Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Blurb: “The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body 

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?”

Genre: Thriller, Murder Mystery, Fiction

Goodreads Rating: 3.8/5

My Rating: 3/5

THIS REVIEW DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS


I read this book after being recommended by my boyfriend, he said it was good but not fantastic and I have to admit I absolutely agree with him. I found this book quite a reach. For me personally it was all over the place but I enjoyed the way it was written and the journey it took us through. the anticipation for what was to come was within me form the very start.

So the book is based on a small island off of Ireland known for death and the bodies under the ground. Here Jules and Will, both incredibly popular and high profile, decide to get married! The Island is completely uninhabited other than the two who are running the manor where the wedding was going to take place, Aoife and Freddy. Already it introduces mystery and suspicion, it’s written in a way where you’re always questioning whats going to happen? Where is this going? Once everyone is on the island, no one can leave?

I enjoyed the fact that we got multiple perspectives through the book. We got Hannah’s perspective, her husband Charlie is Jules’ (The Brides) best friend, which at the start I felt was unnecessary but the ending revealed why we got this. We also got the POV of Jules, Olivia the bridesmaid, Will the groom, Johnno the best man and Wills oldest friend and Aoife the wedding planner. It was fun going between each character and getting their perspective of the situation especially because there are so many different links to each other. Johnno and the group of Ushers, Charlie and group of Ushers, Olivia and Will, Jules and Charlie. BUT, there were so many different links it was really hard to get to grips with what was what and also really difficult to connect with each character. I could definitely connect with the odd few characters though, like Olivia, Johnno and Hannah.

So the characters I did feel something for, Hannah and Charlie, something happened at the Stag do that we don’t know about and because of that there is already tension between the two. Then we also notice that Hannah lost her sister around this time of the year, Charlie is nasty when he’s drunk and that their marriage has gone stale.

Then we had Johnno, always seen as the bum of the group, not very successful and also closest and oldest friend of Will. He likes to smoke and lies about creating a whisky brand to appear successful. He also feels eternally guilty for what is potentially murdering a boy who him and Will went to school with after a prank with Will went wrong. I really sympathised for him, trying to be something he wasn’t just to impress these boys he used to go school with who think themselves so high and mighty.

TW: Suicide.

I can also feel sympathy for Olivia. She has had her heart destroyed by a man who we later find out is Will. Jules’ husband to be. She’s in an awful personal position. She’s left uni, she’s depressed, she is tormented by the fact that she knows who Will is and what he is like and Jules has absolutely no idea because Olivia can’t tell her and Will won’t let her. So when she opens up to Hannah about her situation but changes the mans name, Olivia and Hannah really resonate with each other because Hannah’s sister killed herself because a man leaked a video of a sexual act online. which is what Olivia had been faced with threat wise from Will, so you can see the relationship for the two blossom because Hannah is protective over Olivia. Later, we learn that Will was also the one who brought Hannah’s sister to her demise. So all of their stories interlink.

There is a huge crescendo at the end where all of their stories interlink and I understand that we needed all the contact to get to this point. But I found it all incredibly far fetched and a real reach. So I’m going to try and sum this up as easily as possible so you can make sense of this journey. Jules (The Bride) and Charlie (Hannah’s husband) Have had sex, but this was years ago but news to Hannah when it’s revealed fractioning their relationship even more. Will used to be with Olivia (The Bridesmaid and Jules’ Sister) and is now blackmailing her to not tell Jules anything about their relationship. Although Jules overhears him threatening her so learns everything. Will is also the one who brought Hannah’s sister to her demise. Johnno is accused of the murder, even though the murderer is the sister of the little boy who was accidentally killed by Will and Johnno in school, Aoife, the wedding planner. And Johnno discovers that his big break into TV and his future was scuppered because Will lied to him.

It’s a lot, right? I just it very all at once. Although I enjoyed the concept of the fact these people who knew so littlest so much about each other were all linked in some way or another.

The only good thing to come from this was the development with Olivia and Jules’ relationship at the end, where it’s revealed who is dead. That for me was a positive note, because their family and sisterly love overcame everything. But It did make me wonder how Jules would have continued to act towards Olivia had what had happened, not happened.

I rated this 3/5 because although the journey to the cresendo was good and it really was emotive for my emotions and feelings, I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone!

Book Review: 20 Travel Tales in 200 Words by D. Marino & J. Malley

Blurb: “20 Travel Tales in 200 Words, is a collection of true short stories of misadventure, humour and heart, while travelling the world. The authours have had a number of awkward, challenging and astounding experiences over the years. These tales (all told in exactly 200 words) will (hopefully) make you laugh, smile and see travel through their eyes.

