unaware of even her own feelings, Lucy’s emotions is intense to the reader. I won’t go into too much details however, A Room with a View manages to weave a tale that leaves no stone unturned. The betrayal by someone was very intense that my stomach was in knots.

Oh, since I play the piano from time to time I really appreciated the music references: “Like every true performer, she was intoxicated by the mere feel of the notes: they were fingers caressing her own; and by touch, not by sound alone, did she come to her desire”

That said – GO READ THIS BOOK! It is a great read where every page is savoury to hold on to, to take your time in reading as you do not want it to end. I already cannot wait to read this again.

“It is a wonderful opportunity, the possession of leisure.”

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Comfort of Strangers

Morning Reads

Plot:

As their holiday unfolds, Colin and Maria are locked into their own intimacy. They groom themselves meticulously, as though there waits someone who cares deeply about how they appear. Then they meet a man with a disturbing story to tell and become drawn into a fantasy of violence and obsession.

Review: 

I’ve heard many great things about McEwan, so when I saw a few of his novels, this one captured my interest however I was not fully satisfied. 

A lot of people have commented how this novel contains physiological elements however I have found it to be a drag at times. This novel is focused on a couple, Colin and Mary. An English couple away on a vacation. At first, it took me a while to get into it as the story can be quite repetitive with the introduction of the strangers. After a few days in the beautiful Venice, this couple has went from becoming sick of each other to falling in love again. 

I am still trying to understand how this novel is so dark. Yes, this couple is unhappy until a random encounter with odd Robert at first along with his darling wife Caroline. Even though the characters annoyed me at the beginning, the way it is written captivated me to continue reading to find out what happens despite the plot. Yes, it is dark at times but I would not say it would be amongst the darkest of books (compared to the Flowers in the Attic series, Forbidden – those type of novels). I’m not too sure what to think of this author at this point in time. However Sweet Tooth looks intriguing so I cannot wait to read this next month. 

3/5 Stars

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Cinnamon Rolls – Vegan Friendly

Delicious + Vegan friendly treat? Does this sound appetising? Read on for my recipe!

So a few weeks ago a friend pointed me in the right direction as I needed a new recipe as this year I am trying to stick to trying a new recipe every month which is actually involves more effort than you’d think! 

I have tried a few recipes that claim to be ‘amazing’ and ‘the best’ however between my lack of experience in baking as well as lack of knowledge in how do kneed and so on properly, the recipes were not coming out right and some that did – did not taste nice however! With a good few (okay, at least half a dozen tries) in the last few weeks I have finally managed to find the perfect combination! 

One of the many sets of my ingredient trying times!

I am combining the ingredients followed by the instructions together as I think this would make the process of making this far easier:

1st Set for the base of this delicious snack: 

  • 2 cups almond milk (room temperate) (480 ml)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup Sugar (ensure vegan friendly)
  • 1 packet of Yeast  
  • Self-rising Flour (read below)

Mix the above ingredients together in a bowl, then let it sit for 5 whole minutes for the ingredients to combine and mix well. 

Next add 5 cups of flour (690g) to this mix and 1 teaspoon of salt. Then mix!

Once it has all formed together as one whole, whether you need to add more milk or flour. 

Cover it with a towel and place in a warm place as best as you can to allow it to have the best chance of rising as high as it possibly can.

Once the ingredients have been compiled, let it rise for an hour!

2nd Set for the filling (choose either or)

Do not use both at once! I prefer the second version as it is a-lot less messy and sticky however both ways are tasty.

During this hour wait, prepare your filling with one of the following ways: 

1st Way:

  • 1 cup of Softened dates
  • Water to cover
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla 
  • Sprinkle some cinnamon on it
  • Blender and pulse motion until a smooth caramel forms and becomes lighter in colour

2nd and the alternative way would be in the next step

Now when your 1st step’s hour is up, add 1/2 (about 115 mls) of flour over it. Mix it together to make it less sticky. 

Then spread some flour on the countertop, lift your dough out and kneed it (which is like massaging it in my opinion about 8-15 times). 

Roll it out with a rolling pin, until it is almost flat, then spread the coconut oil as your alternative to butter, out all over the dough, sprinkle 1 cup of brown sugar over it and spread the 2 table spoons of cinnamon all over it. 

Then gently roll it up from the bottom – not too tightly as you want to give it room to breathe and expand. 

2nd (and easier) Way Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup coconut oil (170 g)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar (165 g)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Then once its rolled up slice it in the middle, then in the middle’s middle and so on until you have your 10-20 slices. 

Okay I’m not the best at cutting – but I am improving!

Roll each slice to the side, put in container or oven tray, put cling film over it and let it rest for 30 minutes. 

Then they are ready for the oven!

Bake them for 350 F or 180 C for 25-30 minutes, you will know by the colour of them when they are ready or if they need more time depending on your oven type. 

Now! Towards the end of them cooking, if you would like to make some icing: 

1 cup of Powdered sugar 

2 table spoon of almond milk 

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla 

Mix with a fork 

And add on top of your rolls when they are ready. 

Viola! I did use the icing method but they are delicious whether you choose to make them with or without !


I hope this recipe becomes helpful for some, I found it quite delicious once I have perfected it.

C x

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Book Review: The Bell Jar

Plot:

Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. 

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.

Review:

I only found about this classic from “The Gilmore Girls” TV show because Rory was reading it and I was curious enough to Google it. I’m glad I did because I probably wouldn’t have picked it up then.

This novel is relatable to those who have experienced/experience depression and feelings of not knowing what to do- feeling lost, inadequate and defeated. 

This novel was emotive through describing facets and experiences of depression. It describes the descending of mental illness, particularly that of depression, in a young woman.

Esther Greenwood, is a young woman from Boston, and is granted an internship at an elite magazine therefore she moves to NYC. It is clear she has it all: designer clothes, dining, and handsome men doting on her. But Esther finds none of these things exciting and struggles to fit in.

Upon returning to Massachusetts, Esther was told that she was not accepted to a writing course she had hoped for. She attempts to write a novel however this did not help.

Eventually, Esther has sunk deep into depression. Sylvia Plath’s writing style gives a small glimpse into the reality of depression and what it can provoke people to do, suicide attempts being one of them. As the novel is based on Plath’s life, it is clear that Esther is trying to escape a world she feels unwelcome in, like that of her author. Esther’s mother prompts her to see a psychiatrist. The doctor recommends shock therapy—a traumatic experience—and she is sent to a mental institution.

As Esther’s mental state worsens—she finds it impossible to read, sleep, write, or eat

Her depression is described as a “feeling of being trapped under a bell jar, unable to breathe.” After a few suicide attempts and her presumed kidnapping. Later on, in the mental institution, therapy uses the metaphorical bell jar, and the reader can see Esther beginning to act more like herself, as she’s given different freedoms, like staying overnight with her friend.

What I found to be more heartbreaking than the novel itself was that its writer, Sylvia Plath. As she had committed suicide at the age of thirty. The ending of The Bell Jar made me think she had overcame this however clearly something must have happened during the time leading up to this. I think she was not going to kill herself but something at the end must have triggered her as she did want to be here.

Although it’s recognised a classic, The Bell Jar deserves more attention by far; in fact, I would love to see a good movie adaption that does this novel justice.

I think this is now my favourite novel, I love Plath’s writing style so much.

5/5 Stars

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Trip to the Louvre Museum!

During my trip to France, I knew that I needed to visit the Louvre whilst in Paris, simply because it is the greatest repository of cultural artifacts and treasures in the world. 

From the very beginning of my trip, I had my heart set on viewing its extensive collection of artifacts including getting a glimpse of the Mona Lisa and some of the other famous Renaissance works.

THE Mona Lisa

Before entering the Louvre, I already knew that it was a large museum, situated in a beautiful old palace of some sort. I knew that it was quite a famous place and therefore, it would certainly have many tourists within it. I expected it to possess many different exhibits and collections filled with fascinating items from around the world.

Yes, you hear many great things about the Louvre however, this has been brought to a new level of greatness. It is not the best or the most enjoyable (SO many people) but in terms of it being a museum that has everything.

