Category Archives: reading

My Favourite books of 2018

Happy New Year!!!

Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and a great new year.

I need to begin this post by telling you all I am rubbish at book reviews. I am particularly rubbish at book reviews of books I really like….and I really like books remember when i wrote about how I’d rather share my bed with a book than a bloke….

The thing is when I read a book that I truly love I want to tell people every plot detail , every character quirk , every twist and turn and that’s certainly going to spoil your enjoyment of the books.

That said , knowing my bookworm tendencies I am often asked for book recommendations. I also really like to share the book love . I’m also thinking some of you lucky people may have gotten book tokens for Christmas and looking for something to spend them on. So I’m just going to tell you my fave books I read last year , provide you with a spoiler free blurb and then add my thoughts with my finger placed firmly on my lip! That seem sensible ?

OK let’s go – my top 5 of 2018

5 Years From Now – by Paige Toon

What if you met the right person at the wrong time?

Nell and Van meet as children when their parents fall in love, but soon they are forced worlds apart.

Five years later, they find each other. Their bond is rekindled and new feelings take hold, but once again they must separate.

For the next two decades, fate brings Nell and Van together every five years, as life and circumstance continue to divide them. Will they ever find true happiness? And will it be together?

‘One day, maybe five years from now, you’ll look back and understand why this happened…’

My Thoughts

I love a book with a twist , being a bookworm though if the twists aren’t a bit clever you spot them from a mile. I did not for a second expect the journey this book would take me on. I am not exaggerating to say I felt a whole range of emotions from elation to absolute heartbreak , and if a book can make you feel like that ..I’d say it’s a good read.

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies ) by Scarlett Curtis

My thoughts
Just wow .
I can say in all honesty I have never felt more empowered by a book.
As it’s a collection of pieces from a wide range of women you can pick and put down this book to suit , which makes it handy for the modern busy woman I guess.
Keira Knightley’s piece of childbirth made me shiver and seeth and feel like a total kickass in the space of a few hundred words.
The Cows by Dawn O’ Porter
Fearlessly frank and funny, the debut adult novel from Dawn O’Porter needs to be talked about.
COW n.
/ka /

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.

When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.

Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.

My Thoughts
This was the last book I read in 2018 (I know , where had I been?) my goodness though it was a ‘pause your life and just finish the book’ kind of a read. Small girl says you should never travel anywhere without an emergency book and with this one I took her advice. Always about my person to whip out on the train or at the busstop. Really enjoyed it , the characters are stunningly written and…..see I’m doing it , I’m about to spoil it . Trust me on this one !!!
How to Survive the End of the World (when it’s in your own head) – by Aaron Gillies
There are plenty of books out there on how to survive a zombie apocalypse, all-out nuclear war, or Armageddon. But what happens when it feels like the world is ending every single time you wake up? That’s what having anxiety is like – and How to Survive the End of the World is here to help. Or at least make you feel like you’re not so alone.

From helping readers identify the enemy, to safeguarding the vulnerable areas of their lives, Aaron Gillies will examine the impact of anxiety, and give readers some tools to fight back – whether with medication, therapy, CBT, coping techniques, or simply with a dark sense of humour.

My thoughts

I found this book when I was going through a mental health wobble and it was a revelation. It wasn’t just me who felt like this , who thought like this , whose brain was on a self destruct mission.

For anyone who has dealt with or has to deal with the horrors of anxiety I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Not only is it comfortingly relatable it is also really really funny , i found myself bursting into giggles in public reading it.

The Man Who Didn’t Call – Rosie Blake

The “OMG” romance of the year, The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh is a heart-wrenching love story with a dark secret at its heart, for anyone who’s waited for a phone call that didn’t come.

Imagine you meet a man, spend seven glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything.

So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him.

But he doesn’t call.

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence.

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other?

The truth.

My Thoughts

Oh….now I have to keep my blabbermouth words brief on this one.

All I’ll say is this isn’t just a favourite book of last year , it’s a favourite book ever.

You know when you’re enjoying a book so much you start to ration chapters because you just can’t stand for it to end …though you also need to know what happens RIGHT NOW?

That’s this book.

Now I am backing away before I ruin this delight for you all.

So there we are my recommendatiions for anyone fancying a good read and also thinks my book picks are any good (the two generally don’t go together!)

Here’s to plenty more amazing books this year.

What were your favourites that you read in 2018?

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A 35 year love affair with the library …

It’s National Library week.

I’m a library fan , but this past fortnight I realised that it’s way more than that.

