Parker and Me A UK Lifestyle & Parenting Blog Tue, 07 Jul 2015 06:00:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Book Review // Battle Royale by Koushun Takami Tue, 07 Jul 2015 06:00:19 +0000 Battle royale – Koushun takami 
viz media


Battle Royale is a high-octane thriller about senseless youth violence, and one of Japan’s bestselling – and most controversial – novels. As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, a group of high school students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when thy break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one remains.


I started this book back in 2014. At the time life was hectic, I didn’t have much time for reading and this was a particularly heavy book so I decided to put it down – with the intention of finishing it ASAP. Fast forward to Summer 2015 and I’ve only just managed to get to it. I didn’t like it.

I’d heard a lot about this novel off the back of The Hunger Games trilogy – as this was supposedly the original inspiration. I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games so I took the plunge and purchased it. It is a mammoth book, over 550 pages. The story centres around a class of Japanese students, sent into a program in which they are pitted against each other – until there is only one survivor. The content of the program was gory, I mean really gory. I actually liked this aspect, strangely enough. There was no holding back with this one, the descriptions and scenarios are graphic.

I had two main issues with this book. Firstly, it is very confusing. There are so many characters to keep up with, and all of them have similar sounding names. I couldn’t pronounce half of the names either, it all became a bit muddled. Each student is primarily addressed by their first and surnames – every single time they are mentioned throughout the book, all 550 pages of it.

Secondly, this is a translated work. I found the sentences lacked pace and flow, they were very short. It became clunky and disjointed and I just couldn’t get my head around it all.

I’ve given this two stars, because I appreciate the vision trying to be created. I just didn’t like the style, flow or pace of the novel. It left me confused and frustrated, prompting me to skim read the last few chapters.

The film adaptation is currently on Netflix, so I am aiming to watch that as I’ve heard it is good. This book has now sent this to a better home – to someone that will enjoy it a lot more than I did, hopefully.



]]> 0
Book Review // Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond Sat, 04 Jul 2015 06:00:24 +0000 summer at shell cottage – lucy diamond 
pan macmillan


A seaside holiday at Shell Cottage in Devon has always been the perfect escape for the Tarrant family. Beach fun, barbecues and warm summer evenings with a cocktail or two – who could ask for more?

But this year, everything has changed. Following her husband’s recent death, Olivia is struggling to pick up the pieces. Then she makes a shocking discovery that turns her world upside down.

As a busy mum and GP, Freya’s used to having her hands full, but a bad day at work has put her career in jeopardy and now she’s really feeling the pressure.

Harriet’s looking forward to a break with her lovely husband Robert and teenage daughter Molly. But unknown to Harriet, Robert is hiding a secret – and so, for that matter, is Molly…


Summer at Shell Cottage is the second book released by Lucy Diamond in 2015, the first being A Year of Taking Chances. After reading Summer with my Sister (I seem to have a thing about Lucy Diamond & Summer?!) back in January this year, I knew I would like this one too.  The cover is just gorgeous, such lovely colours!

Lucy Diamond has a talent for creating fantastic, light, easy reads with characters that I can easily relate to. Summer at Shell Cottage is one of those reads, with plenty of hidden surprises.

There are lots of characters in this novel. We hear from all of their perspectives, bar a few. You’d think that this would be confusing but Lucy Diamond’s writing style and ability to create unique voices for each character makes everything flow seamlessly. Each character has their own voice – Molly’s ‘voice’ was my favourite, by far. Lucy Diamond encapsulated the sullen, angsty teenager perfectly whilst still holding on to that nervous vulnerability.

Summer at Shell Cottage is set in Devon. The setting is picturesque – blue seas, calm landscapes, beaches, reading and copious amounts of wine. Each location is described in such detail that I could imagine myself there – sipping a cold drink, whilst looking out at the sea in the glorious sunshine. All of this combined makes for a perfect Summer read (I also want to visit Devon now, I went to Newquay about ten years ago).

I wasn’t expecting some of the plot twists in this novel. So much happened on the Tarrant family holiday, but I had no problem keeping up. I enjoyed how everything unfolded, I was so curious about all of the secrets and couldn’t wait for them to be revealed. In short, this book is about finding the new you, being reckless and having fun!