The amount of  different collections within the Louvre including Greco-Roman world and the European Renaissance, exhibits on ancient Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt, as well as medieval Europe, the Islamic world and so on. The size of this place has all granted the Louvre an enormous, world-wide fame that causes hundreds or even thousands of tourists from around the world to descend upon it everyday.

The Louvre, is a mixed blessing; the size, scale, and number of its collections. However, in particular, the enduring cultural impact of the pieces held within tell us that it most definitely deserves a visit from anyone claiming to appreciate culture.

At the same time, the Louvre’s fame is such that it seems to be eternally filled with an uncomfortable number of people, all squeezing together in an effort just to earn a glimpse of this or that famous painting or sculpture. This problem of crowding is so severe that the museum is littered with signs warning visitors to beware of pickpockets.

It is possible at times to find a quieter, emptier room: a perfect opportunity to collect your thoughts and to recharge for the next, more crowded room. However, there is always a continuous flow of people throughout the museum. The massive queues to see some statues or to even use the rest rooms.

Overall, I found the Louvre to be an amazing place, but the enjoyment of the experience was lessened by the number of people inside it. 

The Louvre was not exactly a relaxing, quiet environment in which I could really contemplate the great works of art and culture around me.

What I have said about the sheer scale of the Louvre is also true in respect to its architecture: to house its large collections, the museum requires a massive building. The Louvre is so large that it a visitor will have to walk great distances just to get from one place to another.

The building itself is quite beautiful.

This would not ordinarily be a big problem, but the issue comes from the fact that the Louvre is a renovated medieval palace, not a brand-new modern building. Its layout has not been designed with modern sensibilities in mind. Rather, it is an old historical structure that is almost like a giant maze.

If you decide to visit the Louvre, you will be walking quite a bit, however, may also have a bit of trouble figuring out how to get to particular exhibits in the museum. I found myself going back and forth along different hallways and through various exhibits searching for the right elevator.

The aesthetic design of the museum is excellent: the medieval architecture of these old palace halls is beautiful, and the famous glass pyramid adds a nice touch of modernity to the overall image of the Louvre. However, I must say that the Louvre’s design falls short in the functional sense simply because of how hard it was to get around and find the exhibits that I wanted to see.

Beneath the pyramid:

The function design of the Louvre has another flaw: the glass pyramid. It is beautiful, yes, but beneath the summer sun, it acts essentially as a giant greenhouse, so that visitors entering through the pyramid are subjected to an intense, scorching heat.


One more thing: although some signs are in English, many of the detailed descriptions of particular items are in French. Make sure to read up on the certain famous items you wish to see beforehand, to avoid language issues and to provide a bit of context when you finally reach the room containing, for example, the Mona Lisa.

For those wanting to visit the Louvre, plan ahead. Know from the start what items and exhibits you want to see. GET a map and carefully follow it to get to where you want to go. Pace yourself and take plenty of breaks to maintain your energy (I wish I read up on these things before hand. You would be able to make the most of your visit if you do this 😊

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How to be Organised and Complete a Task

Okay for anyone who tends to be a student, at this time of year it can be very stressful. So I hope this post is still helpful as I would have needed a little guide like this between September to March. However, when my friend asked me how do I do my assignments I thought right this can also be a planner and organiser guide as a schedule to get things accomplished!

My cute diary planner!

I have both a physical planner as well as using my Notes app and a notebook all for different reasons but they link in together, and they are very cute!

If you are like me where you have too many ideas to even keep track of it can be difficult sometimes even when you do come across as very organised so I have to write everything out in my Notes app in order to keep the thoughts in my read from becoming intertwined and difficult to keep up with.

So the following is a little list of steps of what I do when I have an assignment;

  • First, look at the deadline the report is due: 26th April. Make a ‘Deadlines’ note on your note app or notebook of everything you have due in that order .i.e mine is: 
So many deadlines to keep up with!
  • Next, keep reading over what you are asked to do as it can be overwhelming to know exactly what is asked before you actually begin to get your head around what you have to do so refer to the handbook and criteria of how your getting marked on the report
  • To sum up it says: 3,000 words – designed to assess all module learning outcomes. (Now remember your slides each week states the learning outcomes) Keep this in mind for later on)

Question: You will choose one title from a choice of problem/practice based case examples. You will undertake a strategic analysis of the case example and make recommendations about a leadership and strategic management problem using learning from the module and evidence from reliable sources.

Specifically, you are asked to: 

  • Outline and critically evaluate relevant theory and academic literature related to leadership and strategy
  • Critically assess the case study in relation to the problem/practice case presented 
  • Undertake a critical evaluation in order to make informed, appropriate and realistic recommendations

  • If unsure of actual keywords underlined of what their asking you for then look it up as sometimes it does not mean go on and on about a topic 
  • Read over the case study and/or question you are asked to do. 
  • Spend time gaining the research needed for it. 
  • I always start then by roughly what needs to be in the assignment and look at the mark scheme and whatever it says in the 80-100 bracket I try to do which is usually: exceptional research and reading and critically evaluating the points and giving various examples, dont just put the examples in but explain them, also try not to use the word ‘I’ remember. How does your example relate back to the question of the report, does it show any contrast? Dont be afraid to disagree with the points it asks. 
  • The deadline isn’t for a good while and there is other reports that should be your main priority for now but research this report over the weeks but pay more attention to the other reports/deadlines remember but never forget about them for any week
  • How are you starting the introductionary paragraph/page? To go into it. Then the main body of having your points across each and every one. 
  • Link it with references throughout whatever way your School/Uni/College/Etc does it as these small marks can be vital. My 3k report last term had 20+ references. Some lecturers are more specific and clear on what they want. i.e. for report she said the standard is cover page, contents, executive summary, broken into parts 1, 2, and 3 and appendix. 
  • Read over it, add diagrams, find out what kind of lecturer they are such as; are they more visual or theory based and do not forget every image you add to say figure 1, etc label them and talk about them as they don’t like when its just thrown in there 
  • Keep going over the final touches of it before submitting it. Also aim to have it completed at the very minimum 1 week before its due, I try for 2 weeks it really depends if the lecturer keeps changing their mind on how they want it laid out and so on. 

What is your organisation like when it comes to anything you have to prepare for? I hope this post helps

C x

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Book Review: The Old Man & The Sea


Plot:

The last novel Ernest Hemingway saw published, The Old Man and the Sea has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.

Review:

This is a very short story, one that is considered, his best novel. I can’t go on and say it’s the best one, as I haven’t read them all. I’ve been reading a-lot of great literary reads this month and it actually can be overwhelming. However, what I can say, this novel is brilliant.

Hemingway starts off with a simple story, of an old fisherman and his fish. Turns the story into an ode to life’s struggles. The way he does that is so natural; it’s brilliant.

“He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.” It reminds me slightly of Fitzgerald’s writing style. As a lot is said in fewer lines. 

He doesn’t build the psychology of the characters using dialogs or external narrators like most writers would. He lets you create the sense of each protagonist using how they behave and act. Just like in real life. I would argue that’s the reason why Hemingway makes you feel you can change his characters.

It is a novel that, despite being short, walks you through the perfect story arch. 

By the end of the read, you can feel the sea breeze on your skin, feel the desperation, the loneliness, the fight and the decay of age. “Fish,” the old man said. “Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me too?”

I cannot recommend this book enough. Not that much from a story perspective, which in and of itself is rather simple, but from the technical side, which is an exercise on concise and extraordinary prose.

5/5 Stars

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Important Qualities in a Person

What are the important qualities in a person you should be looking for? Some would say loyalty & trust and it does not matter of the other details as long as they are honest and loyal.

I don’t agree with this. 

Why?

Because they are not the only important qualities. 

Someone of your level, of your standard that is on the same page about majority of things create common interest and differences which helps you question things in life. You need to be challenged as well as having similar interests. 

For example, how would a motivated person deal with being with someone who is not really motivated at all? It would drive the motivated person crazy as they are always organised and so motivated to do a lot in life as they are ambitious. 

If one does not seek to improve themselves then what kind of person are they?

