Having A Good Night In With The Telly

Are you on the lookout for a quiet night in? Do you want to have some time alone or curled up with your family on the sofa, just having a relaxing time? Well then now’s the time to block out an evening and turn the TV on; there’s nothing like losing yourself in some mindless drama that’ll have you gasping and frowning at every plot twist possible!

In a world of streaming websites and instant downloads, it can feel like the TV no longer has anything to offer. But in a world full of rushing, nothing beats a night of just vegging out in front of your flatscreen with a hand in the popcorn bowl and pajamas you don’t mind feeling lazy in! So here’s a couple of ideas on how to have a good night in with your telly when you really need it. 

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It’s a little slice of paradise for any kind of lifestyle!

Build a Good Sofa Fort

If you’re going to be lounging for a good while, you’re going to need something constantly comfortable to lounge on or in. And that means preparing the sofa: get plenty of blankets out of the closet, get some cushions, and pile everything up or on the floor (get another chair for good measure).

If you’ve got kids, this is a great way to get them to pay attention to a documentary or something educational you want them to watch. Designing a whole fort around them, with lights even hung up on the ceiling and plenty of room to spread out with a colouring book, is a surefire way to keep their attention. Find yourself a quick tutorial here if you need some inspiration on your side.

Have Something to Watch

Well, duh. But make sure it’s something that you’re going to enjoy at the least, and never just let yourself channel surf; you won’t get the chance to settle in and get a good night’s kip out of the situation either. Of course this isn’t usually something that’s recommended for a good night’s rest, but sometimes you just fall asleep because of how you’ve been lulled into a dream from the TV in front of you!

Using a site like UK Air Dates, you can be on watch for some quality drama coming up in the Autumn, or you can see if your favourite show is due for a renewal anytime soon. Booking a night in with yourself is sometimes necessary, so make sure you know when you need to block out the weekend for some binge watching! Hey if it only happens rarely, it doesn’t have to be an unhealthy action!

Having a good night in with the TV is something people take for granted; a lot of people do it naturally and without thinking, but sometimes moments like these are best saved up for a productive lifestyle. So now’s the time to book yourself 12 hours or so to get your pjs on and have easy fun.

*This is a collaborative post

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Book Reviews – April 2018

I joined the library last week! A few weeks ago I wrote about how I don’t read a lot anymore and wanted to get back into the habit. I finally joined but haven’t checked anything out just yet. Mainly because I want to finish the books I have lying around first. These reviews are the last of them. The next book reviews (as I hope to make this more of a regular feature) will be books I’ve gotten from the library.

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine*

book reviews - eleanor oliphant
4 and a half out of 5 stars

“Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.”

You may have seen this book a lot on social media, particularly on Instagram but it’s definitely worth the hype. Though Eleanor is definitely an oddball, I found myself intrigued and invested in her story. There are even certain things I can relate to.

This book kept me interested right until the end and there was a twist that I wasn’t expecting too which was a nice surprise. I loved the characters and found myself laughing and crying at different points. Definitely recommended.

 

How to Stop Time*

book reviews - how to stop time
3 out of 5 stars

“Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity he can keep one step ahead of his past – and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love…”

I was really interested in the premise of this book. I know some people found the time jumps back and forth a tad confusing but I was completely fine with it. I did enjoy it but my one criticism is that it felt very rushed towards the end.

The book is on the thin side anyway but knowing what the goal of the protagonist was, I found that I was getting dangerously close to the end without anything happening. So when it did, it was very quick and felt a bit anti-climatic.

 

Passenger* & Wayfarer*

book reviews - passenger
4 out of 5 stars

“New York City, present day

In one night, Etta Spencer is wrenched from everything she knows and loves. Thrown into an unfamiliar world, she can be certain of only one thing: she has travelled not just miles, but years from home.

The Atlantic, 1776

Captain Nicholas Carter is tasked with delivering Etta to the dangerous Ironwood family. They are searching for something – a stolen object they believe only she can reclaim. But Nicholas is drawn to his mysterious passenger, and the closer he gets to her, the further he is from freedom.

