October TBR

Posted in Books
on 01/10/2018

I wasn’t going to be doing Blogtober, but this awesome suggested post ideas from Jenniely has got me sold!

So, let’s kick this off with my October TBR!

For full transparency, there are affiliate links within this page.

As you were.

The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist

The unit

Page count: 288

Blurb: An eerie dystopian novel envisions a society in the not-so-distant future where men and women deemed economically worthless are sent to a retirement community called the Unit. With lavish apartments set amongst beautiful gardens and state-of-the-art facilities, elaborate gourmet meals, and wonderful music and art, they are free of financial worries and want for nothing.

It’s an idyllic place, but there’s a catch: the residents – known as dispensables – must donate their organs, one by one, until the final donation. When Dorrit Weger arrives at the Unit, she resigns herself to this fate, seeking only peace in her final days. But she soon falls in love, and this unexpected, improbable happiness throws the future into doubt.”

It Ends With HerIt Ends With You, S. K. Wright

Page count: 372

Blurb: Everyone loves Eva. Beautiful, bright, fun, generous – she’s perfect. So when her body is found in a ditch in the local woods the only thing anyone wants to know is: who could have done this?

It has to be Luke, her boyfriend. He has the motive, the means, the opportunity and he’s no stranger to the police. Even though the picture is incomplete, the pieces fit. But as time passes, stories change.

The Periodic Table of Feminism, Marisa Bate

Page count: 204periodic

Blurb: Feminism is a political, social and philosophical movement that has transformed and revolutionized women’s lives.

From fearless women campaigning for the right to vote, to pioneers in fields of medicine, politics and business by the way of pop-culture heroines, writers and creatives, The Periodic Table of Feminism explores over 100 inspiring and engaging international figures who have helped to shape it.

And there you have it! I’ve only got a small TBR again this month, but I also have about 20 books on NetGalley to work through too! What are you reading this month?

 

Featured image photo by Ylanite Koppens accessed via Pexels

Vox, Christina Dalcher

Posted in Books
on 03/09/2018

“I don’t think I really believed it would happen. I don’t think any of us did.”

IMG_0193Title: Vox

Author: Christina Dalcher

Page count: 326 (hardcover edition)

Imagine a world where women have a 100-word allowance each day. Go over that number, and you’ll wish you hadn’t.

That’s the reality for Dr, no, Mrs Jean McClellan, and all girls & women over 3 months old. No title, other than the one of ownership; no voting; no work but housework; no words, no signing, no gestures; no privacy. Not even any mail. The band around their wrist, calibrated to their voice, counts upwards throughout the day, enforcing quietness and submission to male dominance. And then, as if by total irony, the research Jean had been working on (until she couldn’t) was needed, beginning the fight for the right to have a voice.

Dalcher has created a masterful piece of literature, which uniquely combines the politics and turbulence of external factors, with family dynamics, not all of them good. Jean has to raise four kids, three boys and a girl, whilst adjusting to life within this new, intolerant country. Her husband, Patrick, works in the White House and is so wonderfully complex as a character, I could write a whole post on the mastery of it. It would, however, give away some major spoilers so I will save that for a time when people know how this book ends.

Add into this, Dalcher’s fantastic use of intersectional politics and identities, and there’s an element of this novel that makes you terrified for the future. The hints of Bible Belt religionism, nuclear family discourse, and corrupt politics make this book incredibly exciting and fast-paced. My one criticism – stylistically, it might have been a bit more impactful for each chapter to be 100 words or less.

That doesn’t really limit my love for this book, though.

Have you read Vox? What did you think? If you haven’t got a copy yet, you can pick one up here (not an affiliated link – I just love people buying books!)

Four ways to get out of your reading slump

Posted in Books
on 23/08/2018

I am awful at making time for reading.

My phone, social media, video games or binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy always seem to take a higher priority, even though they don’t bring me as much joy. So, I’ve been trying some new behaviours to try and teach myself to make more time.

1. Munching and reading

My most productive reading time? Lunch.

I’m very lucky to be able to take an hour-long lunch break, leaving me about 40 minutes to sit down and read every day of the working week (subtracting time to eat and get settled in). Find a quiet spot, put your headphones in, and you can transport yourself into another world quite easily. It also helps if a work pal reads with you as you can motivate each other to keep going!

IMG_0030

2. Go back to your classic

When all else fails, your classic read will always be there for you. My old faithful? Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Following Lyra’s adventures never gets old and always increases my love of reading. Go back to that book you say down and read in a day – it may just be the one to get you back on track.

3. “App”y reading

I have fallen in love… with an app? The Bookly App is so much more than a handy, digital bookmark. You can track how long you’ve been reading the book so far, see how successful your reading sessions have been, add quotes/thoughts/words as you read (or take photos for later) and even play relaxing sounds, such as a thunderstorm, as you delve into another world. But, and this is the bit that gets me, you can unlock achievements as you go, meaning the more you put into to the app, the more you can get through! Gamification is a sure fire way to get me on board. I use the app pretty much every day, so have splurged on the paid subscription (£4.99) which allows you unlimited books on the app itself (you can only have up to 10 on the free version) and allows you to set yearly reading goals. I really, really, really love this product.