The important qualities in a person is having a similar view on a lot of aspects in life linked in with having similar interests which can become difficult when you are of higher expectations and interests so it can be difficult to even try to find an equal that is not controlling.

Independence is another important quality. You cannot use people as your identity. You, yourself are your own identity therefore it is vital you never forget that as you will not grow as a person. Life is about growing and becoming more, becoming what you are capable of becoming, constantly learning new things, hobbies, facts, gaining knowledge. What is the point in life if you do not do any of those things? If you just sit about and wait for life to happen to you. Waiting for other people to decide. Waiting to save enough to buy a new flashy car, no. It is about learning. Becoming knowledgeable, becoming cultured. Improving upon yourself is interesting and you never run out of things to learn about. 

You need to do things with your life for me to form a real thoughtful opinion. 

C

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Book Review: Eleanor & Park By Rainbow Rowell

Plot: 

Two misfits.

One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Review originally written in April 2014:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is the story of two misfits, Eleanor and Park who meet on a school bus one day. The story takes place in 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska. What was I doing in 1986? This awesome person was not yet born, anyway.

The story opens with Park on the school bus. He notices the new girl-Eleanor coming down the aisle looking for a seat. No one wants to share a seat with her, so Park reluctantly offers his seat. At first they don’t talk to each other. Eleanor refers to Park as stupid Asian kid, and Park thinks that Eleanor is weird. Eleanor has red hair, heavy set, and wears decorative men’s clothes. Eleanor is not trying to make a fashion statement or act like a boy. There is a reason for her abnormal wardrobe.-This is why I love this book, the characters aren’t perfect, they sound real.

Suddenly, Park breaks the ice by loaning his comics to Eleanor. Soon he shares his music, and before you know it they bond over comics and music. An unlikely friendship/relationship develops. Eleanor and Park are smart enough to know that first loves almost never last, but they are willing to try anyway. Eleanor & Park is far from a light and fluffy young adult romance novel where everything works out nice and neatly for them in the end.

The novel deals with abuse, poverty, and race. Eleanor’s family is poor. They only have one car, the kids including Eleanor have to share a room, and they have to buy their clothes at the thrift store. Eleanor can’t even afford a toothbrush or batteries for her walkman. To some readers, this fact alone may seem odd and unrealistic. However, as the story unfolds, readers gain a better understanding of Eleanor’s situation, and how poverty and abuse interact with each other. For Eleanor, having money is a luxury.

Park is mixed race-his mother Korean and his father is white. He is the only Asian student in the school and likely in the state of Nebraska. Park is popular but what sets him apart from the other popular kids is his taste in music and love for comics. Park is not afraid to be seen with Eleanor a.k.a. Big Red by the other students.

The novel takes you on an emotional roller coaster. They bond over comics and 80’s music. Since I love 80’s music I thought that this was so cute. I understood most of the pop culture references. Park doesn’t care that Eleanor has crazy red hair or the fact that she doesn’t look like Barbie. As their relationship develops, you would have thought that they would be together forever, but that would have been fairy tale due to the circumstances.

At some points I thought this sounds too good to be true, in ways it continued to drag to a build up of something terrible that was about to happen. I had this feeling before I got to that point (gut instincts?)

This book is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time! I wasn’t expecting to care so much about these characters and their relationship but I was completely caught up in this story. I feel like I really know both Eleanor and Park, and I love them both separately but I especially love them together. It seemed like their relationship shouldn’t work, but it does, so well. I was grinning like an idiot while reading because I was just so giddy over their blooming romance. I could feel how much they cared for each other like it was oozing off the page.

So overall, I loved this book – the characters, the romance, the writing and just the way everything unfolded so beautifully and felt so real. One of the best contemporary novels I’ve read in a while! 4/5 stars.

4/5 Stars

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Book Review: Johnny Be Good

Plot:

If your boss was the hottest rock star on the planet, would you mix business with pleasure?

I’m Meg Stiles. This is my leaving party. And that song we’re making a mockery of? That’s written by one of the biggest rock stars in the world. And I’m moving in with him tomorrow.

Seriously! I am not even joking. Well, maybe I’m misleading you a little bit. You see, I haven’t actually met him yet…

No, I’m not a stalker. I’m his new PA. His Personal Assistant. And I am off to La-La Land. Los Angeles. The City of Angels—whatever you want to call it—and I can’t bloody believe it!

Celebrity PA to wild boy of rock Johnny Jefferson, Meg’s glam new life in sun-drenched LA is a whirlwind of showbiz parties and backstage passes. Cool, calm Christian, in town to write his famous friend’s biography, helps keep Meg’s feet firmly on the ground. But with Johnny’s piercing green eyes and a body Brad Pitt would kill for, how long will it be before she’s swept right off them again?

Review originally written in December 2018:

‘Normal girl’ becomes PA to a ‘Wild Bad Boy’ type celebrity. 

The main character, Meg is portrayed as naive when it comes to Johnny the wild-boy. It seems quite stereotypical. I mean, how can you fall for someone, and have sex with them multiple times when you see them basically doing it raw with a bunch of easy groupies and actually let them inside you again whilst they are doing this with them ?

Yet I am still inclined to see what happens despite these characters because parts of their characteristics are relatable. 

We usually have that one person you aren’t supposed to fall for but do because you are so attracted to them and they have a way of always drawing you in despite how many times you tell yourself no. If you know what you are getting yourself into and have your line where you do not cross that is at least the more mature action to take.

However if you are in a position where you actually see the guy always doing those actions, why would one who respects themselves put themselves through that? 

I very much disagreed with Meg’s POV that she is the one to change him. A lot of silly girls go for these guys solely due to believing they are ‘the one’ to change them. What sort of message is this to send? This indicates the novel is not maturely written as you can never think you can change anyone; at most influence. The fact Paige is trying to get across the message ‘you can be the one reason, the one person to change someone’ is not an adequate message to send out to readers. Especially the younger audiences. 

One of Johnny’s characteristics that was very annoying: making Meg believe she is very special to him, yet he is torturing her at the same time as he snogs and has sex with girls right in-front of her, then has sex with Meg again and it becomes a cycle. 

On a positive note, I really enjoyed Christian’s character. Johnny’s best friend from England who actually made the story more fun and interesting. I was sad each time he left LA ‘Please, Christian, stay so this book is actually fun!’. 

I did manage to read this book therefore it has gained 3 stars from me as I am keen to find out how their story evolves in Baby Be Mine.

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Book Review: The Rome Affair

Plot:

The glamorous capital city of Italy is brought to startling life in The Rome Affair, a compelling summer novel by Karen Swan.

1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.

2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.

Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.

Review:

SPOILER ALERT: NEW FAVOURITE AUTHOR!

I’ve been looking to read books set in Italy this year, and I’m loving this country more and more. Where else can you get the delights of fantastic food, la dolce vita, romance and ancient history? Karen Swan introduces the reader to the modern Roman life in The Rome Affair through the eyes of Cesca, transplanted from London with a determination for an easier life. She’s a fun heroine to read about, with impassioned principles, a talent for detail and a vintage wardrobe that could be classed as odd or quirky. It’s the kind of read that makes you want to actively seek reading time just so you can learn more about the characters and the mystery surrounding them!

Cesca hides a secret as she pounds the pavement as a tourist guide – one that made her desert her career and leave England. She doesn’t want to talk about it, she just wants to move on. Life in Rome is tight moneywise, but oh so wonderful when it comes to friends and food. (There are quite a few descriptions of lovely Italian meals – from pasta to gelato). But emptying her rubbish one night, she finds a designer handbag in the bin. Looking through it for identifying signs of the owner, she finds an envelope addressed to ‘Elena’. Elena turns out to be no less than the principessa of the enormous palazzo across the square. Cesca’s first meeting with Elena has her intrigued, but her neighbours tell her to stay away. Unfortunately Cesca has no choice but to become Elena’s biographer after she loses her job. At first, it’s enjoyable as she sifts through photographs and memories of the young Laney Valentine, luckiest little girl in America. But how did Laney become Elena and what secrets is Elena hiding as she tries to rewrite history? Meanwhile, there’s plenty to keep Cesca entertained with a sinkhole and her love-hate relationship with Nico…

If I had to describe The Rome Affair in a single word, it would be captivating. The plot is thick with lies, secrets, misunderstandings, wealth, romance and mystery. There are so many secrets and lies, but it’s not difficult to keep track of them thanks to the way the story is told from Cesca’s point of view in the present and Elena’s stories of the (real) past. There’s a lot of contrast between the stories Elena tells Cesca and what really happened. At first, I felt sorry for Elena, then I gradually came to wonder how much I really liked Elena’s character. Her past really doesn’t hide anything! But the events of the finale made me realise that underneath it all, she did have a heart. Was she a victim or a champion of survival?