Each tale is accompanied by their unique photography, taken while vacationing in the area featured in the travel tale. You will not find these specific photographs anywhere else.”

Genre: Travel, Travel Biography

Goodreads Rating: 4.83/5

My Rating: 5/5

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS


I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have been able to access, read and review this book from the authors directly! So a huge thank you to them, of course they appreciate and respect that my review will be totally honest and my views only. So lets get into this!

You can find a copy of the book to purchase here and their website!

https://www.makethemalltripsofalifetime.com/product-page/20-travel-tales-in-200-words-pdf

https://www.makethemalltripsofalifetime.com

And you can find the authors on social media here!

Https://twitter.com/ThemTrips

https://instagram.com/Makethemalltripsofalifetime

https://www.facebook.com/makethemalltripsofalifetime

As an avid traveller and with Covid being pretty prominent at the moment, there isn’t much travel happening. So to be able to read 20 Travel Tales in 200 words was exciting for me because It definitely filled a travel hole that was huge in my heart. I really enjoyed reading each story and I’ll be writing a little bit about my top 8 from the book also further down in the review! I just wanted to cover some basics first!

The book itself is really well written and right from the heart, it feels so personal and I really felt like I could picture the experiences almost like I was there. Also it can’t be easy writing a travel story in only 200 words but the authors have done a really good job in doing so and making it an immersive and enjoyable read.

The photographs that separate the stories are all so beautiful and topical to the stories as well, not only is the photography brilliant but they also do a really good job of painting the picture of the adventure itself. It gives the stories more context and also gives the reader the beautiful imagery that goes with the story and I just thought that was brilliant because the story leaves you to your imagination and then you see the photos and it makes it even better!

So let’s have a look at my favourite 8 stories from the book! (although they were all great).

Rough Seas and Big Fish.

This one made me so excited, minus the sea sickness which I felt so sorry for them but I would totally be the same in that situation! Swimming with Whales sharks is absolutely a bucket list dream of mine, so to see the photos and hear the story was so great and inspiring. I was massively impressed they pushed through the sickness to swim with these magnificent creatures!

Murder House.

This one was plain creepy but I enjoyed that aspect, it was an experience that wasn’t as advertised and was unexpected and that added to my curiosity! Plus its nice to hear a different experience like this! I was left with so many questions, Why was there a for sale sign outside? Were the Anne dolls watching them through the night? Why were they not given the experience they bought or told beforehand it wouldn’t be as expected? and most importantly, WERE they fed the previous guests?? WILD.

The Case of the Missing (Water) Shoe.

This made me laugh out loud but also in a sympathetic way. Especially because this is something I would do. The best part was the ‘How could they not know?’ question, and then the sudden realisation when it was needed that the shoe was theirs! I was sad the rain washed it away, it belongs to the fishes now.

What Happens in the Clouds, Stays in the Clouds.

A zip-line experience is also on the bucket list and in a beautiful tropical place like Costa Rica, what a dream! I was so jealous of such an awesome experience but the zero visibility made me nervous and that nervousness was enhanced by her husband explaining that he had been pushed by the wind out of control but landed safely, biggest PHEW moment of the book! An amazing experience in a beautiful place.

A Hike of Spirituality.

This story was really great, an awesome experience, beautiful hike with the history explained as they went. A really great and spiritual adventure to connect with the history of Mauritius. But, it also really highlights others disregard for places with so much history and that deserve respect. It’s astounding that people were unable to “genuinely appreciate where they were” and that makes me so sad, as well as the authors who expressed their sadness of the situation too which I could fully relate too.

(Not) A Bag in the Water.

I love the ocean so I loved this story but this also hinged on another fear of mine. I am so very happy no one was hurt in the process of saving the planet! Which is always the right thing to do! But then the pain that came afterwards of moving to safety and being pushed back into the ocean made me go ‘Ouch!’, definitely a memorable experience for sure!

It’s Not Moving on, Its Moving Forward.

This was a beautiful and moving story. A trip of healing and relaxing through sorrow and sadness even though it provided no escape as the authors wrote. The tradition of planting a tree really brought a tear to my eye. The last line of this story was something that I felt so so necessary to share with everyone as it was beautifully written;

“You do not move on after the passing of a loved one, you move forward, carrying them with you”

The True Test of Love.

