Friday 2 December 2022

Festive Review Catch Up! Merry 'n' Bright, Winter Nights and Cupcakes

 

Yep, I'm still catching up with reviews... It kinda happens when you don't really post any for over a year but I deliberately saved these ones to share during the festive period.
Twinkly lights, snow, cake, gifts and falling in love... Festive reads are delightful. 

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber


Merry Smith is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

Merry and Bright was a wonderfully sweet festive read! I loved watching Merry and Jayson get to know each other both irl and online. The book was low drama and low heat but full of festive feels!
It isn't too long, nor is it too short, and I found it perfect for curling up under a blanket and escaping reality for a few evenings...

Falling For Christmas by Kate Hewitt


Glamorous city girl Hannah Ford wasn’t thinking when she walked out of a Christmas party and drove three hundred miles into a snowstorm; she just needed to escape. Thankfully local carpenter Sam Taylor comes to her rescue, and the unlikely pair are forced to spend a snowed-in Christmas together.

All Sam planned for Christmas was to get drunk alone. The holiday has always been something to be endured, until Hannah tumbles into his life, making it magical. Now Hannah and Sam have a chance to have a Christmas together… and make it the best one either of them have ever had.

But can one night out of reality turn into something that’s lasting and real?

Audiobook: 3hrs 37min - Narrator: Summer Roberts

This is a snowed in holiday novella that's good for passing some time but it wasn't all that memorable.
The characters were likable enough but the spark between them was lacking. The story was low heat, they both had a load of baggage, and it didn't hit all the festive happy buttons I'd have wanted... But it had a happy ending that made me smile! All in all, I don't think I'd read any more in this series but it was enjoyable enough to amuse.


Eight Winter Nights by Liz Maverick


Last year, Rachel Bacharach met the man of her dreams at a Hanukkah party — and then her outgoing best friend Tamara swooped in and “called” Oz Caplan for herself. It’s a typical outcome for the dependable, bookish Rachel, who is never able to extinguish the spark she immediately felt for Oz. But being secretly in love with her best friend’s boyfriend all year hasn’t been easy.

As this year’s party approaches, Oz and Tamara break up. It’s a worst-case scenario when Oz asks Rachel to help him write Tamara love letters to win her back in time for their Hanukkah anniversary. Rachel’s been writing love letters to Oz in her journals for a year; she knows all the words he would need. But will Rachel be able to hide her true feelings from Oz any longer? And might this year’s party finally be Rachel’s chance to trust her heart and put everything on the line for love?

Audiobook: 2hrs 55min - Narrators: Eva Kaminsky and Jason Clarke

I listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed it! The narrators brought the story to life and at just under 3hrs listening time it was perfect for consuming in a single evening.

The story itself was fun... A classic case of unrequited love that isn't really unrequited. Add a meddling friend and an injury to the equation and you have a forced proximity, friends-to-lovers, tale that will make you smile.
I loved that the story is set over the eight days of Hanukkah and how it flips back and forth between the past and the present. It brought the characters to life and added some depth to the tale which is hard in a novella length story.

My only complaint is that I hated that Oz had dated Tamara (aka the meddling best friend) and was still, in theory, hung up on Tamara/getting over their break up at the start of the book. I hated how Rachel stepped aside that day in the past and let the man of her dreams go because she felt like she couldn't compete with her best friend. I feel like Oz should have noticed that Rachel was his person without screwing her bf for a year! Anyhoo... I guess my personal gripe isn't the point. The point is that I still really enjoyed the story despite really having a major gripe over elements so I recommend folks give it a listen!

Christmas At Carly's Cupcakes by Jessica Redland


Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is a cosy heartwarming tale of friendship, family, putting the past behind, and embracing the future.

It’s Christmas in Whitsborough Bay. With fairy lights connecting the shops and cafΓ©s on either side of the cobbles, Castle Street seems magical. And in such a magical place, surely Christmas wishes can come true.

Carly Travis, owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, has two Christmas wishes this year. Her first is for her younger sister, Bethany, to focus on the positives in her life, including her Christmas wedding, instead of writing herself off as a failure. Bethany's attempts at cake-decorating aren't going to win any awards, but she’s certainly great with customers. Carly’s second wish is for her best friend, Liam, to come home for Christmas.