The mysteries of the palazzo were also entertaining. Who wouldn’t love to find a secret tunnel or wander through a 1000-room house? I loved Cesca’s take on it, as it was all so awe inspiring but she kept her head about it. Her principles too were something that drew me to her as the heroine – no matter how painful it was, she would draw out the truth. I felt that I could trust her more than I ever could Elena!

If you’re after a well written story with never a dull moment, please check out The Rome Affair! It’s the perfect read with a gelato or pizza! 5/5 Stars!

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Paris & Vintage Style Shopping

How else shall you do Paris other than hunting down all the thrify stores? 

During my visit, I came to the conclusion that Mondays are the new Sundays when you are in France. 

Due to the fact that a lot of places were closed on Monday compared to Sunday therefore, a lot of the thrift stores that I wanted to visit I could not. 

Two stores that made it to this list are: Kilo Shop and Chine Machine!

If you’re like me and you want to find goods at an affordable rate because you just love shopping for clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories as well as having a bit of history behind them, you’ll want to be make a beeline for Paris’ finest vintage stores. 

Chine Machine:

Tucked away at the top of one of the 18th arrondissement’s trendy streets, Chinemachine is a beloved Montmartre institution. Everything in the boutique is hand-picked, and there is sure to be something in its regularly refreshed inventory to suit your taste and budget! On the men’s and women’s racks, there are: luxury labels, the work of local designers, jeans, leathers, the best of the high street as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. If you have some clothes that you think might suit its eclectic mix, you can take them along on Monday to Thursday and see if you can trade them in for cash or store credit.

Their website is here for more info!

Kilo Shop:

The Kilo Shop concept is simple: choose it, weigh it, buy it. Everything in the store—jeans, furs, accessories, you name it—is color-coded according to its value (a bit overpriced for what some items are worth), and the final price is a function of the weight of the items per color group. It’s a fun place to shop if you love fashion, and even more fun if you love math. The chain has four other locations in Paris as well as shops across France.

I enjoyed Chine Machine most as it was a bargain for money for the excellent quality pieces you receive. 

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Aquarium de Paris

Okay I am always honest so, when looking for places to visit in Paris I really wanted to see the fishes haha. However! After coming across the reviews I was not sure of this place as people said it was not worth the money and from viewing the images I thought it is okay and there was no need for it to cost that much per person. 

However impulses and curiosity take over and hear we are!

Now, I can say this is definitely worth a visit while in Paris. The variety of species, the historical background, the rest room and restaurants, all combine to make it a worthwhile attraction.

History:

L’Aquarium de Paris or Cineaqua is an aquarium in Paris, but this is not just any ordinary aquarium, as there are more than 10,000 different specimens displayed within 43 different tanks, as well as this place holds many special events held at Cineaqua, and it has a stage with a large tank as a backdrop.

This place was built in 1878 and at that time, was the largest aquarium in Europe.

However this Trocadero Aquarium closed its doors in 1985, as there was much that needed to be sorted out, in order to bring it back up to speed in terms of public safety and a better visitor experience.

After major renovations and a change of name to L’Aquarium de Paris – Cineaqua, this fabulous new aquarium that also has cinemas and a stage for shows, was re-opened to the public in May of 2006.

You can discover the fish such as carp, sturgeon, roach etc, that inhabit the River Seine, which travels through Paris, through the Burgundy of France.

Next there is a section dedicated to the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel, which France borders on and is a very important fishing area for all of Europe, and it is within these tanks that you can discover many different species and even fish that you would find on your dinner plate such as lobster.

Another section lets you explore coral and a coral reef from Tahiti that is an important part of the ecosystem, and here you will find numerous tropical fish, anemones and jellyfish, etc.  Then you can experience the water world from New Caledonia with amazing fish like the triggerfish, balloon fish and many more unusual species you may never get to see in your lifetime.

You can also discover the unusual and brightly coloured fish from the Caribbean such as the Butterfly fish and yet another section is dedicated to the Guyana River with tropical fresh water fish like Piranha and Angelfish and many, many more species you can admire like seahorses, clownfish, etc.

However, one of the main highlights for many is the shark tank that is unmatched in the country of France.  And being 9.60 metres high and 33 metres wide, holding 3 million litres of water, it contains four species of sharks, which are nurse sharks, black tips, gray and zebras, and it is also home to more tropical fish than you could ever imagine, yet alone try to count!

You can even go through a transparent tunnel from one section to another and see the fish along with the sharks swimming all around and above you, for an even more unique experience.

With over 10,000 different specimens and around 450 different species of fish and invertebrates including a petting tank, where you are allowed to touch fish such as goldfish and koi carp plus feed them, this is a fantastic aquarium in Paris that everyone will enjoy. 

Since there are two cinemas, the first cinema is located at the beginning of the tour offering National Geographic programming and the documentaries from the National geographic are around 50 minutes long and different ones are shown at different times of the day every day.

There are also short films of anything between 2 and 6 minutes that are on a variety of different topics, which have been produced by Cineaqua L’Aquarium de Paris in the first cinema, yet the 2nd cinema is a family room and offers movies and cartoons for the whole family, no matter what their age.

The L’Aquarium de Paris – Cineaqua Aquarium is also forever changing and as you are wandering around there are new paintings and photographs from different artists displayed on the walls every month.

Therefore, after visiting this place I have learned that this place has SO much to offer. There is a sitting area too near the end which if you sit back and look up and about you will see all types of fish swimming about which I find so soothing and peaceful. You can easily get lost sitting there watching the fish. 

Location:

This aquarium is located within the Jardins du Trocadero which is close to the Palais de Chaillot where there are several museums in Paris, as well as being just across from the Eiffel Tower on the other side of the River Seine, and it is easy to recognise by the blue curved entrance stating Aquarium de Paris.

Cost: 

The normal price for a ticket is €20.50 for an adult as of 2012, those aged from 13 to 17 are a cost of €16, children aged 3 to 12 are a cost of €13 and children under the age of 3 are free.

Review:

Aquarium de Paris – Cinéaqua (combining an aquarium and a two-screen cinema) is a wonderful attraction and a key element in the renaissance of the once moribund Trocadéro. Children in particular love the shark tunnel, and the petting pool (bassin de caresses) where you can stroke friendly sturgeon who pop their long funnel noses out of the water. Also interesting (though less theatrical) is the section on the River Seine, showing the sorts of fish who still survive in Paris’ river despite the pollution. 

Many people are easily put off at the admission fee, but you can easily spend a long afternoon here, watching cartoons in the cinemas and observing the sealife. Even very small kids are catered for, with glass walls that touch the floor so that the little ones can see inside without mums and dads picking them up. On Wednesdays and weekends, there are special children’s shows too.

Based in the 16th Arrondissement, if you feel like a picnic within the Jardins du Trocadero Gardens rather than eating in the Zen Cafe, then providing you get your hand stamped, you can come and go as you please throughout the day.

Therefore, after visiting this place I have learned that this place has SO much to offer. There is a sitting area too near the end which if you sit back and look up and about you will see all types of fish swimming about which I find so soothing and peaceful. You can easily get lost sitting there watching the fish. 

At 7.59 is when the highlights of this trip begin!

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Book Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Plot:

We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence. 

Then there’s Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. 

Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through Renée’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

Review:

First published four years ago and since described as “the publishing phenomenon of the decade”, this odd curio of a book is only just becoming more widely available in New Zealand. 

