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Book Review: Charming

Plot:

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that’s great… as long as you don’t die. Sixteen-year-old Haley Tremaine had it all: top-notch school, fantastic family, and a bright future, but all of that changed when an accident tore her family apart. Now, an alcoholic father, a bitter younger sister, and a cold headstone bearing her mother’s name are all she has left. Chris Charming has it all: a powerful CEO for a father, a prestigious school, and a fortune at his fingertips, but none of that matters when he lands a reputation as a troublemaker. Struggling to follow in his father’s footsteps, he reaches out to the one person he believes truly sees him, the one person he wants: Haley. Little do they know someone’s determined to bring the two together, even if it means murder.

Review:

Review originally written in October 2014:

Every so often it will happen to me that I completely dislike a book that literally has nothing else but positive reviews. It really makes me sit back and wonder if I missed something! Charming was one of those books for me.

This is a Cinderella retelling, I suppose, and the details of that are clear. The girl, Haley, lives in a single parent family with a sibling that is treated like gold while she is abused. Haley even gets to go to a ball, where she has to be home by midnight…and her date is the prince of the town, Chris Charming.

Abuse in a novel is not an easy topic to write on, but when done well it’s compelling. In Charming, while the abuse was sad, the reasons behind it and why Haley figured she couldn’t tell anyone seemed very weak indeed.

Timeline inconsistencies, and several other seemingly small details all came together to bother me enough that I had to quit reading. After 100 pages, I just did not find myself caring what happened to these characters at all. As for the other reviews that call this book, “Cinderella meets Saw”…have you guys even seen Saw?? It took ALMOST 100 pages for any action to happen, and then when it did happen, it wasn’t really heart pounding to me.

This book is definitely closer to NA than YA, so that should be known to those who care about mature content.

1/5 Stars

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Thursday Thoughts

I thought I would draw a post to remind everyone about staying positive and keep doing what you’re doing to help. I’ve seen way too many cars out on my street with those that are having large parties. We shall get there some day, ❤️

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ARC Book Review: Questions of Perspective

Plot:

No one knew it at the time, but April 19, 2011, was the most important day in the history of the world.

After his only friend and colleague, John Manta, disappears without a word, Dave Randall further entrenches himself in the humdrum life of an unenthusiastic lawyer. But once he begins to understand what happened, he embarks on a journey to uncover the deeper meanings and implications of John’s fate.

Accompanied by Peaches the cat, Dave uproots his life and reinvents himself in the midst of his search. Along the way, he is haunted by his piecemeal understanding of John’s fate and what it means for his existence. Little does Dave know, his journey of self-discovery will have ramifications that extend far beyond the borders of his own little life.

Review:

Firstly, the cover is so pretty and colourful!

Secondly, this novels plot grabbed my attention so I would like to thank Daniel the author for the advanced readers copy. I began reading this before it was officially published.

Now onto the review, this novel begins with the whole present and past tense. We are introduced to the main character Dave’s day during April 19th 2011. The day this novel focuses on. Then we are taken back in time to when Dave and John first met. I love how this novel is focused within the job itself as they are working within a law firm. The two meet during a mundane task that is beneath both of them however as with everything – someone has to do it! A great conversation starter too.

It’s interesting to learn about this omniscience although it still does not make sense how a human can be chosen to be this god figure. I do not like the idea of books being at all religious because it’s preaching however this novel is different as the main character goes from being stuck in a routine where he works for the law doing things without question. To quitting and starting a new life elsewhere trying to figure out what he wants to do. Later on he becomes a teacher and meets this woman called Abby, and events leading to disappointments and questioning in God.

The novel progresses well throughout each stage of life as it passes over years throughout. Some quotes I really enjoyed include:

“Nothing is worth doing if you have to give up even a fraction of your soul in the process”

“When you’re really living, there is something in your life that you are afraid, at some level, of losing.”

“I want to change the world for the better, but I’m not always sure how to do it. And it can be too daunting at times to consider the big picture.”

“Joy is a positive force that fills a day with moments that are truly worth living.”

At first, like Dave, I was very annoyed God/John would let such a horrible thing happen if he can control it from not happening. But the role is to let us make our own decisions and be responsible for the consequences. Despite some horrible things that happen in life. Some would always turn to religion and curse at why would whoever is out there, do that to the world? Because life is not peachy – no pun intended. Life is made to have ups and downs as it does shape who we are.

Overall, at the beginning it took me a while to understand the idea of omniscience however by the end of it I found myself emotional at times with sadness and joy once things finally developed properly (within the story’s plot of wanting the happy ever after), it’s rare for me to give 5 star ratings however this one deserves it as I cannot find a major fault in anyway. I really did enjoy the message of this read and how it was written and how it progressed.

5/5 Stars

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BookClub Reads: Flatshare

Plot:

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

Review:

As with all my book reviews I am writing my thoughts as I get them so there will be ups and downs with this one!

Okay this novel starts off with odd names and descriptions as it takes a while to remember what is going on. The second chapter is Leon’s lifestyle. Why is the writing in his chapters so off? Like the actual sentences are not fully written. It’s like a child is thinking his thoughts. “Phone rings as.. full stop. Bad timing. Doctor not happy… as night nurse should know” that is just poor grammar. Why would you have one characters chapters at least written decently but have the other character written so poorly? I get it that your trying to distinguish between two different personalities but come on. This is poor English! For a novel that’s been raved about a lot this is terrible!

The chapter then goes into a script mode with no proper structure warning. “Woman is annoying definitely. And is female” this man sounds like a psychopath (should know after experiencing a couple in my past)

As we slowly move through the chapters the main character Tiffy begins to annoy me. I mean why would you wear sunglasses in February if it’s not sunny, there’s no purpose indeed than to look like a diva. Ask, Leon is so rude! “Flat has been redecorated to look immeasurably worse. Can only conclude that she was doing it on purpose – nobody could be this tasteless accidentally.”

After a few more chapters the pair begin to leave notes for each other around the apartment. It’s weird isn’t it? Living with someone you’ve never met and even coming close to meeting them to run away and hide because Leon was nervous. They begin to grow on me as they begin to open up with each other. I’ve heard that Tiffy has been through abusive relationships however I do not agree as I am seeing a girl who is haunted by her ex, Justin. Especially when she is kissing another guy and gets flashbacks of bad then good memories of Justin which is odd. I think she was just in a controlling relationship where he made it seem like she needed him. As for Leon, that Kay lady was controlling as well in a obvious way.

The way Leon and Tiffy first meet was hilarious, there where bound to meet at some point. The way Tiffy begins to remember things about Justin like him saying she got rid of these clothes and other items then she sees those items. I hate him. He reminds me of another character from a book I read this year (I can’t seem to remember it, sorry) it’s the type of person that loves to be controlling and make you seem like you need that person. That’s mentally abusive.

One of the quotes I’ve enjoyed:

“Life is often simple, but you don’t notice how simple it was until it gets incredibly complicated, like how you never feel grateful for being well until you’re ill, or how you never appreciate your tights drawer until you rip a pair and have no spares.”

Overall I found this to be a great read as it showed a lot of development for all characters involved.

4/5 Stars

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Book Review: Dreaming Of Venice

Plot:

Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice

Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfilment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

Review:

Firstly, the front over is very inspiring. Of a mystery girl looking at the new island she has just arrived at. Absolutely love it.

The main character Penny Lane (like the Beatles song, yay) is an artist working in a cafe after ghetto girls her degrees to try to help guide her in her art career. I think I read this novel at a good time as I am personally taking up drawing during the period I was reading this novel. I loved that she is struggling to meet ends meet as it has made her appreciate every single penny she makes and will not do anything she does not want to. Her long-distance boyfriend though – what an ass. Seriously I would murder him if I where her, what he did was outright disrespectful.

When Caroline introduces herself it becomes clear that Penny is about to embark on an exciting adventure, who says dreams don’t come true? I begin to get excited as I am reading / going on the adventure with Penny.

With a new look and new job on the horizon it seems like she may be able to go to Venice at last. A whole new life out of the blue, all at once. I loved the friendships she develops. From new ones to old. Jimmy for example and his jokes, the banter between them is fun to watch. I love how into her art she is as well.

By the time the trip to Venice is coming up. The real Olivia has learned how to cook, loved regular clothes and started to come out of her shell more.

All three women found their happy evert after due to love at first sight. Something I do not believe truly exists in real life however each to their own as I found this story so cute.

4/5 Stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

Can I go back to Paris, go thrift shopping and book shopping whilst exploring museums and living off macaroons and croissants?

This year has been very eventful. As I said in one of my posts: life comes in phases. Just like the seasons this year a lot has happened.

From Wintery January of starting my instagram in the first place as well as my blog, finishing my final year of university. Exploring jobs and different parts of where I live and in different sectors, a little bit of travelling [however I wish it involved more travel].

Winter was all about travelling and doing more with my time than just studying for my final term.

Spring was similar however I began to drive a lot more and become more confident in that way and in general helped me grow more.

Summer was exploring jobs in different fields, not settling for jobs because of their job titles.

Autumn meant exploring a creative field I enjoyed.

Winter, the month of organisation and knowing in other ways what I want, taking things slower in an adventure way rather than organising every second.

Overall, I think I grew and learned a-lot this year compared to the previous year which is all that matters

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Book Review: Making Wishes At Bayview

Plot:

Callie Derbyshire has it all: her dream job as a carer at Bay View, finally she has found the love of her life. Everything is perfect.

