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: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

Blurb: “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.”

Genre: Historical Fiction, War Fiction, War Novel, Novel

Goodreads Rating: 4.2/5

My Rating: 5/5

THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS


This book was something special. I’ve never read anything quite as moving as this book before. I had literally added this book to my reading list and then the next day walked into Waterstones and it was there on the stand in front of me (pre Covid-19 lockdown 3 in the UK). So naturally I picked it up and bought it. I read it within 3 days. It was stunning and breathtaking so I’m going to tell you (and show you) why.

First I loved the way this book was written. It goes from the present to the past, Nuri and Afra’s journey travelling from Aleppo to the UK. There is absolutely no small feat about this journey, their motivation is inspiring. We see their time seeking asylum in the UK and between these chapters we learn about their journey to the UK and their struggles with PTSD, but the way this is shown in the book is pretty and nothing I’ve ever seen before. The last word of the present is the first word of the past flashback and is displayed in the middle of the page in a beautiful illustration as you can see below.

The journey itself that they have made is just incredible. From Aleppo to the car journeys through Syria, having to duck down in the back of trucks and lie about where they were going. To the boat crossings in their small dingy, wearing life jackets and the awful waves throwing people overboard. Potentially losing Mohammed overboard causing Nuri to jump in the water after him, Mohammed being a young boy Nuri has taken responsibility for after he was on his own, almost a replacement for Sammi without realising. And when they reach the camps, Mohammed disappears. So Nuri looses the one thing that even slightly brought him comfort as he resembled and was significant with the loss of Sammi. But when Nuri is in the UK, he still sees Mohammed in his dreams and feels Mohammed is trying to tell him something or point him back to the direction of his wife, back in the direction of goodness, although it doesn’t always end well once he wakes up.

The camps sounded horrendous and it made me realise that people are actually dealing with this in real life. It made me glad to hear that they were given shelter, food and clothes after their horrendous boat ride, but what about when these camps are full? There is a lot of talk through the book of ‘The camps are full‘ and ‘they’ve closed the borders’ so their next part of their journey will be a struggle and thats where the illegal smugglers come in. Giving these people their trust and their money to get them to where they need to be. there is a period of time where they are in Italy. They are sleeping in a park where the volunteers for Red Cross brought them too, and left them there. Afra does not feel safe yet they manage to make a friend as safety in numbers. But awful things happen here, and instead of waiting for salvation that never comes from the Red Cross Nuri takes it into his own hands and they pay a smuggler to get them to the UK.

I feel for me this book is eye opening. This is happening in real life. REAL people are going through REAL situations and trauma like this, and we are treating them like animals and not offering asylum when they people have experienced WAR and had everything destroyed. They have no where else to go. And although in the books they are offered food, shelter and clothes, are they offered this in real life? Most likely not. I’ll be posting some links at the bottom of this review if you would like to donate to refugee relief.

I sympathised with pretty much all of the main characters, they have all been displaced and hit with the horrors of war. A horror that I could not even dream of experiencing or knowing what they are going through. So when Afra originally refuses to leave Aleppo amongst all the ruins because it is where their son Sammi is buried after he was killed in a bomb explosion, my heart breaks for them. I feel so upset for them because they had such a beautiful life in Aleppo before, Nuri tending the bees with his best friend Mustafa, so passionate about the bees and learning their motives and harvesting the honey and Afra and their son Sammi dining and relaxing with Mustafas family. Everything was happy and bright and colourful. And it had all been left in ruins. I can feel the desperation through out the book for a better life, when Afra explains she “doesn’t like this place” or when Nuri explains she “lays in bed all day” I just feel deflated for them and all that they are going through. Their motivation to get to the UK is that Mustafa is there and has started a new business with the bees and Nuri is going to help him as soon as he can when he gets to the UK, some sort of normality and what they were used too in Aleppo. That small slice of home.

