Monday, 28 July 2014

A bit of a wobble & living the dream

Looking Forward


So last week I had a bit of a wobble.  I suddenly (ish) realised I was 33 and I had been in the same office job since I was 21 and hadn't really achieved anything.   I used to think my job was a stop gap until I decided what I wanted to do, only I never decided.  I had ideas but never expanded on them.  Then I met Mr Melvis and my ambitions changed.  I assumed my children would be my biggest achievement, my imprint on the world but I don't have any children.  For the past 5 years, since my last miscarriage (exactly 5 years ago today), I've been at a bit of a stand still.  Living in a bubble, waiting for something to happen but not realising that I had to be the one to make it happen.

So last week I had a bit of a wobble.  There were tears, big gulping sobs of tears that led Mr M to think something awful had happened but it was just the opposite.  Nothing had happened, nothing had happened for a very long time.  It appears that those big sobs were the release I'd been waiting for and I felt my imagination returning, my creativity growing.  I remembered the dreams I had, recognised the new dreams I didn't realise I had.

I didn't decide to do something about these dreams, it just happened.  I found myself buying a sketch book and pencils on the way home.  I spent time scribbling ideas down, things I'd like to make, to stitch, to paint, in the hope of having a job that fulfils me and makes me want to go to work.

Walt Disney Quote


I remember the first time I heard someone say Everyone has a novel inside them.  I was just a teenager and I thought That's so true.  Of course, I didn't attempt to seek my novel out, but I knew it was there.  Last year, my novel became clear - title, characters, story but again, I did nothing as I didn't know how to start the story.  

On Friday night, Mr Melvis went off to work and I sat on the sofa and I suddenly knew how to start the story so I rushed to the laptop and started writing.  I kept writing and soon I'd done 2000+ words.  After work on Saturday, I wrote more and more ... and soon had another 4734 ish words.  Sunday morning, I wrote again, the words kept flowing and now I stand at 9096 words.  In one weekend, despite working, cleaning and (kind of) watching 24 episodes of Friends.
It's amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it! (Big thanks to lovely Jennifer for her praise and encouragement!)

Apparently, a novel has between 80,000 and 100,000 words, so I'm about 10% of the way through (there goes the Carol Vorderman in me!). If you find me a bit quiet for a while, you now know why!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Kindle Bargains #2

Love a Bargain 


In case you missed last week's post then you saw right - Kindle Bargains are back!

For those who've never heard of Kindle Bargains before - these are fabulous Kindle books that cost 99p or less. They'll most likely go back up in price, and some of them pretty quickly so if you spot one you fancy, one click quick!

For more information on any book or to download your copy, click the title.

Don't have a Kindle? Find out how you can read Kindle books on your PC/Phone/Tablet or similar device.




Chances - Freya North


A rare bargain treat from the bestselling Author

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart


John Green describes this as "... utterly unforgettable" 

The Book of Lies - Mary Horlock


The first of this week's books that are set in the 80's - a cracking debut, apparently!

Hurry Up and Wait - Isabel Ashdown


Another 80's novel, this time from Sunday Novel Competition winner Isabel Ashdown

Love is a Thief - Claire Garber


Lovely chick lit, perfect for summer hols

 Summer With Love - Sarah Morgan


It's Mills & Boon, but not as we know it 

If You're Not The One - Jemma Forte


It sounds a bit like Sliding Doors, with added coma

Toute Allure: Falling in Love in Rural France - Karen Wheeler


Tonnes of 5* reviews - Tres bien!

Dear Lizzie - Annie Lyons


A shiny new release for less than a quid!

Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues - Trisha Ashley


Another bestselling bargain!

Happy Shopping! x 

 

What will you be reading this week? Let me know in the comments below :) x


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Book Review & Giveaway - Return To Love

Return to Love - Kathleen Shoop



Welcome to the latest stop on the Fiction Addiction Book Tour for Kathleen Shoop's latest release, Return To Love.


April and Hale Abercrombie’s love is tender and sweet. While he serves in Vietnam, their  marriage is marked by trust and the belief that they will grow old together with a gaggle of grandchildren at their feet. But, their charmed marriage changes in the face of losing their newborn daughter.
On leave from his tour, Hale can barely wait to hold his wife and her help her heal. When he arrives, his embrace, his touch, and his love are as perfect as April remembered. Their reunion is passionate and their physical connection is strong and soothing. But, April’s heartache remains.

Hale stumbles through his attempts to prove to April that their future will be rich and full of wonder. His good-hearted, but take-charge approach causes her to retreat. Even in grief, April can see Hale’s earnestness, yet she finds solace in putting space between them. They must learn trust that real love will endure even in the face of all that has gone wrong.

Set on the beaches of the Outer Banks, Return to Love is the second book in the Endless Love series. Book one, Home Again, was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie   Book Awards.

 

Excerpt


Chapter 1  


Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Autumn 1970 

Hale’s lungs were tight as he gripped his duffel in one hand and held his uniform over his   shoulder with the other. He flew up the steps of the small fishing cottage that his wife was   renting from the Shelby family and arrived on the wide porch. He had imagined the moment   he’d see her so many times that he felt like he was performing a play. He dropped the   duffel right there and knocked on the screen door. Why was he knocking? She knew he was   coming. He threw the door open and walked into the small entry. It opened into the family   room. He wiped his feet while he scanned the space. “April!”

