27 Oct 2019


Book Review / Happy by Fearne Cotton

"This book is a way to release what's going on inside your head and to keep heading towards the good stuff. The simple stuff. The stuff that's going to really hit up that happiness on a deep and nourishing level. Whether you dip into these pages every now and then when you feel you need it, or use it daily as a positive exercise, I hope it brings you much relief, joy and calm. Amen to the pen." - Fearne Cotton

For many of us, life can feel like it's moving too fast with pressure bearing down on us from all sides - whether that's from school or work, family or social media. As a result, we find ourselves frazzled, lost and - too often - feeling blue.

It's a subject close to Fearne's heart. Drawing on her own experiences and including expert advice, HAPPY offers practical ways of finding joy each and every day. Happiness isn't a mountain to climb, it's just one foot in front of the other on the path of life, and here you'll find little steps that will help make the differences that count. With workbook elements to help you start and end the day well; get in touch with your creative side; and find peace through written exercises, simple practical ideas and visualisations, these are daily tricks and reminders to help you unlock that inner happiness.

Published:     9th February 2017
Publisher:  Orion Spring
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


This was just what I needed to read at this time.  With a very busy life and work life, I do find it hard sometimes to keep up with everything and even keep up with myself.   This book made me stop and think about what I was doing and discover that something had to change.  

Fearne talks about her personal experieneces in this book together with talking to other friends about their experiences also.   There are a lot of topics that Fearne talks about in this book but, for me, the biggest aspect that I took out of this was not to hurry through life.  Take one step at a time and be picky about what you choose to do.  You can't do everything. 

Very inspirational reading and has definately made me stop and think. 

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21 Oct 2019


Book Review / Mrs Hinch's Hinch Yourself Happy

Transform your home -- and your life -- with cleaning, tidying, and decluttering tips from British housekeeping sensation Mrs. Hinch.

Cleaning (aka "hinching") doesn't have to be a dreaded chore -- not when Mrs Hinch is here to show you her sparkly ways!
Often called the "British Marie Kondo," Mrs. Hinch is a domestic guru who has taken the world by storm with her infectiously addictive charm, clever tidying tips, and passionate belief in the healing power of cleaning. In Hinch Yourself Happy, she makes cleaning glamorous and fun, and explains how it's a brilliant way to taper anxiety and manage your mental health.
Inside you'll find out: How cleaning can soothe anxiety and stress Mrs Hinch's must-have cleaning supplies Step-by-step guides to hinching your home And so much more! With the help of her favorite tools and products -- including Dave the Duster and Shannon the Shark (her trusty vacuum cleaner) -- Mrs Hinch will show you how to truly make your house a home. Whether you're a daily scrubber or simply looking for a monthly household makeover, Hinch Yourself Happy will help you create a cleaner house and a calmer you.
If you want your kitchen to sparkle like Meghan Markle, then this is the book for you!

Published:     4th April 2019
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


For someone like me who likes to be super organised and super clean (but not always managing it in our busy daily lives) this was such fun to read and motivational.  I,of course, follow Mrs Hinch on Instagram and always find her posts and stories motivational, especially on long days when all I want to do is sit on the sofa and watch TV.  Not only does she give me that pick me up to get myself off that sofa and sorting out my home but she also comes up with great tips and tricks that I had not heard of before and would actually save me time cleaning!

This book is, basically, that in word format.  It gives helpful tips and tricks combined with a bit of backstory and really helpful activities and lists that keep you going and keep your home clean!

This book is perfect for everyone - from those starting out in their first home and are not sure where to start (there are great lists in here of the basics you should keep in your cleaning cupboard) to those who have been at the cleaning your home game for so long they are in a routine that could use some shaking up.

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19 Oct 2019

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Book Review / Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Published:     10th September 2013
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


Now this was a book that I could not put down!  I have had this book since it came out back in 2013 and was in my 'to be read at some point' pile.  With historical novels, I really do have to be in the right mood and frame of mind to pick them up otherwise I just struggle to read them.  I am so glad that I had finally picked this one up!  I read this in one day and just could not go to bed until I had finished the last page.

We follow Agnes who is a convicted murderer of two men, by burning.  She is due to be executed but needs to be housed before then.  As is the custom back in that day in Iceland, she is placed with the family of an officer of the village.  The family are not happy at first but over time discover there is more to Agnes and her story than meets the eye.