Well, almost.

Ex-partners are insistent on stirring up trouble, and Callie’s favourite resident, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self.

But after discovering the truth about Ruby’s lost love, Callie is determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. After all, it’s never too late to let love in again. Or is it?

Review:

The main character is obsessed with sugar daddies and overthinks every comment her current sugar daddy makes even when he is not calling her fat (size 16) she keeps going on about her weight. I’m sorry, not sorry actually but if you have a problem with your weight – whatever weight you are – DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Instead of moping about and complaining. Aside from her body image issues it was interesting to learn about Ruby’s life experiences.

When the brother Nick enters the picture, I really liked his summary for the day to be spent with his sister “A visit to the castle, crabbing in the harbour, crazy golf, jet boat, Ferris wheel, ice-cream, slot machines, sandcastles, doughnuts, an open-top bus ride round The Headland, and fish and chips on the beach.”

I really got into this novel after the whole beginning part. Especially as we see that the main character is caring person, a bit naive but caring towards those she cares for in work as part of her job, and even her bully of a boss. It’s a quality I really admire as she is there for people especially if they aren’t there for her, she cares about the consequences upon others if she had spoken the truth.

I like how she gets her what I call in novels ‘happy ever after’ from discovering peoples truths, and seeing the happiness that she does deserve / gets from when she opens up. And this is all within the first third of the novel.

Then everything seems nice and sweet and we learn more about Ruby however, as the story paces on, the main character starts to complain, compare and annoy me so much between Rhys, Tony and Maria. Yes you feel bad about your friend losing your job however it is not your responsibility to sort her life out. As for the guys well give over and stop repeating yourself page after page.

And as for Rhys, seriously. Cosying our having drinks with your ex when she was supposedly ill. Yes I get you’re trying to be nice and all but that is not on. I don’t know why Callie would accept that behaviour as it’s far too many times and clearly is not just for their only thing in common (the baby).

By the end I enjoyed this novel. However the last fifth of the novel started to drag as there was a lot of happy endings being met and there wasn’t much purpose by the end of it.

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Juniper Gin Joint

Plot:

It’s been a tough year for empty-nester Jen in her seaside Devon town; her kids have left for pastures new and her husband’s left for another woman.

Home alone with her eccentric home-brewing father and a Jack Russell, she is just getting her life back on track when her job at the local museum is threatened by her first love and nemesis, Councillor David Barton, who intends to sell the beautiful old building to a pub chain. But help is at hand from her colleagues: Jackie, a former Greenham Common warrior; Tish, a flamboyant historian; and Carol, mega-flirt. Plus newcomer and former campaigner, Tom. Who happens to be a widower. And quite sexy. And also the owner of a Jack Russell.

The key to saving the day and putting the town back on the tourist map could lie just within reach – when reaching for a cold gin and tonic, that is. Mother’s Ruin to some, gin is the making of Jen when she comes together with her friends and family to save the museum and open an artisan distillery in the basement.

With its debauched local history of smuggling, can gin be the town’s saviour and bring love back into Jen’s life?

Review:

It starts off funny however I slowly began to find the constant need to always make a joke within the novel very boring very fast. She main character keeps saying how she won’t say this as it is rude and does it every other line – it’s boring, repeating yourself. Then I thought it was slowly starting to get better. But all this woman does is complain and is so paranoid of herself it’s very boring and difficult to read.

1/5 Stars

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Book Review: One Summers Night

Plot:

Kelsey Anderson is stuck in a rut so big, she’ll need a 4-wheel drive to get out. She’s just been made redundant from her dead-end job, and boyfriend Fran is so busy climbing up the career ladder that he’s forgotten how to have fun. She needs to change her life – and fast.
Stumbling across an advert for tour guides in Stratford-Upon-Avon seems like the perfect way to bring the sunshine back. In an impulsive move, she moves from her small Scottish village to Shakespeare’s birthplace, armed only with a suitcase and her battered copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.
Kelsey quickly falls in love with the place, her job as a tourist guide allowing her to explore every inch of the picture-perfect town, from cosy cafes to the picturesque banks of the river.
But it’s not just the town that captures her heart, as she finds herself torn between the actors Will and Jonathan who both vie for her affections.
But will beautiful Peony, the lead actress at the Oklahoma theatre company where Jonathan is playing Oberon in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, play a role in keeping Kelsey and Jonathan apart?
Or will flirtatious, charming Will, the fellow tour guide who has set his sights on Kelsey, keep the star-crossed lovers from finding their happy ending?

Review:

We are introduced to Kelsey Anderson who loves cameras. She shows up to work to be suddenly let go of. I love how the little book she carries with her everywhere is Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Her and her boyfriend Fran from the beginning had their problems and do not seem to be communicating at all as they have different paths ahead of them however Kelsey has the right to be a bit annoyed as she is under pressure as she does not know what she wants from life due to her limited choice of jobs and career path.

Just like that, after sending her CV off to what sounds like her dream job even though it’s only for the summer, the morning after she gets the call that she got it and has to be in England within the week, how exciting is that? Going from jobless to the job of your dreams.

I really did not like her boyfriend Fran, you do not spend your other half’s savings that was towards a house deposit on a car for yourself! Talk about being selfish as well as stuck up.

The novel started to remind me of Wild Woman’s Guide To Travelling with the whole tour guide and need to get out of where she currently was.

I loved how she got into her routine, her encounters with Jonathan and Will and just getting into that vibe of being in a new cutesy place, summer feeling, new routine, new career, new people and blending in with the locals, getting the local gossip in theatre world it’s all so artsy and it makes a cute change plus the cute little terrace she had to herself in the mornings and evenings I just wanted to be her for a while.

A quote I enjoyed, “Missing someone who’s right there in the very same town as you, alive and well and just getting on with their life is much worse than missing someone, say on the other side of the world, because if they’re nearby and they still don’t come and see you, then you really know all hope is lost. They simply don’t want you. “

Overall I really enjoyed this novel and the only thing I didn’t really like was that the main character was a bit silly at times for not communicating better with the guys mainly and her best friend thought it’s been okay to cheat whilst in a relationship however, it had a cute happy ending or shall I say start to the main character’s life ahead? The authors notes as well at the end of the novel where insightful as it aligns with her own adventures in Stratford.

4/5 stars

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ARC Book Review: I Have A Hunch

Plot:

Summer holidays are for relaxing, spending time with friends and listening to great music. All things that Alice desperately wanted to do. Instead she was sent to London to work with her Uncle Humphrey, a world famous private detective. Things start to get interesting when they’re employed to investigate the mysterious murder of millionaire, Victor Tymm. Together they start to gather clues before the killer can strike again.

Review:

Firstly I would like to thank the author, Jeremy DeCoursey for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I write my thoughts as I get them therefore this review will have my suspicions on the murder this plot is based on.

The main character Alice, 13 years old is sent to spend the summer with her uncle that works as a private investigator. Automatically I think this is a great opportunity to get into the mystery type genre without too many complications as the main character is young but not immature. Straight away she is told about a mystery with a symbol left at the crime scenes every time as that’s been a long-term one to solve.

A woman walks into the office on her first day as her uncle’s ‘apprentice’ and tells them about her late boss’s situation. When the police automatically rule it out as any sort of murder she turns to them to help and that they do. This is where the story becomes interesting and the plot thickens.

Clues are discovered and then replaced as a mystery person goes to get rid of them straight away which to me indicates it’s definitely someone in the household or at least has access to the household within the estate which means when the gardener suddenly appears it brings a red flag to me. Especially as me chatters on about the other neighbours in the estate.

For supposedly the best private detective investigator this character was written poorly as there are obvious clues that I figured out instantly and he’s supposed to be the best yet he’s as silly as his niece?

Just as I think I know who the murderer is the plot thickens as there could be a partner involved (with my theory) however I noticed all the small signs of the ‘what if’s’ to my theory however both Humphrey and Alice seem to mention the details and never actually get back to them – when writing I think those points should be addressed / looked into as the character did notice it instead of purposely not going over them if the guy is supposed to be the best at this kind of thing wouldn’t you agree?

This novel has me anxious to read more and to find out what happens next, if my theory is correct as it changes slightly with the new information I am given.

Also, I would like to point out I like how this seems to all take place in the space of one day and is split up into hours of the day.

It’s shown throughout it a decent attempt at humour towards the two main characters. By the end I was hooked as I was wondering was my theory correct and how it would pan out. I was correct. Some character flaws as with a lot of characters when I read novels but it still kept me hooked.

3/5 stars

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Book Review: Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better

Plot:

Following her breakout debut Eighteen Years, poet Madisen Kuhn is thrilled to share this intimate portrait of a young woman navigating early adulthood and leaving her teenage years behind.

Chronicling the complexities, joys, and challenges of this transitional phase of life, Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better is a powerful, deeply affecting work that pierces your heart with its refreshing candor and vulnerability. A poignant exploration of self-image, self-discovery, and self-reflection, this anthology brilliantly captures the universal experience of growing up, and you are bound to find yourself reflected in these glimmering pages.

Review:

At the beginning it’s easy to depict the memories and only remember the good parts. Good and bad. It’s always seen as the better times. Yet, that was when it was beginning. Now it’s something real. Yet as time passed we taken it for granted. Must remember this even though at the beginning it seems at times much better, it isn’t because now is better. Now it’s real.