It is interesting to learn that Afra is blind due to the horrendous things she has seen. She witnessed the bomb kill her child. War destroy her city. Due to this trauma she is blind, but not blind. She is blind and cannot see from trauma, but her sight will come back over time. This was interesting to me as I did not realise this could happen but it very much can when dealing with immense amounts if life changing stress which made me sympathise for her more. But what made me really feel things is when even though she could see, she still coloured in the colouring books Nuri bought her.

They have also come away/apart from each other in a time where they need each other most. All the way through you can see that Nuri loves his wife, but he has moved so far away from her as Afra has from him. They are withdrawn from each other through this trauma although they rely on each other more than ever. So when at the end, after making it to the UK and seeing Mustafa again, they are drawn back to each other with that feeling of hope and happiness to help them it makes me so overwhelmingly happy. They went through so much together so to finally find themselves back in each others arms made me so elated and honestly, I cried.

This book is eye-opening, harrowing, and with so much depth, an absolute testament to the triumph of human spirit and motivation. I voted this book 5/5 and say that you go and get this book now and Ive never felt so passionately about a book in this way. If you would like to donate to refugee relief there are some links below for you.

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.

How to keep busy on your flights, Long Haul & Short Haul!

How do you keep busy when you’re flying?

I love flying with a passion, but it can be hard to find things to do whilst you’re up in the air especially on long haul flights! Its so important to keep yourself calm and busy during your flights, it makes them that much more entertaining and enjoyable. Here’s a few ides of how you can keep yourself occupied!

Reading – Get yourself a good book and settle down for the ride ahead. I find with short haul flights its a perfect time killer for 2 hours (for example) to get proper stuck in to a good book to keep occupied. Even with long haul it does a good job to kill a period of time, and if you get bored you can always put it down and come back to it later on in the flight as well. Here are some good book recommendations;

  • The Wives – Tarryn Fisher
  • Recursion – Blake Crouch
  • This is going to hurt – Adam Kay
  • Finding Emma – Steena Holmes
  • Wayward Pines Series – Blake Crouch
  • Normal People – Sally Rooney
  • The Tattooist of Auchwitz – Heather Morris
  • The Secret Race: Inside the hidden world of the Tour De France: Doping, Cover-ups and winning at all costs – Tyler Hamilton
  • Two Brothers – Ben Elton
  • Less – Andrew Sean Greer
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Road
  • Wonder – R. J. Palacio
  • Turtles All the way Down – John Green

Watch a Movie or TV Show – Especially if they are offering on board entertainment. They usually have so many great options and its a perfect pastime when they have something you want to watch that you’ve never seen. Even watch multiple movies, I love a good movie binge. I also find that sometimes I can fall asleep to movies and I always struggle to sleep on planes so its a bonus.

Journal – Write in a journal! How you’re feeling, about your trip, anything you like! And if you have a bullet journal then its the perfect time to release your creativity and do some prepping for the next month/trip in your bullet journal. Especially if you don’t like flying, this is something that can make you feel calmer as well expressing how you are feeling on the flight.

Blog – I know there isn’t any wifi in the clouds (although there is on some flights, I had an hour of free wifi on the way to Sri Lanka which was pretty awesome) but you can plan some blog posts, write some in your drafts ready to post upon your landing. Even get some pins ready for pinterest, prep some instagram posts in your drafts ready to go when you land.

Listen to Music or a Podcast – Another great pastime to set back and enjoy your favourite music or a good podcast, here are some podcast recommendations if you ever need them;

  • My Dad wrote a Porno
  • The Receipts Podcast
  • Off Menu with Ed Gamble & James Acaster
  • Unexpected Fluids
  • Shagged, Married, Annoyed
  • 3ShotsofTequila
  • Happy Place by Ferne Cotton
  • Everyday Positivity
  • Crime Junkie
  • Call Her Daddy
  • Hip Hop saved my life with Romesh Ranganathan
  • The Daily Pep!

Play a game on your phone – Make sure to download the ones that don’t require Wifi to progress! I can sometimes get too hooked on mobile games and they’re great to pass the time on the plane. I personally love Sand Balls, I’ve had this app since New Years 2020 and I am level 500+ and absolutely obsessed.