When Liam calls to say he’s been granted leave from the army, Carly makes a third Christmas wish. It’s the one she’s made every year since she was a teenager and, if she’s really brave, could this be the year when it finally comes true?

With Liam coming home, the shop having its best year yet, and a wedding to look forward to, it’s shaping up to be the best Christmas ever for Carly. But for Bethany, things are starting to unravel …

Audiobook: 5hrs 57min - Narrator: Emma Swan

This wasn't a festive romance so much as a women's fiction, family drama, set at Christmas with the added bonus of two long-term best friends finally getting together after loving each other forever but being too terrified to lose each other if they admitted it. 

I loved the snow, the cupcakes, the wonderful festive feel of this book... I enjoyed the romance elements... Carly and Liam were made for each other and I was furious with them for not pulling their head out their asses much earlier but relieve and so happy when they finally did!

The family drama with Carly's younger sister Bethany got a little much but I was happy with how it played out and Bethany's future husband was a gem so that was an unexpected cherry on top of a pretty good listen.
The narrator did a good job of bringing the characters to life and making each distinct so kudos.

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Saturday 22 October 2022

The Love Hypothesis (Ali Hazelwood) and Well Matched (Jen DeLuca)!

 

Yes, yes, I know... The Love Hypothesis has been everywhere for over a year now and I'm just getting around to reviewing it... Fear not though! I read it the day it released. I'm just writing some catch up reviews since I've been awol and all... The same with Well Matched! Read it last year, reviewing it today.
This late-to-the-party review approach is definitely going to continue being my MO for a while but anyway... Moving on. 😊

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood



As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships--but her best friend does, and that's what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor--and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford's reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive's career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding... six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.


There are not enough words in the English language for me to describe how much I loved this book!
I read it in one of the darkest phases of severe depression last summer (a miracle in itself seeing as I hadn't had the ability to read anything in months) and it made me laugh. It made me smile. I couldn't stop reading it. I read it cover to cover and then immediately wanted to start reading it again. I wanted to magic myself between the pages and follow Adam and Olive around as they lived their lives like a little stalker because I loved them and didn't want to let them go. 
I geeked out over it being a romance between STEM characters. 
I fangirled over the Adam Driver vibes that Adam gave me (and yes, I know Adam is actually modeled on Adam Driver) . 
I cringed at the ridiculous situations Olive found herself in with Adam and I alternated between cheering Olive on and squirming in my seat during that chapter (IYKYK)... Man, I wish there were more of those chapters. Maybe just more chapters in general as I didn't want the book to end!
It was pretty much all my favourite things smooshed into novel form.

I hate all the booktok hype... I hate that my paperback copy (yes, I own it in multiple formats) has "the TikTok sensation" written on the bloody cover but in the case of this book... The hype is worth it. I join the hype train! 
All should read The Love Hypothesis as it fabulously joyful and gives you all the feelings! 

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca


Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she's decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire, he wears to the local Renaissance Faire -- a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she'll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more "serious" career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what's real and what's been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch's family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch's girlfriend again... something that doesn't feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they've just been putting on an act. But when there's the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans -- and open her heart -- for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.


I love escaping to the Ren-Faire with Jen DeLuca and was very excited to get my hands on Well Matched as Mitch, that wonderful beefcake of a PE teacher with a heart of gold, won me over in the very first book of the series and it wasn't hard to work out that with April was where he was going to end up! I was so ready to see him settle down and for April to finally get hers... But the book just didn't quite manage to meet my expectations.

Mitch was lovelier than ever. We really got to know him for more than the carefree ladies' man in this book and he was just perfect. 
But April... April was April. She'd been hurt, yes, but her pig-headed refusal to contemplate a change to the plans she'd been making in the face of something wonderful was absolutely infuriating. Her inability to trust that Mitch could be her person... Her fixation on the age gap. So many things irritated me about how she went about the entire relationship with Mitch, and how she treated him, that it took the shine off what could have been a fabulous read. 