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is rather like a French film in that it’s very beautiful and meaningful but not an awful lot happens. The story is presented as the journals of an isolated older woman and a young girl. Renee is the bunioned, prickly concierge of a smart Parisian apartment building (the hedgehog of the title). She believes her role in life is to be poor, discreet and invisible and so hides her true self from the world, putting on a facade as a dumb, TV-watching, cassoulet-making concierge while secretly listening to Mahler, reading Tolstoy and watching Japanese art films. 

Upstairs lives the precocious 12-year-old Paloma Josse who has decided life is meaningless and plans to kill herself on her 13th birthday. But before she does so she challenges herself to find something on the planet worth living for. 

Barbery, a former professor, is interested in how philosophy can be applied to everyday life and so both these characters spend much of their time having profound thoughts. As a result, parts of the novel can be a slog to get through, particularly if you happen not to be quite as well read as the redoubtable Renee. There are entire pages debating the purpose of art and sections of prose so flowery that only a French writer could get away with them. 

The story moves along more briskly when one of the residents of the buildings dies and a Japanese man moves in and begins to melt the heart of the frosty concierge. 

Barbery has written a relentlessly interesting book filled with ruminations. She uses her story to celebrate art and deride French snobbery, yet at the same time manages to make it heart-warming, amusing and moving. But I think the real reason it’s been such an unexpected bestseller – more than 2.5 million copies have been sold worldwide so far – is its sheer originality. There’s nothing else I’ve read that’s been quite like it.

However due to the plot’s writing style this novel still receives a 3/5 Stars from me.

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BookClub Reads: Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It

Plot:

Daniel Klein’s fans have fallen in love with the warm, humorous, and thoughtful way he shows how philosophy resonates in everyday life. Readers of his popular books Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . . and Travels with Epicurus come for enlightenment and stay for the entertainment.

As a young college student studying philosophy, Klein filled a notebook with short quotes from the world’s greatest thinkers, hoping to find some guidance on how to live the best life he could. Now, from the vantage point of his eighth decade, Klein revisits the wisdom he relished in his youth with this collection of philosophical gems, adding new ones that strike a chord with him at the end of his life. From Epicurus to Emerson and Camus to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr—whose words provided the title of this book—each pithy extract is annotated with Klein’s inimitable charm and insights. In these pages, our favorite jokester–philosopher tackles life’s biggest questions, leaving us chuckling and enlightened.

Review:

This novel is a venture into philosophical literature with the goal of finding out the meaning of life. Even though, by the end, the author admits that no one can in fact find a definite meaning for life.

The novel is well-written with an interesting structure; the author used to keep a notebook of his favourite philosophy quotes and now after a few decades, he reopens this notebook and contemplates the meaning behind each quote.

If you are not already a professional philosophy reader, if you are just coming across this type of reading like myself, you will get to know many philosophers and their philosophies. Some are interesting to hear, some are best left in the notebook in a locked chest.

The book is aimed at medium to advanced philosophy people however I am neither of these. In the glossary section at the end of the novel, it is stated that anyone who reads this novel is presumed to have majored in philosophy out of college. Hence, if you are like me, you will have a difficult time catching up unless you do some side reading on the schools of philosophy and some other terms and facts.

I was not sure of this when I first went into it as it goes into great detail and discussion of the quotes however, I found it very captivating as interesting with “Whereas Epicurus would have us rein in our desires and aspirations so that we can get the most pleasure out of what is right in front of us,  Aristophanes urges us to actively manipulate what is in front of us in order to maximise our pleasure.” Paragraphs like this had me thinking about the real meaning of it and applying it to life in general.  

On the downside, one of the major problems I faced, was getting some of the jokes the author makes, due to my lack of knowledge in philosophy.

In the end, I believe this book is a love affair with between the author and philosophy. One that collects a lot of good and worthy ideas and crams them into a reasonable length. I recommend this to people who have read a book or two on philosophy. For the rest of us, this novel should be taken with caution for parts of the novel that are difficult at times to comprehend. I definitely recommend this novel for an interesting view on life’s theories. 

5/5 stars!

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Coconut Smoothie Recipe

Glowing soft skin with a slight dash of a cucumber+coconut taste? If this sounds delicious to you read on for my recipe!

So when exploring my morning smoothies I put together the following combination which resulted in a delicious looking + smelling smoothie, I just love the colour of it too haha.

The following used:

150ml filtered water

A few berries (strawberries + grapes + blueberries)

A small tomato

A spoonful of coconut oil

A few slices of chopped cucumber 

The finished results!

A minute of using the smoothie machine later and viola a delicious looking and tasting smoothie!

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Paris & Reading

Paris is made for readers. With secret courtyards , gardens, and cafes on every corner, the city offers so many spots for a book lover to curl up with a great read. 

From my research there are 756 bookstores to explore to find your next pick, mainly based in the 5th and 6th arrondissements on the Left Bank. 

Do not fret. There are many English language bookstores. 

Berkeley Books of Paris

This quiet little bookshop is located near Odeon Theatre. This place hosts readings, art and musical performances all by independent locals on their way up the ladder. 

Phyllis, the owner is very knowledgable, welcoming and passionately committed to an ethical participation in the local arts community. 

San Francisco Book Company 

This was founded in 1997. You could happily spend an afternoon browsing the collection starting with the titles placed on the shelves outside the store’s bright red facade. 

I actually spent so much time here looking for the most perfect novel.

Shakespeare & Co

So many people!

The most touristy book shop for Americans and Asians (from my own experience). This English store contains beloved writers past and present, from Ernest Hemingway to Zadie Smith. However it is a magical place to wander around with its wooden shelves and narrow staircase. This bookshop hosts readings (usually on Monday nights) there are free for all, with a great view of the Notre Dame at night. 

It is perfect however it was jammed full of tourists during this day and you could barely move around in this pretty shop which was annoying however every time I found a book I always found a corner to sit in to read the novel! The staff are so friendly as well. Looks are deceiving as this shop contained everything.

Librairie Galignani

Librairie Galignani is refined and elegant, it has a feel as distinguished as its location on Rue de Rivoli. The staff is so polite, they have the best and most recent books in non-fiction, yes take a few minutes and your basket will fill with books you didn’t know existed! The fiction section has the classics and new best sellers. It’s very well assorted. Librairie Galignani don’t have all the books, but they have the best books. Being there feels refreshing, it’s a bastion of intelligence and decency.

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Book Review: A Simple Favor

Plot:

She’s your best friend.

She knows all your secrets.

That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. 

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. 

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems. 

Review:

From the outset I should mention that I’m a big Anna Kendrick fan, so when I first saw the trailer for the movie I instantly wanted to see it.

The story opens with Stephanie a blogger who is asked by her friend Emily the simple favour of picking her son up from school.

Having not heard from her for days Stephanie starts to panic and uses her blog to help find her missing friend.

It might be because I know that Stephanie is being played by Kendrick, but I liked her character. Telling the story initially through her blog and thoughts was a great way to draw the reader in.

I liked how her online persona was completely different.

However at the same time the simpleness of seeing the trailer made me think how silly can you be – since knowing the plot for trusting someone. So I had some mixed feelings from seeing the trailer, reading reviews as well as reading the novel. 

The second half of the novel produces some shock twists, it has to be said that they started to get more unbelievable as the story unravels.

Another frustrating aspect of the novel is how incredibly silly Emily’s husband Sean. His actions are so incredibly stupid that it almost took me out of the story.

I was glad that all the elements tied up in the end though.

I found it to be a fun page turner, it’s no Patricia Highsmith (which the book kept referencing) but I was interested enough to know the conclusion.

I’m more interested to see Kendrick’s and Lively’s take on these characters. 

2/5 Stars

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Book Review: Glitz

Plot: 

All’s fair in love and war – especially when there’s a trust fund at stake. The four beautiful Chambers girls are rolling in money, thanks to the trust fund set up by their reclusive, super-rich uncle Clem. But when he summons his nieces to his mansion in the Seychelles to announce his engagement to Bai-Ling, a woman young enough to be their baby sister, the girls know the party could be over. Can they stop the wedding? What happens when four pampered princesses have to cope without their trust fund? Who will learn to stand on their own two feet… and who will fall?