This is my favourite one, absolutely 10000% this is the true test of love. I’ve already explained to my man that when we go travelling this is to be expected and if he can’t handle it get out of the kitchen, wait, Bathroom. Im so happy the trip continued and so did their love! It did make me laugh how Burger King was a no go zone, so the family run Bistro where you wouldn’t expect the toilet troubles, was where the trouble started! But you don’t know until you try!

I gave 20 Travel Tales in 200 Words a 5/5 review because for me it was everything I needed and more through Covid-19, the stories were great fun and inspiring and the photographs were also phenomenal. This book is absolutely worth the read to fill that travel gap!

My Best Books of January 2021

Out of the 6 books I read in January these are my top choices in a brief summary! There are only two that I considered incredible, although I enjoyed every book that I read this month so far. So let’s get into it!

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

“Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.”

This book was quite frankly one of the best books I’ve read in a while, this book has moved me so heavily, it is eye opening, harrowing, a true show of determination and seeking out a better life. Nuri and Afra’s life is completely changed and what they go through and what they experience is like no other. No book has had an effect on me like this has. Donate to refugee charities if you can, show others you love them and never take what we have for granted. Do yourself a favour and go read this book. 5/5 rating, absolutely incredible.

I will be posting a much more in depth review on this book later on in the month so stay tuned!


The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood

“Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now . . . “

I read this book after my sister recommended the TV series and I like to read the books before I watch the films or TV Shows and books are always better! and this book did not disappoint, I see in other reviews this book can be marked as satire but lord above, how? I found this book very dark and dystopian. I loved the way it was written, with little context straight away and with no introduction to anything really it leaves your imagination to run wild whilst following this journey of Offred’s in a life she isn’t used too. I rated this book 4/5 but enjoyed it thoroughly and thats why I rated this book one of the best ones of the month. Im looking forward to getting book #2 The Testaments because I need to know what happens next.

I will be posting amore in depth review on this book later on in the month so stay tuned!

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Blurb: “Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.”

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime novel, Nordic noir, Crime Fiction

Page Count: 672

Goodreads Rating: 4.1/5

My Rating: 4/5

THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Trigger Warning: Rape


This is my second attempt at reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo so I went into this book very skeptical and apprehensive. Last time I found my reading capability wasn’t up to standard with the book so to be able to give this another go was interesting and it certainly didn’t disappoint!

So I considered the first part of the book to be incredibly slow. I fully understand and appreciate that for a book of this size, context is very important. But I felt that the amount given made the start of the book really slow for me. Further down the line I realise I appreciated the content given but it definitely tinted the reading experience for me, if it hadn’t been for my first 100 pages rule (where if i’m not enjoying a book and I’m still not enjoying it at the 100th page I won’t continue with the book) I would have absolutely have put it down. But I am so so glad I didn’t!

So straight away after being introduced to the characters I LOVED the contrast of the two main characters, Michael Blomkvist and Elizabeth Salander. For me Michael Blomkvist’s character development throughout the whole book was monumental, I started the book like ‘lord above this man is bland’. Then I realised he has an open relationship with his co-worker and close friend Erika which perked him up a bit, then you realise this man is not afraid to speak his mind, potentially lose his job and stand up to the big boys like he does early on in the book. Towards the end of the book I loved him. The confidence, passion and determination this man holds is commendable and when his relationship with Salander advances I never saw it coming but I was absolutely here for it.

The general mystery of the storyline itself is intense. Michael Blomkvist after going through some legal battles is recruited to work for Henrik Vanger on his estate in Hedestad, Sweden. He’s recruited to write the Vanger daily history. In actual fact he is there to uncover the truth as to where Harriet Vanger disappeared too. The way the mystery is unraveled is one bombshell after the next. I absolutely could not put this book down once it really got into it. The twists and turns, the revelations one after the other I needed to know where she was, if someone had killed her and if so, who? The family had so many secrets. the crescendo for me was when someone was shooting at Blomkvist. At this point you know someone is after him. But It was never who I would expected.

In contrast with Michael is Elizabeth Salander. Right form the start she’s a mystery. I also sympathise for her straight away, not even too far into the book she is raped. But she’s cool, calm and collected and I have a lot of respect for her especially when she takes matters into her own hands. Although she is very shattered and broken person, she is one badass bitch. She’s damn good at what she does and its impressive. This is why when she does start seeing Blomkvist Im shocked but 100% here for it as I said above. I loved the two of them together, they are polar opposites but they balance each other out. The ending did get me though. Salander is aware of his relationship with his co-worker Erika, so to know she was so hurt and wound up got me wanting to pick up the next book!

