Tuesday 28 May 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 26-30 Round-Up

Hooray - it's time for another book round-up! When I first set myself the challenge of 80 books this year, I kind of regretted it because there are only 52 weeks in a year. I feel like I'm doing well and speeding through them. It helps that Goodreads currently tells me that I'm "on track" now as opposed to behind!

If you would like to read my past round-ups, you can do so here: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25. Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads too.

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams - 4/5
"What if you almost missed the love of your life? 

Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma's after too much wine.

Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn't been able to sleep properly since his dad died.

One morning, Nadia's eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper.

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I'm the guy who's always standing near the doors... Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word."


This is a really cute, feel good, easy read. 

The point of view flits between Nadia and Daniel, who both capture each other's eye on the Tube and they take to writing messages to each other via Missed Connections in the morning paper.

There are so many near misses and I finished the book in 24 hours because I was desperate to finally "see" them meet. The characters are well developed and it's just a very enjoyable read.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - 5/5 

"No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one."

I love this book so much. Usually when a lot of hype is surrounding a book, I read it and think, "Is that it?" but I loved everything about this.

Eleanor follows the same routine every day and is a little different to everyone else (but she thinks they're the ones who are odd!). She is content with her life and feels like nothing is missing until she makes her first friend and tries doing new things.

It makes you laugh and totally breaks your heart too. She is probably my favourite book character ever. 

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten - 4/5 

"When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that probation officer Lucy Sherwood - who is connected to all three victims - is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy's husband.

Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?" 


This is a great debut novel about domestic abuse. It's marketed as the first book in the Maggie Jamieson series but it really focuses on the story of Lucy, a probation officer whose husband is abusing her.

I knew quite early on some of what was going to come out but the ending took me by surprise and I really loved it. I have rated it 4 because, to me, it felt like the story pottered along and I didn't feel a chase or sense of urgency.

It's obvious that the author has a background as a probation officer as everything is explained really well. I am excited for the next book!

Something Like Happy by Sasha Greene - 4/5

"Jade is just trying to get by. She doesn't want to talk about it. She doesn't want a fuss. 

But one day she meets Nick and everything changes.

Out of the most difficult of situations, Nick and Jade's friendship grows into something both of them never knew they needed.

Jade used to be sure that she was better off alone. But could it be that together, with Nick by her side, she can start to feel something like happy again?" 

I almost didn't read this because it only had two reviews on Goodreads, both of them being low, but I actually really loved it. A few people mentioned how they didn't like the jump between POVs but I didn't find it confusing at all.

The story starts with Nick about to take his own life and Jade finds him, making the decision to help him by meeting up with him every Saturday to do something from her 'Happy List'. He doesn't realise that she has lost someone close to her due to suicide and she blames herself for that.

It's a great novel focusing on a normal person and their struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. The pace was good and I found myself unable to put the book down because I wanted to see how it ended. 
How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne - 4/5 

"Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?

There's no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. She's inspired millions of women to stick two fingers up at convention with her bestselling memoir, and she has the perfect relationship to boot.

But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

Everyone around her is getting married and having babies, but her long-term boyfriend won't even talk about getting engaged. And when her best friend Dee - her plus one, the only person who understands the madness - falls in love, suddenly Tori's in danger of being left behind.

When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.

It's time for Tori to practice what she's preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?"

Tori Bailey is the bestselling author of a self-help memoir style book all about surviving your twenties. Now, at the age of 31 and in a six-year relationship with Tom, she isn't that same person anymore and is struggling to write her second book.

She is social media obsessed and craves validation from strangers, constantly analysing what she's posting and checking how many likes and comments she's got.

All of her friends are getting married and having babies. She tells herself that she doesn't need any of that. She's happy with her career, doing TED talks but she is feeling differently to how she portrays herself online.

I struggled to like the character of Tori but I really do feel sorry for her because it was quite obvious that she is in love with Tom but he's a narcissist who is gaslighting her but she just can't see it.

An enjoyable book! 

Have you read anything good lately?

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Learning to Tell the Time with Easy Read Time Teacher - Review

AD - We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

At the age of 6, almost 7, part of C's curriculum is learning to tell the time. He owns a few watches too which he loves to wear but he'd always ask me what time it was.

