Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Tuesday Titles 147..

A Winter's Tale
A Winter's Tale : Carrie Elks
I'm still kind of fighting off the festive season, since I'm a bit of a self-confessed Scrooge and like to hold off for as long as humanly possible. However, as festive feel-good stories go, I took this one with me to a spa day last week and it was a lovely heart-warming tale in the series about the Shakespeare Sisters. I've read a handful of these by now and would recommend any of them - I don't think it's important to read them in order as you get enough recap information on the sisters in each book.
Read anything good lately?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Tuesday Titles 146..

How I Lost You: Jenny Blackhurst

It's rare that I leave the house without either my Kindle or a physical book in my handbag. But somehow, the other day I found myself on the treadmill with nothing to read, so I downloaded this onto my iBooks app after spying it on the chart.
I got stuck right in. Susan, who has been released from prison into her new life with a new identity (Emma) is based in a local town to me, making a new start and trying to escape her past. Having been convicted of killing her newborn son; something which Susan is adamant she did not do, she's keen to start a new life and get away from any reminders of her marriage.
But when one day, a photograph is delivered through her door, she begins to wonder what did actually happen to her baby. Could he really still be alive, as the sender is trying to suggest?
As more and more things keep happening to scare Susan, she begins to wonder what she can believe? And if he is alive, how would she know where to begin with finding Dylan? With just a couple of people she can trust around her - a friend from her time in prison and a friendly journalist, they do everything they can in order to figure out what actually happened four years ago...and why.
A series of flashbacks help to give the reader a sense of where the story might be going, and makes it a little frustrating to watch Susan going off-course in her investigations, but when she finally tracks down someone from her past, things begin to make more sense.
I was a little thrown by a couple of the twists in here and the resolution for me seemed a little rushed, but all in all I enjoyed this as a thriller to pass the time on the treadmill and various train journeys, so I'd give it a go if you fancy something new.

Friday, 17 November 2017

It's like we burned so bright we burned out..


I'm conscious that things have been fairly quiet around here lately and whilst this is more of an acknowledgment than an apology (I'm not even sure how many people actually read blogs anymore tbh...) it's been something I've been meaning to get back around to. I have lists and lists of ideas for posts and things I'd like to write about. What I don't seem to have a lot of lately, is time. There's also a big part of me which hates saying that, as I'm increasingly conscious of the fact that *not having enough time* has almost become something of a competitive sport, and I also think I could resolve this by changing priorities and/or being more organised and/or agreeing to take on fewer things.

Dress: Collectif

Being in something of a weird headspace lately, I've been feeling less and less happy about clothes and outfits and just about anything relating to my body image / self-confidence. So, I've been less inclined to share outfit posts I guess. But, in an attempt to snap out of these thoughts, here's a dress which I bought in the Collectif sale at the start of the year and have barely worn, but kind of love for the hood, which feels like a big hug. Helpful when temperatures in the office reach parky.

Brooch: Friday Folk

Something which I have been loving lately is trying to find present ideas (yes, the dreaded C word has begun) which are new and different and in doing so, I stumbled upon Eilidh's Instagram account. She's raising money for a world trip next year by selling these little miniature people brooches and has been coming up with some awesome ideas. Not only can she make mini-versions of you (see mine above), but also mermaids, super-heroes and just about anything else once can think of. I love them and they'll be winging their way to some of my gift recipients this year, too.

Jacket: H+M

What's better when you're feeling a bit down than donning a pair of shoes which you love..? Although there are quite a few pairs I've been mulling over lately, I've not actually added to my shoe collection in quite some time.. This could have something to do with the fact that I'm running out of space on the shoes shelves, but also that I do have a lot of pairs which just don't get enough wear as it is. These Cherry Deer heels are great since they were sent back to be stretched (they'd been size-labelled wrongly to begin with, IC think) but since then they've been great and are super comfortable! The only thing being that people do tend to stop to comment on them.