His heart beat fast and heavy. Yes, he was home under difficult circumstances. Hale’s wife  was having difficulty coping with the stillbirth of their daughter. He was worried for her and   knew if his skipper granted hardship leave that things must be bad. Yet he was determined,   sure as he had finally arrived at the Outer Banks, he was confident that he could make her   well. He just needed to see her, to hold her, to tell her everything was going to be okay.

The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight” was playing on the radio. The tune brought a smile   to his face. He rushed down the hallway and poked his head into two bedrooms and a   bathroom before finding the room April had been using. He tucked his naval uniform into   the closet, went back to the kitchen, and turned off the radio, straining to hear any noise   that might signal April’s location. He went back outside, inhaling the salty air.

Where was she? He leapt off the porch and crossed the gravelly lane called Beach Road   stepping onto the sand, craning his neck to catch a glimpse of her. A seagull clipped Hale’s   head as it landed off to the side then flipped a whitefish into its mouth. As far as he could   see, the beach was empty, yet he thought he should walk it, search for April. He didn’t know   which direction she would have walked, but he started out anyway.

Heading south, a flock of black birds escorted him from above. Scores of them moved   together like one great wing flapping in the wind. The whoosh of their collective descent   was punctuated by their coarse, throaty screams.

The sand worked into Hale’s shoes, each particle stabbing at the skin below his ankles. He pushed one shoe off and then the other, leaving them near a smattering of driftwood that had been pushed ashore by high tide. The birds dropped, their calls growing louder, drowning out the surf. One by one the black skimmers rained from the sky like bombs, their red beaks bright against the gray sky that had crept in with Hale’s arrival. Some of the birds landed in the shoals and poked and prodded at the sand.

He came upon the largest cluster of birds, the beige sand peeking out in small patches among the blackness, and his eye went to a different form, a woman sitting rod straight, motionless in the center of the black avian shroud. Her blonde hair whipped in the wind like the sea grass at his feet. Hale stopped. His heart thumped. April. He willed himself to breathe, to move toward her. He’d never seen such a sight, the way she seemed partly born of the sand, partly able to sprout wings and fly away.

“April!” he said, waving even though her back was to him.

She did not respond. He called again, his words turned back to him by the stiff ocean gales. He jogged toward her, weaving in between napping skimmers, hopping over those that were too busy eating to move out of his way.

When he had nearly reached April, he halted again. He suddenly felt nervous about his excitement; he felt her sadness as though they shared the same soul. He’d never seen such a stunning sight in his life. Her elegance was apparent even sitting on a beach, in the middle of birds. She turned her head slightly, her profile facing him. His stomach flipped. Oh my God, is she beautiful. The wind tossed her hair, making her appear as though she were posing for a magazine shoot.

Even from a distance, even from the side, he thought he could see the sparkle of her blue eyes. The way they were set, wide on her face, made it seem as though he saw something slightly different every time he looked at her, something more, something alluring, hypnotizing. Those eyes.

There was no woman more captivating, he was sure. Or more lonely. Her sadness seemed to leap over the sand to him, to well up from the soles of his feet, filling him, squeezing the breath from his suddenly heavy lungs. If he felt this, then her pain must be far greater, her emptiness more profound. He’d helped her create life, but he hadn’t been there when it ended.

He moved closer to her, yelling her name again. She sat, splashed by the surf, her shorts and sleeveless t-shirt clinging to her body. Her legs were pretzeled beneath her, her arms outstretched, resting on her knees, her palms turned skyward. Seaweed had wrapped around her fingers, dangling from them, the ends washing around her with the surf. She appeared fragile, even more so than the year before.

He finally reached her and dropped to his knees. Her eyes met his and he saw a spark in her expression, as though it took her a few heartbeats to realize who he was. She threw her ice-cold arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. Oh, God. The thrill he felt to hold her again shocked him, and the worry crashed away like a spent wave.

He kissed her cheeks and forehead and chin then ran his hands over her arms. “What are you doing out here like this? It’s so cold.” Hale didn’t wait for answers. He gathered her in his arms.

She drew back. “Wait.”

His chest heaved, wanting to wrap her up tight. He leaned in, and she put her hand against his chest, stopping him.

“It’s you, it’s you, it’s you.” Her gaze penetrated his, her words were thin against the noisy surf. Her smile turned electric. He was struck by the thought that his wife was all right, that she had weathered the stillbirth better than he’d been told. He exhaled, not realizing he’d been holding his breath.

Inches apart, they stared at each other. He grabbed her hands as a wave broke, drenching them. The tension dissolved and they laughed, falling into each other, running their hands over every bit of skin they could reach, marveling like they had discovered the lost tombs of Egypt.

“Let’s go.” He squeezed her hands.

She nodded and wrapped her arms around his neck. He stood and she latched her legs around his waist.

Hale moved down the beach, holding her. His excitement, the love he felt for her, spread throughout his body as she pressed her hips into him. He threaded his way toward the cottage, disturbing slumbering birds, whispering to April that all would be well now that he was back, that he would take away the hurt and make everything perfect again.