I have left this review quite short as I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot. If you want a fun, summer read with plenty of surprises and revelations then you should definitely read Summer at Shell Cottage. A perfect beach read!


]]> 3
Acoustic Covers, OitNB & A Hen Do! Fri, 03 Jul 2015 06:00:13 +0000 #LittleLoves

#LittleLoves is a linky held over at But Why Mummy Why. I thought it would be fun to join in with this once a week. The idea behind the posts is that they are a weekly chance to remember the little things you’ve loved that join up to make your week. You don’t need to be a parenting blogger to join in, all bloggers are welcome!

So, what have we been up to?

I finished Battle Royale this week and really didn’t like it. I have a review coming up soon, but I just didn’t enjoy it – it was very disjointed for me. I’ve now sent it to someone that may enjoy it a whole lot more than I did *Hi, Charlotte! Waves*


I have also picked up Hook’s Daughter by Heidi Schulz, a middle grade novel about Captain Hook’s daughter, Jocelyn. A quick, easy read hopefully! I also have the sequel on my iPad from Netgalley that I need to review.


We’ve been watching Orange is the New Black here! We are working our way slowly through S1 at the moment. Even the hubby is enjoying it! Also, Humans!

In YouTube land I’ve been loving Elena from Elena Reads Books, I just don’t know how she manages to read 20 books in a month! 😯 I could only dream of reading that much.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Acoustic covers this week via Spotify. Just so chilled. Im especially loving this one…

I made these Baby Breakfast Fingers this week, posted by the lovely Eilidh at Mummy and Monkeys. They were really quick and easy to make – hurrah! I’ve tried to make the porridge fingers in the microwave so many times and they never work, ever – so I was glad these turned out well.

I’ve also been practising with my DIY Gel Nail kit. I’ve done my own twice and my sisters too, I’m getting the hang of it now. The kit has already paid for itself.

I got this dress from Boohoo and am intending to wear it to my friend’s hen do tonight. We are just having a very casual, no fuss meal – I’m really looking forward to it. I’m actually a little bit obsessed with Boohoo now, they have such lovely items and all so cheap! I like that you can do free returns too. Oh and also for a shorty like me their petite range actually fits! I don’t have to get things taken up. Hooray for that!


And Lastly
My lovely friend Charlotte has re-entered the blogging world, which I am so happy about. If you haven’t already, you can check out her blog here – 😊

Also, I popped into work this week – to watch show rehearsals – and it turns out that the sixth-former I told you about last week hasn’t been turning up. No choreography has been done yet and the kids are getting anxious. It seems I needn’t have worried, although now I’m worried that the dances won’t be finished! Eek!

Enjoy your weekend!

]]> 4
Random Reads: July! Thu, 02 Jul 2015 06:00:33 +0000 random-reads

It’s time for Random Reads – a monthly feature held my myself and Maia, of Maia Moore Reads.

Each month we will be randomly picking a theme/genre of book. We will then decide on a book from that theme/genre that we would recommend the other reads. We aim to read a recommended book each month, posting a review and discussion post. Feel free to join us and read along with one of us, if you like. You can use the hashtag #RandomReads on Twitter.

The genre for July has been chosen and it is to read a:


FantasyI’ve had to really think about this one – I had one that popped into my head straight away but didn’t chose it as it is a series, and I actually preferred the second book. The book I’ve chosen has a sequel – which I haven’t read – but I absolutely loved the first one. So, here we go – I have chosen the Young Adult Fantasy Novel:

I actually have this on my 2015 reading challenge, so am killing two birds with one stone, woo! The play I’ve chosen for Maia is one that I read as part of my university course a few years ago. I enjoyed it so much that I got a first for that particular essay, I absolutely loved analysing and picking it apart.

So, what did I choose?

Top Girls
Caryl Churchill


Marlene hosts a dinner party in a London restaurant to celebrate her promotion to managing director of ‘Top Girls’ employment agency. Her guests are five women from the past: Isabella Bird (1831- 1904) – the adventurous traveller; Lady Nijo (b1258) – the mediaeval courtesan who became a Buddhist nun and travelled on foot through Japan; Dull Gret, who as Dulle Griet in a Bruegel painting, led a crowd of women on a charge through hell; Pope Joan – the transvestite early female pope and last but not least Patient Griselda, an obedient wife out of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. As the evening continues we are involved with the stories of all five women and the impending crisis in Marlene’s own life. A classic of contemporary theatre, Churchill’s play is seen as a landmark for a new generation of playwrights. It was premiered by the Royal Court in 1982.