I remember getting my first library card. My cousins took me to the library with them and there it was , my key to books. Loads of books . Any book I wanted I could pick up and take home for a while . I must have only been 3 or 4 but I remember getting that card , the stamp in the book.

As my sister and I got older family trips to the library were a Saturday morning staple. My parents ,my sister and I would head off to the library . We’d be in there ages. There was never any rush and pushing to pick quickly (like my kids have had from me plenty enough times) We’d all be in our separate sections of this quiet ,calm building filled with books. My dad looking for a clever spy novel , mum finding a gruesome horror , little sister finding something ghoulishly funny and me looking for the next author I could discover and binge ! Like a Netflix box set marathon , only with books !!

We’d go do a bit of family visiting then home and we’d all disperse and read . The concept seems quite funny to me now a household of 4 – no TV on , no games consoles just sat with our books and probably a cup of tea.

As years passed and that tradition of a Saturday of ours faded for one reason or another and I became a teenager the library was still a big part of my life (I wasn’t a cool teenager !!). My summer holidays were spent biking to library and back then just sitting on my bed and gorging on Paula Danziger and Judy Blume books . My mum would implore me to get outside for some ‘fresh air’ but I had all I needed. A pile of books ,my brain and my cosy bedroom.

When I had kids of my own the library becomes an exciting trip out – a free exciting trip out ! You can’t argue with that. Before small girl started school we used to go to the library so often we virtually had our own beanbag spot!!

So I’ve always loved the library ,it’s always been a staple in my life. I can almost document my life in books . I remember the books I would get out on a fortnightly basis because I loved them so much I had to read them over and over .

Then the recent dark days in my life happened . Not just a murky grey kind of time but as black as it can get. My mental health took such a crash for a couple of days I could barely speak , I couldn’t think straight certainly. I needed comfort but I didn’t want people. I definitely didn’t want people .

I walked to the library. I don’t really remember the walk for the swirling, crashing ,jumbling of thoughts going on in my head . I just felt drawn to it .

I walked in , collapsed at one of the desks and just felt calmer . I don’t know if it’s the still quiet of the library (I know you are allowed to talk now but people dont really) or if it was being surrounded by books the one thing I’ve been able to turn to given any mood . Something about sitting there though , in that building , with the smell of books and the quiet whirr of a computer printer and the chairs that have seen better days . Something grounded me a bit , calmed me a little . The whirling in my head slowed to a gentle cycle .

The library is my calm place. Any library , any building filled like that with books and people wanting to read them is good for my soul.

I’m aware that libraries are being shut , and downsized and having their opening hours cut and this angers me and upsets me but that’s a rant for another day.

I’ll just leave you with a quote I read on Twitter by the author Matt Haig

Libraries are and always have been magical to me. A gateway to creativity that doesn’t care how old you are , what race you are ,how rich you are .They just sit there full of all those glorious words , waiting for us to go and discover them.

As the young ‘uns may say . Cool af !!

DIY Daddy

An evening at HOME Manchester

Poor unfortunates who have read my blog a while will know I am a huge fan of the solo date . Also that a while back I resolved to spend my child free time in a more productive way than sitting in an empty house whining about how it wasn’t the same without the kids when they were with daddy/grandparents. Best resolution I ever made and I’ve had so much fun since – remember the Edinburgh epiphany?

Anyway,last week I went on one of my little nights out for one. I went to a brand new place – HOME Manchester and had such a great time I had to tell you all about it.

Before I start I will just say , I bought all tickets etc myself. I’m telling you about this merely to share the love and recommend somewhere fab….
I’ll also say ,as I do with books I am not a reviewer….if I love a show I’m generally too giddy about it to write a balanced piece ,I just want to share!! I’m sure you can Google for proper reviews though!

Despite being a theatre loving girl who has lived in Manchester for a decade somehow or other this venue has passed me by (not a clue how!)

I’d read about the PUSH festival going on at HOME and after looking on the website saw there was a huge choice of plays and theatre shows over the past couple weeks I was spoilt for choice of what to see. The best kind of conundrum I think!

I chose two plays that were on the same night. 

The first show I saw was Narcissist in the Mirror with Rosie Fleeshman. A one woman show that was so cleverly written and directed and so utterly up my street covering aspirations and dodgy dates , questionable relationships and so much relevant subject manner I couldn’t have chosen better. 

An articulate monologue capturing self examination Rosie had the audience in the palm of her hand throughout. There was much laughter and relatable appreciation alongside intimate,vulnerable emotion . It’s a shame I caught the last night as I’d have rounded up friends and come back to show them how good it was.  I don’t know when or if it’ll be performed again but the Twitter account is here if you fancy keeping your eye out.