Play some card games! – Everyone loves a bit of Go Fish, Snap, Shithead, the list of card games goes on because there are SO MANY that keep you occupied for ages.

Colouring Books! – Another great, colourful and time consuming creative outlet for your journey. I LOVE a good colouring book, especially when I know its something I can keep coming back to throughout the flight if I need a break.

Take a self care kit with you. – This is SO important. Being up in the air for a long period of time really dries out your skin so take a mini self care kit! Some flights have the pleasure of giving you your own self care kit but to be on the safe side pack a little bag with moisturiser, some lip balm, maybe even some deodorant to feel fresher when you land and some baby/face/refreshing wipes as well. There is nothing worse than coming off a flight and feeling grotty and unkempt, so its a nice little ritual to have.

Learn a language – Duolingo doesn’t require any wifi as they have an offline mode so you can revise and work through your module and learn all before you arrive in the country you’re going too! Maybe even take a languages workbook with you so you have something to physically fill out and not relying on your phone applications to learn.

Sleep – One of the most important things needed to function, but like myself, not everyone can sleep on planes! Bring a facemark or use the ones they offer to you, try and get as cosy as you can and just pass out for however many hours you can on your flight. Remember to set your alarm or let the air hostess know if you don’t want to miss a meal!

What do you do to keep busy during flights? Any and all recommendations welcome!

May Reading Round Up!

She’s done it again, I smashed my 20 books of 2020 as my reading goal so I’m absolutely going for 30 books now. This month has been really enjoyable with most of my reads but some not so much! So here is what I’ve managed to get through this month and what I would recommend!

A Map of Days / Ransom Riggs (The Miss Peregrines Series book #4)

This book was a serious let down, as was the 5th book in the series below as well. I loved the storyline in the first 3 books and was so into them. I feel Ransom Riggs really should have just stopped at the third book in the series, super disappointing.

Conference of the Birds / Ransom Riggs (The Miss Peregrines Series book #5)

Same as the above, another book which I felt was truly disappointing. I won’t say anymore on this because no one likes to start on a negative note!

The Wives / Tarryn Fisher

This was a gripping book which really made me think, with one hell of an ending. I could sense all the way through that something was going to happen, I just wasn’t sure what. Although it did drag at times it was all from the POV of the main character and sometimes I wondered if I could skip parts (obviously I didn’t) but I highly recommend this one!

Turtles All the Way Down / John Green

I’ve always wanted to read this book and I loved the storyline and friendship between the two main female characters. I learnt a lot in terms of the anxiety Aza experiences. I also love the relationship between the main girl, Aza, and the boy, it wasn’t your typical love story which I enjoyed due to the unfortunate circumstaces mixed in with murder mystery. And as a girl who used to write fanfiction, I loved how that aspect was included within the storyline and friendship between the girls!

Pines (Book #1) / Blake Crouch

THIS ENTIRE SERIES ABSOLUTELY BANGED. I was hooked from the first chapter, I hadn’t read such a good series since I read the Lunar Chronicles. The whole premise was fantastic and It just NEVER STOPPED. Something was always happening, I literally finished one book and got straight onto the other without hesitation. See the other books below in the series!

Wayward (Book #2) / Blake Crouch

The Last Town (Book #3) / Blake Crouch

The Tattooist of Auchwitz / Heather Morris

This was a book that really got me right in my heart and in my feels. I loved this book so so much I bought a physical copy. I found it fascinating learning about the german camps and Lale’s experiencer and the tattooist of those who arrived. But the ultimate killer for me was how throughout so much hardship, A love story still developed and in completely engulfed my heart. I can’t wait to read Cilka’s Journey, the next book from this one!

Normal People / Sally Rooney

I did not understand the hype for this book. Although I enjoyed the premise of the story it did only get a 3 star on Goodreads from me. It threw me how there are no speech marks in the book, so I regularly had to go back and re read passages to figure out who was talking and that really threw me off. The storyline itself was interesting and you knew that the two main characters, no matter what they did or went through, would always go back to each other. Even though maybe, just maybe, they weren’t meant to be at all.

