Thursday, 13 June 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 31-35 Round-Up


I'm back again with another book round-up!

I am really enjoying getting back into reading again. You can catch up with my past round-ups here: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30. Come add me as a friend on Goodreads too!

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary - 5/5

Blurb:
"Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met...

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they're crazy, but it's the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy's at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven't met yet, they're about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window..." 

Review: 
This has been on my to-read list for ages after seeing all the hype surrounding it on Quercus Books Instagram account.

The story follows Tiffy who has just broken up with her cheating boyfriend and needs a new place to live. Leon is subletting his flat. He works nights and stays with his girlfriend Kay at the weekend, Tiffy works 9-5 Monday to Friday so it would be perfect for them. They communicate only through Post-It notes.

It's such a deep story and I love every single character. We find out that Leon's brother is in prison, he says he's innocent and not all was as it seemed in Tiffy's relationship with her ex-boyfriend Justin. I finished the whole thing in less than a day - loved it!
 
Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth - 5/5

Blurb:
"You can't stop watching her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy influencer, with three children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she's no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world - her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to Violet?

But do you really know who Violet is?

Her fans are obsessed with finding out the truth, but their search quickly reveals a web of lies, betrayal and shocking consequences..." 

Review:
This book is amazing! 

Violet, mum of 3 and married to Henry, is a mummy vlogger with over 1 million subscribers on YouTube. One day, all of her social media accounts are deleted with no explanation as to why. Everyone on mummy forums are discussing it and wondering what has happened to her.

The story flits between the points of view of Lily, a single mum of one who obsessively watches Violet's channel, wishing that her life was like hers; Yvonne, a lady who is struggling to conceive a child with her partner. She is also a viewer of Violet's channel and she used to work with Henry 20 years prior; Henry and the Violet, herself.

The plot of this book is absolutely brilliant, with information being peppered in to really make you think. I don't want to give too much away but all the lines come together and you can tell it's been very well thought out. The last paragraph before the epilogue almost made me scream. I cannot recommend this enough!
 

Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story by Leah Hazard - 5/5

Blurb:
"No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers...

Welcome to the life of a midwife. Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could every imagine.

From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.

Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah's ward.

Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah's fellow midwives - there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives."

Review:
A brilliant insight into the work of an NHS midwife. The beginning reels you in as she explains doing an episiotomy, which honestly made my stomach contort.

It's packed full of stories about patients, from a seventeen year old Chinese girl who is a victim of human trafficking to a lady who has experienced female genital mutilation and everything in between.

An eye opening read about the struggles of working long, gruelling hours, trying not to make any mistakes in a hospital that is oversubscribed and understaffed.
  
The Girl Who Came Out Of The Woods by Emily Barr - 4/5

Blurb:
"Arty has always lived in the Clearing, a commune hidden in the forests of South India. But her happy life, separate from the rest of the world, is shattered after a terrible event.

For the first time, Arty must leave her home, and head into the intriguing but frightening outside world. On the streets of India, a chance encounter leads to her becoming an unwilling overnight celebrity.

As she embarks on her journey, she discovers she is being followed by thousands of strangers, who seem to know her every move...

Forced to fight against mysterious hashtags and being constantly photographed, how can she find the help she desperately needs?

Everything is changing too fast for the girl who came out of the woods. Could she be running into a trap?"

Review:
This is the second book that I've read recently that I was putting off because of low ratings but it is absolutely brilliant.

Arty, who is 16, lives in 'the Clearing' which is situated in the woods in India. It is a small community made up of eleven people. She knows nothing of the outside world, except for what her mother told her and what she's read in books. When lots of members of the Clearing fall ill, some dying, she and her younger brother Zeus must venture out into the real world (or "the Wasteland", as they call it) to find medical help.

She is soon thrown into a whole new world of electricity and social media and money which is "the root of all evil". The story is told in two parts, Artemis' (Arty's) point of view and an unknown point of view but both unwind and tangle together. It's such a lovely story which really makes you think.
 
