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Category Archives: books

Book Corner – Latest Reads April 2017

It has been a little while since I wrote some book reviews but on holiday I devour books (about one a day) so I have a couple of good ones to share today.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

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This book was one I chose for my book club to read. I have to admit that I did feel the pressure to choose a decent title for us but this went down quite well and it was an interesting read. The book follows two characters who meet at university and we then follow three different versions of their future, both together and apart. I always wonder ‘what if’ and this book follows that idea of making decisions and the consequences they have. Each chapter was from one of the three versions and I have to admit that in places it was quite hard to follow and it was one of the only times I have ever wished that I had a Kindle title in hardback so I could flick back a little easier to remind myself who all the characters were. After a while, I stopped getting hung up on not remembering every little detail and just read it although I found the ending a little unfulfilling. An interesting yet quite tricky read.

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

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I first heard about this book on Woman’s Hour (and here is the link if you are interested) and this fascinating story stuck with me. It was an incredible read and it even prompted me to tweet the author who actually replied! The book follows the tragic stories of dial painters in America during World War One who worked in factories painting luminous dials using a radium-based paint. Amazingly, at the time radium was seen as some sort of wonder product and was added to drinks, cosmetics and toothpaste, often called ‘liquid sunshine’. Many of these factory girls were earning more than their fathers so it was seen as an attractive and glamorous job and the girls would encourage their sisters, cousins and friends to join too. They were all encouraged to ‘lip point’ which meant putting the radium-covered paintbrushes in their mouths, inadvertently ingesting this element.  There were no safety precautions and the women would literally glow in the dark as they walked home in the evening. Years later, the women gradually started to get ill. It would often begin with losing a tooth but soon would leave them in horrendous pain with appalling and crippling illnesses. The book follows two factories and the brave women who decided to take on these huge corporations and not stop until justice was served. This was brilliantly written, moving and one of the best books I have read in years.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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I really wanted to love this book and while it was an easy read, I was just left a little underwhelmed. It was very funny in places but almost identical in style and content to the Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey books I have read. It did make me realise that Amy is really good at what she does and that she has slogged away and worked incredibly hard to get to where she is now. I haven’t seen Parks and Recs so the chapters on that were a little irrelevant to me. Some chapters were really interesting whereas others were really shallow, especially the really blasé one on drugs. I think my favourite thing that I will take away with me was her motto of ‘good for you, not for me’ which is applicable in so many situations!

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Tenerife

I love looking back at my travel posts and remembering little details I may have forgotten. For this reason, I wanted to write a short post on our 5 nights in Tenerife. It wasn’t the most jam-packed all-action holiday but we literally googled ‘hottest place in Europe in April’ and the Canary Islands kept coming up so we booked it a few weeks ago and looked forward to sun, good food and a chance to relax.

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We stayed in a little town called Puerto de la Cruz. I liked the fact that our hotel was right on the beach and that we could wander along the seafront at night watching the sunset and the waves. We managed to see the Semana Santa parade one evening too and indulged in a fish pedicure (Ian’s idea of hell!)

We did paddle on the black sands one afternoon but the current was so strong we didn’t wade in too far!

Our hotel itself was lovely. I was surprised at how lush the north of Tenerife was and we had an abundance of palm trees, plants and cacti in the grounds of the hotel – and loads of lizards running around too.

The food was wonderful – I got a bit obsessed with churros and Nutella for breakfast everyday, paella with clams for lunch then mojo sauce which is a garlicky, herby salsa that I liberally spooned over everything! We also had a Spanish cheeseboard every night as I am just not a fan of Spanish desserts.

One evening, we ate in the hotel’s a la carte restaurant where we enjoyed a great meal including a delicious duck dish.

One of my favourite places to hang out was our balcony. We had the sun on it in the late afternoon so we would sit out with a beer before dinner then again before we went to bed with candle lit, planning future holidays and putting the world to rights.

I still have a week off work so plan on using that time to read and get all those little jobs done that I keep putting off!

Happy Easter x

Ten Friday Favourites #14 and #15

I’m back, both from holiday and from my accidental blog break! And without sounding too smug, I feel great. We had five blissful days where all we did was read, lie in the sun, walk along the beach, eat amazing food and indulge in a fair few cocktails. I feel so refreshed and really inspired to blog and get a few things around the house and garden finished this week. Seeing as I missed last week’s favourites, I thought I would kick things off this week with a bumper edition from the past fortnight.

Sun

In top position has to be our break in Tenerife. It was so lovely to feel the sun on my face again, speak some Spanish, eat churros and paella every day and enjoy doing absolutely nothing without any guilt.

Braces

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After almost a year, the braces I have had to straighten up my bottom teeth are off! I am so pleased I went ahead with this, despite the aching jaw and sore mouth, and plan on writing a blog post soon with a few before and after pictures.

Eyelash tint and lift

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I have written before about how much I love these beauty treatments and it was lovely to not have to bother with mascara or curling my eyelashes all week. In fact, I spent most of the time make-up free which was lovely and I think my skin is better for it.

Ballet

The day before our holiday, I went to watch Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes in Bristol with friends from work. It was a great way to spend an afternoon and my second time watching this art form.

The Radium Girls

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I read this book on holiday and it was incredible. Moving, brilliantly-written and shocking in equal parts, I will be recommending this to everyone. I even got a reply to my tweet from the author which makes me love it even more.

Travel Pillow

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I bought this for our trip to Japan later this year but decided to test it out this holiday. I’d never really rated travel pillows before but this was lovely. For once, I actually napped on the flight without my neck swinging about and I even used it through the day on the sunbed and it was a gamechanger – I actually had 3 naps one day!