Now, that sounds all very negative but the simple fact is that I still enjoyed the book. The characters, the setting, the chemistry, the banter - they were all great. Yes, I was irritated by how things went sometimes and by April's choices but that's life! People are sometimes irritating and irrational. The story still worked out well and left me smiling. I still recommend it. I still consider it a four-star read. It just isn't a favourite, you know? And that is absolutely fine. 


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Monday 10 October 2022

Review Catch Up! Mystery, escapism, hockey and romance!

 

It's no secret that I've been, more or less, awol from book blogging for about 18 months... I had my battles to fight and one of the things I fought hard for was to read and enjoy books again! And even though I'm not reading at the rate I used to read, I am reading again and it's grand. 
However, I've not been writing reviews for anything... In fact, the last review I published on the blog was for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo back in November 2021! 😱
So I have some catching up to do... I'm not going to review everything I've read over 2021/2022 but I'm going to share what I thought on some of them in batches like this in the hope that the short, snappy, format of the "reviews" help me to get back into the swing of sharing my thoughts on books!

🟊

Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco


Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

This book seems to be rabidly popular but, I'm not going to lie, I was underwhelmed. 
I love history and I really love the history of medicine and medical science so there were elements of this book that were right up my street! When you combine them with an unconventional girl, a flirty boy who supports her instead of trying to tame her, and an interesting plot line I should have loved it but the pacing was awful! Sometimes gripping, sometimes so slow I was tempted to DNF... Add to it that I guessed who the Ripper was long before the end and it was firmly in meh territory.

I may be tempted to continue reading the next book - and see if the series improves - but only because I got the four books in an ebook boxset... Bonus in that it was on sale! I definitely wouldn't continue the series otherwise. 

The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters by Jaimie Admans


Escape to beautiful France this summer with this uplifting romantic comedy.


Where dreams come true…?
Wendy Clayton stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Instead, she has a ‘nice’ life. Nice job. Nice flat. Absolutely no men. Until her life is turned upside-down when her elderly neighbour, Eulalie, passes away and leaves her the ChΓ’teau of Happily Ever Afters!
But there’s a catch: she must share the sprawling French castle with Eulalie’s long-lost nephew, Julian. And no matter how gorgeous he is, or how easily she finds herself falling head over heels, Wendy needs to find a way to get rid of him…

Because surely happily ever afters don’t happen in real life?

This book provided a wonderful escape from reality alongside a lovely slow burn romance.
Elements annoyed me - mainly Wendy's distrust of Julian... I didn't blame her at first - heck I was distrustful too! - but as time wore on her distrust felt so wedged in and forced it really grated on my nerves... But apart from that the book really was a treat. It was warm and hopeful and made me want to run away to an old Chateau, eat pastries, and not come back to reality. 

Always Only You by Chloe Liese


Get ready for an emotional ride filled with laughter, longing, and a sweet slow-burn in this sports romance about love’s power not in spite of difference, but because of it.

Ren

The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is.

I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.

Frankie

I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about.

Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

​Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.

This was a wonderful grumpy/sunshine romance against a backdrop of ice-hockey... I don't know what else I could have wanted! Ren Bergman is an absolute cinnamon roll hunk of a book boyfriend and I loved him. Frankie was harder to like as I found her a little abrasive but I liked the realism portrayed by the author in relation to her autism and mobility issues, I loved her with Ren (all the banter!), and I liked the Bergman clan. The story was easy to inhale over a long cosy reading session and left me happy and smiling so it's two enthusiastic thumbs up from me!

Bull by Deborah Bladon


My jerk of a boss is getting married today.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the bride-to-be is me.
Graham Locke is cocky, condescending, and looks sinfully sexy wrapped in a thousand dollar suit.
He’s also a nightmare to work for.
When he sends me a text message asking me to meet him because he’s getting married, I laugh out loud.
Who would marry him?
It turns out I do. I literally marry my boss.
It’s not for love. I can’t say it’s entirely for money, but that does factor into my decision to become Mrs. Locke for ninety days.
Three months will fly by, right?
Wrong.
Within twenty four hours, I’m counting the seconds until I can go back to being Trina Shaw.
I persevere because I’m not one to give up even though I seriously consider it.
It doesn’t take long before I discover that my husband isn’t the man I thought he was.
The secrets he keeps hidden close to his heart may end up breaking mine.