Battle Scars / Jason Fox

A really interesting and eye-opening autobiography from Jason Fox regarding PTSD and the things he experiences at war. There was a lot of things I didn’t know about PTSD and the effects it has on those who return from war which were thoroughly interesting. It was heartbreaking how much it took for him to come forward and say he had a problem and it was destroying him from the inside out. Although learning about the outcomes of speaking out about this and providing the service needed for others to recover is heroic in itself.

The Secret Race / Tyler Hamilton

This book had me. I had absolutely NO interest in cycling at all, whatsoever. So I was a bit apprehensive picking this up. YET AGAIN, I WAS MISTAKEN. I loved this book from start to finish. A few points; Lance Armstrong is a missive dick. I did not realise that to be a top cyclist you basically had to dope. I like how it was almost a secret code back in the day for cycling that everyone did (doping) EPO or BB’s, BB’s (blood bags or blood transfusions) being actually disgusting but if it worked to make you win the Tour De France then it works. The Cycling world is actually SCANDALOUS and I had NO idea. Highly recommend this, you will be shocked at what you’re reading!

Stars Above / Marissa Meyer

Finally, the creme de la creme. This tied up all the loose ends of the Lunar Chronicles series that had me hooked. I was so pleased to find how how Ze’ev (Wolf) was taken and became part of Levana’s Army, show Cress ended up in her satellite, the aftermath of the entire series and how Scarlett and wolf got married and so many more loose ends that were so nicely tied together. It just made my heart swell and when I finished it, yes, I absolutely did cry.

So here you have what I read in May!

You can check out my Goodreads here!

Global Quarantine Diaries – Jessie (Me!).

Hello!

I am Jessie and welcome to my blog and my instalment in the Global Quarantine Diaries! To say I’ve enjoyed this time it would be a solid 50/50 split. I’ve loved being furloughed of work and having time to myself and to get organised but I’ve also been ever so slightly stir crazy with cabin fever. I can’t wait to get back to work, to see my girlfriends and family, going to the gym, my god I MISS THE GYM.

Where in the world are you located?

I am living in England in a small village in-between Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

What are Lockdown regulations like there?

Lockdown regulations here have been implemented and are very strict as it should be to prevent the spreading of the virus.

Stay alert

We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

These are the main rules and regulations that have been implemented during our lockdown. We are now currently in Phase 1 (I think). In honesty I’ve been trying to stay on top of what is what but I’m trying to not keep too much of an eye on it, it isn’t good for my mental health, my family can keep me updated on the important bits of what we can and can’t do which I appreciate a lot.

How are you keeping busy?

I am trying to keep myself busy every day as I find I really lose the will and get cabin fever if I don’t keep myself amused. So What have I been doing?