Easy Read Time Teacher got in touch to see if we'd like to try out one of their Rainbow Past & To clocks and I jumped at the chance as it would coincide well with C's school learning too.

The clock takes one AA battery and setting the time is easy enough using the toggle on the back. We had it ready to hang in two minutes.

The face is bright and colourful, perfect for any child's room, and the second hand doesn't tick so it doesn't annoy them in the night.

The Easy Read Time Teacher makes it simple for children to be able to read the time themselves. The big hand will point directly to a number which is the first part of time telling, they then have to check which side they are reading from (the red side which is "minutes to" or green side which is "minutes past") then the smaller hand points to the hour. You also have quarter, half and o'clock displayed too.

C really likes this as everything is there for him, it's just like reading. The first few days that the clock was in his room, he'd be constantly running upstairs saying, "I'm just going to check what time it is!"

The longer we've been using it, the more confident he is getting and doesn't have to think as much when reading. We still haven't mastered telling time from a watch or other clock without the "cheats" but we'll get there in no time, I'm sure.

It's been a great addition to our lives because C knows what time we usually do things such as go downstairs for breakfast at 7.30 so he can read that he still has x amount of time to play in his room.

C has autism so when I say things like "give me five minutes" he gets a little frustrated because he can't physically see five minutes. With the Easy Read Time Teacher, I can tell him we can do something at a certain time and he'll know himself when that will be and can count it down.

The Easy Read Time Teacher is perfect for children from the age of 5-12 and retails at £24.95. You can find our more about their range of watches and clocks on their website.

Monday 13 May 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 21-25 Round-Up

I'm a little behind with these round up posts - it feels like I've read the ones I'm about the write about ages ago!

You can catch up with 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 and 16-20 and don't forget to come add me on Goodreads!

Two Little Girls by Frances Vick - 4/5

"An innocent girl is taken. The family's lodger confesses.
But that's not the whole story. That's not even the beginning...

It's 1985 and the disappearance of ten-year-old Lisa Cook shocks the nation. Her best friend, Kirsty, traumatised and fearful, gives evidence that helps to put the Cook lodger behind bars.

...But what if Kirsty made a mistake? 

Now, decades later, Kirsty leaves a life she loves to move back to the hometown she hates - tortured by her memorie, she's determined to finally uncover the truth about what happened to Lisa that day. But someone is waiting for her there, someone close to her family. Someone who is hoping to finish off a job that was started years ago..."

In 1985, ten-year-olds Lisa and Kirsty are best friends forever. They have a minor argument, Kirsty goes off home and Lisa isn't seen again, presumed dead.

Fast-forward to present time and Kirsty has moved away and is married to Lee. A family commitment brings her back to her hometown and she becomes friendly with an older psychic lady who thinks she can help her find out the truth about what happened to Lisa. Kirsty soon finds out that she can't trust anyone.

I was excited to read this book based on the synopsis and I really enjoyed it. It's full of twists which kept me on my toes. I don't buy into the whole psychic medium thing so I read those parts with a pinch of salt but the plot is still very good.

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey - 4/5

"How can you spot a murderer?

Leo Stone is a ruthless killer - or a victim of a miscarriage of justice. A year ago, he was convicted of the murder of two women and sentenced to life in prison. But now he's free, and according to him, he's innocent.

DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve finds out, the less convinced she is of his guilt.

Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?" 

This is a really good crime fiction novel. DS Maeve Kerrigan is looking into the deaths of two (possibly three) women in the hope of finding new evidence against Leo Stone, the man suspected of murdering them, after he is released.

It is full of twists as you follow Maeve and her colleague DI Josh Derwent. I thought I had it sussed about halfway through but it went another direction. This is the eighth book in the Maeve Kerrigan series but only the first I've read. After seeing how well written this book is, and the fact that I loved the characters, I'm definitely going back to read the rest!

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister - 5/5 

"It's the day Izzy's father is released from jail.

She has every reason to be conflicted - he's the man who gave her a childhood filled with happy memories.

But he has also just served seventeen years for the murder of her mother.