Cherry Deer heels: Irregular Choice
Aside from my ongoing body battles, all other aspects of life are very good of late. I have another lovely weekend to look forward to with one of my favourite people and things are, in all respects, pretty good.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Blog Tour: Illusion

Illusion banner
Illusion: Stephanie Elmas

London, 1873.
Returning home from his travels with a stowaway named Kayan, Walter Balanchine is noted for the charms, potions and locket hanging from his neck.
Finding his friend Tom Winter’s mother unwell, he gives her a potion he learned to brew in the Far East. Lucid and free from pain, the old woman remembers something about Walter’s mother.
Walter is intrigued, for he has never known his family or even his own name – he christened himself upon leaving the workhouse.
Living in a cemetery with his pet panther Sinbad to keep the body snatchers away, word soon spreads of his healing and magical abilities and he becomes a sought after party performer.
During one of Walter’s parties, Tom is approached by Tamara Huntington, who reveals she is being forced to marry a man she does not love.
Will he and Walter come to her rescue?
Try as they might, sometimes all the best intentions in the world can’t put a stop to a bad thing, and she is soon married off to the cruel Cecil Hearst.
Drama and tragedy ensue, and Walter keeps his distance from Tamara.
That is until her stricken brother-in-law Daniel requires his magical healing, and he is forced back into her life.
With secrets beginning to emerge, Walter finds his mother may be a lot closer to home than he realised…
Filled with mystery, magic and larger than life characters, Illusion will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Tuesday Titles 145..

Little Fires Everywhere: Celeste Ng

I know this is a tall order, but I think that Little Fires Everywhere might just be the best book I've read this year. I mean, December will have to pull out the big guns if it wants to beat this, is all I'm saying. So naturally, I'm pretty stoked to be part of the blog tour for this book and share my enthusiasm for it.

Thrown into Shaker Heights: a modern suburban city with rules and regulations to cover every aspect of modern life - right down to what colour homeowners can paint their houses and what time curfew is for children - as the book opens, we're gathered on the sidewalk outside the Richardson's house as it goes up in flames. There's suggestion from the fire crews that this was not an accident, yet also no sense of surprise.

Elena Richardson, the embodiment of a perfect Shaker resident, stands on the sidewalk and watches her material life burn away to nothing. A model citizen, Elena's raison d'etre is to play by the rules.

In heading back to cover the past few months, the narrative is fully submersive and as a reader, I found myself unsure who to side with when it came to moral dilemmas. One in particular is central to the plot and has the town divided.

Mia and Pearl think they've found somewhere they can settle when they move into their new apartment in Shaker Heights. A nomadic artist and her daughter who have spent their lives moving around, perhaps this is the place for them to set down some roots.

Their landlords, the Richardson Family also live in the neighbourhood and are the perfect example of a modern American family. Picture perfect. with their four teen children navigating their way through high school, sports teams and college applications. I recognised common flaws and endearing traits at the same time in a lot of the characters, particularly the Richardson children, and loved the slow-burning way (pun intended) in which everybody interacted and became integral parts in one another's lives.

Honestly, I'm not sure how to describe this book other than an amazing look at 90s suburban America, family dynamics and their secrets. The book quite honestly simmers and I wanted to continue to be immersed in their town lives long after I finished it.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Read the book..

It's fair to say that the past week or so has been a bit of a struggle. Whilst I'm all about the brave face, my mental health has not been great, lately and it's been all I can do to crack on with basic functioning. I've been looking forward to this weekend for a while, though, like the proverbial silver lining and it didn't disappoint.
Reunited with my fellow #THFC members for the first time since Paris, it was lovely to catch up on the latest news (I feel as though I've missed a lot lately and I'm putting that down to my fairly shite concentration / engagement levels) and things and we laughed a lot during the course of the weekend, which always helps.
Staying in a cottage in Middleton-in-Teeside in the depths of County Durham, we were fairly rural and surrounded by hills and countryside and beautiful autumnal colours. The others had done more research than me (I blame my Myers Brigg personality traits) and knew that there were waterfalls and caves to explore nearby, so that was Saturday planned.
Parking up at the Bowlees visitor centre, we set off for a day of exploring, starting with Summerhill Force and Gibson's Cave, before heading over the hills towards the High Force waterfall. We stopped en route to marvel at sheep and cows and sheepdogs and bridges, and the weather was glorious. For someone who's been all about hibernating lately, getting outside was just what I needed.
Recharged by a pub lunch at the High Force Hotel, we were up for more exploring and after playing on the rocks at High Force, we crossed the River Tees and began to head back along the other side.
Of course, the weekend was filled with plenty of #yummers food - Becks and Alex made great chefs and kept us very well fed, with a faux Xmas Dinner on Saturday evening.
On Sunday we ventured out into the town itself, which was super tiny but had lots to see, including this rather cute matrimonial-theme yarn bombing, on the bollards outside the church. Apparently when Alex and Becks went back there this morning, it had gone. Random.
Other randomness included the weirdest takeaway situation, ever. Sunday tea was an Indian takeaway, and according to the cottage handbook, the takeaway in the next town will deliver your food to the public car park in Middleton, provided you've ordered before 6pm. We did so, and Lucy and I went to collect it - super weird, but we weren't the only ones. The locals clearly do this often, as it seemed to be something of a social event.
Somehow, a change of scene seemed to help my motivation levels when it came to running as well. Since I'm currently freaking out majorly about a race I've signed up to take part in, I was desperate to get some practice in and I was pleased that I managed to get out and run each morning before breakfast. Baby steps.
A lovely weekend filled with lots of exploring, knitting, climbing and catching up. We're already planning the next convention.