Just like the writer, have to be reminded of this:

1. Whenever he wakes up in a half-asleep daze, he always reaches for me, or kisses me, or rubs his thumb on the back of my hand, and pulls me closer

2. Sitting in the passenger seat as I drove around aimlessly for an hour and a half on New Year’s Eve because I was upset and didn’t want to be at home, he told me in the 7-eleven parking lot while I cried at 1 a.m. , ‘I think you’re being too hard on yourself’

3. Spending hours caring for my dog when she was ill

4. Buying last-minute Christmas gifts the day before Christmas Eve and wrapping an impossible-to-wrap basketball for my brother

5. W forcing me to brush my teeth after I’ve already gotten into bed despite my whiny protests

6. Not taking my bullshit

7. Listening to 2009 alternative rock in his car with a box of Krispy kreme doughnuts in my lap

8. Meaning everything he says

⁃ is better than any mushy text message from when he barely knew me

Tonight I’m thinking about the beauty of embracing life’s chaos with knowing that we can’t choose a lot of things, but we can choose to love without ulterior motives, and to be stronger than our emotions makes us feel, and to always keep spinning forward. it’s okay, it always will be.”

“We become ghosts living in places that don’t exist yet, thinking happiness will only find us after we’ve achieved all the checks on our lives’ to-do lists. once I graduate, I’ll be happy; once I get a good job, I’ll be happy; once I move to New York City, I’ll be happy. we get so fixated on every level of consciousness that isn’t embracing the current. but maybe it’s time to stop letting our minds wander to places that are gone, or haven’t arrived yet. maybe it’s time to open the curtains and feel the sun on our skin and realise that existence is a series of nows. maybe it’s time to start realising that the best times aren’t behind us and better times aren’t ahead of us—better times are here, and they’re happening right now.”

As I’m reading through this novel of thoughts I’m finding it so relatable to my age group as the writer is a few years older than me. It’s so relevant as we take everything for granted, we keep pushing forward for these goals we are set up to achieve in life and I’ve been wondering these thoughts as well as I reached life goals.

“No excuse to abstain from life. If we aren’t living, then what are we doing? It will pass, it always does.”

After half way through reading this novel, it begins to be barely 2 sentences across two pages. For the price of this novel I expect more than a lot of empty pages with little to no meaning in poetry / thoughts in my opinion as there are a lot of great novels out there with a lot more content for a much smaller price tag.

3/5 Stars

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We’re All In This Together

During this period I’ve taken up drawing.

Remember, this too shall pass.

A friendly reminder that with the current worldwide situation we are all in this together. The harder we work together the sooner we can be with loved ones and reality. 😌

#WereAllInThisTogether

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Sunday Thoughts

it’s funny isn’t it? how a hint of cologne makes her melt

how one can forget any bad thing one has done,

the songs he would always dance to and make her dance to as well

endlessly driving in no direction,

making us both forget about everything and in those moments we felt at ease

the way he would smile at her randomly

that look in his eyes

is the way every girl wants to be looked at

forever.

how can you miss something you never properly had?

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BookClub Reads: Happiness for Beginners

Plot:

Molly Baker is living her best life.

Thirty-eight years old, she lives on the twenty-five-acre Hope Farm in Buckinghamshire, surrounded by (mostly) four-legged friends and rolling hills. There’s Anthony the anti-social sheep, Tina Turner the alpaca with attitude, and the definitely-not-miniature pig, Teacup.

Molly runs the farm as an alternative school for kids who haven’t thrived in mainstream education. It’s full on, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. So when the well-groomed Shelby Dacre turns up at Hope Farm asking to enrol his son Lucas, Molly isn’t fazed.

But Lucas is distant and soon Molly realises he might be more of a handful than she anticipated. And then there’s the added problem that his dad is distractingly handsome. Molly has her beloved farm to think of – could letting Lucas and Shelby in be a terrible mistake, or the start of something wonderful?

Review:

We are introduced to Molly Baker who lives on Hope Farm. There are so many characters at the beginning that I found it overwhelming to keep up with them as the story begins to set in.

When you read a novel I find myself always saying this but it’s true; you find yourself relating to the main character in some way or form.

Molly has a strong personality as well as getting to know all of the wonderful animals and people that I found myself loving her personality however at the same time it was difficult to keep up with to properly engage with the storyline. For example, she had a ‘bucket shower’ as her bathroom, which makes me feel bad for her as she should have at least basic necessities as well as amenities.

Molly helps Lucas come out of his shell more. With daily farm tasks he choose to help Alan which was a good mixture as they both don’t really like chatting to people too much.

I love how even though Shelby (Lucas’s father) is seen as someone full of himself yet him and Molly agreed silently that Scarlett’s behaviour was no different to a toddler. And just like that when everything seemed to be progressing is when the plot thickens and there is a dilemma that has consequences for those involved.

Overall I did enjoy the novel and the message it was sending as it is about spending your time with the ones you care about rather than chasing your ultimate dream it means nothing if you have to leave behind everyone you care about especially as things are progressing.

3/5 Stars

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Thursday Thoughts

they say to respect those that hold a higher position than you.

respect your elders

those that employ you

those that come from money

those that put on accents or seem very high class as it’s an act.

if you seem higher up in the pyramid of the different levels of superiority then you get this new found “respect”.

in today’s society the above way of how things where in multiple generations above me is now utter crap.

why?

because why should you show so much respect just because of someone’s position? usually superior people tend to use that to their advantage as an excuse to be a completely disrespectful human being.

always stand up for yourself no matter their position as a position means absolutely nothing.

the world evolves and we evolve with it.

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Book Review: A French Girl In New York

Plot:

This French girl’s life is ugly.

Maude has no friends.

Her foster family’s mean.

She knows nothing about her dead parents.

Only one thing keeps her going: her unconditional love for music.

Until one person changes her life.

Thanks to a chance meeting with an American music producer, Maude flies off to New York to live with his family for six months while she composes her first album.

There’s just one problem.

She can only sing classical and she needs to make this pop album rock… big time.

That’s why she’s stuck working with Matt.

He’s cute, he’s famous, and he makes her mad every chance he gets.

Fortunately, her new friends have her back, though they each have worries of their own.

Popular Jazmine never falls in love—until she’s head over heels with an unexpected boy.
Good girl Cynthia’s got a secret passion that could break her parents’ heart.
And Ben’s family tradition means he’s got an important choice to make before his birthday.

As Maude’s fun new life intersects with theirs she wonders how she could ever go back to her old one.

But when she uncovers the truth about her past, will she find the strength to overcome it or will it destroy her forever?

Review:

The title alone was so enticing. France and New York. Two places I would love to visit and take it all in.

Maude is 16 and an orphan. At the start the story has Cinderella vibes as she lived with her foster parents, dad off being a layer and the mom figure being a fat lazy woman that expects Maude to be her housekeeper and babysitter to the twin boys. See the similarities?

When she gets to go on a school trip to Paris for the day and sings infront of an audience in a local Parisian cafe she is then discovered by James Baldwin, a music producer in New York. With somehow convincing the evil foster parents she is then off to New York!

She lives with his family and comes across his children who make her life already become so lively as she is not used to this type of family behaviour.

I found it very interesting to learn about La Cenerentola – a nineteenth century opera that is more lively than the Disney version of Cinderella.

However after this I felt like the novel dragged a lot.

2/5 stars

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Book Review: A House To Amend A Broken Heart

Plot:

Everyone is hiding from something. . . Full of warmth, laughter, tears and heartache. Find out if there is a happy-ever-after at Willow Tree Hall. Willow Tree Hall has seen much better days and has been the proud ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Cranley for centuries. With no qualifications and escaping her past Annie Rogers takes the job as housekeeper to widowed Arthur, the charming current Earl of Cranley. After a bad fall puts Arthur in hospital, it’s up to a reluctant heir apparent Sam Harris, to lend a helping hand and try to find a sustainable future for the Estate. With the house requiring a full renovation Annie suddenly finds herself completely out of her depth with a team of dodgy builders and Sam watching critically from the side-lines. With Sam running from his past and Annie hiding from hers, just maybe together they can bring Willow Tree Hall back to life. The start of a beautiful new series focusing on the lives and loves, trial and tribulations of all those who live and work at Willow Tree Hall.

Review:

Annie is the housekeeper to Arthur. When he has an accident the only living relatives comes by. With a negative history we are introduced to Sam and Will. I seem to like positive fluffy novels the most. This one is written well, I just found my last read really easy to get into. Willow Tree Hall is an estate that is to be left to Sam to maintain as their parents passed away very young and they are the only relatives that can maintain it as their elders cannot. After around 50 pages in (eBook reading) I began to get bored as you can sum up a lot of the pages as nothing really changes. It’s a very slow progression with not much happening, I’ve found from the beginning that it could have been written at a gripping pace to properly entice the reader in.

Therefore 2/5 stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

life is funny at times

everything happens so randomly

things you plan out to do,

the right path to take,

the right lifestyle

to not be limited in choices or settle for anything less,

doing what is right

when, it can be so difficult to choose between a few different paths

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Book Review: Hopscotch Life

Plot:

Poor Plum Tardy. Between being saddled with a goofy name, to the way she misquotes adages, to her quirky style of dress, Plum always feel out of sync with other people. But even if others do seem to move in lockstep to successes Plum can’t even imagine, while she erratically leaps through life as if it were some giant hopscotch court, that doesn’t explain the startling way her life unravels.