Bull was a pretty standard Billionaire-type romance... Super rich guy, not rich girl, marriage of convenience that becomes more... Misunderstandings and alpha growling abound... It fits safely in the mold and didn't wow me in the slightest but it was enjoyable enough to read and passed the time quite nicely.

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Sunday 2 October 2022

Excuse me, I seem to have misplaced September...

 

*Waves*
Hello folks! I seem to have completely misplaced the month of September but maybe that isn't too surprising given it was quite an eventful month!

The little dude started secondary school, I ended up in hospital with a kidney infection, the Queen died, and work went crazy. I've had to pickle, blanch/freeze and batch cook a glut of veggies from the garden, sort out insurance renewals, and deal with multiple household items deciding to give up the ghost in a very short space of time... 
It was just a month of one thing to do after another and honestly the kidney infection completely took my legs out from under me and made everything feel like I was competing on Ninja Warrior instead of navigating the house with a laundry basket!
I had a lot of help from the husband, obviously, but there are just some things - like pickling or making sauces from scratch - that are beyond his skill set... He loves growing veggies but he relies on me to know what to do with them all! πŸ˜‚

Anyway, here we are in October! I survived September! I'm fully recovered now and looking forward to my favourite time of the year!
I absolutely adore spooky season through to Christmas... It's just perfect to me. 


I haven't been around much so have missed so many posts, haven't been commenting etc, because September kicked my ass. However, I share some I have managed to read and really enjoyed this weekend!

Sam talks about not feeling bookish enough... It honestly makes me sad that voracious readers like Sam feel like they're not bookish enough because people love to gatekeep and try to slap arbitrary "rules" on everything.

Karen talks about Vintage Cookbooks... I loved this post as it made me think about my vintage cookbook inherited from my gran and the comments section is full of such stories!


FYI, I'll also be around a lot more now as my home routine is finally getting back to normal.


Since my last update, I've read 5 books. It's not much but I'm grateful just to be reading.

Love on The Brain by Ali Hazelwood
Wild Knight by Annabel Chase
Three Dog Knight by Annabel Chase
Deadly Knight by Annabel Chase
One Knight Stand by Annabel Chase


Due to being quite ill then recovering from said illness, I spent a lot of September glued to a screen... And I mostly watched entertaining but mindless nonsense like Australian Ninja Warrior (2019) on catch up TV - I was hooked and refused to look up who won as I wanted to be surprised, lol - before discovering that the British version had resumed and was airing now... So I caught up with that too!

I've been watching Rings of Power (I don't think I like it but I'm watching it anyway) and House of the Dragon (which I'm really enjoying). Lower Decks is back for S3 and that's kept me giggling... And there was lots of coverage after the death of the Queen - including the funeral - that I watched too. The day of her death was the day I ended up in hospital so there really wasn't much else to do but doom scroll and watch in between the meds and snoozing.

I also had another run through of Heartstopper as the little dude complained that he wanted to watch it and I'd committed a huge sin when I watched it without him! So we watched it together and it was just as adorable the second time around! 

Then there was watching For All Mankind with the professor... We're only half way through S1 and I'm still interested in it but not riveted.

In terms of movies... I think I've only watched Hocus Pocus 2 which was our Friday night movie this week.
All in all, I don't think it hits the highs of the original but I liked it! Really not to shabby for a sequel.


And that's it from me! How was your September?


PS - The issues with the new blog url (.co.uk) not showing up in RSS feeds like bloglovin and feedly resulted in me having to get another new url (.uk) and do a whole load of background stuff on blogger... It was frustrating af, folks! But it should all be fixed now! Phew!

Have a good week!
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Sunday 21 August 2022

I have no idea where time goes... But I'm rolling with it.


