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?

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The Landing: Baby Steps

Well it’s only taken 17 months but we’ve finally added something to the landing.

Or the hallway I should say. Last you saw the landing it looked like this. I’d painted it white and put a few frames up. And then it stayed like that. For a long time. I stated in my home decor plans for 2018 that I had some prints and frames standing by to put up and I finally got around to it this week. It also helped that Topher and I finally spent the Debenhams vouchers we got for our wedding and got this frame.* Big thanks for our photographer Nikki Cooper for sending us some actual prints along with our wedding photo filled USB stick. That really got our bums in gear as that prompted us to go and find a frame to put them in.

landing - gallery wall

So we finally have photos of ourselves in the house. Yay! I love the way this frame looks.

Then I finally got up some more prints we had as well as one of the wedding photographs that we loved but was in portrait so it wouldn’t fit in the main frame.

landing - frames

I like how it’s growing but I feel like we definitely need a better balance of prints and photographs. I may also swap out the gold and silver frames for black and white ones. I like the idea of having nice bright prints that have a more muted frame. I just used those ones because I had them on hand. And they definitely don’t fit the prints they have inside them!

landing - wedding pic

We also received this awesome key holder from Topher’s auntie and uncle as a wedding present so I finally got that up too. How awesome does it look?

landing - keyholder

I guess the next step is to get some more photos printed. We’ve got loads to choose from since next year it will be a decade that Topher and I have been together. Fingers crossed it won’t take 17 months this time!

Check out what the landing originally looked like when we moved in.

Are you slow to make changes like this too?

Items marked with * are affiliate links – this means if you purchase anything from the site then I get a small commission with no extra cost to you!

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Big Apple, Small Budget: Planning An Affordable Trip To New York

New York, New York. Who hasn’t dreamed of exploring the streets of Manhattan and soaking up one of the greatest cities in the world? While you might think that dream will stay a dream because of the cost involved, the truth is that it’s now cheaper than ever to visit New York for a short break.

New York

Source

Interested in discovering the dazzling lights of the Big Apple? Take a look at this useful guide for planning a trip to New York on a budget.

Get clever with flights

If you play your cards right, you could fly to New York for less than £300 return – that’s crazy compared to what a transatlantic flight would have cost you years ago! Using Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights, you could plan your trip around the cheapest flight times and have a blast.

Stay on the outskirts

Like most major cities, it’s cheaper to stay in hotels outside of Manhattan than within it. You could stay at the Melville Marriott Long Island and take the short trip into the city to explore. New York is the city that never sleeps after all, so if you like your rest – a stay on the outskirts might be just what you need to recover after a day of sightseeing.

Enjoy top attractions for less

You’re sure to have a long list of things that you want to see in New York, although they can cost a lot of money when you add everything up. Fortunately, there are some great ways to save money on top New York attractions, which will make it easier to fit everything in on your budget. Keep an eye out for theatre deals and last-minute ticket options for sports events – there are some amazing deals to be found if you can be flexible with your time.

Eat out for less

Just as you would at home, you can find some incredible eating out bargains for top restaurants in New York City. Websites such as Groupon have some fantastic promotions if you know what you’re looking for, while it doesn’t hurt to search online for the best deals. Meanwhile, if you want to enjoy some of New York’s most upmarket restaurants, why not book a table for brunch or breakfast? As two of the cheapest meals of the day, you can enjoy some of New York’s finest dining for much less than an evening meal.

 

New York is an incredible city to visit, with so many exciting things to take in. It’s easy to plan a trip on a budget, and with the money leftover, you could consider planning a multi-destination trip to another city like Washington DC or Las Vegas. Domestic flights are affordable in America, and with a selection of airports, New York is the perfect destination to begin your trip. A trip to New York will be a memorable experience, so plan your trip wisely to ensure you get to take it all in.

*This is a collaborative post

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World Stationery Day with Old English Company – Competition

*This post is in collaboration with Old English Company

As you may or may not know, it’s World Stationery Day on the 25th April.

I’ve always been a huge fan of stationery, ever since I was a child. Every day is World Stationery Day for me! So when Old English Company contacted me about their competition to celebrate the day, I had to share it with you.

Old English Company’s range of planners are minimalistic and gorgeous. Perfect for work, blogging or any project you have going on. I especially love that they don’t contain dates so you can fill them in yourself. Ideal for people like me who have a habit of picking up and putting down planners so before I know it, the year is gone and I’ve wasted half of it. Every damn year!