And as he headed back to the cottage, April nuzzled into him. “I love you, I love you,” she said, her lips moving against his neck, thrilling him. It had been nearly a year since he’d pulled April from the chilled water of the Albemarle Sound, since he had rescued her body and she had rescued his heart. Last year, back home on leave, he’d felt as though somehow he was starting over again, but had been lost, needing to find her as much as she had needed to be found.

She squeezed her legs tighter, finding his lips with hers. He stopped walking and set her down, continuing the kiss.

She pulled away, touching his arms, his chest, his cheeks, her eyes filled with tears. “You’re here, you’re here, you’re here. I can’t even believe it,” she said.

Hale dug his hands into her hair. “You’re okay?” After seeing her so solemn at the edge of the surf, he hadn’t expected her to be gleeful, as though his presence had snapped her awareness to on. She kissed him again.

Hale laughed, talking into her kiss. “Thank God.” He laid his forehead on hers.

She nodded, grabbing his backside, pulling him to her. “Let’s make love. Right here.”

His excitement grew, but in the back of his mind, even with this thrilling greeting, he wasn’t sure they should make love. Had he returned from Vietnam under any other circumstances, he wouldn’t have hesitated. But this was different.

He traced his finger over her lips. He had forgotten just how tall she was until she stood there in front of him. She went up on her toes and kissed him. “Please, Hale. Please. I need you. Please. You’re not going to make me wait? Not after being gone so long. Don’t tease me like this.” She played with the hair at the nape of his neck with one hand and moved her other hand between his legs.

She sat down, pulling him onto the sand with her. “No one’s here. Just us.” She leaned back on her elbows, her eyes full of flirty mischief.

He looked around as he knelt between her legs, caressing her knees, her thighs. “But what about—”

“It’s okay. It’s fine. I am.”

Hale licked his lips. “You’re sure? Usually, I like to woo you first. At least a little, if you recall.”

April threw her head back. “You call fixing my roof an exercise in wooing? No roof to fix here.” She met his gaze again, flinty desire making his stomach flip.

“Consider me wooed, my love,” she said.

Hale shook his head, his cheeks hurting from his wide grin. He held up his finger. “Be serious, for just one second.”

“Oh, serious Hale.” She rolled her eyes, chuckling.

He scoffed at her mocking, their little joke. She seemed like herself. Perhaps she was stronger than everyone thought she was. He finally let the full force of joy and lust hit him. “There’s no one like you, April Abercrombie. No one in the world.”

She sat up and laced her hands around his neck, pulling him down on top of her. His lips met hers. He wanted to take his time and explore her body, take in every bit of her with his eyes, with his fingers, so he could savor the experience once he was back overseas. But even as he kissed her, she was fumbling with the button on his jeans and shimmying out of her shorts. She’s okay, Hale thought, relief rushing through him. Her passion and desire for him nearly made him laugh out loud. He’d been so afraid for her, worried that he wouldn’t know how to talk to her. But here she was, overwhelming him with her excitement, with her resilience.

“Please. I just want you close to me.” She wrapped her hand around him, stroking, making him gasp. She was no longer just part of a scene in his memory. She opened a door that he was free to run through. He kissed her neck, tasting the salt that had dried there. She pushed his pants off and grasped his ass.

He wanted to savor every moment, to slow down time. They pushed against each other, the tingling lit through him like fire, her arousal fueling his. His heartbeat sped up making him think he couldn’t slow things down.

She put her hand on his shoulder, shifting her weight so that she could straddle him. She pulled off his shirt and he leaned back. She bit his ear then kissed him from his neck to his shoulder, onto his chest and belly before taking him into her mouth. “Oh God. April.”

She kissed her way back up his body, every bit of him shuddering as she slipped into his lap. The loose neckline of her t-shirt fell to the side. He kissed her collarbone and ran his hands around her back, unhooking her bra as she moved against him. He lifted her shirt over her head, flung the bra to the side and kissed her breasts. She grasped him at the back of the neck and paused before wrapping her hand around him. She lifted onto her knees and guided him inside her. Hale gripped her hips.

His vision blurred as the warmth of her body around his shocked him. She rose up and down and in a few moments he was close to the end. She dropped her head back, her hair swinging behind her. He pulled her to him, wanting to feel her against his chest. With her in his lap, her arms and legs clamped around him, holding him so tight he could barely find his breath, they finished.

Breathing hard, Hale turned April onto her back, her body nestled under him as though they’d never been apart.

The happiness. It was alive in him, coursing through his veins. His eyes burned. Warm tears slid down his face onto her cheek. He watched her heaving breath settle into unison with his, her face placid with her eyes shut, lips slightly parted. He brushed her hair from her face.

Having her under him, their hearts and bodies joined in this moment of sheer release was what he’d imagined the entire time he was in Vietnam. And best of all, she was okay. He couldn’t believe it, but they had all been wrong about April. She was fine. Thank you, God.


Review


We return to Hale & April a year into their lives together.  We learn that they married quickly, and fell pregnant a short time later and it appeared that their Happy Ever After had arrived but now, Hale has been granted special leave from Vietnam after their child was stillborn and he learns that his family are concerned about April's mental state.

Despite working hard to make her old childhood home habitable once again, in preparation for married and family life, April has abandoned Bliss and accepted the kind offer of a beach house from her friend, Martha.  In the month or so since she lost her baby, April has formed a daily routine which includes swimming in cold seas, digging for oysters, and tuning in for a specific dedication on the radio each evening.  Her days are long and lonely, the attempts of family and friends to try and help her have failed, and she appears to be sinking deeper into depression.