Review: 

Athena, Juno, Diana and Venus Chambers have a life to be envied of. All 4 live off of their rich Uncle Clement’s trust fund money, all being given £500,000 a year to live on. But their perfect lives are about to be given a shake up, when old Uncle Clements announces he’s found a bride and is going to stop their Trust Fund as of the day he marries her. Trouble is, Clement’s future bride is a twenty-something Thai woman, and the Chambers cousins are sure she is only after their Uncle for his money. Can the cousins who can’t stand each other unite the force Bai-Ling away from their Uncle, and keep their money? 

Upon reading the plot, I thought this suits those that dream of a glamorous life as the storyline is exactly this at the beginning. As I began reading, the book went straight into the story, firstly introducing us to Uncle Clem and then to the Chambers cousins. The book is written in the third person, which is a necessity with 4 main characters in the book and another major character alongside these. I still think it had too many main characters. As you may have noticed when it comes to how many characters are mentioned as the focus, I tend to favour those that have less than 3, any more and it is a mess to keep up with and an excuse for filling up more pages which are not necessary.

As you can tell by their names, the Chambers women aren’t your average thirty-something year old ladies. Each of them is unique, with their own ambitions, and none of them really get on. Juno lives in London with her husband Jack, a wannabe chef, but her marriage is struggling and Juno doesn’t know how to handle it. Her sister Athena is an incredibly clever woman, working at Oxford University trying to become an Oxford Don. Their cousins are Venus, a bimbo actress trying to hit the big time and circulating as one of London’s IT girls, and her sister Diana, another trendy It girl who loves to be seen in the right places. They are not written about in a nice way, perhaps intending for you to dislike them. I didn’t warm to any of them throughout the whole book, they’re all pretty nasty women, selfish and all about the money. 

Despite not liking the characters, I found that Bagshawe has really created a great atmosphere around these women, really transporting you into the world where these women can afford anything they want, without having to worry about the cost of it or where its come from. She’s clearly researched this lifestyle, with great detail of society parties, sumptuous dinners and expensive labels of clothing and make up. She’s also gone to great length to create a great world for these women, with wonderful expensive homes which are greatly detailed from decor to the paintings. This gives a great setting for the story, and the world in which the Chambers women lives is well written and easy to imagine thanks to this. 

Despite the well written lives and surroundings of the Chambers women, there was just something about this book which still doesn’t excite me. maybe this style of writing is suited to the teenager me who would have loved reading about dramatic and materialistic lives. The story, didn’t really seem to go anywhere that is why there is so many main characters for all the unnecessary pages! It was fairly obvious from the beginning how things were going to go, and I had guessed the ending from about halfway through, the plot is another one of those been there done that types. There was just nothing special about the novel, its characters which, although they were written fairly well were all unlikeable and I think it was this fact which made my enjoyment slightly less than it would have been if I’d liked the characters. As you normally pick up a novel and think to yourself you see yourself as part of them due to some characteristics which makes a great novel. The characters lived in a world I couldn’t relate to at all, they were all horrible women and even Bai-Ling and Clement weren’t great either. 

I really expected to enjoy this book to some extent, especially as I liked the sound of the plot so much. The story is quite standard, with no major twists or turns to keep you reading, and the third person narrative is fairly basic and not exactly involving. The characters are well written but are horrible people and so not likeable in the slightest. However it is readable enough for a light read. 1/5 Stars

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TBR for March

This month I am aiming to read these 6 books! 

6 books in one month is a little higher above my normal aim per month so hopefully I can read these this month along with my busy schedule. 

I am most looking forward to reading the one I got in Paris; A Garden of Earthly Delights as it is written by one of the greatest writers (from what I have read) especially in the 40s-now genre. 

This month’s book club reads is Every Time I Find The Meaning Of Life, They Change It. So glad these where my random picks from my TBR jar idea! 

Between starting and finishing a report last month and another two to do this month (with little guidance given for these next two), as well as going away last month and missing out on work due to knee injury as well as being ill just before that trip I do not know how I managed to find the time to read haha along with my little weekly adventures. 

Anything can be done when you set your mind to it although it can be difficult at times to manage your time and to fit in your leisurely reading however organising your online media schedule and post ideas as well on top of all that and your studying towards exams it can be difficult however, slow down, take a deep breath and organise a plan by starting with what are your needs to be accomplished followed by your desires and the deadlines is how things can be achieved. Eventually. Even if it takes its time, you can do it all. 

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Reflection On Closure

Yes, yes I know what you must be thinking, it is all in the past who needs to hear about it. However some people I know are having difficulty with gaining closure so I thought I would share this story for anyone that is interested in gaining closure. 

Someone told me they are stuck in a circle of bad habits and routines. From what I noticed – twisted-mind-point-of-views due to bad-and-jealous-advice. 

Now, it does not matter if one surrounds themselves in ‘good’ environments if it changes your mindful, simplistic and minimalistic views into a: spoilt, need-to-show-off, put everyone down, make fun of everything, stuck up and full of themselves point of view. Forgetting who you were. 

They constantly become spiteful about someone in their past. A twisted point of view, similar to their mother’s failed relationships in life – which would explain a lot in itself. 

You are to gain closure people say.

What is closure?

An act or process of closing something.

  • According to the internet that is the definition. 

So how do you get this if you constantly disagree on why a relationship ended? 

Lets give these people letters for this scenario;

Person B from above whose views started off as a mindful person to a materialistic spiteful person

Person C who did one bad thing twice in retaliation to B’s honesty after a few years of keeping a big lie (As well as a few other things)

B states they would still be together if only C told him about the bad things as he would have “gotten my head around it” … that “No matter how satisfied we are in other ways, we will always like those things”. 

B has stated multiple times to friends that he would still be with C today if she had only told the truth. 

Here’s the catch, the thing C did, was found out in less than 3 months. 

B did that same thing two years earlier and hid it from C for that length of time. Always starting arguments, finding things to be controlling to C towards. It was always C’s fault and never once was anything B’s fault. 

How does that make C feel? C did not know why B was always like this. 

B was very guilty as C was thoughtful wherever she could be in every aspect – yes she had made some bad decisions however we are human. But hiding that fact for two years C still thinks was the worst thing one could do. 

So how do these two people who’s issues started on these bad grounds – but got along on so many levels as they were always on the same page who were satisfied on some of the more important foundations of a relationship – how do both get closure?

Well, C grew as a person and decided to work on herself, to become independent and not depend or become clingy towards any one ever again. Something B told her she had to do and what he had to do. If only B listened to his own advice.

B has clung to a relationship the first instance a woman shows she can be controlled, manipulated into an open-relationship when she does not actually understand it from an-experience-point-of-view in the slightest. Too innocent to realise what she has gotten herself into; a controlling ‘mug’ of a relationship that is not real in that aspect. 

B has went from one failed relationship to a doomed relationship from before it was born. 

B has a lot of issues to deal with including; the need to do everyone in sight (was definitely not an issue when with C) family issues (disturbing thoughts & actions towards those close, inappropriate public actions and more) a lot of which happened before met C. 

However, B blames every issue he has on C and claims that C made a joke of B even though he kept the biggest secret of all and what he put her through by tormenting her every single time in the arguments. 

Rushing isn’t the right answer when you need to be gaining closure. 

Who do you think did closure right? Or did they both?

B has issues however his solution is gaining counselling and listening to people who have spiteful points-of-views who’s narrow-minded action is to find a person to blame it on. 

C decided to take time to reflect, and use the experience as an opportunity to grow as a person. Understood she made mistakes in life but it will not hold her back. 

C later outgrew B’s immature ways; she got tired of every single action and she wondered how this became so easy. 

Answer: This was due to her growing more, developing her skills and becoming a confident woman. 

The response to why B has not gained any closure to move on properly was told by C: 

The reason you do not have proper closure is because you are dealing with it the wrong way;

When you break up or you have to get over someone you are told to;             

  • focus on the person’s negatives
  • how they were so bad for you, 
  • focus only on the negatives and see them as a horrid person

Realistically there should not be hatred because there was some qualities at the very least you admire about that person

But to accept both the goods and the negatives 

If one has any ill feelings of the other in an unrealistic manner – it shows spite and bitterness in itself which denotes never being able to properly move on until you accept that it took two people. To not have such negative feelings of the other person. 

