Book Review – Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica…

A chance encounter

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

An act of kindness

Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.

A tangled web of lies

As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures.

Urgh. Just urgh. I really wanted to like this book, I really did. Hearing good things about the author made me excited to read it. Yet the writing style really put me off. From one character’s point of view it was present time and from the other two it was several days prior and it kept on jumping back and forth between the three characters which made the story difficult to follow.

The characters were all seriously irritating. Apart from Willow. For reasons of my own I empathise with her. Heidi I wanted to throat punch, I really did. That woman was way too goody goody and pure. Chris seemed to be a frustrated adulterer (I hate cheaters whether fictional or in real life) and Zoe was a brat who needed a good attitude adjustment.

The concept of the story was good, but it could have been so much more. There are parts that are achingly sad, but they are far outweighed and let down by the rest of the story.

I will give this writer kudos for bringing to the fore the topics of mental health and abuse as they are not nearly normalised enough in popular fiction. I just wish that there had been a trigger warning somewhere in the blurb. It took several days away from the book before I felt able to continue with it, but that’s just me.

I’m only able to give this book a two out of five star read.

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Book Review – Pretty Is – Maggie Mitchell…

Lois and Carly-May were just twelve when they were abducted by a stranger and imprisoned in a cabin in the woods for two months. That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they formed a bond that would never be broken. Decades later, both women have new lives and identities. But the events of that summer are about to come back with a vengeance. Lois and Carly-May must face the truth about their secret, shared past… What really happened in the woods that summer?OK, I have to be brutally honest. I did not enjoy this book. Not even a little bit. I got three quarters of the way through and I came very close to putting it down. Mitchell’s first book has been described, amongst other things as “a slick take on a trope that just isn’t going away”. Sorry but no. I don’t see it as slick at all. The story judders along, jumping between the two protagonists both in current and past time. The whole thing is puzzled together and not at all what I was expecting.I honestly like my thrillers to be fast paced and to pick me up and whirl me along from the very first page and not put me down until the last. Pretty is just doesn’t do that.Both of the women were clearly in need of some very serious and intensive therapy but were both allowed to tumble along and present a functioning face to the world when they both needed a Psychiatrist and some very effective drugs.I just couldn’t get on with any of the characters at all. The villain of the piece just wasn’t very… villainous, and the way the book wound up just seemed so implausible. If you enjoyed this book, fair enough. It just wasn’t for me.A two out of five star book.Be kind to each other.x

I can’t even…

I can’t even… move, think, function…

Today is mot a good day. I’m having pretty much rolling panic attacks and my anxiety is thrumming like a tautly strung guitar which makes me feel tremulous and shaky.

I cannot explain why I am like this. No matter what I do, I am not able to settle down and relax into what I want to do. I can’t colour – my eyes won’t focus and when I look at the colours, they all seem to shimmy and swirl into one unidentifiable colour.

My allodynia is driving me around the bend. My skin is super sensitive and even the breeze blowing across it makes it difficult to cope with and is super painful. Then when I get cooler, I try and use my duvet, but you can guarantee that my skin will scream and try to crawl away from the fabric because it just hurts too goddamned much. Then I also have hyperalgesia which is basically my Fibro amplifying every single bit of pain that I get by about 100 times. To finish off, my paresthesia is also really bad. It feels like thousands of tiny little knives are running up and down my skin and it quite honestly makes me want to cry.

Is this normal I hear you say? Hell yes it is. This is pretty much how it is every single damn day for me. I can never have a single day where my pain is not ruling my life. Yet you know what? I’m not looking for your pity. I would just like a little bit of understanding and the occasional hot water bottle please.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Joyfully His by Jamie Beck…

Folks in Sterling Canyon know that small towns have long memories. Two years after the DUI that injured a pedestrian, Andy Randall is still making amends. He hopes the Christmas spirit will help him get rehired as a ski instructor, but that job will come with conditions. He can’t afford another mistake, which is exactly what making a play for his former boss and friend, Nikki Steele, would be.

Nikki races down double black diamonds and hikes mountains better than most guys, unafraid of tumbling down the slopes. But trusting the guy who once shot her down could end in a fall that actually hurts, especially when she’d have to vouch for him with her boss. Still, the resort needs another instructor to handle the holiday tourists, and Andy’s sexy grin and relaxed charisma make him hard to resist.

With both of their reputations now on the line, can Andy convince Nikki that the second chance he wants isn’t only about the job?

Yes. It was that time again. I need the comfort of a good old soppy romance and as I had read and enjoyed the previous three books in the Sterling Canyon series, I wanted to read this novella just to see how things panned out.