To back up my point that Salander is a bad ass bitch. When Michael is taken ‘prisoner’ by Henry Vanger in his basement, after realising it was him who was trying to shoot Blomkvist for digging too deep into the family history to find Harriet, Salander realises where he is and comes to his rescue. He’s in a torturous situation in Henry’s basement where we realise that Henry is a disgusting animal who rapes, mutilates and kills women for FUN. After being recruited to do this by his FATHER. SICKENING. But it also influences the investigation into Harriet with Henry being her brother. She was fully aware of what he is capable of. But, a great plot twist as I was not expecting it from him. So naturally my assumption was that Henry killed Harriet. LUCKILY that was not the case.

I was SHOOK when we discovered Harriet was alive. Her involvement in the remainder of the book made my heart warm. She was just running from something awful. I also didn’t expect Henry to kill himself in a car crash after the incident with Blomkvist and Salander in his basement but I guess he thought it was better to die than to go to jail for being an absolutely arsehole of epic proportions, especially because Harriet knew all of his secrets.

And yet once Harriet is discovered it doesn’t end there. Michael, Erika and Elizabeth take on the corporation at the start of the book who Michael tried to tackle before and absolutely decimated them and played them at their own game. If that isn’t a badass team i don’t know what is. Although Salander doesn’t think so so much at the end,

The book itself is really well written, gripping, exciting and I could not put it down. I voted this book 4/5 due to the slow start but thats literally it. It would be a 4.9/5 if it was possible. I also felt like when I was reading, the village of Hedestad reminded me of the small village I visited in Norway, Aurland! Beautiful, small, personal and quaint. Ill post a photograph of Aurland below!

Have you read this book before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Book Review: The Foundling by Stacey Halls

Blurb: “Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.”

Page Count: 370

Genre: Gothic fiction / Historical fiction.

Goodreads Rating: 4.05/5

My Rating: 4/5

THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.


This book was an impulse buy after going to Tesco’s and seeing their two for one book offer, I mean its a must right? And I am so glad I picked it up to the point where I am absolutely going to pick up the Author, Stacey Halls, other book ‘The Familiars’ which is also rated just as highly as this book! SO let’s get into it.

My first impression of this book was that I was expect tears and being upset. The story premise makes my heart race as you are transported back to the 1700s, imagine going back to collect your child to find someone had already claimed her? I’m not a mother, but I am sure if you are it would definitely cause a different type of distress reading this book. Although its a happy ending which did make my heart swell and I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would (I’m an emotional person okay? It doesn’t take much to make me cry!).

It was really, really interesting to learn about The Foundling Hospital and the fact that in the 1700’s this was a real place where if mothers could not afford to look after their child or they lived in poverty etc, they knew they were in good hands until they were fortunate enough to collect them, although unfortunately not all mothers and children are so lucky and eventually when the children are old enough and not collected they are placed into foster care. But at least there is hope for them still and they are cared for. I also enjoyed the historical chapter at the end where it tells you more about it, I never knew something like this existed and next time I am in London I am going to have a look at the foundling building and hopefully visit the museum also!

A strong point in the book was getting the perspective of both women. I felt I could connect and understand both women and how they felt better. I really loved Bess all the way through. Her character was smart, cunning and fantastic. not only that but strong too, to be able to deliver her child to the foundling hospital knowing she cant provide for her properly, I rooted for her throughout the entire book. Stacey Halls really showed that a mothers love knows no bounds as they say.

Therefore I feel there is also a small argument that she is a liar and deceiver when she starts to work for Alexandra, the widow and the woman who stole her child in the first place, as Charlotte’s nanny. This is Bess’s daughter. Of course Alexandra doesn’t know anything about Bess and the two come from completely separate world. But two world very easily merge into one, It’s an unfortunate story of two women who got tangled up in a mess they never expected and all because of a man. When Bess does steal her child back I quite frankly don’t blame her. But she did deceive Alexandra, who trusted her.

I feel character development for Alexandra is also quite significant all the way through, with her confined habits changing towards the end of the book I really feel she came into her own and more confident than the hermit/recluse she was before. Both women really contrast to each other completely, obviously in lifestyle but in personalities too. I thoroughly disliked Bess’s brother from the start, the top deceiver and drunkard. He deserved everything he got.

The storyline itself is incredibly gripping and I read this book in two days. I just couldn’t wait to know what happened and how the story went. I am so grateful for a happy ending and I know I said I was impressed with Alexandras character development and I firmly believe the ending contributes so massively to this. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I closed the book and recommended it to my mum straight away. I knew she would enjoy it.

For the fact I couldn’t put the book down and the storyline was so interesting and gripping, I gave this book 4 out of 5! Highly recommend you get it on your reading lists now!