Plum catches her fiancé Noah Rowle in the act with sexy Claire Denton, his partner in a real estate deal designed to allow the soul-sucking Budget-Mart chain to gobble up blocks of land across the country. Thinking her life couldn’t get any worse, she also learns he’s cheated her financially. Desperate to flee, Plum stumbles onto a bag of cash. Assuming that to be the booty Noah took from her, she runs off with it, toward a destination that’s just a name on a map. There, Plum finds a quirky town that needs someone like her. In one crazy leap, she not only makes that place her home, she thinks she’s hit on a way to stop to Noah and Claire’s land score.

But while Plum tries to help her new town halt the steamroller of progress, even with her unconventional perspective she could not have predicted the way her past would collide with her present. Will her offbeat approach save her, or land her in behind bars in hopscotch hell?

Review:

Plum. Her sister Sunni and her mother Crystal. How interesting names.

It was a little confusing at the start (as I find with a lot of novels) however I slowly got into it more so when I had free time. I enjoyed the writing style once I got into it however at times I feel like there’s no need to explain every small thing just from my own perspective. I enjoyed hearing the backstory to Plum and Noah as it gives a real insight as to how they where before things take a different turn.

The author introduces you to Plum’s life. The good and the bad and when it began to spiral as she loses her job and gets betrayed.

Overall I enjoyed this read and watching the characters develop.

3/5 Stars

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Thursday Thoughts

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.

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BookClub Reads: The Honeymoon

Plot:

Set in London and Venice at the end of the twentieth century, The Honeymoon follows a young man’s journey into his own past and the strange events that caused his life to unravel. American-born Gordon Garraty spent much of his childhood traveling through the capitals of Europe with his eccentric mother Maureen. As Maureen worked on her interminable art guide, Gordon recorded their journeys with his camera. Only later, while working in London as a freelance photographer, did Gordon begin to emerge from his mother’s influence—and meet Annie.

Several years his senior and the daughter of a North London cabbie, Annie is Gordon’s first love—and after a dizzying courtship, his wife. But when they take a honeymoon in Venice, Gordon and Annie are accompanied by Maureen and her new Swiss fiancé. The brilliance of the city seems to distort rather than illuminate. Jealousy, suspicion, and conflicting desires rise to a palpable intensity before a single act of absurd but devastating violence lays bare the emptiness at the core of their gilded lives.

Review:

I really enjoyed this part of the novel “One final glimpse from the portal window, from the gangplank, or the railing. The separation always feels like forever. And the protest is always the same, ‘But I haven’t seen enough. I am not full up! I would like to have seen a little more of Paris. One more afternoon coffee on the St Andre de Arts. One more morning in the Musee Rodin.’ Or, ‘Another day in London is all I ask. If I were to get up early and have just a sandwich for lunch I could do two museums in a day…One more afternoon in Madrid admist the Goyas and Picassos, if you please. One more lazy afternoon in Rome. One more gondola ride in Venice…It is here that I have felt most alive, most in love. Here where my eyes are open.’ And it feels that life is not possible, it cannot go on at home in normal circumstances and indeed it cannot!…I pity you…The only solace is that the door is not shut behind you. There is no rush. No haste required. For no matter the crowd that beats you back there, Europe will look fresh and new to the proper viewer. To friendly eyes, she will part the curtains and reveal…the same quality that has attracted visitors and the greatest artist since these cities began: inspiration.”

I think it describes the romance that one can have with a city or a place. This book spends a lot of time with characters that spend so much time falling in love with the art and world around them they miss what it is to love each other. I was expecting more of a romance but the book was more melancholic and at times sad and in a way it is the perfect travel companion. Travel in many ways is a solo journey. No matter the partner you go with the place and how you experience it is something only you can describe.

I wish I had spent more time looking up the paintings referenced in the book as parts of it would have enhanced the reading experience.

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: Ready Player One

Plot:

IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Review:

Review originally written in October 2014:

Ready Player One had all the ingredients for a deliciously good book. It was interesting, new, and fresh, and had just the right amount of friendship and love, next to a wickedly awesome storyline. And let’s not forget the world this book created – the OASIS, a whole new virtual world in which I would get lost in a heartbeat.

Which is what happens, basically. The year is 2044 and the world has gone to hell. The majority of the population is starving, suffering from poverty and all kinds of illnesses. Since reality is so bad, people have created a second identity in a virtual world called the OASIS. You can be anyone you want. That is the beauty of it. When the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, dies, he leaves behind a quest like no other. Find three keys connected to three gates in the OASIS, which consists of millions of planets and worlds. The person who clears the final Crystal gate wins Halliday’s entire fortune. “Willy Wonka meets The Matrix,” as was quoted on the cover.

I love the idea of the OASIS. I love everything about it. I love the fact that you can be anyone and anything you want, that you can travel anywhere you want (even freaking Jupiter), and do whatever you want. It sounds glorious, and it would be very dangerous for me to own a console like that. I would completely forget about the outside world. 

The idea of the über-contest is a brilliant storyline. The search for Halliday’s Easter egg is literally the ultimate quest and takes years. Only the best persevere. The best, and the cheaters: it’s not just honest people trying to solve the puzzle, but there’s also an evil corporate involved. They want to take over the OASIS and make all kinds of changes to it. It makes it all the more exciting. You’re rooting for the good guys and booing the bad guys. It felt like a reality show at times.

I am not a gamer. I’m not that much of a geek, and I know pretty much nothing about the decade of the ‘80s. I’m pretty sure I did not even understand 5% of the references, but they were all explained briefly (video game? TV show? Movie? Song?) so I was able to follow anyway. Despite my obvious lack of knowledge, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the characters of Parzival, Aech and Art3mis. Sorrento was a brilliant villain. Everything just fit. Like a key in a lock. Which might take you to a whole new world one day.

4/5 Stars

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Book Review: Work in Progress

Plot:

I never thought my first kiss would be on my wedding day.

But here I stand, clutching a bouquet of pale pink roses behind the doors of a Las Vegas chapel, and at the end of the aisle is the absolute last man I imagined would be waiting for me.

Thomas Bane.

Bestselling author. Notorious bad boy. Savagely handsome, dark as sin, chiseled as stone. And somehow, my soon-to-be husband.

Marry him, and I’ll land my dream job. Save him, and I’ll walk away with everything I’ve ever wanted. All I have to do is remember it’s all for show. None of it is real, no matter how real it feels.

But first, I have to survive the kiss.

And with lips like his, I don’t stand a chance.

Review:

Although I am addicted to romance novels, too much cheesy in my reads is not great.


“Deep down, I’d always known our time together was temporary. Because life was fluid, ever changing, never the same for long. It was a string of seasons, good times and bad, happy and sad, one after the other. But above that deep-down knowledge was the naive hope that we’d somehow stay together forever.”

I fell just a bit bad because I am becoming one of those negative reviewers portrayed in the book but hell not even the blogging aspect saved this one for me. The writing was good, no problem there, now the characters and plot is another story.

Do you know when authors create characters that have this one distinctive feature that identifies the main characters? Well, this is an example when the characters are nothing else but that. To make characters interesting they should not be predictable and hopefully had a complexity to them, but oh boy Thomas (I refuse to call him Tommy, iugh) was only loyal and dangerous, while Amelia was only naive and pure. I could literally predict everything that will happen and how the characters were going to react, it was so bland.

The novel felt endless, so much of nothing, there was zero drama when needed and when it appeared it was completely absurd. There were some interesting backstories to Thomas and his brother and mom, but we had so little of scenes with them. A work in progress is the perfect example of how romance becomes the only focus of the main characters lives. It was like 2 weeks of only them, but how when his mom lived in the same property and was hella sick. I just feel that if added more scenes of this my liking for Thomas could have grown. The “huge break” though, wow my eyes rolled till Asia and beyond, so forced and fabricated. Also, our female character feels like crap for things that are not even her fault. If you hate miscommunication, you are warned.

In conclusion a little too much unrealistic content and drama, I am out. I just didn’t connect.

2/5 Stars

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Bookclub Reads: Then. Now. Always.

Plot:

Twenty-eight year old Hannah is ready for an adventure. She and her colleagues are in Spain for a month to film a documentary, and it’s a dream come true. Not least because Hannah will get to spend long summer days with Theo, her boss (and crush). If only Tom (Hannah’s best friend and cameramen) and Claudette (the presenter) would stop getting in the way…

Then things become even more complicated when Nancy, Hannah’s half-sister arrives. What on earth is she doing here?

For once in her life, can’t Hannah just have one perfect summer, free of any drama?

Review:

First, lets discuss the cover, it definitely sets the scene of Mojacar and easy to picture a village that has never changed up through time with its white buildings, bright colourful flowers and amazing views of the sea.

The story follows Hannah who visits the Mojacar on a work trip with her best friend Tom, her dreamy Greek God of a boss Theo and don’t forget Claudette the presenter. The month long trip includes filming a documentary of a place that is close to Hannah’s heart and also as she describes, the place that has made her into the person she is today. Apart from the crazy teenage antics Hannah got up on her last visit to the Spanish village with her friend Rachel many moons ago, Mojacar is exactly how she remembers.

Then Now Always has been written well balanced between getting to know Hannah and her past including her relationship with her half-sister Nancy, her adventures in Mojacar during her work trip and also the magical history of Mojacar. There are a lot of events that happen in this story and we also get to know a bit about each character that is mentioned. My favourite part of this story is the friendship that develops between Hannah and Elaine and getting to know a lot about Elaine’s life story and the reason why she moved to Mojacar, which is sad but the ending will make you happy and proud.