World Stationery Day - inside planner

The planners come in blush pink/gold, charcoal grey/gold, off white/copper and black/pearlescent. I can’t decide which one’s my favourite…

This competition allows you to win not just one but all four planners in the range! You can use them for different projects or even give them to your friends if you’re feeling generous. Click on this link to enter the competition. All you have to do to enter is pick your favourite item of stationery from the site and email them. It’s that simple. The competition closes at the end of 25th April and a winner will be chosen on the 26th.

World Stationery Day - planner range

Take a look around while you’re there too, Old English Company don’t just do stationery. I’ve personally fallen in love with all of their prints. And they make pins too as well as homewares, cards and other accessories. Perfect for gifts and for yourself. Because we all need a treat, right?

Do you love stationery as much as I do? 

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March in Photos – Family, Friends and Food

Hello April and hello Spring.

I thought since I’ve been a bit MIA recently, especially with the “My Week” posts that I’d do a little catchup. I only posted six times during March and they were mainly travel posts so here are all the in between bits.

March in Photos - blue sky

Mental Health

It’s been all over the place this month. One minute I’m feeling fine and getting stuff done and the next I can’t get out of bed. The clocks changed which I’m hoping is going to improve my mood generally and those down points will get fewer and far between. I’ve been beating myself up less about not being active though so that’s a positive.

Friends & Family

We saw our friends a few times this month which was nice – a board game night at Claire and Steve’s, a birthday party for Topher’s mum and a leaving party for our other friends who are off to live in Japan for a year. Topher and I also babysat our friend’s 7 month old baby for a few hours which was a learning experience! Big respect to all the parents. The most I’d come into contact with a small human prior to this was holding one for about 30 seconds so it was interesting.

March in Photos - articulate

My parents came to stay with us too which saw the usual flurry of activity of food and doing bits around the house. Which brings me to…

Home

We have a new bed in the guest room. The king size one we had in there before was uncomfortable and was probably about as old as I am. I always felt bad for our guests having to sleep on it but now I don’t have to. My parents gave us their old guest room bed which is only a double so there is SO much more space in the room now. You can actually walk around the bed. Of course this meant new bedding was needed. This Mexican inspired rainbow cat bedding is from Asda a few months ago. How cute is it?! Sombrero kitties for the win.

March in Photos - new bed

March in Photos -rainbow bedding

We also finally replaced our old cat tree which has been on it’s last legs for a long time now. This new one is amazing. It’s from Amazon* and is super tall. Perfect for our big cats. I actually adapted it slightly by not putting on the hammocks as Pickles especially is far too big for them and they’ll just break! Plus it just means more uninterrupted climbing for them both.

March in Photos - cat tree

Car fun

And speaking of new things I got a new car. Well, new to me anyway. It’s an automatic and has a few more bells and whistles than my old car so I’m pretty excited about it. I’m going to be selling my Clio this month once it’s finished being fixed after it got rear ended in February so hopefully I can rest easy with car stuff for awhile. Now please can all the bad drivers stay away from my new car so I can drive in peace?

Films

Topher and I really need to get to the cinema more this month as we only went once during March. We saw Game Night which I really enjoyed. It’s been so long since I saw a comedy at the cinema where I was laughing out loud the whole way through. Definitely recommend.

Food

I didn’t cook anything new this month as I wasn’t up to it but we did go out for two meals. The first was Bem Brasil with my parents which was nice. I didn’t take any photos as a) I was too busy eating meat and b) who wants to look at pictures of slivers of meat on a plate? The second place we went was just Topher and I to Wasabi in Chinatown. We’ve been before but we were really craving Japanese food so we nipped in before the leaving party at the weekend.

I bloody love ramen.

March in Photos - ramen

Easter came and went

Topher and I had only planned on having one egg each but we ended up with 2 each as his family got us some. Oh well, more chocolate for us. Now that that’s all over, I’m going to try and get back to my healthy eating. I’m not feeling particularly comfortable at the moment with my weight as it’s close to my heaviest so that’s gotta go. Back to the happy weight please.

March in Photos - easter

And finally, the cats

They’ve been their usual adorable selves. Pickles is being better at night as there was a point where he would keep us up for half of it. I put it down to the clocks changing. Luna has been extra cuddly recently – climbing on both our chests and attacking our faces with head bops – especially to Topher. She purrs super loud and is so intense it’s funny. Pickles has also found some toys to play with on his own which is great. Half of them were under the bed when we got the new one! We play with them both but it’s nice that they can amuse themselves too when we’re busy. Luna has always been fine with that but Pickles used to be extra work. So yay for that.

March in Photos - Pickles

As for April, I hope to get out to a car boot if it ever stops raining, get my decluttering on and get this blog back up to regular scheduling amongst other goals. Wish me luck!

How was your March?

Items marked with * are affiliate links. This basically means that if you click through and buy anything, I get a small commission with no extra cost to you!

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