My 2020 Reading Round Up!

My 2020 reading journey was a ride and a half. With Lockdown coming into play in early 2020 I’d already picked up more books as a means to keep myself busy. What was even better was when my boyfriend, our friends and I decided during lockdown to get a book club going. It really varied up my reading and as we were all really interested in different types of genres it was interesting to read something different!

My reading goal for 2020 was 50 books. I ended up reading 53 books, so I was really happy to have reached my goal and then some! You can find some of the books I read this year below, as well as my top 10 books from the year. Top 10 was not easy to choose thats for sure, but it definitely made me realise every once and a while you should pick up something you’re not used to reading!

My top 10 below! Let me know if you’ve ready any of the books below in the comments and your thoughts as well!

My Top 10 from 2020!

Choosing my top 10 was the hardest thing I’ve had to do this year (so far!), but please enjoy these recommendations in no particular order! I did also throw a few series in here which were amazing but will definitely tell you the best book from the series.

The Wayward Pines Series – Blake Crouch

The most excitable series I’ve read so far, futuristic, thrilling and absolutely terrifying all in one. The best book was without a doubt Wayward #2, the second book in the series. I was gripped from start to finish and didn’t take a minute between books before I was moving onto the next.

The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer

This entire series was phenomenal from start to finish and the final book was the longest book I read all year. Winter #4 was 827 pages and I finished this book as I came into the new year for 2020. BUT the best book of the series personally for me absolutely had to be Scarlet #2. I thoroughly enjoyed learning abut Scarlet and Wolf, I remember their story, minus Cinders, more than any of the others in the book. Including Levanas story and that was pretty crazy.

A Court of Thorns & Roses Series – Sarah J. Maas

I finished this season quite recently and although I enjoyed all the entire series the best book was without a doubt the first one, A Court of Thorns & Roses #1. The way this book ended and meeting the characters and seeing how they change throughout made me so excited to see how the story was going to progress.

The Secret Race – Tyler Hamilton

This was a recommendation from our lockdown bookclub and not something I would usually read. I know absolutely nothing about the Tour De France, Lance Armstrong or doping. But this book by Ex-Cyclist Tyler Hamilton definitely changed all of that and in a really great way. Tyler Hamilton tells his story of the cycling scene in Tour De France, how the doping happens and where, and what Lance Armstrong is really like. I LOVED this book, totally addicted. Especially as this is a topic I didn’t know much about I found it so so interesting to read and learn about!

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas – Adam Kay

A comedic and eye-opening revelation of what happens in our hospitals and the challenges faced with becoming a doctor. Another recommendation from bookclub too! I read this book in 2 days, it made me chuckle but it also made me cry with loss and heartache. So well written and incredibly well done. Not tasteless and a really insightful.

War Doctor – David Nott

Another recommendation from our glorious bookclub which I never would have thought of reading. Straight away I was sucked in. To be a doctor in a war zone sounds like carnage and I was so upset with a few of the stories and how devastating they were. It was just incredible learning what its like volunteering in a war zone, the risk of being kidnapped, murdered, tortured. But being able to save so many lives who had been involuntarily affected by the wars surrounding them must be SO rewarding.

10 Minutes & 38 Seconds in this Strange World – Elif Shafak

I picked this one up from one of the night manager at work. It was left in the hotel I work in and eventually we can take the books for ourselves if they go unclaimed. So I decided this was mine and it made me want to go to Istanbul and explore. This book also really highlights the essence of true friendship, love and traditions and really made me feel warm inside. Even if the story was based on murdering prostitutes.

The Kiss Quotent – Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotent is #1 of the series and I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it was from a perspective I had only ever once read before. The Curious incident of the Dog In the Nighttime, the main character has Aspergers. In this story the main female character is Autistic. It was so lovely but also a learning curve to see this love story come together through their difficulties. The second book was also fantastic, I am now patiently waiting for book #3!

The Choice – Dr Edith Eger

I LOVE Holocaust books, I find them so interesting and insightful and I feel this is why I also enjoy Dark Tourism as I take a lot of interesting in learning about something I could not ever imagine having to experience. The Choice is based on Dr Edith Eger, Mengeles Little Dancer, and her experience and memoir of her time in the holocaust. Moving and truly inspiring on EVERY account.

The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary

I laughed and I cried and I wanted this love story SO MUCH. It was so lighthearted and constantly kept you wondering and wishing. I really really loved this book, the storyline and the way it came together. So much so that I recommended it to my boyfriend and even he enjoyed the humour it offered. I thought it was too much of a chick flick book for him but he loved it.