Unfortunately, I did have an issue with this book and that is that I felt it dragged a bit too long when got to about 60-70% of the novel. I felt a bit frustrated at times and I wanted to get straight to the point. Although I loved the descriptions of the island I did find the main character funny at times however annoying at times.

4/5 Stars

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Breakfast Recipe: Herb Omelette

Serve 2 with this delicious recipe!

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Tomato halved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil

Instructions:

First: Heat the oil in a small non-stick frying pan, then cook the tomatoes cut-side down until starting to soften and colour. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the herbs and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.

Secondly: Scoop the tomatoes from the pan and put them on two serving plates. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir gently with a wooden spoon so the egg that sets on the base of the pan moves to enable uncooked egg to flow into the space. Stop stirring when it’s nearly cooked to allow it to set into an omelette. Cut into four and serve with the tomatoes.

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Book Review: Where The Light Gets In

Plot:

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world . . 

Review:

I liked the overall story of Lorna and Joyce’s friendship and, as always, I liked the dogs. However, I found the story was too meandering and without depth. In addition, the Sam element was supremely tedious. The ending just did my head in.

I love the meaning of the story however I did find this novel to be a bit slow for my liking.

2.5 / 5 Stars

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Vegan Friendly Recipe – Cinnamon Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 280 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour (dip and sweep)*
  • 185 g (3/4 cup and 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 105 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F(177C°). Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  • Put flour and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well.
  • Add ground cinnamon and mix until combined well.
  • Add butter to the flour mixture and knead well until the dough becomes together.
  • Take small pieces (25grams- a little bit more than 1 tablespoon can take) of the dough and roll them into balls. Alternatively, as this recipe makes 22 cookies, you can divide the dough into 22 pieces and roll them into balls. Press the balls preferably with a flat-bottomed glass or a measuring cup to flatten them evenly or with the palm of your hand and finally give a shape with a fork.
  • Bake for 14 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to completely cool. They will be crunchier as they cool.  When they are cool, store the cookies in an airtight container to keep their freshness.
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Book Review: Passion on Park Avenue

Plot:

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

Review:

I did like Naomi and Oliver but it was such a light, slow burn romance with nothing major happening that I never really felt their connection. I liked their interactions, they could be sweet, but it was lacking that want and need.

It took me a while to get into the story and I spent the first half wondering if I shouldn’t finish it. However, I was invested enough that I wanted to know what would happen so I stuck with it. It’s not super descriptive and some thing’s felt like a footnote or glossed over. I didn’t warm up to Naomi until the end, she’s a pretty brash character that could hold a major grudge and it almost felt over the top. Towards the end, she softened and I liked her much more. That’s when her personality shined.

2/5 Stars

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Book Review: Unexpected Lessons In Love

Plot:

Jeannie always wanted to fall in love, and now she’s finally got the whirlwind romance she dreamed of. Dan’s gorgeous, he’s a successful young vet, and he flew her to New York and proposed on Brooklyn Bridge. Jeannie has to remind herself this is actually her life. It seems too perfect, too magical, to be real. Yet it is.

But now she’s on her way to the wedding she can’t shake off the tight sensation crushing her chest. Is it just nerves . . . or is this all happening a bit too fast?

Jeannie has one last chance to shout, ‘Stop!’ But just as she grabs it, a twist of fate throws everything she knows into the air like confetti. What Jeannie learns about Dan, about her own heart, and about the power of love itself, will change her world for ever . . .

Review:

Unexpected Lessons in Love filled me with so many different emotions. Tears were spilled, smiles were given, and love felt. As much as Jeannie irritated me at the beginning of the novel, by the end her journey warmed my heart and I felt myself routing for her. The story itself is so character driven, full of friendship, heartbreak and love. In all honestly I knew what would happen in the end, however I definitely didn’t expect there to be such a twist! The part I loved most about this book though (not that there was much I disliked) was all the dogs. This aspect simply made the story for me. Love love love!

I highly recommend this novel if you’re a lover of contemporary fiction, or just want a bit light in the dark. I’m very much looking forward to reading more from Lucy Dillon as always!

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: David Copperfield

Plot:

David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr Murdstone; his brilliant, but ultimately unworthy school-friend James Steerforth; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble, yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora Spenlow; and the magnificently impecunious Wilkins Micawber, one of literature’s great comic creations. In David Copperfield – the novel he described as his ‘favourite child’ – Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of the most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. This edition uses the text of the first volume publication of 1850, and includes updated suggestions for further reading, original illustrations by ‘Phiz’, a revised chronology and expanded notes. In his new introduction, Jeremy Tambling discusses the novel’s autobiographical elements, and its central themes of memory and identity.

Review:
This novel reads like a soap opera. However, even though I don’t watch many soap operas I can say that many that I have glanced at always seem to involve upper middle class and upper class people. Australian soap operas tend to only deal with the upper middle class (see Neighbours and Home & Away) where as the US ones tend to deal with the uber-rich (Dynasty). What sets Dickens apart is that he deals with the poor and poverty stricken.
Despite my dislike of Dickens’ work, as I have suggested before, they are actually quite helpful and insightful because we see a side of 19th Century England that we do not see in a lot of the other novels. Say for instance Jane Eyre, or the writings of Jane Austin. In these romances we are always dealing with the landed aristocracy. In Dickens we are not. We are dealing with the poverty stricken masses of England. It is especially important because Dickens is writing from experience. While it is very much an ‘oh woah is me’ type experience, if we can step away from that we can see and experience a part of England that we very rarely get to experience. Moreso, we tend to see it in all is dark and dirty unpleasantness.

2/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Old Curiosity Shop

Plot:

The archetypal Victorian melodrama, as heartfelt and moving today as when it was first published, Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop is edited with notes and an introduction by Norman Page in Penguin Classics.

Little Nell Trent lives in the quiet gloom of the old curiosity shop with her ailing grandfather, for whom she cares with selfless devotion. But when they are unable to pay their debts to the stunted, lecherous and demonic money-lender Daniel Quilp, the shop is seized and they are forced to flee, thrown into a shadowy world in which there seems to be no safe haven. Dickens’s portrayal of the innocent, tragic Nell made The Old Curiosity Shop an instant bestseller that captured the hearts of the nation, even as it was criticised for its sentimentality by figures such as Oscar Wilde. Yet alongside the story’s pathos are some of Dickens’s greatest comic and grotesque creations: the ne’er-do-well Dick Swiveller, the mannish lawyer Sally Brass, the half-starved ‘Marchioness’ and the lustful, loathsome Quilp himself.

Review:

Curiosity Shop weaves between the travels of Little Nell and her grandfather and the doings of characters like Kit Nubbles and Dick Swiveler in London. I find that the novel reads more like a literary experiment. I love thinking of it as a “modern” fairytale for the age in which it was written. Certainly, angelic, innocent, ethereal Nell has many strange experiences on her journey through the novel, meeting both the benevolent, the malevolent, the grotesque, and the unusual.

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: Outmatched

Plot:

What happens when a boxer finds chemistry with a geek?

Parker Brown can’t believe she needs to hire a fake boyfriend. When she landed her dream job in renewable energy, she thought she’d be entering a world at the forefront of progressive thinking. But the head boss prefers to promote employees who are “settled.” Thankfully, she’s found the perfect candidate, a fellow intellectual looking for some quick cash. What Parker gets is his protective big brother—Rhys Morgan. The tall, muscled ex-boxer with a foul mouth shows up just as her boss does, and now she’s stuck with the manipulative jerk.

Responsibility weighs heavily on Rhys. Now permanently out of the ring, he’s trying to hold together his late father’s gym and keep his younger brother, Dean, on the straight and narrow. To save Dean from himself, Rhys takes his place, ready to give this society girl a piece of his mind. Instead, he finds an opportunity. Even though they can hardly stand each other, posing as Parker’s boyfriend is a win-win deal. She gets to keep her job, and he’ll charm her star-struck boss into sponsoring his gym.

Problem is, they can barely keep their hands off each other. And what started as an easy deal isn’t so easy anymore. Because what future can a rough ex-boxer, afraid to open his heart, and a polished society geek, who has sworn off real relationships, possibly have?

They say opposites attract. These opposites are about to combust on impact.

Review:

This was a good novel. I was really excited about it, I thought I was gonna love it because this a ‘Fake Dating’ romance book and I’m a sucker for it but in the end I didn’t love it as much I thought I would.

I liked the novel, I liked the characters but there was something about the novel that didn’t make me connect too much with it.

Parker was really adorable, I liked her so much. There were times were she made me laugh and that was one of the reasons why I liked her. The connection between Rhys and Parker was great and you could see from the first time they met that there was attraction between them.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book but I expected something more, and even though it wasn’t what I expected, I still enjoyed it and I would still recommend it. 

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: Penguin’s Poems for Life

Plot:

Taking its inspiration from Shakespeare’s idea of the “seven ages” of a human life, this new anthology brings together the best-loved poems in English to inspire, comfort and delight readers for a lifetime. Beginning with babies, the book is divided into sections on childhood, growing up, making a living and making love, family life, getting older, and approaching death, ending with poems of mourning and commemoration. Ranging from Chaucer to Carol Ann Duffy, via Shakespeare, Keats, and Lemn Sissay, this book offers something for each of those moments in life – whether falling in love, finding your first grey hair or saying your final goodbyes – when only a poem will do.