I had an hour between shows then so headed to the restaurant bar for a glass of wine with my book. The staff were lovely and the surroundings really cosy. I didn’t eat as I’d shovelled a load of nachos down my neck pre theatre. Having perused the menu afterwards though I’ll definitely try pre theatre dinner next time.

The second show I saw was [insert slogan here] by YESYESNONO theatre. This was a whole different show and feel. Accompanied by video and music , a simple concept of thought provoking poetic monologues interspersed with audience participation was delivered. It was unexpectedly touching and a little raw. A fantastically immersive show that you leave pondering past  memories and people. 

So you see this was a fabulous solo date!! So much so I’ve already made plans for a second visit and having looked at the spring/summer calendar I can see HOME Manchester becoming a firm favourite.



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Book Inspired Blog Post – It Started With A Tweet -Digital Detox

I love books , everyone who knows me knows that. So I really,really love chatting about them. I’m not a great reviewer though because if I REALLY love a book I get too giddy and want to dissect it thoroughly, the spoiler free review would evade me . I’m often inspired by books though so I thought I could include these kind of posts in the blog in 2018.

If you follow me on social media you’ll have seen me raving about the first book I’ve read this year. It Started with a Tweet by Anna Bell.

It was the perfect post Christmas wind down book. Truly loveable characters, a bit of romance and lots of talk of the beautiful Cumbrian countryside. Works for me.

Without giving too much away ,our girl Daisy mistakenly sends a dodgy tweet and promptly loses her job. Daisy is cajoled into a digital detox by her sister who takes her to a rundown cottage in a remote village in Cumbria with no phone signal , social media or WiFi and the book tells of how she copes.

It got me thinking about my own reliance on my phone , which is definitely quite strong. I’m someone who has to respond immediately to notifications. That ding from my phone will distract me from anything else I should be concentrating on.

Now I’m not going to put my phone down a well (book reference) , I’m not going to swear off social media . HOWEVER I do think a mini detox would do me good. So I’ve identified ways I can use a mini digital detox for the greater good.

1) No scrolling in bed

This is an awful habit of mine.

I decide to get an early night , go to bed and read for a little while then turn out the light…..and then just check Facebook….and a little peek at Twitter….then see an article or blog post I need to read and before I know it it’s midnight. The early night is lost and I’m too alert and sleep suffers.

I’m going to try to break this habit. The articles tweets and posts will still be there in the morning!

2) Phone away whilst reading or watching TV

Whether I’m reading,catching up with Netflix or watching a film I’ve come to realise I’m never fully immersed or present in what I am doing. Only takes a bleep off the phone to distract me.

This is not good for me. I’d like to think I’m a relatively intelligent woman with a good attention span so why can’t I just sit and watch a whole movie without distraction?

So that’s plan number 2. Phone away and on silent when watching TV or films or reading .

3) Write more letters and notes

In the book Daisy exchanges notes with Jack ,a man in the village as they have no other way to communicate. I absolutely love the thought of this! I am a letter writer , always have been. There’s just something about pretty paper , a special pen and handwriting that I adore.

So immersed in communicating with people via a like on FB or an Instagram double tap am I that I realise right now that I  haven’t written a letter in over a year.
So number 3 – I will write a letter a week.

Obviously these are tiny little touches ,not hard changes to make but I think it’ll be interesting to see how I do!

I will of course blog my findings , chat about it on FB , share on Twitter and Instagram as it happens …..ah come on I didn’t say I was going to totally change my ways did I ??

The #minidigitaldetox begins here…

 

 

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A boys first love – A guest post from my eldest

I couldn’t let the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter pass without comment. JK Rowling is a hero and inspiration of mine. Harry Potter though , well I know a guy who can talk about his love for that with way more passion than me.

My 16 year old first born. He fell in love with the books as a little little kid . They’re his go to books when he’s had a bad day or is ill or just needs a bit of comfort. I’ll let him tell you all about it,

 

 

Harry Potter. Where do I even start? Hooked at 6 finished by 11. Almost cried when I didn’t get my Hogwarts letter but it probs just got lost, it’s cool, yours did too, right?

I won’t claim to be an expert, for some it means more, and many know more. It will always have a special little scar spaced slot in my heart, from crying when I was younger, when the actor for Dumbledore died, so I was of course terrified that without Dumbledore, who would stop Voldemort? All the way to the woman sat behind us when we saw the last movie, who sobbed all the way through.