The Edges of the World

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by a desperate thief. But as Etta plays deeper into the Ironwoods’ game, treacherous forces threaten to separate her not only from Nicholas, but from her path home – for ever.”

Even though I last read Passenger when it came out a couple of years ago, I still wanted to review these books together as they are the same story. It’s another series that jumps back and forth through time; only this is actually about time travel. It’s been a while since I found myself pulled into a fantasy story and this one didn’t disappoint.

I was really invested in the characters and the adventure they go on together – I enjoyed both books. And as far as I can see that’s the end of the story. I was getting a little worried that Wayfarer would end on a cliffhanger like Passenger did but luckily it didn’t. There are so many fantasy trilogies out there that it was refreshing to come across a two book series.

The only reason why I only gave them 4 stars is that it did get a bit too complicated at times. There are a lot of rules to this universe, a lot of characters and a lot of different time periods. Though this was mainly found in the second book. Since I got them on their publish days which were around a year apart, I forgot who half of the secondary characters and had to look online (without spoiling myself). Thanks so much to the person who made a handy infographic!

 

The Secret Wife*

book reviews - the-secret-wife
4 out of 5 stars

“Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.

1914

Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger…

2016

Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret…”

It’s another story with multiple timelines – sensing a theme here? This was a book my mum lent to me and I wasn’t expecting much from it. However I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I got into it.

Everyone knows historically the Romanov’s were all murdered in 1918. And that there was a conspiracy that Grand Duchess Anastasia survived until it was finally disproved around 90 years later. Grand Duchess Tatiana is the second oldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II (Anastasia’s older sister) and is one of the main characters in this story.

When I first started reading, I thought how fun they’ve gone with something different from the usual Anastasia plotline. But then I started reading through Wikipedia and found that there was a lot of truth to parts of this story. It turns out that Dmitri did exist in real life and in fact there was something between him and Tatiana. It appears that if it weren’t for the civil war, they probably would have married in real life. Unfortunately Tatiana was murdered and Dmitri was killed in combat a year later. This story is all about the question, “what if?” What if Dmitri survived?

I love a good mystery and this was definitely a page-turner, especially towards the end. But then I do love a bit of historical fiction!

 

What have you read recently? Any recommendations for me?

Any items marked with * are affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy something then I get a small commission. 

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For the Love of Books – Joining a Library

I think I might join the library.

I love to read, I always have but I’ve never been a member of a library. Not including school and university anyway. When I was a kid, you’d barely see me without a book in my hand (apart from when I was watching TV). I even learned to hold a book and turn the page with one hand, so I could read while I ate my lunch. I remember my grandad telling me off a lot for that.

And whenever we’d make our yearly trip to Jordan, I’d remember my mum and I filling our suitcases with books. I just seem to have fallen out of habit over the last few years. Especially since I became self-employed.

I’ve just been thinking about my hobbies. A lot of my hobbies these days involve a screen or using my hands. I get a lot of pains in my hands from repetitive strain and my terrible posture (typical millennial) is not helping matters. Topher suggested we had a screen free Sunday which I loved. But what would I do with myself? Everything I love involves my hands or a screen.

When we returned from Disneyland Paris, I got a sudden urge to read again. My reading seems to come in waves. I buy a load of books, go through them all and then for months I don’t read anything. I saw a woman reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman on the plane and she recommended it to me. She said she got it at Tesco for 2 for £7 which sounded like a great deal. So, when I got home I popped over to Tesco and purchased it, along with How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. Let me know if you’d like a review on them both.

I enjoyed both books and wondered what I should purchase next. But then that got me thinking. The only reason I’m not reading all the time is because I read quickly and having to buy a lot of books would be a lot of money. Even if I got them second hand. As much as I enjoy them, I’d rather spend my money elsewhere. Right now, Topher and I are saving up to go to Japan next year and every penny we squirrel away gets me excited.