There's a great combination of murder mystery and history here that just kept me turning the pages.  Yes, there is a lot of description and parts where I have to be honest and say that I was getting a little bit bored but that didn't last for long and we learnt something new.    This story was beautifully written and stayed with me long after I had finished reading.

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15 Oct 2019


Book Review / The Search by Nora Roberts

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life: a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescue. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare.

Several years ago, she was the only survivor of a serial killer — a madman who stalked and abducted young women, strangled them, and left them buried with a red scarf on their bodies. As authorities were closing in on the Red Scarf Killer, he shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona has found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. Yet all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and intensely private artist, known for creating exquisite furniture. Simon never wanted a puppy, and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to the laws of attraction.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws and as Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands.

Published:     1st May 2011
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


Maybe I should not have read another Nora Roberts after just finished one of her novels that I enjoyed or maybe it is just this story that just didn't work for me.   This book was both good and not so good for me but not in any interesting way.

I enjoyed following Fiona as she takes part in the Canine Search and Rescue and when she meets Simon, where a little romance gets thrown into the mix but, honestly speaking, I just got bored.  This book is over 500 pages long and, in my opinion, you don't have enough action happening in it to keep the pace going for the thriller is meant to be.   If this book had been 300 to 400 pages long, it would have made for an excellent read with lots happening but the fact that this story is so spaced out it just left me bored and wanting more.

Also being honest, I didn't finish this story.  I knew where the story was going and wasn't too bothered about following it through.  I had reached just over 400 pages at that point and just didn't see the point in carrying on.  I was bored and, as with most of the Nora Roberts books that I have read so far, the story would play out with no surprise and finish as expected, I assume.

Not one of my favourites but I am certainly going to be picking up more novels by Nora Roberts, but might give it a break for a bit before I do. 

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13 Oct 2019


Book Review / The Witness by Nora Roberts

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today's most reliably entertaining thriller -- and will leave people hungering for more.

Published:     17th April 2012
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


There's always something I love about reading a Nora Roberts book and that is you know what you are getting.  You are either getting a romance or a mystery thriller and that depends, for me, on what the front cover looks like!  You have a happy bright cover and you are more than likely to have a love story.  You have a darker cover with a scene of mystery and you know what you are going to get there...  mystery!

In this story, we follow Elizabeth who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Elizabeth's life has been very much controlled by a mother who has already decided what her daughter is going to do and be for the rest of her life and there's no deviation from that.  Now, Elizabeth's mother is going away for a few days and is trusting Elizbeth to do as she is told.  Unfortunately for her mother, Elizabeth is fed up of being controlled and wants to take a different direction in her life so along with her friend she gets dressed up and goes out to party.  It is just unfortunate that she ends up being witness to murder and has to run and go into hiding.  You can guess what happens after that.

There was no surprises for me in this book.  Everything played out exactly how I expected it to but that is exactly what I want and what I expect when I pick up a Nora Roberts, based on my past experience of her novels, so I enjoyed this story very much.  For me, it was the characters that made the story from Elizabeth at the beginning right through to Abigail and who helps her along the way. 

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12 Oct 2019


Book Review / The Coldest Girl of Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Published:     3rd September 2013
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


Now, I am going to start by saying that this review has been long in the making.  I first picked up this book when it first came out in 2013 and, honestly speaking, could not get into it.  A couple of years after that I decided to pick it up again because the plot intrigued me, so I decided to try the audio book  On that occasion, I got to about one third of the way through and was bored by the story so I put it down.

Cut to today and I decided to give it one last shot, mainly for the reason that I really wanted to read more of Holly Black books - such as The Cruel Price etc - but never one for admitting defeat with books I wanted to give this book another go.  I decided to try again with the audio book.  This time I got to well over half way in the book and, unfortunately, the same thing happened.  I, honestly speaking, was bored by the story.  I had followed Tana from waking up in the party and taking the road trip to Coldtown and watching her as she gets used to where she is but I just could not invest myself in the story or the characters.

I would love to say that I might give this another go but three times enough for me.  I am just going to put this on the pile of I've given this a good go but its not for me. 

Continue reading Book Review / The Coldest Girl of Coldtown by Holly Black

6 Oct 2019


Book Review / First Sight by Danielle Steel

Paris, L.A., and the world of ready to wear fashion provide rich backdrops for Danielle Steel’s deeply involving story of a gifted designer whose talent and drive have brought her everything—except the ability to erase her past and trust relationships.