Upon Hale's return, she regains normality momentarily but once the moment has gone, she slips again.  Hale will do anything to help April feel well, but with April hiding a secret that she fears may tear their relationship apart and less than a month until Hale must return to war, both remain unsure as to if and how they can move forward.

Return To Love deals with the subject of stillbirth in a tender, expressive and emotional way, knowledgeable in how such births and deaths were handled in the late 60's and early 70's.  The doctors, the nurses, the procedures and the expectations are often a million miles away from the present day, whilst in other ways we could be reading about today, as it's clear that the struggle of those around a Mother who has lost her child are much the same - unsure of what to say to her, how to act around her and often surprised by the depression and rage that envelopes her.

The love between Hale and April is woven beautifully between the many moments of heartache and pain that they share.  How they see each other, interact and talk to one another and how both are trying to help the other despite the tragedy they have suffered, provide hope that the couple can survive their fragile first year of marriage and achieve their dream of growing old together.

I loved several of the other characters in the book; Martha who not only provides shelter, but keeps April busy with her cunning list; Hale's Mother whose experiences mirror those of April's and Nurse Peter's bringing hope to a Mother in her darkest hour.

My Rating 4/5 - After reading Home Again last year, I was keen to find out what happened next for Hale and April.  Whilst this wasn't the Happy Ever After both myself and the couple had hoped for, it turned out to be a sensitive and tender novel about love surviving even the darkest of events.  Great characters, beautifully described surroundings and a good knowledge of how stillbirth was handled at the time made this book both enjoyable and interesting to read.  Assuming there's a Book 3, I look forward to finding out how the story continues.


About The Author


Amazon Top-100 Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance.

Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.


Giveaway


Kathleen Shoop is running a giveaway for the tour with the following prizes on offer - 3 x $15/£10 Amazon Gift Cards plus 1 x recipe book (ties in with Return to Love) Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox by Lisa Consiglio Ryan.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow The Tour



Fiction Addiction Book Tours

*I was provided with a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I've not been paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Like Love Loathe #2

The L Word(s)


This is my second week joining up with the Like Love Loathe linky on Futures and Life in a Breakdown and have a feeling my "Loathe" is going to remain the same for the next 3 weeks ...



Like | Rainbows


It's true that you can't have a rainbow without rain, and the last thing I want to be happening on lovely summer days is buckets of rain ... but when it's followed by a spectacular rainbow it can almost be forgiven!  I hadn't seen a rainbow for years then a few nights ago, I saw this beauty -


By our estimations, the Pot of Gold was in Tesco car park but we didn't get there in time! ;-)


Love | Future Plans


I'm not really one for plans, dreams or ambitions.  That whole thing kind of came to a halt for me a few years ago, and I suddenly feel like I've been at a stand still since 2009.  These past few weeks however, I've been feeling more optimistic and actually daring to dream, which is wonderful and scary and exciting all at the same time.  I have some plans coming together, now I just have to put them into action!

Loathe | The Dentist


I am one tooth down, my first tooth removal since 1989 (when they put me to sleep, might I add!) and I've been jabbed with needles, prodded with dentist proddy sticks and my tooth has been extracted with pliers.  I am sat here with a numb mouth, talking like a cross between a deaf person and Wossy and generally looking like I'm taking the piss out of someone. I have another 36 minutes until I can even have a drink, I can taste blood in my mouth, I have the dentist song from Little Shop of Horrors playing on a loop in my head ... and I have to go back 2 more times to have teeth taken out and then back again for a filling (just the one mind - my first ever filling!).  So at the moment, I'm loathing the dentist ... although Mr M is walking and feeding the dogs tonight ... and doing the housework ... and cooking the tea ... and giving me the big sofa to lay on ...  So maybe it's not all bad!


What is on your likes, loves and loathes list this week?


 If you fancy joining in, you can find the linky over at Futures or Life in a Breakdown.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Squidgy Chocolate Brownies from Lurpak

Yummy Brownies Recipe


This recipe is from a Lurpak Brownie Set I picked up in Asda a couple of years ago. I've since picked another up in Tesco so I think they get released quite regularly. These are the best brownies I've ever tasted and so easy to make!

Ingredients

350g 70% Dark Chocolate
200g Lurpak Slightly Salted Butter
250g Dark Muscavado Sugar
50g Self Raising Flour
3 Eggs

You'll also need

2 mixing bowls – at least one must be heat proof
Whisk/Kitchen Mixer
Wooden Spoon
Saucepan
Brownie Tin
Greaseproof Paper

Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas Mark 5 and line your brownie tin with greaseproof paper.
  • 1/4 fill your saucepan with water, break your chocolate up and pop both the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and rest it on top of the saucepan
  • Warm on a low heat, stirring occasionally til everything has melted.
  • Whisk the eggs in your second mixing bowl until they are pale and fluffy, but not too stiff.
  • Add the sugar to the eggs and whisk until it thickens up.
  • Gently fold your melted chocolate/butter mix into your egg/sugar mix and then sieve in the flour. Continue to fold until smooth.
  • Slowly pour the mixture into your tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • When you see the satisfying crust on top, they’re done. They should be all squidgy inside too.
  • Leave to set for an hour or two then cut into 16 squares (or if you are like Mr & Miss Melvis - 9 squares!)
At the bottom of the recipe card it states that the brownies will taste even better the next day! I thought what’s this nonsense, surely they are better fresh from the oven?! But no, they do infact taste even better the next day! They go from being chocolate brownies to being EXTREMELY chocolate brownies overnight, it’s like a chocolate miracle!