The Blog Brew Collaboration – Christmas: Scrapbooking Gift Guide

I LOVE to scrapbook. Its one of my favourite hobbies, I’d say I’ve been doing it since 2014 and since then I’ve filled nearly 3 books. I like to call myself a memory hoarder because of this. I save everything from photobooth pictures, plane and train tickets, I might even pinch a menu from a restaurant for my scrapbook if its a memorable enough moment!

So for this months Blog Brew we are offering gift guides as its very appropriate before Christmas! (I’m hoping the girls posts will help me out as well!). I’ve decided on scrapbooking essentials you need for Christmas presents. Even if you are just starting out on your scrapbooking journey I will ensure that I cover all the bases!

Scrapbooking & Crafts to help you with your scrapbook for Christmas;

A scrapbook!

If you’re new to the scrapbooking world then of course, you need a scrapbook to start with! Now you can get some really really nice ones on Amazon but I personally feel that the best place to get scrapbooks are from Paperchase! Both places vary in prices depending on the size of the scrapbook you want but you don’t have to pay an extortionate amount. For a hardback cover you’re looking at an amount of £10-15 but these are so worth it as they last longer and are a lot more durable so they are the type of scrapbook I would recommend! Mine are all hardbacks as you can see in the photos!

Stickers

THE BEST thing to come from scrapbooking. There are stickers for quite literally everything and anything. You’ve been camping in the woods? There are stickers for it. Travelled on a train? Stickers. Been snorkelling or scuba diving? Stickers for that too. Want to give a gold star? EASY have at least 7 sheets in one packet. The list goes on and on and they can be really cheap as well! Unless you want a specific texture or size, that’s when it starts to get interesting and a little more expensive. Again Paperchase, WHSmith’s, Etsy, Amazon, all these places sell good quality stickers but make sure to check there isn’t a small sticker business out there that you know of that might need your help this Christmas!

Washi Tape

Again this is an absolute Scrapbook marvel. You can get Washi tape with basically anything on it if you search for it. My favourite one I own is a blue tape with a smiling hot dog on it. Like stickers, there is also washi tape for everything. Again definitely make sure you head to Etsy or someone with an independent craft shop or brand before you head to Amazon! I would say you can get x3 rolls of washi tap ranging from 50p to £5 depending on quality. I got a small 5 pack for £4.50 and they are brilliant and textured so I really feel it all depends on what you’re after!

A subscription to Free Prints

This for me is Hella important because you get 45 free pictures a month from this app available on android and iPhone and only have to pay for postage. You can also get a free matte finish on your pictures and a white boarder around the edges for free too (which I have been converted too and now only print my pictures with the white boarders on). For example with Lockdown 2 I knew I’d want to catch up and complete my scrapbook for everything I’ve managed to do recently so I’ve ordered some prints so they come before or just as we go into lockdown as I need pictures to go in the scrapbook! Of course though, putting the pictures in a word document and printing them also does just find and is also cheaper for you too!

Glue and Scissors

This is an essential unless you’re dealing with sticky stickers and washi tape. Glue for all your photos and tickets and everything else that belongs on those pages and scissors to cut them to shapes that you want them in! Big, small, love hearts, all of the above, To cut the washi tape from the reel, you need glue and scissors for your scrapbook. NEED. I would probably put this up there with having the scrapbook itself. These you can get from literally anywhere, supermarkets, craft shops, standard shops, literally, everywhere.

Craft papers (Inclu. Tissue Paper)

Sometimes you might want cute backgrounds for your pages so definitely get some patterned craft paper or tissue paper which you can stick on your pages first! I love all the different themed and coloured papers you can get online as well, so much to choose from! So many options! Again make sure you hit up Etsy and those independent shops before you head to Amazon as well!

Some good marker pens and pencils

If you’re going to write about your experiences instead of just putting pictures in then you definitely need a good set of marker pens or thin lined pens to write with, especially if your pages or cardboard or textured you may need something a little thicker. Normal biro is absolutely fine but you DEFINITELY wanna get some colour in there! Pencils also as well, especially if you’re artsy and want to colour on pages, do your own art in the book (which would look AMAZING). I only write in different colours. Sticking to one colour is boring for me! Again supermarkets and high street shops, independent shops and art shops can supply you with these!

Page protectors

I Don’t find these as essential, I personally have never used them but if you feel you’ve created a masterpiece and need to preserve it then these are really useful. As I’ve never had to purchase these or felt the need I’m sure independent brands and high street shops will be able to supply you with these and as a last resort, Amazon!