So when I was reading blogs as I usually do, I came across Bethany from B’Rambling’s post about her love of libraries. And it just clicked. Why not join the library? It’s free and I don’t have to spend money on books. It’s not like I keep the books I read anyway. I tend to pass them on or give them to charity.

Though Gorton where I live has a library, I think I’ll probably use the Manchester Central one. I’ve been wanted to go since it was refurbished and after visiting New York’s library, I think it would be cool to see Manchester’s. Plus, there would probably be more selection and it would be an excuse for me to leave the house.

library - manchester central

I think the thing that stopped me from joining a library before was thinking there was a lack of newer books. But at least today, I was wrong. I checked a few titles from my ever-growing Amazon wish list and there were all there. So what’s there to stop me?

I have a couple of books I need to finish first but once I do, I’ll definitely be joining the library. Plus that means I can start doing book reviews again.

How about you? Are you a member of a library?

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What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix Recently

Since I’ve been ill a lot this winter, Netflix has been a good friend of mine. So I thought I’d tell you about some of the things I’ve been watching.

 

The Good Place

Seasons: 2

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I first discovered this on a plane on our honeymoon and was immediately hooked. When we got home, the whole thing was on Netflix so I binged the rest. They’ve actually been on a winter break and are back now posting one episode a week.

Kirsten Bell plays Eleanor, a women who dies and ends up in heaven. The only problem is, she’s been mistaken for someone else and should actually be in hell because she was a terrible person.

It’s been a while since I found a comedy that just clicked with me. The Good Place literally makes me laugh out loud and the cast is awesome. I would definitely recommend watching.

 

Glow

Seasons: 1

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So I may have binged the whole thing in a day #sorrynotsorry. Glow is about Glamorous Ladies Of Wrestling. In the 80s in LA a casting call was made for women that turned out to be for a women’s wrestling show.

The series follows the ladies journey from women off the street to wrestlers and stars Alison Brie (I know her best from Mad Men). I loved getting to know all the different characters and found the whole show uplifting. It certainly deserves the hype.

If you’re interested, there’s also a documentary on Netflix called Glow which is actually about the real Glow ladies. It was released back in 2012 and it’s so cool to see the parallels between real life and TV.

 

Jack Whitehall – Travels With My Father

Seasons: 1

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Always having been a fan of Jack Whitehall and travel shows, this programme ticked both boxes. Jack decides to go on a gap year style holiday and bring along his seventy something, super conservative dad along for the ride. Hilarity ensues.

I haven’t finished the whole season yet as it’s something I prefer to dip in and out of but so far I’ve loved it. If you’re a fan of this comedian then I definitely recommend giving it a go.

 

The Sinner

Seasons: 1

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Starring Jessica Biel, The Sinner is a story about a seemingly normal housewife who stabs a random man to death on a crowded beach one day. The series explores why she did it. I saw people raving about this on Twitter so I added it to my list.

When I did come to watch it I finished the whole series in about 2 days. There’s more to it then you would think and I enjoyed going along for the ride. There were plenty of twists and the ending was satisfying.

Recommend if you like dramas, crimes and mysteries.

 

Zumbo’s Just Desserts

Seasons: 1

Zumbos-Just-Desserts

I was a bit behind the rest of the UK and I only started watching GBBO in 2016. Then it all changed and I refused to watch the new one – disappointing as I really loved the series.

I wasn’t intentionally looking for something to fill the GBBO shaped hole in my life but I found it with Zumbo’s Just Desserts. It’s a similar style to GBBO but it’s Australian and focused on desserts. Adriano Zumbo is a dessert king in Australia (seriously google some of his work, it’s astounding!) and is the main judge.

These are extraordinary desserts! Each episode, the dessert makers create a dessert based on a theme and then the two weakest battle it out in the Zumbo test. They have to make one of Zumbo’s masterpieces and they are damn hard! The lowest scorer leaves the game.