Oh, and just a little last minute note before you get started – If you’re like me and short on pennies quite a lot of the time, you’ll find they don’t taste any worse for using a lower % chocolate. I often use 50/55% dark chocolate (Asda Chosen by You is about £1 for 200g) and they taste just as nice, so you don’t have to fork out a fortune for the posh stuff.

Happy Baking x

Love The Little Things - Week 29

Crazy Stupid Love


My favourite weekly link up - Love The Little Things is a weekly feature hosted by But Why Mummy Why, in which we take a moment to appreciate the little moments of joy we've experience over the past 7 days.

Read


This week I've been reading Return To Love by Kathleen Shoop.  When I moved blogs, I had a few book tour dates left to fulfill of which this is one, and my review will be up later this week.

I also read a load of online articles/blog posts, here are some of my favourites:

Recipes from a Normal Mum book

Watched


The Celebrity Masterchef Final! I haven't seen much of this series but I have kept up over the past two weeks and very much enjoyed the final.  I was also thrilled to see that my favourite contestant won ;-)


Heard


There are times when I suddenly remember an album that I once loved and have to listen to it again.  This week I had one of those moments, when a guy at worked mentioned Rockin' The Suburbs by Ben Folds. As soon as I got home, I dug out my CD and listened to it all the way through :)



Made


This week I made mince and dumplings, which I hadn't made for aaaages and it was delicious!

Mince and Dumplings

Wore


I rushed around after work on Wednesday, made the tea in record time, ate it even quicker and had my bottom in front of the lap top with seconds to spare ... for my 7pm VIP slot for the Next Summer Sale.  A lot of the things I ordered were gifts to put away for Christmas, but I did treat myself to some half price jeans, a scarf and a bag - pics coming when they arrive! x


And Lastly ...


Lots of great photographs have been shared on my Facebook timeline this week.  The first from a series of photos marking Duke to dog's last day on Earth.  Beautiful and utterly heartbreaking!

The second was a collection of photographs of baby Sam's first steps into his new adoptive family - some of the shots are amazing!

To celebrate (commiserate?) the final Monty Python show of all time, a giant dead parrot made it's way to London's Southbank earlier this week - this is one of the moments that I wish I lived closer to our Capital!


Fancy joining in?


Just copy the headings and use them as prompts then link up at But Why Mummy Why. Use the hashtag #littleloves if you’re on twitter to share your posts.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Kindle Bargains #1

Bargains are back!



Yes, you read that right - Kindle Bargains are back!

I received a lovely message off a lady last week, saying she used to love the weekly Kindle Bargains post but since I've been posting them on Facebook, she doesn't see them, whereas when I wrote a blog post she got a nifty email to say they'd been posted. 

So they're back although a little different to the old Me, Bookshelf and I posts - a more simple layout but the same idea - books for your Kindle priced at 99p or less.


One Day - David Nicholls


One of my favourite books!  The film was bloody awful a bit of a let down but the book is definitely worth a read - and 99p is the cheapest I've ever seen it.

Thirteen Weddings - Paige Toon


The latest release from Paige Toon just a few months ago is now just 99p and it's got a stack of 5* reviews!

Payback - Kimberley Chambers


Dotty at work, a.k.a "The Queen of Crime Novels" finished this the other day and LOVED it! She's a bit gutted that she has to wait until January for the next book.

Where Have All The Boys Gone - Jenny Colgan


With all the Kindle Bargains recently, Jenny Colgan is really spoiling us!  Another cracker from the chick lit veteran, only 99p!

Thornton Hall - Lynn Marie Hulsman


I believe this is actually called Christmas at Thornton Hall and they've just removed the festive words from the title and changed the colour of the book.  Either way, it's a Harper Impulse Romcom, which have never failed me before and it's got some great reviews.  It'll probably be more expensive come December too!

The French for Love - Fiona Valpy


I recently reviewed The French For Always and I loved it, so I'm hoping it's predecessor is just as good.

Happy Shopping! x



£20 off Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Paperwhite


Thursday, 17 July 2014

The World Cup may be over ...

... but Izzy's only just begun ...


She's always been more of a tennis kind of girl, but this week Izzy turned her paw to football!

Kick Off


Dog World Cup Kick Off

The Dribble


Dog World Cup

The Tackle


Dog playing football


Attack


Dog playing football


Run really fast with the ball! (Too fast for the camera ;) )


Dog playing football

And ... Nanna Nap!


Izzy Nanna Nap


More from Izzy soon! :) x

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Like Love Loathe #1

The L Word(s)


I keep spotting this linky on Futures but I've never got around to joining in before ... no time like the present!