Review:

The most difficult thing about a novel full of poems is what is in them. The person who has the job to decide and compose a novel of good poems to everyone’s tasting is a very hard job indeed. This book of poems is set on life and the seasons of life. From the the first memories to the last breath. This book has a well sort out theme of poems with very famous and mind breaking poets. Though a good book of poems and that has exactly what you want is very hard to find. In every book you have a problem with the plot or character or in some circumstances you absolutely love it.

I believe it is a decent novel and contains good old poetry. Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare, William Wordsworth and many other poems to relate to!

3/5 Stars

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BookClub Reads: A Room Of One’s Own

Plot:

A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on the 24th of October, 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women’s colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled Women and Fiction, and hence the essay, are considered nonfiction. The essay is seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy. 

Review:

This novel is a great read that I think all women should read, especially when you are in the mood to gain from an insightful read.

My favourite parts about this essay were when Woolf talked about the struggles of classic female authors – Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Shakespeare’s hypothetical sister. It’s easy to think “I’m sure those women had a hard time writing!” without stopping to think about the times they lived in and how they’d just recently won the right to vote. Woolf scattered in plenty of details about women’s daily lives for context, though I got the impression that the women she talked about were already fairly well off anyway.

If I ever find myself in the mood for feminist non-fiction in the future I’d probably re-rate this higher, but for now I have to be honest and say I just didn’t totally love it. It read more like a quick historical anecdote to me.

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: Stress Less, Accomplish More

Plot:

In Stress Less, Accomplish More Emily Fletcher shares an ancient meditation technique designed for busy lives. The focus of the practice is stress relief, mental clarity and improved productivity, so it’s perfect for the fast pace of modern life. This style of meditation was developed specifically for people with a lot of demands on their time – those with busy jobs, lives and families – and so it has been designed to work anywhere, anytime. All you need is somewhere to sit, a little training and a few minutes to yourself.

Review:

The author spends a good chunk of the book explaining why stress is bad. This isn’t all that interesting. We all know why. We hear it all the time and what are we supposed to do with this information? If you’re me, you tend to stress about being stressed. The author also spends a great deal of time explaining how her method will not only help you feel better, but can also actively make you richer! And if you don’t believe her, let’s read all these inserted testimonials from “actual” clients!

The entire “secret” is about four pages long. It’s just one chapter out of the entire book and it’s smack bang in the middle. So we had all this build up for this teeny, tiny actual bite of information. But I was on board so I went with it. I started meditating her way. Which is to say, you don’t really meditate. And this is fantastic, because I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried meditation before and I can’t sit still that long. I’m thinking of how my feet hurt or what if someone sees me meditating and what does meditation mean? What does life mean? What is life?

But this method of meditation is really just sort of “thinking”. You focus on your surroundings. The loudest things you can hear, smell, taste, feel, etc. And then also the smallest things. I already knew a lot of this, so this felt like a bit of a lecture for something so small that could have been summed up in a blog post.

So I think this novel would suit those that have absolutely no clue on the topic.

2/5 Stars

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Road Trip: Fort Dunree

This place is a great place for a walk, with the jaw-dropping views from different angles. It can be a bit of a walk at times as it involves a steep hill however it is definitely worth the visit! There is a little cafe on sight, a visitor centre with toilets and you can see what wildlife is like in the area. It has a lot of history, as it has military items. There is also a museum which has old army uniforms, pictures, guns and knives etc to view. The museum and seen the viking stuff and old army kits etc. Was very interesting looking at the old artillery that was used on the fort in its day. Very much recommend it for a day trip!

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Book Review: Us by David Nicholls

Plot:

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen-year-old son, Albie; then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway. Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage and might even help him bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. 

Review:

The novel is largely told by Douglas Petersen, a middle-aged Englishman leading what to him is a comfortable, ordered life in the countryside with his wife Connie and their son Albie, who will be going off to University in the fall. Faced with the looming prospect of being “empty nesters”, Douglas’ sense of self and solidity is rocked to their roots by his wife’s admission one night that she wants out of their marriage. Douglas is at a total loss. His reply: “I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.” But Connie’s perspective on marriage is not as absolute. “Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?”

Prior to Connie’s disclosure, Douglas had planned for the family what he hoped would be a fun and rewarding family summer holiday in Europe. The Grand Tour, the last that he, Connie, and Albie would likely share together. He hoped that through this shared experience he and Connie would grow closer together and rediscover what it was that brought both of them together almost 25 years earlier. (With some considerable persuading, Douglas gets Connie and Albie to go along with his plan and the 3 of them set out for Europe, with Paris as the springboard.)

Nicholls is a very clever writer and uses his paragraphs well, introducing through them subtle time shifts throughout the novel that show the beginnings, the progression, and the ups and downs experienced by married couples.

There are some unexpected twists that come up in the novel, which made it deeply compelling at times. Any reader who loves stories about people struggling and persevering against life’s slings and arrows will find solace in reading this novel. Love David’s writing [especially One Day]

3/5 Stars

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Happy New Years!

What are your resolutions for this year I suppose is the thing to ask everyone?

I think it’s good to set out goals for the year ahead you hope to achieve. 

However upon reflection of the last year, so much happens that you didn’t plan or expect. So by setting goals for the full 366 days ahead this year is a little unrealistic. 

You can not possible plan each moment. 

For example, you may have not drove in years after getting a licence and you suddenly impulse purchase on a car half way through the year which came out of the blue but later becomes a decision you never regretted in the first place. 

The point is, I think it’s good to set some goals. Of course the main aim being to succeed in your current lifestyle you have set in place. 

Goals appear when you start taking action which is usually achieved within half a year. 

I achieved so much during 2019 without setting any goals or resolutions and it was the best way possible. 

Each season I reflect because I seem to experience a lot each few months since the last half of 2018. You can only grow by reflecting. 

Travelling, experiencing all sorts of events such as jobs and your own goals you never expected to do – just because life happens as it does is the best way to live. 

Happy beginning of 2020! 

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Book Review: The Christmas Party

Plot:

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged south-west coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise – and dismay – it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle.

Why her? Something unknown – something terrible – made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself.

Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past? 

Review:

This was a great novel! It wasn’t a traditional Christmas story full of fluff. This one had a deeper story and actually, Christmas was only mentioned near the very end of the novel. The story focused more on the time leading up to the holiday.

What I really enjoyed was the characters, and in particular, the relationship between the three sisters. When their father, the last remaining Knight in Ireland died suddenly, the ancient title passed with him, but everything including the castle was left to his three daughters.

What follows is a story of love and family secrets. If you are looking for classic Christmas romance, cookie baking, tree decorating and everything else festive, you will not find that here. But this novel definitely had a lot of heart, took place in a fabulous setting and had some great characters! I really enjoyed it and would recommend it as part of your holiday reading!

3/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Return Journey

Plot:

A secretary’s silent passion for her boss meets the acid test on a business trip….A man and a woman’s mutual disdain at first sight shows how deceptive appearances can be….An insecure wife clings to the illusion of order, only to discover chaos at the hands of a house sitter who opens the wrong doors….A pair of star-crossed travelers take each other’s bags, and then learn that when you unlock a stranger’s suitcase, you enter a stranger’s life. In their company are many more, whose poignant, ironic, often humorous stories–unforgettable slices of life–make up The Return Journey, a spellbinding trip into the human heart.

Maeve Binchy was born and educated in Dublin. She is the author of the bestselling books Evening Class, This Year It Will Be Different, The Glass Lake, The Copper Beech, The Lilac Bus, Circle of Friends, Silver Wedding, Firefly Summer, Echoes, Light a Penny Candle, and London Transports, three volumes of short stories, two plays, and a teleplay that won three awards at the Prague Film Festival. She has been writing for The Irish Times since 1969 and lives with her husband, Gordon Snell, in Dublin.

Review:

The stories are quite short, tiny snippets of people’s lives dealing with very particular situations, sometimes covering a mere few hours, with the plot in mind at the back of the novel I thought this was about one main story. They introduce you to these characters, tell you a bit of a plot, then just as you are about to get into it, it’s finished. I found this to be pointless as there was no message to each story. Not satisfying at all.

1/5 Stars

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Book Review: Love and Lies at The Village Christmas Shop

Plot:

Blast the Michael Bublé, wrap your hands around a cinnamon latte and enjoy this warm, hilarious Christmas novel!

Ivy loves Christmas. As owner of Christmas Every Day, the year-round festive store, you’d expect nothing less!

The only thing missing in Ivy’s life is a dash of romance – something her twin sister Holly will not let her forget…

When her mother passed away, Ivy vowed to take over the running of her mother’s store and keep the Christmas spirit alive in the idyllic seaside town of Marram Bay.

But all this changes when an enigmatic businessman moves to the town, threatening to bulldoze her beloved shop to make way for holiday complex.

Review:

First novel I am reading of Portia MacIntosh and I must say that I really loved this book!

This very festive novel, and I found it fun to read. There are a few situations happening in the book that made me laugh out loud. I also liked the fact how Ivy never gives up her dream to keep her Christmas shop alive even when this beautiful business man wants to destroy it although at times she did annoy me with how naive she is when it comes to business transactions. This novel is also about family love. And finally to top it all, there is a beautiful romance happening in the novel.