But in so many ways it’s so much more than a story. The idea that one happy memory (a patronus) can hold away an army of negativity (dementors) is an incredibly powerful one, as she says “help can always be found at Hogwarts, for those who ask for it” (or sommat like that anyway) That message is incredibly powerful.

Teaching young children about toxic environments, and encouraging imagination will have an impact for generations to come. There will never be a day that someone in the world doesn’t think a positive thought about Harry Potter, and in turn JK Rowling.

Somewhere, in a small café  in Scotland, one woman created a story and a universe that would last long in the memories of millions, some like me who hadn’t even been considered, yet alone born. She would change the lives of millions, and create strong role models for all, no matter what your age, race, gender, or sexuality namely herself, Emma Watson, or even Rupert Grint, for gingers everywhere!

I’ve read so many fan theories, from small little sad ones, like how Sirius and Harry had such a strong relationship because whenever they looked at each other, they both wished to see James.Simply insane ones too, like that Dumbledore is a time travelling Ron Weasely. Each day a new theory pops onto my facebook news feed, and that is how you know when something truly amazing has been created, when after 2 decades, people still can’t get enough, and that is the sign of a true legend.

It creates moral issues, like whether Snape is a good guy or not.I mean apparently abusing and bullying innocent school children isn’t an issue anymore, but that’s a whole different blog, possible series. But it gets young minds thinking on their own, raising their own moral issues, and allows them to gather their own opinion and voice it. In this world, there is nothing more important than standing up for what you believe is right, and that is exactly what she has started to encourage teenagers to do.

It makes us cry, laugh, and fume, sometimes all at the same time. And I could, have done, and almost definitely will reread them over and over again, because with truly beautiful, informative and intelligent writing you learn something new on every page.There is absolutely nothing bad about that, it means that generations upon generations will be passed down books from their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, and millions will be inspired by her writing, inspired to be a Harry, and do good. For that, from billions of potterheads across the globe, thank you JK Rowling

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are”. -Sirius Black, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.    JK Rowling.


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Reading in bed : The Ultimate comfort 


There’s nothing makes me happier than hopping into bed made with fresh bedding, an early night and a great book. Nothing.
It’s the soother at the end of a rough day, it’s a comfort when you’re tired or ill, it offers an escape from the day to day stresses of life. It’s the one simple thing that I can do that soothes my soul and is just a haven of calm and indulgence.

It’s always been this way.

When I was little, and my dad worked nights  or away I’d get into my mum’s bed and we’d sit and read my Enid Blyton books for an hour or so before I went off to my own bed to sleep after probably sneaking in one more chapter! It’s   a really nice, cosy memory of books and chat.

When I was a teenager laying  in bed with a pile of books was still an indulgence I loved. It just was no longer limited to being a bedtime activity. I’d go to the library first thing of a weekend, get get a load of books then just spend the majority of the weekend just sitting in bed reading for as long as I could get away with. Whole weekends were spent in the company of Paula Danziger and Judy Blume books. It sounds like I was an anti social hermit and I suppose I was a little bit, but I’ve always been a fan of my own company and well books don’t ask anything from you in return!

My snug, reading in bed hobby had to take a break for a good few years though. The mummy years. The days when I really could have done with soothing and calm comfort. Only I’d not have been able to keep my eyes open to read with 3 little ones. Having a baby roommate in one guise or another for pretty much 5 years wasn’t conducive to bedtime reading either. When you’re at that sleep deprived place so grateful all 3 babies are sleeping you’d never dare risk that with switching on a bedside lamp. That way lay madness! ! My babies always slept with one ear open it seemed anyway. They woke for a 2am babble and cuddle if they so much as heard me turn over in bed, turning pages, reading would have had them thinking it was party time! !

It came back though, eventually.
It took way longer than I’d expected.

Long after small girl came along and I was back room sharing with  a cute little human who believed even me breathing during the night was secret code for please come and play for an hour. Long after horrible debilitating bouts of anxiety left me unable to read as I simply couldn’t concentrate on a whole  sentence let alone  a paragraph.

It’s back now though.
An early night, fresh bedding, a good book. The trio that make up my ultimate indulgence.

Last weekend was the culmination of the middle two children’s birthday celebrations. It was a noisy, chaotic weekend (in a really good way! ) Once everyone was tucked up in bed though, I did likewise and spent a good couple hours reading, cosy and in silence.

I think that will remain forever my ultimate treat.