Now, Izzy's father sends her a letter. He wants to talk, to defend himself against each piece of evidence from his trial.

But should she give him the benefit of the doubt?

Or is her father guilty as charged, and luring her into a trap?" 

Gillian McAllister - you've done it again! 

When I first read her novel 'No Further Questions' last year, I very quickly named it my favourite read of 2018 and I got that exact came feeling with 'The Evidence Against You'. It's going to take a lot to beat it.

Izzy's father was convicted of murdering his wife, Izzy's mother Alex, 17 years ago. He has now been released and is protesting his innocence. Izzy decides to listen to his side of the story and see if she can work out if he's telling the truth or not by looking into the evidence.

I couldn't put it down and I kept saying to myself "just one more chapter" until I was up until 2am reading. I was chasing the end to see the conclusion and what an ending it was! I felt like I needed a breather afterwards. It's so well written.

Izzy's father, Gabriel, telling his side of a situation then Izzy recalling the same moment from her point of view was done very well and I loved how it wasn't just all about her trying to find out the truth. It touches on her sadness of not having her mother around to do typical mother/daughter things and her sadness of seeing her father trying to integrate back into society after being incarcerated for almost 20 years.

I cannot recommend this book enough and if you've never read a book by this author before, do it!

Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer by Stephen G Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth - 2/5 

"The book behind the sensational Netflix series 'The Ted Bundy Tapes'. Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer was born out of more than 150 hours of exclusive interview footage with Bundy himself, recorded on death row before his execution in a Florida electric chair. Bundy's shocking eleventh-hour confessions to journalists Stephen G Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth provide a horrifying insight into the twisted mind of America's most notorious serial killer. He was a sadistic monster. A master manipulator. His grisly killing spree left at least 30 innocent young women dead. This is Ted Bundy in his own words."

I love anything to do with crime, especially true crime and I was excited to read this because I thought it would be a great insight into Ted Bundy's mind but it was a really tough read, I got bored very quickly and felt like it was a huge waste of time. I haven't watched the Netflix series but I get the impression that it would translate better as a TV show.

Kudos to the journalists for sitting and listening to, what I can only describe as, utter drivel and word vomit. He speaks in the third person about these crimes, talking as though he's imagining what the person who committed them was feeling or thinking but he's clever and knew what information to leave in and what to omit.  

If you are wanting a quick, easy explanation for Ted Bundy's crimes, this is not the one. 

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham - 4/5 

"She says she's an ordinary mother.

He knows a liar when he sees one.

Sarah thinks of herself as a normal single mum. It's what she wants others to think of her. But the truth is, she needs something new, something thrilling.

Meanwhile, DI Tom Thorne is investigating a woman's suicide, convinced she was driven to do it by a man who preys on vulnerable women.

A man who is about to change Sarah's life." 

The story starts with DI Tom Thorne investigating a suspicious suicide.

I don't want to give too much away, I can't review without minor spoilers, but we also meet a toxic couple, Sarah and Conrad, and the story is told from two points of view; the couple and the crimes they are committing, and DI Thorne trying his best to suss out what is happening and catch them.

Everything is weaved together very well and there are some great twists thrown in for good measure. The characters are all great and you really feel like you know them because they are given a proper background.

This is the 16th book in the DI Thorne series but only the first I've read. It reads well as a standalone book but judging by this, I'll be seeking out the others. 

Have you read anything good lately that I should check out?
Thursday 9 May 2019

What I Won - April 2019

We are over a week into May and I almost forgot to write my What I Won in April post. To be fair, it was easy to forget because I'm hardly winning at all. This year has been abysmal! Here's what I did manage to win:

Instagram Wins
Unicorn pyjamas from Character

Twitter Wins
Book bundle from Emily Glenister

A copy of 'A Question Of Trust' from Farrago Books

Betsy the Rabbit from Smyths Toys Ireland

Web Wins 
Portable nappy caddy from Mummy Fever
A case of Black Tower low alcohol wine from Plutonium Sox

A copy of 'A Little Pick Me Up' from Mumsnet Influencers
  A lot of book wins this month which I love and some nice little others for myself and my family. Here's hoping the next month is a little better!

Did you win anything nice in April?