 Wow... I suck at updates and blogging still... Life just has a way of getting in the way, y'know?
Anyway, what's been happening at mi casa since the last update? (Which was a month ago... fml)
Erm, well, we've survived two hideous heat waves! I am not a summer girl even when the temperatures are reasonable so I'm not kidding when I say the heatwaves made me unbearably miserable, grumpy and difficult to live with until they passed, lol. 

I mentioned last time that my husband had covid and I was symptomatic but testing negative... Yeah, that didn't last. I tested positive about 5 days after him. The little dude thankfully avoided the plague! He was negative all the way through and didn't have to miss his school leaver's services and party. 
It sucked we couldn't be there for him to mark the end of primary school, but my friends sent pictures and videos and dropped him home after the leaver's party, so I'm grateful he still got to experience it all and have a great time.  
Now we're full steam ahead towards secondary school! All we have left to sort out are the shoes and stationery! I must admit, I'm super excited to go shopping for books and stationery... Not so much the shoes. He needs 4 different kinds of footwear (indoor sports, outdoor sports, studded boots for rugby, and dress shoes for his day-to-day uniform) and every person in this house hates shoe shopping and likens it to a form of torture so... That will be fun. πŸ˜‘

So, apart from covid and work the summer break has been incredibly tame! We don't have any plans to go away on holiday this year and since the little dude is firmly in tween territory and is happiest when playing Minecraft we haven't made lots of plans to fill the days... We're just rolling with it. We've had the occasional day trip - like we went to Alton Towers theme park this week - but we've mostly just had picnics at our favourite haunts and went walking in places like the new forest to keep our steps up as part of the Diabetes UK One Million Steps challenge that the little dude and I are doing.

I will say though that whilst out and about I noticed Christmas stuff creeping its way into stores already... It gave me the rage, lol. I mean, I love Christmas but we were in the middle of a ridiculous heatwave, it's still summer, I haven't seen any Fall/Halloween stuff around yet and they're gearing up for Christmas! 😱 No... just no.

Anyhoo... I'm on leave this coming week! No work = yay! No plans - beyond some reading - so I'll see where the week takes me and maybe even try and get some blog posts scheduled!


My reading is still super erratic... I read nothing for about 3 weeks and then over the past 8 days have read/listened to 4 books. 
I'm not complaining it's just... weird. I wish I understood my brain nowadays. *sigh*


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Audiobook)
Signal Moon by Kate Quinn (Audiobook)
Rejected by My Alpha Mate by  Jaymin Snow (ebook)
Blind Side by Kandi Steiner (ebook)

All of these books are super different... Different genres, different writing styles, and all (except Kate Quinn who I read years ago) are new authors for me... But I liked them. I liked all of them. 
Maybe this is what I need more of in my reading at the moment... Variety! 


We had a pizza and home movie night last week where we watched Jurassic Park: Dominion. Honestly, I can't say that I recommend it really even though I kinda enjoyed it... The Jurassic Park movies are a guilty pleasure of mine but the longer the franchise goes on the worse things seem to get. 

Aside from that, I don't think I've watched anything! 
The kid and the husband have had stuff on in the background but I haven't been in a TV/Movie mood... I've mostly been playing computer games.


Ilona Andrews' Ruby Fever and Ali Hazelwood's Love on The Brain come out this coming week!!!
I'm super crazy excited for both (and have them pre-ordered) so it's going to be a good reading week. 

Sorry, I don't have any posts to share! I've sucked at getting around blogs and visiting... I'll try to be better for next time! 😊

πŸ’­

Tell me, how are things with you?

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Thursday 28 July 2022

Time to say goodbye... To hair dye. I'm embracing the grey!


 Guys, this may sound crazy but... I'm absolutely done with dyeing my hair. 
Completely and utterly 100% done. 
I'm only 36 but I'd rather spend the rest of my life grey than having to live with the anxiety of my roots showing, pissing around with box dyes or spending a small fortune with a stylist every 2-6 weeks.
I'm going to repeat - because I can hardly believe it myself - that I. Am. DONE.

This isn't a sudden decision, it's been coming for years, but I've always managed to psyche myself out of it... All the fears, anxieties and lies that we tell ourselves as women... The biggest centre around how other people will perceive us, namely old, unattractive, or 'past it'. 
And what a load of bollocks that is!