Paint

I’ve only ever used paint in my scrapbook once and that was for a memorial page for when we lost a family member and that was a really nice touch. It made the page really special. Of course the only downside with using paint is that you need to leave it to dry. But it is another really lovely way to express yourself and your art in your scrapbook! Doesn’t have to be just paint of course, oil colours, oil paints, paint by numbers (which is the paint I used!). I’m sure once again you can get these paints from supermarkets, art shops, high street and independent brands BEFORE you head to Amazon!

Day 1 – Lucy over at Perselem

Day 2- Beth over at thoughtsofarealredhead

Day 3- Jessie (ME) over at Wandererandtraveller

Day 4- Rhiannon over at mrssleejones

Day 5- Haley over at introvertedcreativity

Day 6- Karalee over at talesofbelle

Day 7- Kim over at chimmyville

Day 8- Kirsty over at kirstymarie

Day 9- Adebola over at mybreakingviews

The Blog Brew – My New Adventure Book!

So I guess you’re wondering, what is The Adventure Book? I am here to tell you!

I would also like to confirm I was not asked to post this, this is something I wanted to share with you all as I feel its such a great creative outlet and also such a cute idea, it kept me busy for a while and I wanted to share as part of my blog brew collaboration as I’ve really gotten into it and I think others will enjoy it too.

So this book originally came up on my Instagram feed as an ad, I already have 3 scrapbooks, 5 photo albums, one bullet journal, surely one more creative outlet can’t hurt? Especially because it was travel related and I love documenting all my travels, so this just seemed another great way to do so. The book is really well priced including shipping from the Netherlands and created by a couple by the names of Nicole and Robin! Their aim is to have all your memories in one journal on one page!

So as you can see from the instructions there’s a page for all 196 independent countries so that means SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVTIES, and also your creative side. I can’t wait to fill in the multiple places with pictures, money, paint and washy tape galore. I have a lot of washy tape, its my favourite part of my arts and crafts box.

The best part is at the start of the book you can colour in the world maps of where you’ve been, you can also tick the checklist of countries where you’ve been, which is great for planning which countries you need to edit and do in the book! Ive got quite a few to get started on;

Spain, South Africa, America (they have half a page for each state), Portugal, Iceland, Hungary, Norway, Sri Lanka, France, Turkey and more!

So not only do they have these checklists and world maps to colour in of course they have a section for each country. They’re really good size, enough for some key memories and bits & pieces.

They also offer on other pages through the book stamp pages, where you can out the stamps from that country (postal stamps) but they also have a passport stamp page! They also offer a ‘Surprise’ page where it tells you to go to the airport with no destination in mind and choose the first place on the list and go. In the book you’ll write the details of where you went and all! They also offer travel bingo pages, you can colour in all the flags of the countries you’ve been too (which isn’t as easy as it sounds) and just so much more.

It’s been a really good pass-time especially with Lockdown and isolation taking a toll on everyone. I was really glad I went ahead and got it because I miss travelling so much, it was just another way to reminisce and remember just how much fun I’ve had in the past going to different countries and having huge adventures with my friends and family.

Its a really good gifts for friends and family who love to travel and its also really well sized, not to small not to big! So you can totally carry it with you too! I just don’t think it would be as easy to carry all your arts and crafts stuff with you to do it, haha!

I highly recommend it for all travel lovers! I’ve really enjoyed the purchase and I’m glad I did it! This post was a part of the Blog Brew Collaboration, for the other girls blog posts and websites head to the links below!

July Collab – Head Over to Chimmyville.com

July Collab – Head over to Introverted Creativity

July Collab – Head over to Perselem

July Collab – Head over to Wanderer and Traveller (THATS ME).

July Collab – Head over to Tales of Belle

July Collab– Head over to Kirsty Marie

July Collab – Head over to The Makeup by Beth

July Collab – Head over to Mrs Slee-Jones

July Collab – Head over to My Breaking Views

June Reading Round Up

I haven’t managed to read as much in recent months as I have in the past few months which makes me sad, but I’ve still managed to get through a couple of books! I’ve upped my reading goal to #35 for the year and I am currently on 34 books! So I might have to up it again! Here is what I managed to read this June!

The Kiss Quotient (#1) – Helen Hoang

This was such a beautiful love story, I especially love the POV from Stella who is Autistic. I always find books like this really informative as well. As a person who doesn’t suffer from Autism its really good to know boundaries like how she doesn’t like being touched, loud room and crowded places and other points throughout the book. That made me love this couple even more, how gentle he is with her. but GOD DAMN is it one SAUCY book. I was not prepared for the amount of sex but it was definitely welcomed. I also enjoyed the cultural aspects which made it all the more interesting for me!