C’s advice for B to gain closure is so right.

When such action occurs you become more enlightened, the hatred and anger disappears because you just don’t feel like that. Each person you meet teaches you a lesson in life. 

So, thank u, next. 

C x

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Stroll Down Roe Valley Country Park

The Roe Valley Country Park is a forested area containing part of the River Roe, south west of Limavady, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is maintained by the NIEA.

The park is approximately 3 miles long and consists of mainly delicious, riparian woodland on each side of the Roe. The terrain next to the river is mostly steep sided narrow valley, with some areas of flat grassland on the northwest bank. As the river has a large, freely draining catchment area, it significantly increases in volume and speed soon after heavy rain. This is most visible around the visitor centre, where the river is forced through a narrow section of the gorge.

The area around the visitor centre contains the Green Lane Museum, with exhibits on local history, the area linen industry, agriculture and artefacts of rural life.

In the 18th century, the local linen industry was based on the same site, the remains of which include flax drying fields with watch towers, derelict buildings and a waterwheel originally used to power the machinery. 

When you first arrive, the above image is where you land near the car park, admiring the pretty lake and its inhabitants. 

From my research, a long time ago the water supplying the old hydro electric power station which was one of the first in Ireland, flowed along here.


If you walk along this you will see what looks to be a small castle building. 

This was actually an old beetling mill. Before the power station was built, the country park was part of a manufacturing centre. 

When you walk along the pathway of the river you will notice there is a good few benches about to rest or relax and admire the view as well as the relaxing water sounds, which I really enjoy. 

One of the views of one of the bridges as you walk along it,

View at sunset in the winter

Nature’s farm animals and sounds as you walk along the park, below is a short video of what I first encountered during my first visit of this year. I really enjoyed the peacefulness of these visits, sitting on the benches listening to the river sounds as I read peacefully.

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Book Review: The Summer of Serendipity

Bath-time reads!

Plot: 

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor. 

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

Review:

If you have not yet read Breakfast at Darcy’s pick it up! You shall enjoy some of the references mentioned in this novel of that one!

From the title alone, I knew I was going to enjoy this book which is why I was happy when my friend gave me this novel. Serendipity sounds and looks so pretty as a word and the title of this novel just conjured up the feeling of sun, adventure and romance – the cover lends itself to the romantic feeling of the novel as well.

I’ve been a big fan of Ali Mcnamara since the first novel of hers I read Letters from the Lighthouse Cottage (my review is on the links just click to view) I also loved Breakfast at Darcy’s (Dermot and Darcy make a small reappearance at times.)

It was so nice to revisit the Island Tara. The island every time I read about it describes a land so picturesque, I am definitely ready for a vacation there right about now. I can tell that Ali has a real love with Ireland by the way she describes it. The descriptions are so rich with descriptions. 

Ren Parker is intense. Kiki, is her closest friend as well as her assistant, she is the complete opposite – bubbly and enthusiastic. I loved both Ren and Kiki for their differences and each one is relatable and likeable.

One of the things I loved most about The Summer of Serendipity is the folklore explored in it. It appealed to my love of myths, mystery and legend. I went through this book because I was so invested in the plot; I needed to know what was going on (in a story that had me guessing until the very end.) 

On the one hand, I wanted to find out what was going on and at the same time, I didn’t want the book to end as the style, the writing and the content had me hooked. I kept promising myself it would be one more page… then one more chapter. You get the picture.

The reason for the rating is due to the fact that the story at times felt a bit wish-washy in terms of its actual plot and how the characters were frustrating and it became too repetitive of not finding out any information.

However, with that being said, this book is perfect if you are looking for a summer read for the holiday you’re about to take (or just taken!) or if you simply want to escape to Ireland for a while from the comfort of your armchair or garden lounger.

Ali’s writing is welcoming, warm and romantic. I love her writing style and I found this novel enjoyable.

3/5 stars!

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Book Review: The Orient Express

Adventure Reads

Plot:

The Orient Express. Luxury. Mystery. Romance.

For one group of passengers settling in to their seats and taking their first sips of champagne, the journey from London to Venice is more than the trip of a lifetime.

A mysterious errand; a promise made to a dying friend; an unexpected proposal; a secret reaching back a lifetime…As the train sweeps on, revelations, confessions and assignations unfold against the most romantic and infamous setting in the world.

Review:

Have you ever read a book which you crave when you’re doing something else? I had that exact feeling when I was reading A Night On The Orient Express. I stupidly went to Glasgow for the day without it and it was all I thought about.

The prologue is an unusual yet magnificent way to begin the narrative. It is the descriptive paragraphs of why you should ride the Orient Express which captivated me the most. Readers are yet to meet any of the characters but soon enough, we learn of their lives before they board the train.

This novel is split into characters. Adele, is an elderly and sophisticated lady who desperately wants a particular painting in her life again. Riley, is a well known man whose life is about to change. Archie, is looking for his perfect woman but right now, he is focusing on his friend. Imogen is celebrating a birthday whilst being disappointed by her boyfriend. She is the grandchild to Adele. Stephanie is adjusting to life as a stepmother.

When the group arrive in Venice, they all go their separate ways and I wondered whether they had all met. The ending chapter focuses on one character who I think Veronica intended to be the main character. However, I was a tiny bit disappointed because I wanted to know what had happened to everyone else.

Overall, pick up this novel for an adventure❗️ 3/5 stars from me

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February – Month of ‘Love’

February. The month of ‘love’. One of the first marketing schemes of the year (before this was the whole ‘get back into shape for a new year and new you’). The month after the first month of the year. Where routines have developed or sinked. Where else could you be during the month of ‘love’ other than the city of ‘love’ (and one of the biggest fashion capitals during FASHION MONTH more like)?

Paris of course. Nowhere else. Especially when valentines day is so close to your birthday! I wish I got to go a week later due to fashion week in Paris however I was treated to Paris during my birthday week therefore without further ado. My birthday during fashion month in one of the world’s biggest fashion capitals as follows:

Little bit of organising an itinerary for your birthday would never hurt no body.

We started off the morning with a nice stroll to the most emblematic monument of the city of love, to the Eiffel Tower. 


Did you know this structure is pretty unusual? I cannot believe this tower was originally supposed to be demolished in 1889. I also cannot believe it has to get repainted every seven years, by hand too. 

The Eiffel Tower grows during the summer and actually shrinks in the winter! Due to the thermal expansion hence the metal grows; as the heat absorption causes it to grow about 6.75 inches. 

During this exploration of the magnificent tower, we came across friendly English and Americans whilst enjoying our macaroons with a beautiful morning view of the city. Shortly after we went to this little cafe called Mamy Crêpe which was small but the quality of food and the service we received since we spoke no French was quite nice !

Rue Cler Market – some lovely shops

We then took a stroll down Rue Cler – the most famous market street in Paris! This place is brimming with cafes, boulangeries and speciality shops. 

The 7th arrondissement (out of the 20 in Paris) is home to Rue Cler, one of the best market streets in Paris. Find a wonderful selection of specialty food stores, pastry shops, butchers, delicatessens, cheese specialists, fishmongers, greengrocers, chocolate shops and cafés. Most of the street is a pedestrian area and still has its original cobblestones. This authentic market street is where the locals go to buy their favourite foods or sit on one of the many café terraces with friends and family and watch the world go by.

After this, we visited a couple luxury second hand shops (more to follow in later posts!)

In the following days I visited more vintage small style shops and oh what a delight and dream it was! I did not want to come back from Paris that is for sure. 

I’m now strutting around the United Kingdom in my (discount) finery, delighted when friends ask the origin of my ensemble.  “Oh, this? It’s from a tiny shop in Paris.”

Anyway on with the rest of this day. 

Later on, I was treated to fine dining in Su Misura which had wonderful views and delicious foods where I received a delicious pasta and one had a heart shaped pizza, the staff were friendly and accomodating.