I'm 36!! I started getting grey hair when I was early 20's. I'm not old. I'm not unattractive! (At least I don't think I'm...) And I am certainly not past anything! 
And honestly... Who tf am I trying to impress? No one. That's who. 
I reached a point during the early days of recovery from severe depression last year when I realised that I don't care. I am so done with caring about what most people think of me. 

Dyeing my hair is a chore. It's a stressor. 
I don't need more chores and I am actively seeking to reduce stressors in my life... So it's buh-bye!

Now, I know that this isn't going to be a quick or easy process..., For a start there is a weird sense of... I don't know... Grief? I loved my natural hair colour. People could never settle on what colour my hair was because it changed depending on the light! I was brown in some and a bright blazing copper in others. Generally, I just went with "coppery-brown."
And when the grey became more prominent, I tried to keep that balance when dyeing it and mostly succeeded... Although it obviously wasn't an exact match. 
The simple fact is, that I may have loved my "natural" colour but my actual natural colour has been gone for a long time and I'm so tired of pretending it's not.
I don't know what my natural colour IS anymore! I just know there are a lot of greys.
So, I guess it's time to find out!

Now, as I mentioned above, I don't want to go to a stylist every month (for hours) to have my hair slowly transitioned by highlights/lowlights... I don't want to spend hours in a chair getting my hair dyed grey and then seeing what happens. 
I REALLY don't want to shave my head and I have a round face that would not go well with a pixi-cut. 
So... I'm going to try and grow it out. Cold turkey. 
I'm going to try and make it through the absolute horror and (hopefully temporary?!) hit to my self-image and self-confidence as that annoying white stripe grows down my head....
Honestly, I'm already freaking out about it! But I'm not reaching for the box dye.
I snapped and did that the last time I seriously entertained doing this (back in January) and have regretted it, and resented it, every month since.
This time, I am ready. 
I last coloured my hair mid-June and here is where it's at. 


My hair grows pretty fast but I'm not going to lie... I hate it. I hate the stripe! 
There is going to be lots of complaining about this until the process is done. 
My poor husband and son for having to listen to it! πŸ˜‚ They're both super supportive though... and since I have to listen to endless Minecraft chatter from one and slug/caterpillar woes from the other (the delights of veggie gardens!) they can suck it up! 😝

So... Wish me luck? Cheer me on? 
You can try and convince me not to do it but I'll ignore you and do it anyway. πŸ˜‰

I am curious... Have any of you transitioned fully to au naturale?
How did it go?

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Sunday 17 July 2022

Mid-Month Check In... The plague with the really bad timing!


 Hello folks!

Happy Sunday! The sun is shining, the UK is freaking out over a red weather warning for heat and I'm writing this from my perfectly cool front room thanks to my husband having the foresight to buy a portable air con unit back in May!

Temperatures of 38-40c (100-104f) are predicted over Monday and Tuesday and whilst we've hit 38c before 40c would be an abnormal new "highest temp"... Climate change in action! 
The simple fact is many parts of the world hit these temperatures but they're used to it and their infrastructure is built for it. In the UK, our infrastructure is designed to cope with cold and wet. Our houses don't have air-con. Businesses often don't have air con. Some cars often don't have air-con!
It's some serious shit... 
However, my husband and I have air con in our cars, our office buildings have air-con and, as mentioned above, he decided we needed an air-con unit for the house earlier in the year after suffering through one too many too hot summers so we're ok... As long as the power grid doesn't melt! πŸ˜†


In other news, my husband has covid! He was ill for about 3 days before actually testing positive which is concerning as I'm currently testing negative but have developed a sore throat, cough etc... What're the bets I test positive in a few days?! πŸ˜”
All things considered, we've not done badly to have avoided it up until now but of all the weeks!
Our son finishes primary school this week! His leaver's ceremony and party are on Thursday! We don't want to miss the leaver's ceremony (but will obviously if testing positive) and we certainly don't want him to catch covid and miss the celebrations not to mention his last few days with his classmates!
His class are splitting off to 4 different high schools and only two others from his class are going to the little dude's high school. It would be such a shame for him... He's currently hiding in his bedroom with the door closed and the window open limiting contact with us, lol. He's decided he's living in there and only coming out when he needs the bathroom... Food to be dropped at his door.
 (I don't blame him! He's being smart.) 