Ivy and Holly, sisters live in a household that loves Christmas and that runs the Marram Bay village Christmas Shop all year long.  Ivy shares her love of the holiday with her late mother and Holly hates the season.  After their mother’s death, Ivy has decided to take over the Christmas shop.  One day, while not expecting it, a handsome man named Seb comes into the shop.  He is charming and the two end up under the mistletoe.  Later, Ivy learns that Seb is a developer and is in the market for the property the Christmas Shop sets on.  As Ivy tries to figure out a way to keep her beloved shop and not become a bad person during the holidays, she develops some friendships including one that could be more if it wasn’t for the current situation.

This book is such a feel-good little book.  There is so much tied up into it including lost relatives, family legacies, new friendships, new romances, family editions, the power of love and family at Christmas, and community which makes it an excellent combination to find a theme that relates to you at the very least.  There isn’t a sad ending in this book at all, and even at points where the plot did hint to something negative or could have turned towards that, it didn’t. 

I will say that perhaps my favourite element of this book is the character of Ivy because she isn’t your typical woman looking for a man for the holidays.  She is strong-willed and self-sufficient, and even hard-headed most of the time.  Even when Seb makes fun of her Yorkshire accent, she faces him and doesn’t let that bother her.  In fact, she tries to brush off and ignore Seb for a while because he threatened her village, even though she did feel attracted to him.  I really admired her attitude and how she lived her life for herself.  A strong female character is always a plus in a book!   

4/5 Stars

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Road Trip: Ulster Museum

This place which is right next to Botanic Gardens is interesting! It is inspiring and a good place to reflect or grab some food and walk about the local area of Belfast.

There is constant new refreshing paintings I am told as well which can be inspiring. I love visiting museums, it brings inspiration, peace, and just that feeling you get when you are learning and reflecting upon history. (It is also free to get into I might add)

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Book Review: The Gravity Of Birds

Plot:

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.

Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters—a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.

In The Gravity of Birds histories and memories refuse to stay buried; in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again.

Review:

I thought The Gravity of Birds was interesting and was quite strong at the beginning in presenting the two storylines: that of the Kessler sisters and the arrival of Thomas Bayber in their lives, and the contemporary story with an elderly Thomas seeking out the sisters. It left me wondering what what happened to the Kessler sisters, what was really going on between them as the rift was palpable even at the start, etc. The book was also interesting on touching on themes of art, the drive to create, and art criticism, all of which were pretty strong early in the novel. I loved that the main theme of family and the notion of how strong the bonds of blood are when faced with illness and personal tragedy, disappointment and resentment.

The story of Alice and Natalie and Thomas had me completely enthralled, as well as Dennis and Stephen’s attempts to find out what happened back then. Speaking of which, the Dennis and Stephen dynamic was quite interesting to read at first especially as their road trip started off rather hilariously. But I felt like their respective character stories weren’t as strong as they could be (though Dennis’ personal backstory was much more interesting and fleshed out), probably just because the main story was very intriguing to digress to other characters that weave in and out of the main story. I would recommend The Gravity of Birds to readers of historical fiction.

4/5 Stars

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BookClub Reads: Peter Pan

Plot:

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie Peter pan, the mischievous boy who refuses to grow up, lands in the Darling’s proper middle-class home to look for his shadow. He befriends Wendy, John and Michael and teaches them to fly (with a little help from fairy dust). He and Tinker Bell whisk them off to Never-land where they encounter the Red Indians, the Little Lost Boys, pirates and the dastardly Captain Hook. 

Review:

Growing up is scary. But so is not growing up. There’s a fine balance between finding the time to be free and open, enjoying life and staying away from one’s fears. But you must also learn what is necessary to become a good, solid and functioning citizen of the society.

What I love about this story is the amount of interpretations you can absorb from the story, the characters, the setting and the action. Just when you think you’ve got them all down, another view point comes into play – and you have to re-think what the moral purpose of the book is about.

This is a great read for all ages! Highly recommend.

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: Encore Valentine

Plot:

As Encore Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of Valentine’s grandmother. Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, artisans of handcrafted shoes in Greenwich Village since 1903. Valentine’s dreams are dashed when her grandmother names her brother and nemesis Alfred her partner at Angelini Shoes. A long-distance romance with the sexy Gianluca who lives in remote Tuscany seems impossible so Valentine tries to devote herself to her work. A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine to Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roscallis, but Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own, but is torn between a past love that nurtured her, and a new one that promises to sustain her.

Review:

This is the second instalment in the Valentine series. Valentine Roncalli is a 35-year old single woman living in New York City. She recently inherited her family’s custom shoe business with the caveat that her brother will take over the business management side of things. Her best friends are Gabe, a gay man who has a flair for decorating, and Bret, her ex-fiancee. She has a love interest in Italy who writes amazing letters to her, but she isn’t sure how committed she can get to someone who lives so far away. The business is struggling to expand and Valentine takes a trip to Argentina where she meets a long lost cousin and learns more about her family.

Valentine is just not likeable enough character. I find Valentine to be immature and tiresome. I could not for the life of me figure out why an older, and presumably wiser man like Gianluca would want anything to do with her.

Trigiani had a tendency to throw in little life lessons along the way that really annoyed me. I literally rolled my eyes during some of the more trite parts. Trigiani also tries to wax lyrical in a forced and unnatural way. She had an obsession with using unique color words to evoke a mood–chocolate, eggshell, ruby, saffron, pumpkin, emerald, etc. But it didn’t flow well and it just got overbearing for me.

1/5 Stars

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Book Review: Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Plot:

When Sylvia Plath died, she not only left behind a prolific life but also her unpublished literary masterpiece, Ariel. Her husband, Ted Hughes, brought the collection to life in 1966, and its publication garnered worldwide acclaim. This collection showcases the beloved poet’s brilliant, provoking, and always moving poems, including “Ariel” and once again shows why readers have fallen in love with her work throughout the generations.

Review:

I find poetry hard to review. I’m not much of a poet myself: I dabble now and again but I wouldn’t call myself one. I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge of the craft to fully appreciate poetry, and so I can’t really comment on how good it is.

Sylvia Plath is a poet I do like, but I don’t love all of her poems. This collection in particular was a little bit of a mixture, but I feel like I’ll appreciate it more and more on subsequent readings – and I will most definitely be returning to it. The majority of the poems have a strong focus on death, at least for me, which does not make for light reading. I think with a different headspace I will find a lot more to love in this collection.

If you are looking to get into poetry, I would say Plath is a good place to start, as her poetry is more accessible than most. I’d read The Bell Jar first though.

3/5 Stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

“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, un-chartered 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.”

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Book Review: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Plot:

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience

Review:

Betty Smith’s classic novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a rather odd book in the sense that it has no real plot. There wasn’t a build up to some significant event or events; it’s simply the story of Francie Nolan growing up in Brooklyn, New York during the 1900’s. That about sums it up. Of course, the Nolan family go through their share of hardships. Francie’s father has trouble finding work, and he’s the town drunk but in Francie’s eyes, her papa can do no wrong. They have a special connection. Personally, I took an instant liking to Francie especially in the second chapter when she talks about her love of books and shares with us her special reading spot. Being a book lover myself and someone who enjoys a little peace and quiet now and then, I can relate.

Did I like this novel? It wasn’t too bad. The pace is slow—like a turtle walking backwards slow. The plot was rather plain, but I enjoyed Francie enough to want to finish our journey together. I felt a little detached while reading. It might just be the author’s writing style, but I didn’t feel pulled into the story like I have with other books. Sometimes you read a book, and you’re there with the character but other times you’re There There; when they’re upset, you cry; when they’re angry, you want to punch a wall. I lacked those feelings. I’m not saying don’t read it. I’m just saying I didn’t connect as well with this novel.

2/5 Stars


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Recipe: Vegan Almond Coconut Cake

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

Ingredients:

2 and 1/2 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

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 prefer the Almond Cupcakes I made the most!

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Book Review: Winnie-the-Pooh: The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems

Plot:

A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh is nothing less than a true children’s classic. Winnie-the-Pooh may be a bear of very little brain, but thanks to his friends Piglet, Eeyore and, of course, Christopher Robin, he’s never far from an adventure.

This very special collection will delight fans of Winnie-the-Pooh young and old. Relive all your favourite episodes from the Hundred Acre Wood, brought stunningly to life with the iconic illustrations from E.H. Shepard.

Pooh ranks alongside other beloved character such as Paddington Bear, and Peter Rabbit as an essential part of our literary heritage. Whether you’re 5 or 55, Pooh is the bear for all ages.

Review:

Winnie-The-Pooh, a wonderfully charming, kind, caring, very clever and funny bear; it’s very interesting to read the original source, especially in my edition which is a 75th Anniversary hardback edition, fully illustrated with colour pictures drawn from E.H. Shepard.
The familiar characters, Pooh, Eeyore, Owl, Piglet, Christopher Robin and the sparse appearances of Tigger are solid complex characters. Of the many surprises I encountered, the two that stood out were the dark undertones at the start of the story which introduced Kanga and Roo to the forest, which also presents the dark side of Rabbit’s character, this turns up again in a second tale.
This is a gem that every serious collector should have in their library, it’s a treasure to be unveiled when in the company of an unsuspecting wide eyed child with an insatiable appetite for adventures and lessons on the importance of friendship and kindness to animals and the environment.

There’s two volumes of poetry which didn’t really do it for me, I’m not an appreciator of poetry but it doesn’t really tarnish the book because the strength of the tales with Christopher Robin and co are story enough to keep anyone happy, and yes, as expected, the conclusion of the tales was very sad.