After this, we went for a cruise along the River Seine, what beautiful views this relaxing cruise. 

This river has mesmerised and seduced those who have encouraged it since pre-medieval times. 

The river’s name originates in the latin word ‘sequana’ which some believe relates to a Gaelic name that would have been attributed by the earliest Celtic settlers. 

What a great way to spend my birthday during the Valentines weekend in the city of love. All at once!

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Book Review: Love & Gelato

Plot:

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Review originally written in December 2018:

This novel starts off in Seattle. The main character’s mother has an illness that takes over. This leads us to Lina having to move to Italy with her estranged father she didn’t know she had. 

Lina I found to be ungrateful at the start and a bit immature. Which made it a slow beginning as she is 16.

The author takes us through her development as she becomes more mature the more she is reading her mother’s journal that was sent for the household she was living in at the cemetery. It seems as if she was to be following in similar footsteps as her mother so I like how Jenna made it seem like that for a while because it did change. 

I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it to those looking for a light read about Italy whilst learning a few stories of some of the statues. 4/5 stars

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Book Review: Tremarnock Summer

Plot:

Bramble Challoner has had a very normal upbringing. She lives in a semi in the suburbs of London with her parents and works at the call centre down the road. She still goes out with the boy she met at school. At weekends they stay in and watch films on the telly and sometimes hold hands. Bramble is dying for an adventure.

So when her very grand grandfather, Lord Penrose, dies, leaving his huge, rambling house in Cornwall to her, Bramble packs her bags immediately, dragging along her best friend Katie. The sleepy village of Tremarnock had better be ready for its newest residents…

Review:

I found this novel to be too predicable. The plot and writing style was not enticing in the slightest. I thought it would be interesting and peaceful however maybe it is due to the fact this is the third book in the series? I’m not too sure as I seem to not have found any inspirational books lately including new characters as I have not enjoyed them in this novel. 

I found Bramble to be very naive as she trusts too easily and some characters where not needed. I have been kind by giving this novel 2/5 stars. 

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BookClub Reads: Milkman

Plot:

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

Review:

I dislike when novels like this makes you go into it with very high expectations. Because usually this is always, always a let down in a few ways to say the least. 

Let’s start with the writing style. It always makes or breaks a book. Especially lately given my recent reviews I’ve come across writing styles that don’t catch my interest. 

Burns writes in a way that makes me think she is trying to sound sophisticated in a mysterious “I want you to be suspicious with every single word I write” type of way and within the first chapter I realised this and rolled my eyes a few times because I find it embarrassing how many times I have thought this. I find this novel to be slow paced. Boring with descriptions that are trying to sound oh so intriguing when their not. 

I find it annoying the use of the words instead of using the characters actual names. How did this novel actually win so many awards and became this successful? A lot of marketing is the only explanation. I dislike writers that are trying to sound oh so cool instead of actually writing properly without being stuck up about it. 

This novel is one of those that will make or break the story for you based on its writing style as with all novels in my opinion. 

It was difficult to tell what era this novel was set as no clear description explained this – poor writing as it did not communicate with even this fine detail. It is set in the 70’s during the troubles in Belfast in Northern Ireland. 

An example from the novel that made me roll my eyes at annoyance:

“For the first time ever I did not do my reading-while-walking. I did not do my walking. Again I did not tell myself why. Another thing was I missed my next run session. Had to, incase   He reappeared in the parks” 

This novel has long, endless sentences which were not needed. I disliked the constant reminder of the message which was people with and without control and how women were powerless during the troubles. 

Still not sure how I fully read this novel, I was told you have to push through it as it does get better however in my experience this is not the case.

2/5 Stars

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Smoothie Recipe

For this month’s healthy lifestyle recipe will be a easy to make delicious micro and macro nutrient breakfast smoothie. 

What are these nutrients?

If you aren’t too sure these are very important to incorporate into your lifestyle. 

Macronutrients – nutrients that your body needs in large amounts such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates. 

Carbohydrates – provide energy for working muscles and fuel for the central nervous system.

Protein – Helps provide the body with aid when recovering from physical activities and helps to repair our muscles. 

Micronutrients – our body requires much smaller dosages such as vitamins and minerals. Can include supplements in order to obtain a healthy dosage of vitamins especially in Vegan and other alternative lifestyles. 

Please ensure you are having the right amount from all needed vitamins for your lifestyle. 

Okay, now onto the recipe!

This delicious smoothie I have incorporated with my protein, whether you have an alternative lifestyle or not.

This smoothie is quick and easy to make, you will need the following:

1 banana

200mls of almond milk

Spoonful of nut-spread butter

A handful of berries

2 scoops of your protein choice

Spoonful of porridge oats

Some ice to ensure your drink is nice and cold!

And voila a delicious smoothie.

These ingredients cover your protein, fibre, energy and happiness of course and it is a refreshing and filling start to the day.

If you are stuck at finding an affordable smoothie, eBay have cheaper options if you type in ‘USB smoothie maker’ 

I get my ingredients from Tesco and WomensBest as my experience with them have been best for quality and affordability. 

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Book Review: Moonshine by Christina Jones

Plot:

Cleo Moon is starting life over again after a divorce. She lands a job as PA to Lady of the Manor – Mimi – having settled herself in a caravan in the sleepy little village of Lovers’ Knot. But the trouble starts when the most beautiful boy in the world – Dylan – turns up on her doorstep drunk one night.

Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s light and easy to read. It involves magical influences of making wine. The way Christina set the scene throughout the book it was like I was there and didn’t want to leave. With an enjoyable ending 4/5 stars

This review was quite short – it was the first book that brought about my reading again back in November 2018. This happened when I was on holidays visiting my friend in Leicester as she gave me the book and I absolutely loved reading it. 

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Book Review: Bad Girls

Plot:

They met in rehab – but some of them had rather more therapy than they bargained for. Supermodel Amber Peters should have the world at her feet. But her secret addiction has led her down a dangerous path. Lap dancer Skye Ellwood is desperate to get out of the life she’s living, but has no idea how – until a client makes her an unusual proposition. Following an ultimatum from his fiance, A-list movie star Joe Jeffreys is finally heading to rehab to sort out his sex addiction – and save his squeaky-clean image. Spoiled daughter of a legendary rock god, Petal Gold is convinced she’s a huge star in waiting, and she’ll trample on anyone she thinks is standing in her way. Passion, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and scandal: during their tumultuous thirty days at Cascabel clinic, the lives of Amber, Skye, Joe and Petal will be transformed forever. But for one of them, the stakes could not be higher – or more dangerous.

Review:

The book starts off with Amber in a precarious situation, being held by a strange person and she’s clearly been drugged. Then the book suddenly flies to another time when Amber was modelling and dating men, which I found annoying as it wasn’t consistent. The book then alternates between who the story follows, whether it’s Amber, Joe, Petal or Skye. Some would say this is refreshing as it does alternate between completely different but similar lives. I thought the book would move to rehab quite quickly however it took around a third of the way until that happened, but I didn’t mind at all.

It gives a good background to all the characters because of the alternative chapters however I still do not feel any care towards them. I appreciate how all of the characters had their different reasons for entering rehab because that gives different point of views to the story and certainly made that part of the book more interesting. I could not quite get into this due to its writing style. Especially given the nature of this novel I felt it didn’t have enough depth.

There was another interlude in the middle about Amber’s mystery drugging that carried on the mystery element of the book which again had me thinking because of other things I had read. The book moves on a satisfactory level, there are lots of twists and turns along the way that keep you hooked on getting to the end and the pace made the consistency more confusing. *warning* for those as there are some pretty graphic sex scenes in the book, a couple of them actually so if that isn’t your thing  be warned!

2/5 stars from me.

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Book Review: Hygge and Kisses

Plot:

Bo, 26, has always been careful, cautious. However, she has just been made redundant and her life plan is beginning to unravel. Before she starts immediately applying for other jobs in a panic, her friend Kirsten persuades her to take a holiday, to visit Kirsten’s mother’s house in Aalborg, North Jutland, a part of Denmark Bo is ashamed to admit she has never heard of.

‘What’s the weather going to be like?’ she asks Kir