Favourite Daughter by Kaira Rouda - 5/5

Blurb:
"One of them lied. One of them died.

Jane's life has become a haze of antidepressants since the tragic death of her daughter, Mary. The accident, which happened over a year ago, destroyed their perfect family life forever. 

The trouble is, the more Jane thinks about that night, the more she realises that something doesn't seem right. Does her youngest daughter know more than she's letting on? What secrets is her husband still hiding from her? And why does no one trust her to be on her own?

Even if it's the last thing she does, she'll find out the truth..."

Review:
Oh wow! When I first start a book, all I want are characters that I will like. I didn't like a single character in this book but I've still given it 5 stars.

Jane Harris is a self absored, delusional, manipulative narcissist and you just love to hate her. I love how the story is written, as though Jane is speaking to the reader. It's like you are inside her brain and you are brought along with each lie she tells and her true inner thoughts.

Jane is mother to Betsy and Mary, who has died after accidentally falling off a cliff, and wife to David. Betsy doesn't have a great relationship with her, David is cheating on her and she spies on them through apps and trackers. She makes it seem like everyone is against her, she's the victim. The pace is great and Jane is waiting for the culmination of events, the truth coming out (well, her version of the truth), so it makes you want to quickly read on to see what will happen.

Have you read anything good lately? 
 


Monday, 10 June 2019

Pop Pops Snotz - Review

(AD/Gifted - We received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Slime is the 'in thing' right now and it is a craze that has not passed my children by. I don't get the hype but they love it and I love them so I put up with it, even if it does mean I'm constantly on edge and repeating "Watch you don't get it on your clothes!" I've also written about collectable toys on the blog a lot. Both C and E like these types of toys and seeing if they can get the whole collection.

Pop Pops Snotz combines both slime and collectables which means its a double win in my children's eyes. We received a little influencer box a couple of weeks ago to see what they were all about.




The name "Snotz" to me obviously makes me think of snot, but in reality the little pouches - if that's the right word! - remind me of spots or pimples. When you pop them, you will find either yellow or green slime inside and some will have a small collectable toy. It's kind of like a different take on a blind bag but a two parter because you get slime in all of them plus a nice little surprise of a toy in some.

Both children found it a bit hard to pop them at the beginning and really had to put some welly into it, C had a few angry moments and I had to help him with quite a lot of them. You need to position your fingers a certain way to burst the plastic.

Like many toy ranges, the sets come in different sizes to suit all budgets. The 6 pack Starter Packs are £4.99 and 12 pack Deluxe Packs are £7.99. Each pack has a character sheet so you can check out the name of the Snotz that you find and whether they are common, rare or limited edition. The names are all very funny and had the kids in stitches.



We like these toys a lot because even though you'd think the fun element would quickly disappear once all of them had been popped, the kids liked mixing all the slime up, hiding their characters inside and creating new games.


Pop Pops Snotz Series 1 are available now from all good retailers such as Smyths and The Entertainer. You can see C and E playing more at my Instagram Highlight.


Friday, 7 June 2019

What I Won - May 2019

I am terrible with keeping up to date with my competition win posts! I'm finding that it is a lot harder to win lately - especially compared to a year or two ago.

Here's what I won in May:

Facebook Wins
A copy of 'Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story' by Leah Hazard 

A copy of 'Daring Daddy' by M P Robertson


Instagram Wins
LEGO Darth Vader clock 

£100 spend at Tog24 & a bottle of Sloe Motion Hedgerow Botanical vodka

Montezuma's chocolate box 

Kids camping projector

Twitter Wins
A copy of 'A Summer To Remember' by Sue Moorcroft

A copy of 'Yoga for Everyone' by Diane Bondy


Web Wins
Aurelia skin serum 

Still doing really well with book wins which is great. With both kids birthdays in September, I'm hoping for some nice toy wins in June or Amazon vouchers!

Did you win anything nice this month?
 