Before covid hit, we saw the little dude perform in his school play - A Midsummer's Night's Dream - and he was brilliant! I couldn't believe it! For some context, this is the kid who'd scowl with his hands over his ears in every nativity play or harvest festival... Often accompanied by rocking. But here we are, 4 years and a pandemic later, and he was up there prancing about in full character giving it everything he had. It was unbelievable. 
All the kids were so good... Seriously, not a wooden performance amongst them! Not a missed line or cue. They really were fantastic and entertaining... The only downside was some of the singing solos! But I give them props for even standing up there and singing full stop so... They all deserve all the praise!

Work has been busy, the garden is providing all the veggies for cooking with... I'm stuck with an overabundance of courgettes/zucchinis again! 

I'm falling behind on my One Million Steps for Diabetes challenge (that myself and the little dude have teamed up for) because I've been exhausted from work and then feeling ill this week so I need to get my butt in gear to make up those steps...

I think that sums up the past couple of weeks!



I've read two books over the past two weeks and both of them I read this week... Go figure!
Both very different but both really enjoyable!


Wolf in The Night by N.J. Walter
Meet Me In The Margins by Melissa Ferguson


Last weekend, we went to the cinema to see Thor: Love and Thunder and we enjoyed it. 
I wasn't expecting the freaking ending... But still. It worked. The post-credits sequence made me feel a bit better about it. Definitely intrigued as to where this phase of the MCU is heading!

At home, the professor and I have been continuing with The Boys (so freaking weird) and the professors also been watching some new Star Trek thing on Paramount Plus as well as Halo... I really don't like Star Trek so I just get exposed by sitting in the same room whilst doing something else but Halo is catching my attention... I keep stopping what I'm doing and turning around to watch it.

And we're almost done with Superstore. *sob*

πŸ’­

Tell me, how have things been going for you this past couple of weeks?



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Tuesday 12 July 2022

Book Covers That Feel Like Summer


This week on Top Ten Tuesday, we're talking about book covers that feel like summer!
Based on my selection, it seems colours heavily influence whether a cover gives me summer vibes...
Bright colours (especially blues) alongside sunshine, sea and sand seem to tick the boxes as far as my brain is concerned!

All books listed below are books I own but haven't read. 
If you had to recommend one I read this summer, which would you suggest?
(Except Line In The Sand as that's an arc that I'll be reading anyway.)


Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Wishing Tree Beside The Shore by Jaimie Admans
Tequila Tequila by Emma Hart


Ella's Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Line In The Sand by Teri Wilson
Sweet Little Thing by Abbi Glines

Bad At Love by Karina Halle
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
How To Save A Life by P. Dangelico

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Friday 1 July 2022

OMG! Where did June go?!


Apparently, it's been a month since I last posted. That's a great start to getting back into blogging isn't it?
I don't know why I haven't posted anything... I guess I've just been busy? Or something. 
Honestly, it doesn't feel like it's been a month. June has just went wheeeeeee and I'm sitting shocked that I'm writing this on the first of July!

Anyway... June was a fairly good month. 

My mental health was appalling throughout May and I was worried I wouldn't be able to pull myself out of the spiral but with some changes at work and half term break spent in Scotland with my family, it improved throughout June.


Work throughout June was calmer than it has been in a long time. Back in April, I switched to a new area of my company and took on a brand new project. I needed the change desperately but because of staffing issues I had to continue to manage my old project as well as take on my new project and I essentially, temporarily, doubled my workload. 
It wasn't the smartest move but it was the deal that had to be struck to get me out of my previous area and into my new one and I don't regret it for a second. Unfortunately, this double workload, double the pressure situation was what caused May's decline in my wellbeing. However, I spoke to my new line manager and she took immediate action and pulled me off my old project completely, effective immediately. My previous line manager (who had agreed to let me go with the temporary double duty) understood completely as she didn't want me to decline again either. So, that was that. I had some handover days throughout June but I was no longer responsible for the day-to-day and it was exactly what I needed to happen. 
Thank God for supportive line managers and awesome employers!