  1. Reading! – I used to read when I was younger all the time, all day every day when I could. Once I hit sixth form college and university I completely fell off it. I only ever picked up a text book that was relevant to my uni or college work and that was it. It wasn’t until my final year of uni I started reading again thanks to Majelle leaving a load of books here as she couldn’t take them back to Canada. That was it, I was off, I started slowly and now with lockdown I’ve read at least 19 books in the past two months and it has been amazing. Outside of lockdown and in total i’ve read 26 books this year and I absolutely love fantasy fiction. It made me realise just how much I missed reading a GOOD BOOK and there are so many I had been missing out on just because I couldn’t be bothered or found something on Netflix to binge watch instead. I even booted up my 2012 Paperwhite kindle which still works a dream and have been using it religiously. Its also so lovely to pass the time and also really helps with my anxiety.
  2. Working out! – I’ve tried to work out or run as often as possible. Im a bit of gym bunny so when they closed the gyms (which was of course a wise choice in the current states) I was a bit stumped. Running is hard with my achilles pain but its been well worth it for my weight and mental health. I’ve been following the likes of Joe Wicks on YouTube and doing DANCE workouts! I can’t even dance I have 2 left feet but my god am I SWEATING whenever I finish up! I feel it helps me get through the day a bit easier and allows me to eat all the cakes I make. I also enjoy walking, having the dog is helpful as we go on regular dog walks, I love going at sunset as its the best time of the day.
  3. Baking – If anyone knows me they know I despise cooking. But lockdown has helped me realise I love making desserts. I’ve got a speciality Victoria Sponge cake down and we’ve made cupcakes and brownies in tow! Thats another great way to pass the time!
  4. Blogging & Social Media – This time has been really good to take part in blogging collaborations, getting my blog all organised and posts written, just being able to promote my blog and engage with other bloggers has been so beneficial for me. Keeping my socials up to date has also been a positive.
  5. Spending time with the family – Sunday is a games night in this house! Im in lockdown with my boyfriend, my dad and stepmum. And not forgetting, the doggo! We’ve been cooking dinners, going on walks and bike rides and its been fantastic spending all this time together. Thats what I am really cherishing.
  6. I bought a Nintendo Switch! – So I’ve also been seshing Spyro, Animal Crossing, Pokemon, all of my favourite games on my switch! It was so worth the money and a great bit of kit. If anyone has any game recommendations please do let me know in the comments!
  7. Learning French! – Thats right, I’ve decided to teach myself French with Duolingo. I decided on this when we went to Paris and I realised my reading ability of french was actually MUCH better than I had ever imagined. I did French at school for 7 years and didn’t pick it back up in college or uni. I wish I knew another language so why not take the time now to learn a new language? Its great to pass the time and really push and motivate yourself as well! Its something I am really happy I decided to pick up. I’ve even learn how to flirt in french, Voulez-Vouz dancer aves moi?
  8. Zoom Calling! – Honestly nothing has made me feel more grounded than Zoom chatting my friends every Friday night and Saturday night. It gives me life, a good laugh and a chance to catch up with everyone all over the world and in the UK. Also a good chance to drink. We’ve been playing all sorts of drinking games and also doing a book club as well! It’s just so nice to see everyone and breaks up the week massively.
  9. Binge watching Netflix – I put this one last because I haven’t actually done much of this. Yes I have absolutely watched A LOT of tele but no where near as much as I would have imagined. I guess there is only so much you can sit and watch and I was already watching a lot of Netflix after dinner and before bed with my man. We are watching Outer Banks, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Brassic (which is FANTASTIC) and Lil Dicky’s new TV Show DAVE. What are you watching at the moment?

What do you miss doing the most?

Honestly I miss my friends. I miss my girlfriends who are in two different directions and distances from my home, and visiting my friends back up in my Uni city. I miss going to the pub for a pint, never again will I take advantage of a beautiful beer garden I will cherish it in my soul. I also miss the gym, nothing compares I find to the motivation I feel to workout in the gym. Once lockdown has started to ease and I feel more confident in myself I know normality will return at one point.

But you know what I miss the most? Travel.

I CANNOT wait to be on a plane again. Visiting places on my bucket list, touring the UK and Europe and more importantly my potential trip to Australia. I can’t wait to hear the words ‘Cabin Crew for boarding’ and “Can I have your passports please?”. I want to go back to exploring. I miss it so so dearly I feel I’ve lost a limb.

Luckily with the current regulations you can have 6 people socially distancing in your back garden which has been a nice change of pace. We met one friend in the park for the afternoon for a social distancing catch up and we also met two other friends for a social distancing kick about. Making sure to be as safe as possible whilst we do it. I miss normality.

What is the first thing you’re going to do once lockdown is over?

Once lockdown is over I am going to go to my hometown on the East Coast and see my mum, sister and my friends down there. Then next on the agenda is spending time with my 3 best girlfriends that I have here in the UK. I miss those girls more than life and we’ve been trying to tour different UK cities together, most recently (Pre Covid-19) Liverpool. So who knows where we will end up next when we do all see each other.

I know it will be a long while until everything is back to normal but I can’t wait to be back to where we were. Back to work. Back to exploring and travelling. Back to Normality!

April Reading Round Up!

I am SO HAPPY to be able to do this, I’ve never been able to do a reading round up but with Quarantine hounding us all I’ve been keeping myself sane by burying myself in so many wonderful books!