Like Love Loathe

Like | Postcards

Before we go getting all excited, I'm not talking about the Wish You Were Here type with foreign stamps that arrive home about a fortnight after you do.  I haven't been on a fancy holiday and as far as I know, my friends/family haven't either.  I'm always on the look out for cheap yet wonderful postcards.  I use them to write to Post Pals occasionally, to enter postal competitions and sometimes I even frame them on my walls (only the most elite of postcards, of course!).  This week I spotted a set of 100 New Yorker postcards on Amazon for just £6.00 - 6p per card!  Always the bargain lover, I ordered a pack and they arrived on Monday.  They are absolutely stunning, and come in a lovely, reusable presentation box and I'll no doubt be ordering some more.



Love | BBQ Season

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet ... it makes me want to sit outside to eat! Yeah, baby ... BBQ season is upon us and it's fab.  I like the smell of the BBQ when it's warming up, the flame grilled taste of the burgers, sitting in the garden with my feet up ... because as soon as there's fire involved, Mr M suddenly feels like cooking the tea.  I also find just the simple idea of eating outside, in the sunshine a whole lot more relaxing than our usual dinner on the sofa routine, and after a hard day at work there's nothing better.

Loathe | Summer Overtime

It may be glorious outside but I'm not getting the chance to enjoy it as much as I would like to as I'm working overtime most days.  Work is really busy at the moment, and whilst I am glad of that in some ways, I wouldn't be choosing to do overtime whilst it's lovely and sunny outside.  I save that for rainy, wintery weekends instead.  At the moment though, it's all hands on deck (when I say all, I mean those who have any sense of team spirit, so about half of us).  As I'm already full time, it's hard to fit in more than a little overtime on my normal working days, which means I'm now also working on both of my days off this weekend.  Whilst the extra cash will no doubt find it's way to be spent on something, I doubt I'll actually see anything for it, which kind of makes me think I'm wasting away these lovely summer days and merely working my way more quickly towards winter.

What is on your likes, loves and loathes this week?

If you fancy joining in, you can find the linky over at Futures or Life in a Breakdown.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Book Review: The Third Wife

The Third Wife - Lisa Jewell


In the early hours of an April morning, Maya stumbles into the path of an oncoming bus.

A tragic accident? Or suicide?

Her grief-stricken husband, Adrian, is determined to find out.

Maya had a job she enjoyed; she had friends. They'd been in love.

She even got on with his two previous wives and their children. In fact, they'd all been one big happy family.

But before long Adrian starts to identify the dark cracks in his perfect life.
Because everyone has secrets.
And secrets have consequences.
Some of which can be devastating.

I'll start by saying this book doesn't keep you waiting for the action to kick in.  Maya is drunk, she told her Husband she was on her way home hours ago but instead finds herself stumbling along the West End and straight into the path of a bus - and that's all within the first three pages.

What follows is a delightful mix of history and aftermath as her Husband, Adrian tries to move on with his life, reconnect with his family and find out exactly what happened to Maya.  Was it really an accident or did his Wife commit suicide?

Adrian's been married three times.  He and Maya could often be found holidaying with his two previous families and on the day she died, Maya had been babysitting his youngest children.  Adrian thought they had one big, happy family but soon realises that appearances can be deceptive and that his haphazard family might not be as ideal as he thought.

Then there's the issue of the mysterious Woman who suddenly enters his life.  What is she hiding and does she hold the key to discovering what happened to his late Wife?

It was clear from Page 1 that I was going to enjoy this novel, and as always, Lisa Jewell did not disappoint.  The Third Wife is a gripping, surprising and thoroughly entertaining read.  I loved how we, as the reader know that the outcome of this story is Maya's death, but we are fed information slowly throughout, and kept guessing until we finally discover what happened in the months, weeks and hours leading up to it.

The extended family of characters that the story is built around are all wonderfully written, and it's easy to keep up with them all.  The story flows well between the three households and in the centre of them all is Adrian, whose daughter proclaims is "in love with love", as an explanation for his many marriages.  Despite being in his 40's, throughout the story we see Adrian grow, learn and attempt to make amends with many aspects of his life.  Each time he discovers something about Maya, or his children, or the mystery Woman, he also seems to discover a little something about himself ... and just as he does not like some of the things he learns about others, he also doesn't like everything he discovers (or at least, realises) about himself.

Whilst we only meet Maya briefly in the first few pages, she is featured throughout via the use of flashbacks, which all help to move the story along.  We follow Maya from the moment she meets Adrian to the moment she dies, and we can see how she also changes throughout the years as well as learning of the contributing factors to her death.

My Rating 5/5 - A mix of surprises, revelations, great characters and a brilliant story make The Third Wife yet another winning novel from Lisa Jewell.   The action starts from the first page and although the pace does slow down, the puzzle pieces keep flowing until you finally have a full picture of how and why Maya met her demise.  Lisa Jewell's dramatic novels are proving to be just as addictive as her previous chick lit ones, and this is another book not to be missed.


*I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher, in return for an honest review.  I have not been paid for my review and all opinions are my own (and my opinion is that Lisa Jewell is a bloody fantastic Author!).

Monday, 14 July 2014

Recycling Birthday Cards - The Compers Way!

Win Win!

I may not enter anywhere near as many competitions as I used to (there are so many other things to do now!) but I do still like to enter certain ones.  I try not to miss the deadlines for the magazine puzzles/entry forms, I remember as often as possible to enter the big money ITV ones, I have a little search around for crafty prizes and other things I'll definitely use and every week, without fail, I set aside an hour or so to enter postal competitions.