I mentioned above being in Scotland with my family...

Technically this also covers the end of May but I count it as June in my head. 
Anyway, I was in Scotland attending RARE Edinburgh - my first ever book signing/conference!
It was a lot of fun. I won't write too much about it as I plan on writing a little summary post soon but I definitely want to attend London 23 and more events like this! The buzz was fantastic and it was a book lover - and romance readers - heaven!

After RARE, my husband and son joined me at my mum's and we caught up with a load of my family members as well as enjoying a few days out and about to The Edinburgh Dungeon and the RRS Discovery in Dundee.

We came home during the Queen's Jubilee Weekend and I made the official Jubilee pudding - a Lemon Swiss Roll and Amaretti Trifle.
I'm not going to lie... I have no idea how this bloody thing won the contest! Okay, I might be completely the wrong judge as I generally hate trifle but this... Was worse than a normal trifle.
I hated the combination of flavours but the husband - who generally loves trifle - really enjoyed it so... To each their own?


What else has been going on...?

The kid has been feverishly rehearsing for his school play - A Midsummers Night's Dream - and we'll finally get to see the end result in a couple of weeks!
As well as play rehearsals, June was dominated his school residential trip where they got to dragon boat, abseil, land surf, raft build and a whole host of other stuff I cannot remember!
I cannot believe he finishes primary forever in just a few weeks!
When did my baby become a pre-teen?! 😱 
All us mums from his year group have been planning a leaver's party for the kids after their leaver's service in July and I have a feeling we'll all be a little emotional!


We've been working our way through Superstore on Netflix and have finally reached S6. 
I'm loving the show and the weird mix of characters.
The Obi-Wan show on Disney+ is another we've started watching (we're a bit behind) and I'm liking it... I love Ewan McGregor so I shouldn't be surprised really.
The husband and I have also started watching The Boys on Prime and omg... I have no idea what I was expecting with that show but what I got certainly wasn't it! It is twisted, surprising, shocking, funny and gross. I think I like it but I'm not actually sure, lol.

We went to the cinema and watched Dr Strange: Multiverse of Madness and we also saw Top Gun: Maverick and I loved them both!
I thought Top Gun: Maverick was better than the original and that's not easy to achieve!

I also went to the theatre to see Bat Out of Hell: The Musical last night and it was... Interesting!
The music, vocal performances, and staging were magnificent but the story was nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. But oh well. Fun was had just the same!
The rendition and staging of Bat Out of Hell (the song) just before the half-time interval is burned onto my brain with its sheer awesomeness. Definitely a show-defining moment.


I've actually done some reading this month! Amazing... My reading is still super slow and I can go weeks without reading at all but June has been pretty steady!

I listened to two audiobooks (Persuasion by Jane Austin and The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Leise), I read two books (Full Moon Rising and Kissing Sin by Keri Arthur), and I read the novelisation of Under the Oak Tree (part One) by Suji Kim.

I also read the first season of the Under The Oak Tree comic (which marries up to part one of the novelisations) and enjoyed the artwork but preferred the story in novel form.

Web Comics are something I'm becoming an ever bigger fan of. They suit my lack of attention span/focus these days... Another one I've been reading throughout June was Midnight Poppy Land. OMG, I love it. 


The Guild Codex book series is also being turned into a webcomic and I've been enjoying seeing those stories that I love - all the little moments - being brought to life in beautiful artwork.


I've been away from the bookish community for a while so in an attempt to get back into the swing of things I'm joining the Summer COYER hosted by Michelle and Berls at Because Reading.
I'm keeping things simple and not adding a reading list or setting a goal... I'm just going to go with the flow and see if I can clear some books off the shelves and actually start sharing what I think of them again! I'll keep track of progress on my COYER tweet thread

I want to share this post written by Krysta at Pages Unbound as I couldn't agree more with what she said! It's time to stop telling people they aren't real readers.

And that's it from me for now!
What did you get up to in June?


Linking this to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer and the Monthly Wrap Up hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight.
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