The Bridge Test (#2) – Helen Hoang

In this second book of the series you meet Esme from Vietnam and Khai who was introduced to us briefly in the first book, he is also autistic and it was good one again to learn his different needs and boundaries once again. Another beautiful love story and I love that it entwines well with book one and the characters and storyline from the previous book. I was hooked all the way through dying for everything to work out how it should do. I loved both of these books so much.

BUT IMAGINE FINISHING THE BOOK TO DISCOVER THE THIRD BOOK ISN’T OUT UNTIL MAY 2021, I AM GUTTED, And I also can’t wait and absolutely have it on pre-order for my Kindle already!

Two Brothers – Ben Elton

Based in Nazi Germany an absolutely heartbreaking story about a Jewish family in Berlin. I really really loved this because I love the historic aspect. I have a real morbid fascination about Holocaust books, I find them so informative to read. This story really is heartbreaking and shows the things young people will do for love, especially in such a difficult time. But I love the friendship dynamic between the 4 main characters, The Saturday Club. But if there is anything I hate, it’s Dagmar. She a bitch.

Finding Emma (#1) – Steena Holmes

I’ve been waiting to read this book for so long! And it was worth the wait, constantly something happening and I was totally hooked and waiting for the next huge thing. I Felt so sorry for Megan throughout the whole thing especially for her marriage. The ending was also everything I could have possibly wanted and more and made me really happy. I can’t say at any point I warmed to Dottie. I thought she was nasty the whole way through even though I know she was suffering.

Emma’s Secret (#2) – Steena Holmes

This book was a little more disappointing. Emma didn’t really have a secret. Well she did, but it wasn’t huge enough to name the book Emma’s Secret. I felt it was still interesting and kept me reading but I wasn’t overly impressive.

Dear Jack (#3) – Steen Holmes

Extracts from Dottie’s journals as she journals throughout the whole book. It was interesting to read her POV especially as I was always so apprehensive of Dottie and I still don’t like her very much. Although this short and sweet book made me sympathise with her more I just felt more sorry for Jack more than anything.

Less – Andrew Sean Greer

This was a book club suggestion and oh my GOD did I LOVE this. Following Arthur Less’s travel journey form country to country and as a writer and ex lover of a famous poet, not to mention the scandal that came with that, I was totally hooked by this book. It was written so well and beautifully, I just wanted to give Arthur Less a cuddle but also follow him on all his adventures.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

I’ve read this book already before but I think its just SO good that I had to re-read it. Not only is the storyline phenomenal but I love all the maths equations and the way Christopher describes things. its clear that the book isn’t about Aspergers but about being an outsider and different. I also love Toby, his pet rat.

Heres to another month of reading more books, I would LOVE some suggestions, drop me a comment for some good books!

Book Review: Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And someone is hunting him. 


I chose this book to read on a whim because it wasn’t really my type of book but just reading the blurb had me curious! (Im surprised if the blurb above didn’t leave you curious)

I’m not a very scientific person and there were parts in the story which required a fair bit of explaining in the start to make sense of the storyline and although I found it quite hard to read through it really helped me in the later half of the story to understand it more. It was intriguing and as crazy as the storyline is I also felt like I learnt something!

The storyline itself from start to finish was so gripping. I just had to keep on reading and reading because nothing was given away. Jason Dessen certainly lived an incredible life, or millions. You’re instantly thrown into the depths of it with his life turned upset down, I felt anxious for him through the writing. Such a great page turner.

It is incredibly well written and has a great flow, one that left me thinking even once I’d finished reading the book is that all it takes is for you to make one small decision, take a left turn instead of right, and you, in an alternate universe, took that left and went on a completely different path and this path has branches upon branches. Just how many versions of yourself out there in the multi-verse took different routes of life.

Jason Dessen experiencing these alternate multi-verses and seeing how there are different outcomes through every decision and every doorway has actually, in honestly, been something that hasn’t left my mind.

My only disappointing statement, is that he could’ve done SO MUCH MORE with the ending. SO MUCH. Although it was still fantastic I was left disappointed more wasn’t done and my boyfriend who read the book after me said exactly the same.

Blake Crouch is incredibly talented writer and he has really left me with food for thought after reading this!

For that, this book is a solid 4/5. It was a great read, although the scientific parts were something that I didn’t find easy, it created a great understanding and I did thoroughly enjoy such a gripping read.