Andy is the protagonist in this shorter story. It’s actually quite nice to see the story go to being from a male perspective from a change (the previous three books were all female led).

I must admit that I had thought he might one day end up with Emma, but by the end of book three, it is abundantly clear that that is not going to happen. So it was nice to see him given his (much shorter but still nice) love story.

It’s difficult to say a lot without giving the game away but it was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I was happy while reading it. I feel a bit sad to say goodbye to the Sterling Canyon characters as I built a fondness for them over the first three books.

I would definitely recommend that you read the series if you enjoy romance novels.

A four out of five star book.

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Review of my Doki Doki box – June ’18…

I’m always happy to see this box arrive. It is a big toss up between kawaii box and the DokiDoki crate. They both have such utterly gorgeous things inside them and I always do my best to show them off and describe them adequately and hope I manage to get across just how cute they all are.

First out of the box is an awesome “bottle sock”. They are all the rage in Japan, meaning you can hold your cold drink without getting your hands all wet and cold. The one I got had mini Mt Fujis on it.

Next up was a super cute Sumikkogurashi cooler pad. This one you keep in either the fridge or the freezer before taking it to keep whatever you need cold.

Then comes a slim Rilakkuma glass. This glass is half frosted and has the image of two super cute little bears on it.

Next was a yellow see through PVC bag with the cute kawaii dog PomPomPurin on it. I adore this, I think it was my favourite of all.

Then came a Shiba Inu towel. Compared to the size of Western towels, its thin and long, but it has some very cute dog pictures on it. The towel was so long, I had to photograph it in two sections.

Well, as always, a super cute box and I loved everything. I chose to gift the glass to a very close friend of mine because I hoped it would cheer her up.

This is another five out of five star box.

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Reviewing of my Treatbox – June ’18…

As always, I’m excited to receive a subscription box. As I’m relatively new to Treatbox compared to other subscription box companies, I’m still getting used to them and deciding whether or not to keep this one going.

The box arrived and it was beautifully wrapped as usual.

The first treat out of the box is a print out calendar for the month of June. Forgive me, even though it has my favourite flowers on it, sunflowers, I just don’t see the point of doing this. Everyone I know has calendar of their own or a diary. This just seems to be a waste of paper.

Next out is cute picture of four different flowers saying “Bloom where you are planted” I love that!

Then we have a gorgeous smelling tube of “Hello Sunshine” hand cream. It’s nice, but sadly won’t persuade me away from my Lush hand cream, whom I am PROUD to say I’m still a customer of!

Next comes a super cute pack of ten small citrusy smelling wipes. They fit into pretty much any bag!

Then we get a fabulous pack of seeds of my most favourite flowers in the whole world ever – sunflowers! 😍😍😍

Next there is a cute wall plaque that could be hung next to the back door. “In our back garden we plant dreams and grow miracles”.

Then we get a super cute pair of slanted tweezers. I needed to pluck my eyebrows so out they came and away I went!

Next was an adorable little sunflower charm that is on a cotton strand. The theory is that you make a wish as the bracelet is tied around your wrist and when the cord breaks, the wish comes true.

Then comes a big A4 pad that had meal planner sections and a shopping list next to it so you can make informed choices about your food choices. This is not really for me so the manshape will use it for waste paper.

Whilst there are some super items inside this box, I’m disappointed by the overall wastage of paper in this box which leaves me able to only leave a review of 3 out of 5 stars.

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Reviewing of my Kawaii Box Subscription Box – June ’18…

As always this box is super cute and I’m super excited to open it up and delve inside. It’s cuteness overload before you even start looking!

First out of the box is a packet or little round Hello Kitty strawberry marshmallows. I’m not a massive fan of the taste of artificial strawberry sweets but I’m sure my youngest will enjoy them.

Next comes a brilliant panda bento rice mould. A bento box is like a layered lunch box. This kit enables you to make super cute panda shaped rice balls.

Next comes a silicone blue bunny head drinks mat. Always have a use for those.

Then we have a packet of Sumikko Gurashi deco stickers. This literally translates as “hiding in a corner” and the characters are shy, just like many Japanese people.

Next up we get something that made me super happy! A Moomin note paper set. Oh I loved it! I adore anything Moomin!

Then comes a pink neko (Japanese for cat) ears headband which I love. It’s ideal for when I want to put on a face mask!

Next comes a common type of toy in kawaii – a squishy. This particular squishy is a salmon sushi squishy and it is so super cute!

Then there is a kawaii hamster soft bag charm. It looks awesome clipped to your bag.

Next we have a kawaii drinking straw pen. This is a combination which I have never seen before. Honestly, never!