5/5 Stars

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Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Plot:

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Review:

This book had a magical effect on me alright, although not quite the magic the author had intended. The issue I had with this book was that I did not enjoy reading it. Every time I picked it up all I could think about was how I would much rather be tidying up than reading about tidying up, so I would put it down, making for a very lengthy read of a very short (and repetitive) book.

However, something sparked a change in me as a result of reading this book. I have become obsessed with throwing things out! I cannot profess that her specific method changed me because I found much of her advice impractical for me. She has some interesting ideas if you have the time or lifestyle. I did take the one–and in my opinion only–piece of advice I needed from this book, which was to ask myself before discarding something whether it “brings me joy”. All I can say is it struck a chord in me. Since finishing this book two weeks ago I’ve discarded/donated/recycled more junk that was tidily tucked away and had become out of sight, out of mind.

In a short time I’m a changed person and it’s a freeing feeling. So lo and behold there was some magic in this book after all, and for that it was worth the read. That, and I found it mildly entertaining if not comical. At the very least it was thought provoking, but felt more like a chore when I would have rather been reading for pleasure. Recommended if you need a little de-cluttering inspiration, but I might have preferred the audiobook so I could have killed two birds with one stone and saved some precious reading time.

3/5 Stars

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Meal Recipe: Pasta and Tuna Bake

Love love love this meal!

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  2. Boil 600g rigatoni for 2 mins less time than stated on the pack.
  3. To make the sauce, melt 50g butter in a saucepan 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 cheddar.
  8. Bake for 15-20 mins until the cheese on top is golden and starting to brown.
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Road Trip: Magilligan Point Beach

Magilligan Point guards the mouth of Lough Foyle and is home to Lough Foyle Ferry and Martello Tower.

This short beach walk through a National Nature Reserve provides opportunities for visitors to explore the beach or spot birdlife and sealife.

When there is decent weather it’s good to take a nice stroll along this beach, it is right next to a bar however, it would be a short quick walk, and you would have to be careful as this beach does not seem to be taken care of as other beaches in this area.

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Recipe: Vegan Friendly Banana Coconut Cake

Ingredients:

Firstly to make Almond meal: 1 and 1/2 cup of almonds raw in a blender for 15 seconds to ensure fluffy-ness

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Pinch of salt 

3/4 cup of light brown sugar

1.5 medium bananas mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

1 cup of coconut oil

Instructions:

Mix together to form and put in a baking container [with baking paper out]

Add Almond Flakes  to top it off

Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 35-45 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through the middle.

Remove from oven and cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving warm.

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Thursday Thoughts

Quote I really enjoyed:

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. 

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BookClub Reads: The Professor

Plot:

The Professor was the first novel by Charlotte Brontë. It was originally written before Jane Eyre and rejected by many publishing houses, but was eventually published posthumously in 1857. The book is the story of a young man, William Crimsworth. It describes his maturation, his loves and his eventual career as a professor at an all-girl’s school. The story is based upon Charlotte Brontë’s experiences in Brussels, where she studied as a language student in 1842.

Review:

The Professor is the first novel Charlotte Bronte ever wrote, but the last to published. I feel like Charlotte was still searching for her own style when writing this story and I found it a bit less accomplished than the other novels I’ve read from her, but that’s to be expected.
The main character being male brought a new view point to the novel’s setting as I’ve pretty much only read about it from the women’s point of view. It was interesting to see how it might have been for a man to live in the 18th century England, and in this case The Netherlands as well.

The story is straight forward and quite simple, what plot twists Charlotte tried to create were easy to foresee. But that didn’t matter. What I enjoyed most about The Professor is it’s atmosphere, descriptions of the time and place, relationship struggles and in the end, a lovely, heart warming romance.
Though something that did bother me somewhat is when Charlotte over described things, or people to be more precise. There are painfully long descriptions of people we would never hear from again. I understand that Charlotte has the skill for writing about the way people look, but enough is enough. Especially for such a short novel.

3/5 Stars

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Tuesday Thoughts

i don’t think you should ever have to compromise your happiness

i decided to do what I always did at work when i had to make a critical decision

but the main choice was not immediately clear: i weighed the pros and cons

i think it would’ve sucked more to never know though.

to always wonder what might have happened if i’d been brave enough to take the chance. 

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Vegan Friendly – Cinnamon Rolls

I LOVE these so much, they’ve become my speciality too.

Here is an updated recipe. Less sugar, more healthy, whilst still delicious.

Altogether the duration including waiting for flour to rise can take up to 4 hours.

Ingredients for dough:

  • 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.

During this hour wait, prepare your filling:

  • 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. 

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 [half cup of granulated sugar, half cup of corn starch, blend it together until smooth kind of texture]
  • 2 tbs of almond milk
  • 1/2 ts of vanilla extract

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 !

Hope you enjoy!

C

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Road Trip: Mussenden Temple

This is a lovely place to see, as well as walk and oversee the beach. It used to be free entry however now it is much overpriced than what it is actually worth! Like for the price you might as well go to the Giant’s Causeway instead (even then that is even more overpriced) and they try to rail you in with a cheap deal of gaining a monthly subscription to visit every national trust place in Northern Ireland as a cheaper alternative.

Apart from the NT becoming money grabbers for the history that lay in Northern Ireland this place is a nice place to visit to walk along. (If you can get in for free) as it is far from worth the price they are charging.

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Book Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Plot:

Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century. In this semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, Amy, eccentric cousin Randolph, and a defiant little girl named Idabel, who soon offers Joel the love and approval he seeks.

Fueled by a world-weariness that belied Capote’s tender age, this novel tempers its themes of waylaid hopes and lost innocence with an appreciation for small pleasures and the colorful language of its time and place.

This new edition, featuring an enlightening Introduction by John Berendt, offers readers a fresh look at Capote’s emerging brilliance as a writer of protean power and effortless grace.

Review:

Capote was only 23-24 when he wrote it, and yet he exists in two of its autobiographical characters — Joel, the young teenager, and his uncle Randolph, the theatrical, narcissistic, unstable alcoholic that prefigures the role Capote would play in his own life. Or so it struck me.

Other Voices, Other Rooms is a coming-of-age novel but I felt there was no real plot or point; I struggled to understand what was happening for half the novel. I’d finally feel I got to grips with it and understood what was happening, only to turn the page and feel lost all over again. I feel like this novel was meant to be a profound piece of literature but it felt a bit like Capote tried too hard, tried to be too poetic and mysterious and totally lost me, as a reader, along the way.

1/5 Stars

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Book Review: Hinch Yourself Happy

Plot:

Transform your home — and your life — with cleaning, tidying, and decluttering tips from British housekeeping sensation Mrs. Hinch.

Cleaning (aka “hinching”) doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore — not when Mrs Hinch is here to show you her sparkly ways!
Often called the “British Marie Kondo,” Mrs. Hinch is a domestic guru who has taken the world by storm with her infectiously addictive charm, clever tidying tips, and passionate belief in the healing power of cleaning. In Hinch Yourself Happy, she makes cleaning glamorous and fun, and explains how it’s a brilliant way to taper anxiety and manage your mental health.
Inside you’ll find out: How cleaning can soothe anxiety and stress Mrs Hinch’s must-have cleaning supplies Step-by-step guides to hinching your home And so much more! With the help of her favorite tools and products — including Dave the Duster and Shannon the Shark (her trusty vacuum cleaner) — Mrs Hinch will show you how to truly make your house a home. Whether you’re a daily scrubber or simply looking for a monthly household makeover, Hinch Yourself Happy will help you create a cleaner house and a calmer you.
If you want your kitchen to sparkle like Meghan Markle, then this is the book for you!

Review:

Firstly, I did not know who this woman really was until I started reading it.

In one of my jobs [as I currently write this review], I have seen her or heard about her everywhere and always rolled my eyes as all these fans are very obsessed with a woman who shows herself cleaning around the house.

I didn’t read the blurb for this book nor did I do any research on the author. I just went in with my assumptions that this novel is probably about cleaning tips that’s about it. I finally went on Instagram after I started the book and was surprised to see a young woman with an exceptional, modern and carefully decorated house!
I feel like my lack of prior knowledge about the author worked in my favor as I got to see her vulnerable, behind the camera side in this novel first.

She comes across as a really sweet, honest and genuine woman who doesn’t shy away from talking about the difficult parts of her life. Her cleaning tips sound great in theory and maybe I’ll even try a few out in one of my non lazy days when I get my own place.

I’m totally one of those people that wants a clean house but can’t be bothered to break my back doing it.

The only ‘negative’ part for me in this entire book is Mrs Hinch’s excessive use of plastic and non environment friendly packaging for all the cleaning products. I appreciate that she’s addressed and even tried to create a sense of responsibility to recycle what she recommends.

3/5 Stars!

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Vegan Friendly Breakfast – Tofu Burrito

Essential Ingredients:

  • Flour tortillas (lightly warmed) – 4
  • Vegetable oil (or another kind of cooking oil) – 3 tbsp 
  • Garlic (minced) – 1 clove 
  • Onion (diced) – 1/2 
  • Firm or extra-firm tofu (drained, then chopped into 1-inch cubes) – 4 oz / 100 g 

Ingredients to your taste:

  • Mushrooms (sliced) – 1/2 cup 
  • Turmeric – 1/8 tsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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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

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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.