So I’ve managed to read 8 Books this month! Here is what I sunk my teeth into!

The Store / James Patterson

This book is phenomenal, based on what the world would be like if Amazon took over the world that we live in. Although, cleverly, not directly naming the company as Amazon but ‘The Store’. And it would be one terrifying world. I read this book in a day and it was worth every second spent knee deep in this! It was tense and I was hooked throughout. Well worth the read and incredibly well written. The twist at the end is worth the madness, and with that I’ll say no more!

Nought Forever / Malorie Blackman

This book was a short one, I believe less than 100 pages but still brilliant. Having read all of the Noughts and Crosses series twice over, knowing there was a spin off for the memorable character Dan, I just had to know. Especially as it gives you an insight into a specific character in the most recent book released by Malorie Blackman, Crossfire. This book is one to read after Double Cross Book #4 and before Crossfire Book #5

Callum / Malorie Blackman

Another spin off from the Malorie Blackman series Noughts and Crosses! This book is to be read after Book #1 Noughts & Crosses and before Book #2 Knife Edge as it gives an insight into what would have happened had Callum chosen to take a different path. It is another short story, less than 100 pages but really gives you some more insight into the different ways in which the story could have done. I can confirm I definitely prefer the way #1 ended because if it had ended like it did in this small #1.5 in-between book, there would be no book #2.

Fairest / Marissa Meyer

This was another spin off of the Lunar Chronicles series. Book #1 Cinder, Book #2 Scarlett, Book #3 Cress and Book #4 Winter. This story Fairest interjects between book #2 and #3. I actually read this after reading the entire series and I feel I enjoyed it a lot more this way. It was incredible to learn the real reason why Levana is as bitter and full of hate as she is. She’s twisted and this book highlights why, but I still didn’t sympathise for her in any way and I think this is because I read the whole series before I read this. I highly recommend this one after the series but of course definitely read it midway through if you prefer!

Library of Souls / Ransom Riggs

I had been meaning to pick this book up after at LEAST 2 years of starting the first 2 books from the Miss Peregrines School For Peculiar Children. It’s been on my kindle just festering away. I had to give myself a re-cap of book one and two before I could confidently go into book 3 with any idea of what is going on and I am SO glad I did. Another phenomenal book to add to the series. These books just make my imagination run away with itself. I love the idea of the peculiar children, what makes them peculiar, the details of all the loops, the action throughout is endless. At no moment was I bored, and you best believe I’ve bought book #4 and book #5 (I started book 4 recently).

This Is Going To Hurt / Adam Kay

All I have to say is god damn, read this book. Recommended by SO many people this comical and eye-opening look at a Junior Doctor working in the NHS shares his diary exerts from when he was training as a junior doctor. Honestly I have never laughed out loud at a book as much as I did this one. But it also really opens your eyes to what our doctors, nurses, midwifes etc go through on the ward on a daily and regular basis. The way Adam Kay writes makes this book so light hearted and a jolly read, minus the odd harrowing and heartbreaking story, but leaves you feeling a certain way once reading it. Its incredibly relevant, especially right now.

Twas the Night Shift Before Christmas / Adam Kay

Yet another book from Adam Kay much like This Is Going To Hurt except this book is based solely on what happens in the wards on Christmas. How he himself worked Christmas for 6 years straight and yet again the festive madness that unfolds through Christmas after Christmas with the NHS on the wards. Another comedic backlog of diary entries, most happy, some devastating. Another fantastic book.

Recursion / Blake Crouch

After reading Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter the month prior it would be silly not to read his other highly rated book, Recursion. Blake Crouch has a very scientific reading style. Quantum psychics, lots of scientific terms and processes I do no understand. LUCKILY explained in the plot of this book and from it unfolds the most haywire and incredibly tense storyline I have ever dived into. I was so apprehensive as it wasn’t a book I would usually read but man am I glad I did. Anyone into Sci-fi fantasy/fiction should absolutely give this and Dark Matter a go. I rated this book a solid-.

(Read the book, then you’ll understand that last sentence).