I really enjoyed the themes and messages in this play, I am intending to re-read it this month too. I’m looking forward to seeing what Maia makes of it. I realise that it is a fairly old play but it explores feminism so well that I wanted to share it.

We will be posting our relevant reviews in a couple of weeks, so please come back then and see what we thought of our random reads picks. If you’d like to see what Maia has chosen for me then hop on over to her blog.


Related Posts: May Random Reads // June Random Reads 

]]> 2
July Bucket List Wed, 01 Jul 2015 06:00:00 +0000 July-bucket-list


So last month I put together a little bucket list for the month. Here’s what I actually managed to achieve:

– Join the Gym
– Attend a Baby group
Take a nice walk
Go somewhere with the Mr, child-free!
Get a response about my return to work
Increase page views and Twitter followers
Get more organised with blogging
Get some nice photos of us as a family
Read at least 4 books
Cut down food bills and be better at meal planning
Get our spare room organised
Sell some bits on eBay

I’m going to set some more goals for July, and carry some of these ones across. Here’s what I’d like to do this month:

1) Attend a Baby group – I didn’t manage to get to group with Parker this month for one reason or another. A lot of the groups that I had planned to visit with him clashed with when Daddy was home, we would rather spend time with him than go to a baby group. I’m hoping to get one in this month, before they stop for the Summer holidays.

2) Survive two weeks back at work after maternity leave! – If you regularly read my blog *waves at her one reader* then you will know that I am heading back to work on Monday 13th July. I am so anxious about the whole thing. I am worried about how I am going to get myself and Parker ready, and drop him off before 8.15am! Eek! I’m also a little anxious about changes that have been made since I’ve been gone. I only have two weeks and then the Summer holidays, after which I am only doing three days a week.

3) See one of my oldest school friends get married (and find something to wear!) – I have a wedding to attend on the 31st July, and I’m so excited. One of my friends from school is getting married! Although I will be attending on my own, without the Mr (as he has to work) I know it is going to be lovely. I now desperately need to find something to wear!

4) Go on a night out! – Every year my work colleagues and I go ‘out out’ on the last day of term, for a few drinks. Last July I was pregnant so didn’t get to indulge as much. This year I am looking forward to letting my hair down, having a giggle and spending time with people I haven’t seen for a long time.

5) Sort the garden for the Summer – Just general de-weeding, mowing, tidying that needs doing in the garden. Maybe buying some new garden furniture and a small paddling pool too…

6) Go swimming with Parker – We went swimming with Parker a few days ago and he loved it. He was so good in the water. My husband was dunking him under and pushing him through the water (under the surface) and he didn’t cry once. I really want him to be confident around water as I feel it is so important, especially as we are so close to the sea.

7) Get some nice family photos – We didn’t manage to do this one this month, crazy isn’t it?! I have so many of Parker and the Mr, and we did take some pictures of just the two of us when we went out for the day last week but I really need to start capturing whole family shots.

8) Read at least 4 books – I managed to read 6 books in June! I’m keeping to 4 because I am returning to work so won’t have as much time. I’m also part of the Curtis Brown Book Group as of July and am reviewing the Blloon reading app too. Lots of great books to be getting through!

9) Book our holiday – We are hoping to go on holiday in 2016, with two of our close friends. We’ve talked about budget and now we are just wanting on my husband’s annual leave to be approved, before we book! Parker will be going to Nanny’s for the week….

10) Plan some days out for August – The Mr has two weeks annual leave booked for August. I hope to plan some days out for us to enjoy as a family – we went to Leeds Castle last week, so hope to return there with Parker in tow this time. Also, maybe some visits to the beach, zoo, a few picnics…

Have you got any goals for July?
I’d love to hear them!

Related Posts: June Bucket List

]]> 0
June Book Haul! Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:00:01 +0000 June Book Haul


I’ve acquired quite a few books this month but I have spent less than £15 on the lot!