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My favourite book of January… 

I thought maybe I could add to my blog a little bit about my favourite book of each month. We all know what a bookworm I am and I do spend a lot of time boring those around me with book recommendations so why not do it here ? 
Since the teens discovered  the art of the weekend lie in I’ve found my book consumption has had chance to get back to binge levels so maybe I can share my favourite finds! ! 

My favourite book of January is The Singalong Society for Singletons by Katey Lovell 

I should declare here my absolute love and adoration for all things musical. I am often to be found prancing around the living room performing to my fave West End showstoppers in my pj’s. Drives the kids nuts but let’s not let worry about that too much . So that someone has written a book about friendship and romance and musicals means it had my name written all over it from the start. 

The story follows two friends Issy and Monique , teachers who set up the Singalong Society for Singletons after Monique’s boyfriend leaves for America for a year. 

Soon Friday nights become all about wine, snacks and singing along to their favourite musicals. As the group expands to include Monique’s sister who has romantic woes of her own and two handsome male actors the groups views on singledom are changed for once and for all. 

This book is a really heartwarming novel about friendship and romance and was, for me, the perfect antidote to cold, miserable January. The characters are likeable and the different relationship dynamics are all genuine and easy to invest in. 

So whilst the weather is rubbish and the days are a bit grey I’d highly recommend this book to lift your spirits and give you a shot of romance and humour. 

Also if there’s anyone fancies evenings filled with singalong musical watching, wine and pizza give me a shout – it sounds like the best idea ever! ! 



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Don’t I always say books are good for the soul… 

My name is Kelly and I’m a book addict.

Books are my ‘thing’.

Reading books, talking about books, watching adaptations of books (mainly to slate them I’ll give you),recommending books, just gazing lovingly at my bookcases, maybe one day even writing one!

Reading is my ultimate comfort.

Even the crappest of crappy, yukky days can be perked up with a duvet, a perfect cup of tea and a good book. You’ll always find a book in my bag. There are always a couple of books in my bed (yes not beside my bed or on my bedside table but actually in my bed, by my pillow)

You can imagine then how rough the last couple of weeks have been as I’ve been unable to read!
I’ve been all agitated and restless and unable to concentrate. It’s not been my usual kind of anxiety that’s been at play either (it’s branching out *sarcastic yay*) I wrote here about one of the worst things for me when a bout of anxiety strikes is not being able to read and that’s where I’ve been of late!

When I’m anxious I do suffer with the horrible mind racing, dizzying feeling. That I  feel as though there are a thousand (mostly random) thoughts whizzing through my tiny mind at  once. These past couple of weeks have been exactly that but in super duper fast forward mode. So many thoughts flitting into mind barely having time to settle before the next one arrives demanding attention… on repeat. It’s exhausting and unsettling.
I will apologise if my trying to explain my experience of anxiety is a bit off the wall and sounds nuts. It feels a bit nuts at the time, but I know some of you will get what I mean!

I’ve started half a dozen books and barely got a couple of pages in before my mind has wandered away from the book leaving reading and that lovely feeling of being absolutely absorbed in a book impossible.

Then I picked up Second Life by SJWatson, same author as Before I go to Sleep which I really enjoyed. It drew me in instantly and had me so hooked my anxious mind didn’t stand a chance of wandering. Not concentrating just wasn’t an option.

You’d think a jumpy, psychological thriller wouldn’t be a good book choice when you’re in the grip of an anxious period but,  for me last week, it worked.

You see being absolutely engrossed in a book and having your heart racing in your chest because of the story – that was kind of therapeutic for me. I was feeling nervy and jumpy for a good reason, not just because anxiety was being a knob. Also, I think the fact that a book has an ending is reassuring. I read this book in a day so experienced all the cleverly written tension and nervousness leading to the crescendo all these type of books need.

Then it ends.

You put the book down and all those feelings (once your heart rate calms down from the exhilaration) are done. As was my anxiety. Getting caught up in a fictional scenario seemed to have purged all the anxious feelings in a positive way!

I’ve not spoken about the book plot itself because firstly I just wanted to talk about how reading managed to drag me out of that particular period of anxiety and secondly I’d likely give too much away. What I will  say though is if you loved Gone Girl and the Girl on the Train and enjoy tense, nervy writing  give this book a go, I recommend it highly.

So here I am now, back in the bliss that is books. I’m not daft enough  to think a book that gets the adrenalin pumping will always work versus anxiety but on this  one occasion it did.

I always say books are fantastic therapy… and I this occasion I proved myself right! !

That doesn’t happen often.