Postal Competitions


Postal competitions are the golden oldies of the comping world, the reason the phrase "Answers on a postcard ..." exists.  I'm lucky that a friend of mine visits the cinema often and sends me stacks of postcards a couple of times a year.  Even so, I still run short sometimes and have to source alternative postcard means.

I've been known to cut up cereal boxes but I find the cardboard a little flimsy.  I'm sure it hasn't always been the case, but since the world decided that everything had a little too much packaging, those boxes have definitely got thinner!  



After every birthday and Christmas, I select the sturdiest of the cards and cut them up into postcards.  Cards tend to be nice and bright, so they make good postcards to send.  I draw a line down the reverse, to separate the TO and FROM sections and write away.

  


To save me from writing out my address hundreds of times, I buy personalised address labels from Ebay (I haven't figured out how to make them myself ... yet!).



All stamped and ready to go ... fingers crossed for some great prizes from these beauties!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Love The Little Things - Week 28

Love Bunting


This is my favourite weekly link up so I thought I'd continue with it even though I've moved blogs.  Love The Little Things is a weekly feature hosted by But Why Mummy Why, in which we take a moment to appreciate any little moments of joy from the past 7 days. 

Read


My mega reading marathon has continued this week.  I read Ivy Lane: Part 2: Summer by Cathy Bramley and The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell.  I'm also half way through Me Without You by Kelly Rimmer. Phew! Try and stop me! 

Love The Little Things Week 28 - Books I've Read

I also read a blog post by Author, Jessica Thompson - "Writing, tough times, and some very special advice…" - Jessica's Father is a wise man, and he offers advice that we could all use.

Watched


I haven't really watched anything in it's entirety this week.  It's been a busy week, we've been in bed before 9 every night to be up at 4 every morning as Mr M is on day shifts.  I've been catching snippets of Celebrity Masterchef before falling asleep each night though and I've loved the bits I've seen.  It's almost over now though and I haven't watched half as much of it as I'd have liked to ... maybe next year!

Heard


We were in one of the big (reasonably) local parks on Thursday, walking the dogs when an old man (and his dog) stopped to talk to us.

"Do you live local?" he asked.  

"No, we live in Billingham"

"Oh, so you've had to drive over then?"

"Yes, we brought the car"

"I live just on The Avenue, I turn right out of my driveway, walk 100 yards, turn left and I'm here"

"Oh, that's great!"

"Yes ... so do you live local?"

"Erm ... no ... we live in Billingham"

"Oh, so you've come over in a car or van then?"

"Yes, we brought the car"

 "Oh ... I live just on The Avenue, I turn right out of my driveway, walk 100 yards, turn left and I'm here"

"Great, I wish we lived that close"

"You're not local then?"

"No, we live in Billingham ..."

 ... and so it went on, about seven times in total.  That old guy ("I was born in 1930, so I suppose that makes me about 80") was brilliant, and his dog stood perfectly still by his side the whole time, not even noticing (or choosing to ignore) our two.  He said he'd got the dog from the Dogs Trust ... "I reckon they opened the curtains on me and thought 'he can't have much time left' but the dog had been brought back a few times so they just let me have her ..."

Even the most unexpected conversations can be amazing <3 

Made



Bunting

Wore


The weather Oop North is a bit crummy, considering it's July! Rain and more rain, so it's back to wearing a hoody and struggling with being too warm whilst keeping dry.  Come on summer, we're waiting!!

 

And Lastly ...


After my first dentist appointment in 17 years, back in May, I returned for my first treatment appointment on Wednesday.  I saw the hygienist, who gave my teeth a good clean and although they didn't feel like my teeth for a few days, they do look a whole lot better.  I have 3 more dental appointments to go, which include getting teeth removed (eek) - I'm no exactly looking forward to it but I am looking forward to having a healthier mouth!! x

Fancy joining in?


Just copy the headings and use them as prompts then link up at But Why Mummy Why. Use the hashtag #littleloves if you’re on twitter to share your posts.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sewing: Simple Bunting

Sew Simple


Yesterday I had some spare time to practise on my new sewing machine, so I decided to make some super simple bunting.

If you'd like to give this a try, you'll need:

  • 4 fat quarters of different designs
  • Bias binding tape

I used the Hobbycraft Iris Craft Fat Quarter 6 Pack and the Visage Textiles Fat Quarters Cupcakes 6 Pack - both of which are currently half price in the Hobbycraft Summer Clearance.

First, I made my template - it measures 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall.

Simple Bunting

Each flag needs two triangles of fabric.  I cut 2 matching triangles at a time, pinning the material together with the front sides facing.

Simple Bunting

I chose to do 8 flags of bunting, 2 of each design but you can add as many as you'd like.

Simple Bunting

Next, I sewed the long edges of each flag, leaving the short/top edge open.  I cut the bottom of the point off to make it easier to get pointy ends on the flags.

Simple Bunting


I turned each flag the right way out, and used a skinny bamboo knitting needle to tease the ends into points. 

Simple Bunting

I then ironed each flag so they were nice and flat and started attached them together.  I left 30cm of bias binding tape at each end of the bunting, and 9.5cm between each flag.

I ironed the bias binding tape in half, then slotted each flag into place and tacked it to stop it wandering off.  I then sewed a simple, almost straight line right along the bunting.

Simple Bunting

Tada! Bunting!