If you love GBBO (new or old) then this is a must watch. Though don’t watch when hungry!

 

Glitch

Seasons: 2 

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I’m a big fan of the zombie genre and Glitch is an interesting take on it. It is wildly similar to Netflix show, The Returned (and the original French version) but the difference here is that the returnees literally climb out of their graves.

Set in Australia, 7 people return from the dead in perfect health and it’s up to a local policeman and doctor to figure out why and also protect them.

I loved the concept of this show but at times it was frustrating to watch. 2 seasons in and I have more questions than answers. They are apparently working on getting renewed for a third season but as it stands, I’m in a bit of a limbo.

I did enjoy the back stories of the returnees as some of them died over 100 years ago. But in terms of learning the how and why of the situation, I’m just a bit confused.

Watch at your own peril – maybe wait until a third season is announced?

 

The Mist

Seasons: 1

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Based on a Stephen king book, a town get’s suddenly overcome by mist which is full of terrifying things. I’ll start with a disclaimer: don’t get too invested in this as it’s already cancelled and ends on a cliffhanger.

This show had similar problems to Glitch in that I have more questions than answers at the end of it. The series was pretty much about the reactions to the mist and people trying to stay alive. You didn’t get much explanation as to how and why and it looks like you never will. Maybe I’ll have to pick up the book to find out…

Once again, watch at your own peril. But even more so!

 

What have you watched on Netflix recently?

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Film Reviews February & March 2017

Beauty and the Beast

film reviews February - beauty and the beast
I was expecting a lot from this live action adaption of one of my favourite Disney films and boy did they deliver. I really enjoyed it from beginning to end and I like the balance they created between the original animation and new additions. The new songs especially were great and I definitely have the soundtrack on my wishlist.

Though Emma Watson did sound slightly auto-tuned for the opening Belle song, I’m assuming it’s because she was nervous because the rest of the tracks sounded a lot more natural.

Otherwise, I loved it all. The casting, the music and especially how they “fixed” a lot of plot holes that the original left.

5 out of 5 stars

Free Fire

film reviews February - free fire
“Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival” – IMDB

This was an unlimited screening that I went to just for the hell of it. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as it did. I think it was the comedy that really lifted it – I don’t think I would have been as entertained if it were just a simple shoot out in a warehouse.

4 out of 5 stars

Ghost in the Shell

film reviews February - ghost in the shell
“In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.” – IMDB

I saw this yesterday as a complete outsider to the original anime. After hearing about how different it was from the original and how that seemed to disappoint a lot of the original fanbase, I’m glad I wasn’t a fan. Topher and I got to enjoy it as a stand alone film.

Topher liked it a lot. On the other hand, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It was good but I left the theatre feeling a bit meh. It was quite a short film too but it didn’t feel that way to me. Maybe it’s just not my kind of film.

2 and a half out of 5 stars

Hidden Figures

film reviews February - hidden figures
“The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.” – IMDB

I loved this film. There’s something about taking something amazing that happened in real life and telling the story to the next generation. It’s crazy to look back and think this happened within the last century.

And I love how they put up photos of the real women this film was based on in the end. Topher and I were on wikipedia when we got home and looked all of them up. One is still alive today!

5 out of 5 stars

Split

film reviews February - split
“Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, they must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.” – IMDB

This was a very clever film that Topher persuaded me to see and I’m glad I did. James McAvoy did an amazing job and I found the whole thing thrilling to watch. Definitely recommended for something a bit different.

4 out of 5 stars

Trainspotting 2

film reviews February - trainspotting 2
It’s been a fair few years since I watched Trainspotting so we had to sit down and watch it before going to see the long awaited sequel set 20 years later.

I found myself talking to a lot of people who thought there was too much nostalgia in this sequel but I think that’s what it was supposed to be. Overall, I really enjoyed it. And just a side note, Robert Carlyle is an awesome actor!

3 and a half out of 5 stars

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