What did I get?


The Virago Book of Ghost Stories – Edited by Richard Dalby
Thirty four spooky stories by classic storytellers of the twentieth century – many from the 1920s and 30s – chill and excite in this classic collection. All of them demonstrate a subtle power to delight and chill at the same time as they explore those ghostly margins of the supernatural which are part of private experience as well as of popular tradition. Authors include Elizabeth Bowen, Angela Carter, Elizabeth Jane Howard, E Nesbit, Fay Weldon, Edith Wharton and Lisa St Aubin de Teran.

I’ll admit I picked this on up purely because it was a) a hardback b) a collection of short stories and c) I liked the cover. It only cost me 50p from a boot sale, so I don’t feel too guilty.


Bastard out of Carolina – Dorothy Allison
Carolina in the 1950s, and Bone – christened Ruth Anna Boatwright – lives a happy life, in and out of her aunt’s houses, playing with her cousins on the porch, sipping ice tea, loving her little sister Reece and her beautiful young mother. But Glen Waddell has been watching them all, wanting her mother too, and when he promises a new life for the family, her mother gratefully accepts. Soon Bone finds herself in a different, terrible world, living in fear, and an exile from everything she knows. 

Bastard Out of Carolina is a raw, poignant tale of fury, power, love and family.

I picked this up solely because it is one of Mercy’s favourite books ever. That, and it was only 99p in a fantastic local secondhand bookshop that I found this month. Win!


The Accidental – Ali Smith
Arresting and wonderful, The Accidental pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer. There a beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light.

A novel about the ways that seemingly chance encounters irrevocably transform our understanding of ourselves, The Accidental explores the nature of truth, the role of fate and the power of storytelling.

I first heard of this book on the Bookish Blether podcast. I actually got this one for free! A secondhand bookshop near me takes old books in exchange for cash or store credit. Obviously I chose the store credit!


A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
Ruth discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore of her beach home. Within it lies a diary that expresses the hopes and dreams of a young girl. She suspects it might have arrived on a drift of debris from the 2011 tsunami. With every turn of the page, she is sucked deeper into an enchanting mystery. 

In a small cafe in Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao Yasutani is navigating the challenges thrown up by modern life. In the face of cyberbullying, the mysteries of a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and great-grandmother, and the joy and heartbreak of family, Nao is trying to find her own place – and voice – through a diary she hopes will find a reader and friend who finally understands her.

Another one that I picked up purely because of Mercy’s recommendation. I also want to read more diversely, I’ve never read anything by Ruth Ozeki and have heard lots of great things about her writing. I got this for £1 at a boot sale!


Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. 

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

This has been on my wishlist forever, I scored this one for £2.99.


The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness
One night, George Duncan is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly away, his life is transformed. The next day, a beautiful woman called Kumiko walks into his shop and begins to tell him the most extraordinary story.

I have quite a few Patrick Ness books now, I am yet to read one. Oops. I got this for 99p, I loved the cover.


The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

I was recommended this by a friend and managed to pick it up in a boot sale for 50p! I’ve heard lots about it.


The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson
Joel is fascinated by the magic of Rithmatics, but few have the gift and he is not one of them. Undaunted, he persuades Professor Fitch to teach him magical theory. Joel can’t infuse his protective lines and circles with power, or bring his chalk-drawn creatures to life, but he’s quick to master the underlying geometric principles. His unique skills will soon face an extraordinary test when top Rithmatist students are kidnapped from his Academy.

Since he’s not a magic user, Joel appears to be safe – but he’s desperate to investigate and prove himself. Then people start dying. However, can Joel really stop a killer alone? As even more students disappear, he realizes he’ll need the help of Rithmatist apprentice Melody. Together, they must race to find clues before the killer notices them – and takes them out too.

I actually swapped this and Shadow & Bone with Elena from Elena Reads Books, each paying postage costs. I loved Steelheart so am excited to get to this one!

Shadow & Bone – Leigh Bardugo
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

I’ve heard lots about this and needed a new fantasy series, so decided to swap it with Elena.


The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. 

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

This one doesn’t need any explanation. This was the best bargain of the whole haul – I scored this for 30p at a boot sale! 3op!