Then last of all out come a packet of Precure grape gummies. Precure is a super popular Japanese “magical girl”anime series. These gummies are shaped like characters.

A definite five out of five star box as usual.

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Review of my Boxcitement Subscription Box – May ’18…

I was super happy when my box arrived. I always look forward to my Boxcitement box as they put everything that they have in to each and every box that they put out. They really do. The theme of this box is “Mono Dramatic”.

First item out of the box was a book mark that was black and white with a simple image of pebbles on it. I was in need of a new book mark, so that was good timing!

Next was a gorgeous white gemstone chip bracelet that has three inter changeable charms on it. You can remove them all and switch around which one you wear or you can wear all three at once if you like.

Then came a unique and novel item called a key keeper. It is in the shape of a large white key and you are supposed to clip your spare keys to it and not lose them in your drawer. I tend to keep all my keys on a key hanger so I will gift this to somebody.

Next out came a small compact mirror with geometric shapes on the back. Again I already have a compact so this will be gifted to someone.

Then came a cute little pencil eraser with the word “Oooooops” on it. Always handy!

Next came a set of three large black and white paper clips.

Then there is a stunning couple of black on white card drawings of a zebra and a cat like people. I’m building up a really good selection of cards, I love it!

Next there is a really gorgeous black and white photo of budding blossom on a tree branch in a white cardboard frame, which will definitely be going on my wall.

Last of all, we have a chunky black notebook with the legend bright ideas on the front. A stationery addict can never have enough notebooks!

A brilliantly put together box as always and a huge thank you to the Boxcitement team! As always, five out of five stars!

Be kind to each other!

Unboxing & Review of My Purrfect Gift Box – May ’18…

Yay!!! My favourite time of the month when the mother of all subscription boxes arrives. I honestly have to say, that as a card carrying crazy cat lady, this is my favourite box of all!

As always, the box is both beautifully wrapped and presented. The theme this month is “Mew York, Mew York!”

The first gift that I encounter is a really gorgeous and unusual letter art picture spelling out the word CAT. All three pictures that make up the picture are genuine New York landmarks! It’s already up on my wall.

Next is a really stunning “tea towel” that says “New York Cats” at the top and includes twelve different illustrations of Olga Angelloz’s fashion forward cats. No way am I messing this up as a tea towel. It’s too good! It’s going on my wall next to my cat picture it really is! It’s difficult to take pictures of it since it is so big, but I tried to get one of the cats. All twelve are different.

Then comes a pack of two cards featuring bodega cats. For those of you who do not know, a bodega is a local corner shop. Cats traditionally live there in return for keeping rats at bay.

Finally is perhaps the most awesome gift in the box. The book “Felines of New York” was the inspiration for this box. There are more than 100 pictures of kitties in various poses, often with hilarious comments to accompany them. If you want to get a cat lover a birthday gift, this would be the perfect thing!

As always a fabulous five out of five star box! Thank you so much My Purrfect Gift Box – yet again you have smashed it! I love it all so much!

Be kind to each other.x

Unboxing & Review of My Underneath the Rowan Trees Subscription Box – May ’18…

I’m always thrilled when this subscription box arrives. It really is my favourite stationery based one!

This time the box had an Alice in Wonderland theme. I’ve got to be honest, this is not my favourite theme at all, but that is not the fault of the creator of the box. That’s my fault.

As always, the box arrives stunningly wrapped and presented. The presentation is really lovely.

First item out of the box is a gorgeous little bag of four red &a white jelly sweets with the words “eat me” on the bag. My youngest son will polish these off.

Next comes a single wrapped tea bag. It’s Clipper breakfast tea which is a really lovely brand. I enjoyed that – I love a good cup of tea.

Then we have our first roll of washi tape which bares the image of different playing cards.

The next item is our second roll of washi tape with Alice themed pictures on it.

Then we get a really cute mint green and blue striped pen with a gold crown on the top.

Next out is a pencil with the quote “Off with their heads”!

Then along comes a super cute little pin badge in the shape of a clock.

Next we have a notepad with an Alice themed picture and sentence from the book on it.

Then we have a very cute little pink flamingo paper clip which I love.

Next comes five decent sized different stickers of various cakes. Made me want a slice they really did!

Then there is a long sheet of various Alice themed stickers.

Finally we have a very cute printed sheet with a recipe for Victoria sponge on it: for your very own tea party!

Now, the problem for me here is that I really dislike Alice in Wonderland stuff, but I am only one of many subscribers so I cannot expect every box to suit my tastes. I know exactly who I can gift all of this stuff to.

I can’t be mean and give a low score. Despite me not liking the contents, it is still a five out of five star box.

Be kind to each other.x