New York. London. Milan. Paris. Fashion Week in all four cities. A month of endless interviews, parties, and unflagging work and attention to detail at the semiannual ready to wear fashion shows—the famous prêt-à-porter. At the center of the storm and avalanche of work is American Timmie O’Neill, whose renowned line, Timmie O, is the embodiment of casual chic, in fashion and for the home. She has created a business that inspires, fills, and consumes her life.

With an unerring instinct for what the next trend will be, an innate genius for business, tireless labor, and sheer fearlessness, starting from nothing, over two decades Timmie has built an international empire that has brought her enormous satisfaction and success. In a world where humility and compassion are all too rare, her humor, kindness, integrity, and creativity are inspirational. Yet as blessed as she feels by her success, Timmie harbors the private wounds of a devastating childhood and past tragedy. She is too smart, too experienced, and too hurt to want much in her personal life beyond a succession of convenient, very limited relationships. Always willing to take risks in business, she never risks her heart.

But despite her well-ordered and highly controlled world, it turns out that Timmie O’Neill is not immune to magic when it strikes. And it strikes in Paris during Paris Fashion Week, when an intriguing Frenchman comes into her life when she gets sick. At first, Timmie and Jean-Charles Vernier are only patient and physician. They become confidants and friends, corresponding at a safe distance between Paris and Los Angeles once she goes home. There is every reason why they must remain apart. But neither can deny their growing friendship and the electricity that sparks whenever they meet.
First Sight is as complex and compelling as modern life itself. Careers, families, histories, losses, duty, obligation, and fear of losing control and getting hurt. It is a tale of daring to take risks, and losing control just enough to have a life, when the opportunity presents itself. When two very different worlds and strong-willed people collide, everything changes in an instant, as they confront the age-old question of whether to lay oneself bare and risk intimacy—or not. Are they brave enough to face what comes next? And will they do it together or apart?

Published:     16th July 2013
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought


I am so glad that I decided to re-discover Danielle Steel.  Her books are so perfect for those days when you are looking for a non-complicated fun read with a twist of romance dropped in.   When you have had one of those long days that you wish to forget and all you want to do is have a long hot bath and settle with a book that is not going to test the brain too much, you must pick up a Danielle Steel.  Its not a perfect novel but I just let myself just get wound up in the emotion of the story and I loved the ride. 

In this book we follow Timmie, who is a very successful woman in the fashion industry.  I would guess that she is the equivalent of the person at the head of Vogue.  This book follows her as she deals with her day to day work struggles but also her day to day struggles in her personal life through past relationships, issues that she has had to deal with in the past to meeting new people and trying to fit that into her life.

Yes, there is a lot of this story that I felt was over the top and not presented in a realistic fashion but, to be honest, I let that slide and went along with the emotion of the story and that won this over for me.   Definitely worth picking up if that's what you like in a story. 

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2 Oct 2019

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Book Review / The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Claire

From #1 New York Times bestseller Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu comes the first book in a new series that follows High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world after the Mortal War. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a Shadowhunters novel.

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping

Published:     9th April 2019
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, The Eldest Curses
Source:  Owned


This book was so much fun!  I was so excited to get back into the Shadowhunter world, especially when we are following two of my favourite characters - Magnus and Alec.   The Shadowhunters world and many series that have been written in it have been a firm favourite of mine for many years now and an instant pick up every time a new book comes out.  I was waiting to read this one until I had finished all the novellas in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market book, not wanting to either be spoiled by the story or missing anything about the world that is being told to me in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market book that I might pick up in this one.   For me, every book and novella in this series is a must read to fully understand the world and the characters in it.

Of course, I adore Magnus and Alec and it was wonderful to follow them and see more of how their relationship was going.  We also see the start of a new mystery/problem to solve and that is the cult called the Crimson Hand and the existence of the Red Scrolls of Magic. Of course, I won't spoil any of the story for you but it is a plot that I am very intrigued to find out how this is going to play out in this series.  I have a feeling that there are going to be a few revelations and secrets being let out of the bag along the way, I can't wait!

A must read for all those who love and follow the novels in the Shadowhunter world.  If you are new to this world and are new to Cassandra Clare you can, of course, pick up this novel if you want to but you will get so much more out of the story if you follow the authors recommended reading time line here - Cassandra Claire Author Website - Exploring the Shadowhunter Chronicles.

Continue reading Book Review / The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Claire