American Gods – Neil Gaiman
After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break… Disturbing, gripping and profoundly strange, Gaiman’s epic novel sees him on the road to the heart of America.

I really want to read all of Neil Gaiman’s books. This was 5op at a boot sale! My friend Charlotte also recommends this one.

The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson
David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in Year 11 is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

Again, I’ve heard lots about this one. I’m really excited to read it, another bargain at 5op!


Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman
Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools… Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…

Another hyped read that I have been meaning to pick up. I got this one with my store credit after exchanging some of my unwanted and read books.

So, that was  a pretty large book haul – but I didn’t spend more than £15. I’m really pleased with what I managed to hunt down at boot sales and in my secondhand bookshop!

Have you read any of these? What should I pick up next?

]]> 3
June: Books | Monthly Roundup Mon, 29 Jun 2015 06:00:31 +0000 June:  Monthly Roundup


I had a good reading month in June, I read five books. My aim was to read four, so I’m really pleased. I am actually currently reading two others as well and may finish one of those before the end of the month.

What did I read?


Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (2014)
Date Finished: 03.06.2015 | ISBN:  978-0007550227 | Pages: 384

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy.

I read this as my TBR pick of the month. My intention is to randomly choose 1 book each month that I have to read. If I don’t read it I have to donate/get rid of it.

I enjoyed this one, although it isn’t my usual genre of choice. It was fast-paced and the plot twists definitely kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed the mismatch of characters, all with their own unique traits. The ending was a real cliffhanger and I may have to pick up the next one on that element alone.

Click here to read a full non-spoiler review.

Great for those of you who love a bit of fighting, survival, betrayal and being kept on the edge of your seat.

Rating: 3/5


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (2008)
Date Finished: 07.06.2015 | ISBN: 978-0340962725 | Pages: 448

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. 

Jacob, a veterinary student who almost earned his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her. 

Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

I chose this for Maia to read for our June: Random Reads. A book that I read and loved a couple of years ago I was keen to revisit it. I enjoyed it just as much the second time round. A wonderful story of love, memory and a past life. I adored Jacob, he is probably one of my favourite literary characters – of those that I’ve read, of course. The circus element was really interesting, especially the treatment and relationships with the animals.

Click here to read my spoiler-free review. I’ve also written a discussion post about Water for Elephants, if you fancy a read!

Perfect if you like a slow read, with some romance and a few darker more sinister elements.

Rating: 4/5


If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (2014)
Date Finished: 11.06.2015  | ISBN: 978-1780621531  | Pages: 336

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods. . .

Carey is keeping a terrible secret. If she tells, it could destroy her future. If she doesn’t, will she ever be free?

For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in a camper van in the heart of the woods with her drug-addicted mother and six-year-old sister, Jenessa. Her mother routinely disappears for weeks at a time, leaving the girls to cope alone. Survival is Carey’s only priority – until strangers arrive and everything changes.

Maia picked this for me to read for June: Random Reads. I absolutely loved it. It was everything I wanted in a book and more – it has become one of my favourites of 2015. I loved the sibling relationship – trust, loyalty and connection between Carey & Jenessa. This YA book isn’t all gushy romance and insta-love, oh no. It is about survival, hope, strength and courage. If you haven’t read it, read it. You won’t regret it.

Click here to read my spoiler-free review. I’ve also written a short discussion post, if you fancy a read of that too.

You NEED to read this book!

Rating: 5/5


The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan (2014)
Date Finished: 13.06.2015 | ISBN: 978-1907773754 | Pages: 128

Twenty tales of lust and loss. These stories feature clockwork hearts, lascivious queens, paper men, island circuses, and a flooded world. On the island of Skye, an antlered girl and a tiger-tailed boy resolve never to be friends – but can they resist their unique connection? In an alternative 19th-century Paris, a love triangle emerges between a man, a woman, and a coin-operated boy. A teenager deals with his sister’s death by escaping from their tiny Scottish island – but will she let him leave? In 1920s New Orleans, a young girl comes of age in her mother’s brothel. Some of these stories are radical retellings of classic tales, some are modern-day fables, but all explore substitutions for love.