4. Read or write about them

For me, part of the reason I wanted to start a blog is to motivate myself to read more! I have many books I want to read, but I just haven’t done it, so I thought I’d tell you all about them instead! But, if blogging doesn’t seem like your thing, read them. There are book bloggers for all sorts of niche genres (and quite a few every-genre-possible bookworms too!) so there should be a blogger out there for you!

Are you struggling to make time for reading at the moment? What’re you doing to counter it? Share in the comments below and help out a fellow struggling reader! <3

We’re buying a house

Posted in Life
on 17/08/2018

We did a thing.

I have been living down south for almost two years now and, I’m not going to lie, it’s been a huge adjustment. I grew up in the Scottish countryside, where you could only go places by car, would have to allow extra time in case there were tractors/sheep/cows/cyclists on the road and, when you got to your destination, it would probably rain.

Moving to the London area has been tough and made tougher by the lack of greenery and general private outdoor space. In all three of the houses we have rented, there hasn’t been a garden/courtyard attached.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a park, and there are plenty in our area. But, it’s just not the same.

I want to grow veg and have wildflowers for the bees, plus I want to grow peonies so I can be that person every day for the short space of time they bloom. I want a living wall and to have a section near a window dedicated to herbs so you get a whiff of basil or thyme or lavender when you step outside.

So, when my boyfriend and I found a development being built in our favourite borough, we were pretty interested. But when it has two outdoor spaces plus an ensuite master bedroom – well, it would be madness not to!

FloorplanThe place is still being built but, right now, it looks like we’ll have the keys (and a mortgage…) by October. I’m so excited to plan colour schemes, plan my garden and get our posters/artwork in framed!

Would you be interested in hearing more about the buying process and moving in/decorating?

 

 

 

August TBR

Posted in Books
on 12/08/2018

I’m in a reading slump, and it sucks.

No book is gripping me, interesting me or getting me on board with its narrative. It’s so frustrating to have something that was once my escape from reality becoming a draining factor in my reality.

So, I’m setting myself some reading targets each month to help me focus on getting through the backlog of books I have acquired (and to give me space to buy more!). This month, I’ve only set myself three books to read, as I usually only have an hour or so a day to sit down with a nice paperback) but hopefully I’ll have the chance to get a couple more squeezed in!

Inside the Firm, Tony Lambrianou

IMG_0030.jpeg

I’m low-key obsessed with crime documentaries so when a colleague at work was reading a book written by someone who was in the inner circles of the Kray twins, I basically gave him no choice but to let me borrow it! The author, Tony Lambrianou, was sentenced to 15 years for murder and all kinds of crime after having been a member of the Kray Twins gang throughout the most of their career. I’m hoping to have this read ASAP so I don’t hold on to someone else’s book for too long!

WTF?, Robert Peston

What have we done? Why did it happen? How do we take back control? These are the questions being asked in this book.

If you don’t watch Peston on Sunday, you’re missing out. Robert Peston is one of the best journalists out there, and he actually talks common sense. If like me, you’re still reeling from Brexit and the rise of the alt-right, this book is for you. I’ve read his introduction and the book takes you all the way back to the banking crash in 2008 to assess what happened that has caused Brexit, Trump and the ever-widening gap between those at the top, and those at the bottom.

IMG_0033.jpeg

The Darkness, Ragnar Jónasson

love Scandi/Northern crime writers. There’s something about the bleak landscape descriptors that make them the best kind of suspense writing. I picked this up at a little independent bookstore in Totnes and am very much looking forward to starting it. A young woman is found washed up on the shoreline. It’s ruled a suicide, but DI Hulda Hermannsdottir soon finds that another woman went missing at the same time… I just hope it isn’t an obvious ending.

What are you reading at the moment? Are there any books being published soon that you’re looking forward to?

 

River Exe Cafe

Posted in Local, Travel
on 09/08/2018

I’m going to say it: Devon has some of the best food in the country. I will fight you if you try and say otherwise! From veg to fish, meat to cheese (and wine!), and a bit of cake in between, you could travel the county and still be finding new and amazing places to eat.

Enter the River Exe Cafe.

Situated on a flotilla in the middle of the River Exe Estuary, this floating slice of foodie heaven serves fresh fish, seafood and sea veg throughout the summer season (April-September).  It’s pretty popular – my mum booked three weeks beforehand and we could only get on the 3pm sitting!

IMG_3899

We arrived in Exmouth to get our water taxi over to the floating restaurant. As per Devon, the views were gorgeous, although the storms you could see on the hills made the water a little choppy!

If, like me, you’re someone plans their meals out at least a week in advance, the menu online looks a little sparse. DO NOT PANIC. It’s because their specials (and mussels) are where the party is at! I’m still distraught that I’m allergic to mussels but, there were five or six specials to whet my appetite instead! From lobster to plaice, all of the ingredients were either caught by the local fisherman, whose boats you sail past on your way to the flotilla, or from local farms.

The food. Oh. My. Days.

To start with, I tried scallops for the first time. I have been missing out – they were baked with a coral butter and white port, and then topped with a parmesan crumble. Amazing.