Simple Bunting

This took me about 2 hours, including figuring out how I was going to make it.  It's a little messy in places but for a first go, I'm quite pleased :)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Book Review: Love, Lies and Lemon Cake

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake - Sue Watson


Love, Lies and Lemon Cake - Sue Watson
Faye Dobson has lost her sparkle. Living on film star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can’t help feeling that life is passing her by. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars. But the wrinkles are multiplying, her husband’s passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she’ll get to Rome is a take-away pizza.

So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli she can’t help but wonder what it would be like to see the world. He is blonde, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake. Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles... Oh. My. God.

But is Faye being silly? What would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give everything up to be with him?

A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet comedy about taking your life back before it’s too late.

Faye's dreams of careers and travel ended abruptly when she fell pregnant and married in her early twenties.  She packed her dreams away into a pink rucksack and concentrated on family life.  Now she finds herself in her 40's, her Daughter has grown up and moved out and her Husband pays more attention to his Customer's boilers than he does his wife.

When Faye finds her trusty old rucksack, including an old postcard and a life list she once wrote, she makes a brave decision to give up the life she has lived for the past two decades for a chance to fulfil her dreams and find happiness.

Aside from getting married and having a baby, Faye hasn't achieved anything from her life list.  As Faye adjusts to life as a singleton, renting a room off her Friend, dancing on a rooftop in New York, having sex under the stars and skinny dipping still feel like they belong in the life of someone else.  Then Faye meets Dan, a handsome Aussie ten years her junior who makes her feel like no one else has.  He listens to her, laughs with her, and fancies her something rotten, much to Faye's confused delight.

Faye soon discovers that she doesn't have to complete the things on her life list by herself, and in fact it's much more fun with a toy boy in tow.  But when the novelty of her new life wears off, and her thirty-something lover wants to go travelling with his friends, will Faye be able to give up her new life and the job she loves to go with him?

Funny, foody and fabulous - Love, Lies and Lemon Cake is a perfect read for anyone who has ever wanted a little more from life, for anyone who dreams of hunky Australians who bake yummy lemon cakes or simply for anyone who is just in need of a good giggle.

Faye is a brilliant leading lady, independent yet unsure, confident yet prone to babbling, brave, funny and able to devour 6 cupcakes in one sitting.  Unlike your typical chick-lit love triangle fest, Faye's husband whilst sad about the end of his marriage isn't attempting to get her back, understanding her need to move on and doing the same himself.  Faye's relationship with Dan, in line with Faye herself, is delicate, uncertain and fun.  Faye's fellow hairdressers bring heaps of humour to the story, along with their own life problems.  The characters in this book are real, even if the situations sometimes feel a little far fetched. 

My Rating 4/5 - A life list, great characters and a superb leading lady are the ingredients to what is a funny novel about finding your feet when you thought your best years had passed.  Although some of the events seem a little far fetched, the story has a very real feel about it.  This is more than a mid life crisis, it goes to prove that life can be a dream - if you let it.



*I received a copy of this novel from Bookouture in return for an honest review.  I have not been paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Love The Little Things - Week 27

Love Yourself

 

This is my favourite weekly link up so I thought I'd continue with it even though I've moved blogs.  Love The Little Things is a weekly feature hosted by But Why Mummy Why, in which we take a moment to appreciate any little moments of joy from the past 7 days.

 

Read


I've had a full on reading week this week, my book mojo is definitely back!

First, I read Sue Watson's new book, Love, Lies and Lemon Cake (review coming soon!).

Then, I read this update from Author, Amy Harmon ....




Which made me download a sample of Making Faces ....


Making Faces - Amy Harmon


Which turned out to be amazing! I literally couldn't put it down and finished reading it in mere hours.  I'll be doing a full review soon but this is a definite contender for my book of the year!

I also read this great article on Grenglish, We Need To Talk About The M Word - a beautifully written post about why we shouldn't be scared to talk about miscarriage.

 

Watched

 

I watched Series 3 and 4 of Him & HerI'm so in love with this show, I'm going to watch all the series again from the start, it's brilliant!

I had a bit of a movie weekend too, watching The Dallas Buyers Club on Friday night and Escape Plan on Saturday night - both were great movies but I think Escape Plan was my favourite of the two.

 

Heard


I've been having a Live Lounge week. I love listening to the covers (well, most of them!) and this one from Little Mix is one of my favourites ...



Made


This week we Made Do ... geddit?? ;-)

We wanted to have a BBQ last night as it was lovely and sunny (despite the forecast stating rain, rain rain) but no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get the BBQ lit (dodgy charcoal, according to Mr M).  I'd almost resigned myself to ditching my night off and having to cook tea in the kitchen, as standard when Mr M had a cracking idea ....



Wore


Clean clothes all round .. We have a washing machine finally!! We got a waste pipe fitted on Friday, almost 7 weeks after we moved in (I won't be recommending my letting agents to anyone soon!) and since then I've washed almost everything.  I'm loving being able to do the washing!!

 

And Lastly ...


I spotted this paper cut design from Paper Panda ...



How amazing?! I could never afford one of Paper Panda's pieces but there's a learner kit, so maybe I could try it myself ... ;-)

 

Fancy joining in?


Just copy the headings and use them as prompts then link up at But Why Mummy Why. Use the hashtag #littleloves if you’re on twitter to share your posts.