I picked this book up based solely on the need to read a short story collection for my 2015 Reading Challenge. A mixed bag for me really. Some of the stories I really enjoyed; Coin Operated Boys, Origami, The Tiger Palace. And some I just didn’t understand, they were so far-fetched and fantastical. Kirsty Logan’s writing style is beautiful and she can weave the most magical tales, they just weren’t all for me unfortunately.

Click here to read my non-spoiler review.

Great if you love fantastical fairytales and lyrically stunning prose. 

Rating: 3/5


Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond (2015)
Date Finished: 24.06.2015 | ISBN: 978-1447257806 | Pages: 480

A seaside holiday at Shell Cottage in Devon has always been the perfect escape for the Tarrant family. Beach fun, barbecues and warm summer evenings with a cocktail or two – who could ask for more?

But this year, everything has changed. Following her husband’s recent death, Olivia is struggling to pick up the pieces. Then she makes a shocking discovery that turns her world upside down.

As a busy mum and GP, Freya’s used to having her hands full, but a bad day at work has put her career in jeopardy and now she’s really feeling the pressure.

Harriet’s looking forward to a break with her lovely husband Robert and teenage daughter Molly. But unknown to Harriet, Robert is hiding a secret – and so, for that matter, is Molly.

I have wanted to read another of Lucy Diamond’s books since January this year when I read Summer with my Sister. I was drawn in by this gorgeous cover! I knew I would like it and I did. Full of romance and surprises and in a picturesque setting, this this the perfect beach read.

*A full review of this book will be up on 4/7/2015 – check back then!

Great if you want a fun, easy read that you can take to the beach and escape with. 

Rating: 4/5

I’m also reading Battle Royale by Koshun Takami (which I actually got 3/4 through last year and never finished) and Smoke Gets in your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. I may finish one of these before July – I will add it to this roundup if I do manage it!

Have you read any of these?

Related Posts: May | Books: Monthly Roundup

]]> 0
#RandomReads – June Discussion Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:00:02 +0000 #RandomReads-BookChat

Today’s post is a little book chat about my latest #RandomRead’s – Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. Hop on over to Maia’s blog to read her June discussion.


This discussion post will contain spoilers. Please DO NOT read any further if you do not want to be spoiled in any way. Be sure to pop back when you have read it though!

I loved the characters and relationships within both of the novels this month. Although I don’t have a great deal to say here about each novel, the parts I did take from them speak volumes.

Jacob is, by far, my favourite character in Water for Elephantsalthough I loved the complexity and sheer hatred that surrounded August. As both an old man and a young lad Jacob was a winner for me. His humour and wit is just genius, I loved that he was so outspoken. His vulnerability also came across well, he was struggling with his memory and getting frustrated and confused. It was heartbreaking at times, to see the frustration and in a way, his deterioration. Although bitter he remained completely loveable.

As a young man I imagine Jacob to be very good looking, charming and a little flirtatious. This brings me to his relationship with Marlena. As a character Marlena wasn’t my favourite, she was a little wet – for want of a better word. Their relationship was wonderful in my eyes though. The right amount of lust, passion and genuine love for one another.

Now, onto If You Find Me – there is so much to say about this one, but I am intending to keep it short. The characters and relationships in this novel are still so vivid. I daresay I loved them all!

Carey and Jenessa. Sisters. I absolutely loved how they stuck together throughout everything. Carey looked after her sister the whole time, her fierceness and loyalty was intense. I really liked how the story focused on their sibling relationship as opposed to the bog standard love interest, boy meets girl scenario. I just felt the passion and intensity of needing to be that older sibling. As an older sister myself I could really relate to this, albeit I don’t have to look out for my siblings like Carey did Jenessa.

Mr Benskin and Melissa – again, just perfect. Loyal, caring, kind, secure. Everything that the girls needed, when they needed it. Mr Benskin is up there with brilliant literary father figures. He was solid – a listener, provider, care-giver and took on a child that wasn’t his to take on. I absolutely loved the focus on positive role models in this book –  all young people should read this. It is a powerful story about sticking together, having courage and shows that there is always hope – I will definitely be recommending to students at work.

Have you read either of these novels? What did you think?