Tuesday, 28 May 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 26-30 Round-Up


Hooray - it's time for another book round-up! When I first set myself the challenge of 80 books this year, I kind of regretted it because there are only 52 weeks in a year. I feel like I'm doing well and speeding through them. It helps that Goodreads currently tells me that I'm "on track" now as opposed to behind!

If you would like to read my past round-ups, you can do so here: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25. Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads too.

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams - 4/5
Blurb:
"What if you almost missed the love of your life? 

Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma's after too much wine.

Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn't been able to sleep properly since his dad died.

One morning, Nadia's eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper.

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I'm the guy who's always standing near the doors... Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word."

Review:

This is a really cute, feel good, easy read. 

The point of view flits between Nadia and Daniel, who both capture each other's eye on the Tube and they take to writing messages to each other via Missed Connections in the morning paper.

There are so many near misses and I finished the book in 24 hours because I was desperate to finally "see" them meet. The characters are well developed and it's just a very enjoyable read.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - 5/5 

Blurb:
"No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one."

Review:
I love this book so much. Usually when a lot of hype is surrounding a book, I read it and think, "Is that it?" but I loved everything about this.

Eleanor follows the same routine every day and is a little different to everyone else (but she thinks they're the ones who are odd!). She is content with her life and feels like nothing is missing until she makes her first friend and tries doing new things.

It makes you laugh and totally breaks your heart too. She is probably my favourite book character ever. 

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten - 4/5 

Blurb:
"When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that probation officer Lucy Sherwood - who is connected to all three victims - is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy's husband.

Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?" 

Review:



This is a great debut novel about domestic abuse. It's marketed as the first book in the Maggie Jamieson series but it really focuses on the story of Lucy, a probation officer whose husband is abusing her.

I knew quite early on some of what was going to come out but the ending took me by surprise and I really loved it. I have rated it 4 because, to me, it felt like the story pottered along and I didn't feel a chase or sense of urgency.

It's obvious that the author has a background as a probation officer as everything is explained really well. I am excited for the next book!


Something Like Happy by Sasha Greene - 4/5


Blurb:
"Jade is just trying to get by. She doesn't want to talk about it. She doesn't want a fuss. 

But one day she meets Nick and everything changes.

Out of the most difficult of situations, Nick and Jade's friendship grows into something both of them never knew they needed.

Jade used to be sure that she was better off alone. But could it be that together, with Nick by her side, she can start to feel something like happy again?" 

Review:
I almost didn't read this because it only had two reviews on Goodreads, both of them being low, but I actually really loved it. A few people mentioned how they didn't like the jump between POVs but I didn't find it confusing at all.

The story starts with Nick about to take his own life and Jade finds him, making the decision to help him by meeting up with him every Saturday to do something from her 'Happy List'. He doesn't realise that she has lost someone close to her due to suicide and she blames herself for that.

It's a great novel focusing on a normal person and their struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. The pace was good and I found myself unable to put the book down because I wanted to see how it ended. 
 
How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne - 4/5 

Blurb: 
"Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?

There's no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. She's inspired millions of women to stick two fingers up at convention with her bestselling memoir, and she has the perfect relationship to boot.

But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

Everyone around her is getting married and having babies, but her long-term boyfriend won't even talk about getting engaged. And when her best friend Dee - her plus one, the only person who understands the madness - falls in love, suddenly Tori's in danger of being left behind.

When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.

It's time for Tori to practice what she's preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?"

Review:
Tori Bailey is the bestselling author of a self-help memoir style book all about surviving your twenties. Now, at the age of 31 and in a six-year relationship with Tom, she isn't that same person anymore and is struggling to write her second book.

She is social media obsessed and craves validation from strangers, constantly analysing what she's posting and checking how many likes and comments she's got.

All of her friends are getting married and having babies. She tells herself that she doesn't need any of that. She's happy with her career, doing TED talks but she is feeling differently to how she portrays herself online.

I struggled to like the character of Tori but I really do feel sorry for her because it was quite obvious that she is in love with Tom but he's a narcissist who is gaslighting her but she just can't see it.

An enjoyable book! 

Have you read anything good lately?