Striped Top

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I have been loving this top I picked up in Primark a few weeks ago. I feel it ticks off a couple of trends (flared sleeves, stripes, embroidery) but it also just feels great to wear.

Chai Shower Gel

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This Body Shop shower gel smells of my all-time favourite drink – enough said.

Fish Pedicure

I know these were a craze a few years ago but I never had one and when I saw this little spa, I decided to have a go. I actually quite liked the nibbling sensation and I have to admit my feet were lovely and smooth afterwards. Ian however, having very ticklish feet, found it torturous!

Coconut Chips

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I always grab a packet of these at the till in Primark and I love them. They are delicious to snack on their own but are also a great addition to overnight oats or porridge for a bit of a crunch. I think they also have chocolate covered ones which I need to try.

Five Friday Favourites #9

The Guilty Feminist Podcast

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I have loved listening to this on the way to work this week. I listened to two great episodes on the subjects of periods and not having kids – both were funny, informative and really interesting.

New 24

Now, I was a huge fan of the original 24 and didn’t think any new series would come close to Jack Bauer et al. However, this new version has the same fast-paced, gripping storylines and it shows real potential.

James Acaster Gig

Last night, Ian and I went to see James Acaster’s latest stand-up show in Bath. He was hilarious and it was my first time visiting the Rondo Theatre too which has an eclectic mix of shows coming up.

Pancake Day

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One of my favourite days of the year. I have mine thin and crispy with Golden Syrup drizzled generously on top!

World Book Day

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I love a good read (currently making my way through Hemmingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls) but am equally as keen on quality fiction for children too. But parents…please spare a thought for teachers who also need to find a costume for World Book Day every year!

Five Friday Favourites #7

Despite this week being a bit of a write-off, there were a few highlights:

BBC Dramas

Although I love Netflix and American TV series, I think we can sometimes forget just how flippin’ great our home grown dramas are! This week, Ian and I have watched ‘Moorside’ and ‘Apple Tree Yard’ both of which were gripping and contained brilliant casts. We have just started watched ‘The OA’ and although I am getting into it now, it is so stylised and quite slow-moving – give me a gritty British drama any day!

Hanjie

Quite a niche favourite but I love these Japanese picture puzzles. They do tap in to the whole mindfulness colouring book craze yet they actually make you think a bit too which is perfect for me.

Tea

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I don’t think I would have made it through this week without copious cups of the good stuff. For me, it has healing qualities.

The Versions of Us

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I finished reading this book earlier on in the week and really enjoyed it. It was actually my choice for my book club and was written in a really unique way. Funnily enough, it was the first book I’ve ever read on my Kindle that I wish I had in paperback as I had to keep flipping back to remind myself of certain details of the plot. I will do a proper book review soon.

The First Signs of Spring

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As I type this, I can see some little purple crocuses in the garden and I also have a bunch of bright yellow daffodils on the table. These little glimpses of spring make me really happy as I’ve just had enough of dark mornings, wet afternoons and grey skies!

 

Latest Purchases #106 – Two Urban Outfitters Books

I really like browsing the homeware and gift section of Urban Outfitters. I think they have some really original products and we have a few of them dotted around the house. I was looking through the book section and found these two.

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The first is ‘Bringing the Outside In’ by Val Bradley. This is a guide to growing cacti and succulents with sections on how to display hanging planters and terrariums.

My parents got me a beautiful copper terrarium for Christmas but I’m a bit clueless on how to start it off so this is ideal for knowing which plants to use and how to best care for them.

As well as having lots of handy hints and tips for all things plant-related, this is a really beautiful book and I really like the photography throughout.

The second book I bought was this lovely Daily Journal. I have to admit it was the marble green cover that pulled me in but the content is pretty great too. I am constantly making to-do lists to keep me on top of things and this has several sections to work through. I really like the fact that the pages aren’t dated so I can use it as and when I want to.

So, hopefully these two books will get me organised and green-fingered in no time! x

2017

img_9228Happy New Year! I hope you’re not nursing too sore a head after celebrating last night?! Ian and I started off having quite a chilled night in with an M&S meal deal and planned to pop up to the pub for a quick drink at midnight. Well, that quick drink soon escalated and we ended up wandering home at about 3am – I do love our village pub! I’ve managed to dodge a hangover but Ian is feeling a tad delicate today.

I used to start the New Year with a whole host of ‘New Year, New Me’ thoughts, only to beat myself up a few months later when I hadn’t managed to stick to my highly ambitious resolutions. I don’t think we need to start the year off trying to change who we are but rather make some small and manageable adjustments that will ultimately make us happier.

Reflecting on my resolutions from last year, I didn’t do too badly. I carried on going to the gym and actually managed to run a 5K for charity, I read a whole host of books and even joined a book club and I am slowly conquering my fear of needles by giving blood twice.

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I didn’t manage to master vlogging but I’m OK with that. I like writing and have seen how many hours editing videos can take and, to be frank, I just don’t have the time!

I also wanted to perfect an ideal work/ life balance but slowly came to realise that this is a constant juggling act and I don’t think anyone really knows how to do this!

So, in 2017 I plan to continue with giving blood, staying fit and healthy and reading more and the good things is, I know I can do these and they make me feel great.

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Additionally, I want to work on decluttering and having less ‘stuff’. I am getting better at giving things away to family and charity shops and I always feel great after a purge of unused things (my Mum is the ultimate minimalist and despairs at my hoarding at times!)

I also feel I have stopped cooking as much as I used to so I am determined to dust off my cookbooks and start experimenting in the kitchen again. I tend to find a set of quick and easy recipes to make through the week and stick to them so I want to mix things up a bit and try a few new dishes. I love cooking too so I know this is one change that will make me happier.

Have you made any resolutions for 2017? x