]]> 1
Orphan Black, Work & Ruby Rose! Fri, 26 Jun 2015 06:00:10 +0000 #LittleLoves

#LittleLoves is a linky held over at But Why Mummy Why. I thought it would be fun to join in with this once a week. The idea behind the posts is that they are a weekly chance to remember the little things you’ve loved that join up to make your week. You don’t need to be a parenting blogger to join in, all bloggers are welcome!

So, what have we been up to?

I read Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond this week and really enjoyed it. Her books are such light, easy reads – perfect for the Summer!


I am now a few chapters in to Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach, the second in the Paradox trilogy – which is completely different! I really enjoyed Fortune’s Pawn, so am looking forward to getting stuck into this one.


I read this fantastic post from Sian over at Potty Mouthed Mummy, where she compared Blogging to Game of Thrones. Now, I haven’t actually watched Game of Thrones, but have caught glimpses as my husband loves it – and this post really made me laugh!

Also, I have been approved as a new member of the Curtis Brown Book Group – which I’m really excited about. From July until the end of the year, I get to review one book per month pre-publication and chat to you guys about it.

After tweeting asking for recommendations for Netflix, my lovely friend Charlotte told me about Orphan Black. I am now hooked. I want to watch it all the time, but can’t because well, life. So, if you’re wondering whether you should watch it….do it, now.

Oh, and I can’t not add this here. Ruby Rose = LOVE. Girl Crush? Yes! Do I care? No. I just think this video is so powerful.


Lots of food for Parker!

I had a major cooking sesh and made Pasta with Butternut Squash, Tomatoes & Cheese, Broccoli and Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce and Lamb Casserole! All prepped and frozen, ready for when I go back to work in a couple of weeks.

Nothing to add here unfortunately. I did get my eyebrows done, does that count? First time in ages, just a wax and tint 😉

And Lastly
I’m getting a little anxious about returning to work now. I head back on the 13th July, which is our school show week (I must be mad!). I’m also a little annoyed (not sure if that is the right word..) that an ex sixth former – who is studying dance at University – has been called in to do my job. Now, I know that I am not there to do it (choreographing the summer production) but I just don’t want this to be a regular occurrence when I am back part-time. I guess after 5+ years of working my butt off to get qualified, I now feel a little ‘put out’ – would you feel the same? Or am I just being silly?

Ah well, we shall see what happens. Watch this space!

Enjoy your weekend!

]]> 12
Weaning – How are we getting on? Wed, 24 Jun 2015 06:00:29 +0000 weaning-wednesday

So, how are we getting on?

I have to say that I feel so, so lucky that Parker enjoys food as much as he does. So much so that he gets very cross if you don’t give it to him quick enough! We are still trying the mixed weaning approach as it seems to be working well for us.

Parker will generally have:
Breakfast: Porridge, with a banana afterwards. He is currently loving Ella’s Kitchen Strawberry, Banana and Mango!
Lunch: Finger Foods; Toast with Cheese Spread, Organic Carrot/Cheese Puffs, Cucumber, Ella’s Kitchen Puffits & an Organic Fruit Pouch (Parker likes doing this himself!)
Dinner: Meat/Veggie Purée – e.g Chicken with Sweet Potato & Apple, Sweet Potato with Broccoli, Cheese & Carrot followed by a yogurt or fruit for pudding. 

After our visit to the Health Visitor last week we have dropped the 3pm bottle. Parker weighs 18b 10oz at 7 months – she said that is absolutely fine, but we do need to drop that bottle now – oops. We have also combined his lunch and 11am feed, which seems to be working okay. He doesn’t seem to be too bothered about dropping one – he has a snack instead.

This week I am aiming to cook up some new meals for Parker, using some Annabel Karmel recipes – the app is really useful, I would totally recommend it. I head back to work in a few weeks time, so want to get ahead and prepare some meals for him.

I am going to make:
– Vegetables in Cheese Sauce
– Pasta with Butternut Squash, Tomato and Cheese
– Sweet Potato and Lamb Casserole
These recipes are all from the Top 100 Baby Purées book, I couldn’t find them online.

We are also going to try Readybrek & Weetabix for breakfast.

Is there anything you can recommend for us to try at this stage?

I’m linking up with Mummy & Monkeys for #WeaningWednesday!

Weaning Wednesdays Linky
]]> 6