Friday, 3 November 2017

#bloggersecretsanta update..

I could not be more glad to see the end of this week: it's been a rough one.
I've got so many ideas and posts I want to finish here, but they'll have to wait until next week. In the meantime, a little reminder for those of you who might not have seen it yet - #bloggersecretsanta is running again this year and sign ups close on Monday.

You can mail or message me to sign up with.. (Email address is in the sidebar):

  • Your name
  • Your blog / Twitter / Instragram (any or all)
  • Your postal address for a parcel
  • Any likes/ dislikes or things your sender should know about you (allergies etc)

That's all I need, really. I'll pair everyone up using the info you've sent. You won't be sending to the same person you receive a gift from (this works more like a chain) so it's up to you whether you want to reveal your identity to your recipient or not...

I'll send out your partner's details and you'll have a few weeks to take a look at their blogs / social media and put together a parcel. The spend limit for that is £10, not including postage. Then, post your parcel by 5th December, and let me know when you've posted and when you've received a parcel. Couldn't be simpler! 

Get in touch if you have any questions. Open to international senders, as always!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

24 hours in London..

Sooo, I'm aware we're almost at the next weekend and I've not yet talked about the last one. I am not really sure where this past week has gone. (See also: past month, summer, 2017 in general..).
But, anyhow. It was great/. After an exciting meeting on Friday night making some plans for a trip next summer I was feeling rather positive.
Dressed in a somewhat appropriate dress, I hopped on the train and headed to London to meet Giuls. We caught up on news, and lunched, and shopped and wandered until about 6pm when we decided enough shopping was enough and wandered over to Covent Garden towards the Royal Opera House, as we had tickets for the Royal Ballet's final date for Alice in Wonderland.
Having never before visited the ROH, I was amazed by the beautiful  architecture. I love the orangery, which is the bar / restaurant / atrium area and although our seats were right up in the uppermost of upper circles, that was kind of great because it meant that in the intervals (there were two - one for cake and one for cocktails!) that we could look down on the bar and watch the other theatre-goers going about their business in the beautiful surroundings. Pretty buildings and people-watching. And cake. And grapefruit cocktails. And beautiful, amazing ballet. What more can a girl want?
The show itself was nothing short of incredible and the sets and designs were amazing. My favourite was the way they'd portrayed the Cheshire Cat, I think. But all of the costumes were amazing (particularly the Queen of Hearts). We left the ballet absolutely buzzing and got the bus home to G's flat, where we chatted until we fell asleep.
Sunday morning was filled with brunch in Streatham and a mooch around one of the best charity book shops I've been in for a while, before bussing it to Brixton for a bit of a wander around the indoor market (hipster paradise, although I did see some rather amazing things in lots of the teeny little shops). Being rather restrained although managing to get a little of my Christmas shopping done, and of course we had to tourist our way to the beautiful Bowie memorial wall, where people have left notes and pictures - my favourite was this of the Goblin King from Labyrinth.
After a lovely morning of exploring the area, we stopped for train snacks (for me) and I headed back to Euston on the tube, and got the train home. A lovely weekend, filled with just enough time in the big smoke and a decent balance of cuddles and home-time with my favourite, as well. I'm learning about this balance thing, it seems..