Next, I opted for the Thai Green Curry which had salmon topped with sesame seeds, crab claw, monkfish and crevettes within it, and was accompanied with a pineapple and chilli salsa and some sea veg. The curry came with some rice but, in my pre-dinner meal planning, I’d already decided that, regardless of accompaniment, their truffle and parmesan frites were the only accompaniment I would ever need! And, honestly, they were incredible. My mum had the lobster, which was also pretty special.

To finish, the only real choice on the menu was the Salted Caramel Fudge Brownie with ice cream and berries. Is there really any other logical choice? It was gooey and warm and the best way to round of a fabulous meal!

IMG_3921

Then, it was time to get our water taxi back to shore. You get 2.5 hours for a sitting, which is plenty of time to have three courses and coffee! This is a real gem and, if you’re in Devon in the warm season, get yourself a table booked!

Thank you for reading – it feels good to be back! Where is your favourite foodie find?

Going Local

Posted in Life, Local, Travel
on 07/08/2018

Exploring is awesome. We all know that – what is better than going somewhere you don’t know, getting lost and then heading to the nearest bar for a well-deserved cocktail?

But I feel that sometimes you can spend too much time focussing on the far away, rather than what is directly in front of, and around, you. I’ve lived in the Surrey/London area for almost two years and, until May, I hadn’t even gone to a local lake – why is that? I was too focussed on jetting off somewhere to have a break from life and up my gram’ game.

So, I’ve made it my mission to give more time to my local area.

IMG_3588.jpg

Because it is beautiful and I’ve been taking that for granted. Sure, I haven’t got the classic passport and plane ticket photo, and I haven’t spent hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds to get the next “it” place, but I will get to meet some cool people and go on random day trips with friends, and my ‘gram game will still be great because finding beauty in the everyday has to be the ultimate goal.

But I am lucky because my local area includes a fabulous city that would be classed as a holiday for many people. I live in an area where wealth is aplenty so my green spaces will stay green when others will become housing blocks and schools and hospitals other fundamental pieces of society because there is simply nowhere else for them to go.

So, I’m going to be writing a lot about places that may, or may not, be familiar but will cost a fraction of the price as a holiday and will be within the UK and guaranteed to give you a great time and a great ‘gram.

I’m really interested in hearing your views on this! I get serious FOMO when I see people jetting off to these exotic places – is that a thing? I’d also love to read some posts on things in your local area/within the UK and then maybe we can get a round-up post together or something?

Comment, share, tag me – I want to hear about all your recent local travels!

 

 

 

 

 

July Favourites

Posted in Life
on 07/08/2018

How are we almost at the end of July? This month has been a busy one with work so there has been a lot of improving myself this month, rather than any big splurges/trips!

Cooking

It’s amazing what new cookbooks can do to get your culinary juices flowing again. I always struggle to mix up meals, particularly when it’s warm because having salads twice a day gets boring pretty quickly. So, I’ve made it my mission to start broadening my taste and attempting some really tasty, nutritious and healthy meals to get me through the day.

FYI, the One Pound Meals polenta and pork meatballs were a m a z i n g but definitely an autumn/winter dish and I made some ridiculously good chocolate brownie cookies from the Power Snacks book. Would you be interested in seeing my weekly meal plans?

Tea

Tea is my ultimate bae. Caffeinated, non-caffeinated, green, black, rooibos – I love them all. I’ve been cutting down my caffeine intake recently though, so I’ve been hitting that rooibos (red bush) tea like it’s water. A couple of drops of honey (and the occasional slice of lemon) and you are good to go. I personally love the Clipper red bush tea, or the Dragonfly Chai or Earl Grey rooibos and I bulk buy them off Amazon!

Earrings

IMG_3600.jpg

 

I go through phases with jewellery and currently I am obsessed with earrings. For the first time in my life, long dangly ones aren’t annoying (hello, adulthood?) and a couple of v. cute studs. They’re all from Asos in the range of £4-12.

Maxi Dresses

Yes, I have only just discovered the joys of maxi dresses. I’m 5’3″, so just assumed that they would never be the right length. How wrong I was.

I currently only have two until payday, but I am a convert. You can dress them up, dress them down, look like a princess when you gather it up to go up some stairs – what more could you want?!

IMG_3548.JPG

Alpro Caffé

Cute design, caffeinated and dairy-free – ticks pretty much all the boxes you could think of and it’s a cold drink so perfect to get you going first thing in the warm weather we’ve had recently! Speaking of which…

Summer has arrived!

And it is glorious. We’ve hit 33 degrees here in recent days which is slightly insane – does anyone else notice a boost in confidence when you’ve got a tan?  Flowers are in bloom, the smell of cut grass follows you everywhere and, until a couple of weeks ago, the grass was bright green and luscious – now it’s a bit dead because, lol, no rain since I can remember.

IMG_3420.jpgI’m really looking forward to a week at my parent’s in Devon at the beginning of August, so keep your fingers crossed this weather continues until then!

I love hearing about what you’ve been up to! What do your July favourites look like? Is there anything you think I should try in August? Comment and share your links with me!