Lifestyle

Another Birthday, Another Year…

Once again I am doing great at getting posts up later than I want them to be, but oh well, the fact it is up is better than nothing. Its just something I will have to work on more in the future. schizo

As some will know, yesterday was my birthday, not that big a deal, just another day really. However it does always make me stop and think about what I want to achieve in the next year of my life. I guess I see my birthdays in a similar light as I see the New Years Eve, I see it as a time to focus myself on what I want to do, and what I want to achieve.

With it only being a couple of months later as well, it gives me the opportunity it kick myself into actually starting what I wanted to do this year. And I certainly haven’t been doing all that well with it yet. You can read here what I laid out at the start of the year as wanting to do, and my reading goals for the year here.  I especially need to step up my game on my reading, as I really am not doing anything near as well as I would like to be, having only read 3 books so far this year.

While I still hold every intention of completing these goals, I also now have another quite major one. I have not done a recovery update for a little while, but in the past couple of weeks I have found out that I am now classified as having Pre- diabetes.

Now my knowledge on this is really rather limited, but from chatting with the doctor, my understanding is that I need to start being careful about what processed food I eat, and watching out for sugars and fats (if I’m wrong PLEASE correct me!). Already I am rather big on eating clean food, and really minimalizing how much food is processed before eating it.

Currently though, I will still snack on probably not the best of foods, and I am definitely a big fan of chocolate. So I think I can see where I could focus on making some improvements, so will see how it goes, but I would love any advice that you might have for pre-diabetes, especially if you have any experience of it while being disabled and unable to exercise.

This year though I had a really lovely low-key birthday, after all I am currently suffering with Tonsillitis, so celebrating wasn’t the first thing on my mind. But I was happy to just spend the day with my Nan and partner, and then have a nice meal in the evening with Dad. I was most definitely very spoilt as well, so I truly could not ask for any more.

When is your birthday? Do you have any plans?

Books

After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott

Ahhh… I just love a good thriller, that is character led and just sucks you in and refuses to let go. After the Eclipse is just that! Dark, mysterious, and oh so confusing, it keeps you guessing. Thrillers are the only time when books can be confusing, lead you to believe one thing and then throw it back in the air and have you questioning everything- this does just that! img_1228

Two solar eclipses. Two missing girls.

Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie – who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother – suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.

Cassie is one of those characters that you find yourself wanting to shake some sense into while at the same time wanting to wrap her in a blanket, cuddle and say that everything will be okay. She is full of faults, but all ones that you can understand and sympathise with, she’s certainly not had an easy life- and yet she just wants to make things right and help others. You truly can not fault her heart and determination.

Easily my favourite aspect of this book is the different points of view in the chapters. The bulk of the story follows Cassie in the present day trying to get her life straight while trying to work out why another little girl has gone missing. But every so often there are chapters from the point of view of Olive shortly after she goes missing. I find this gives you more of an insight as to what happened that many other thriller books just don’t give you, this way you get to see the two separate points of view as they both feel as if they are working towards the big reveal.

If you like crime, mystery’s or super suspense thrillers then this is definitely a book for you. This is an easy 4.5 out of 5 star read for me, it came very close to being a five star read! It comes out this month, so keep it on your radar and grab yourself a copy!

Books

After the Eclipse- Blog Tour

I have the great honour of bringing you two different posts today as part of the blog tour for this absolutely fabulous thriller. The first post I have for you is a guest post written by the author, Fran Dorricott herself, all about her writing process. I don’t know about you, but I feel that this could be really useful- ENJOY, and keep an eye out for my review later today.

 

Fran’s Writing Process

 

Every book I write is different. I like to switch up my writing process a little bit each time so that I don’t feel like I’m getting stuck in too much of a rut, but there are a few things that never change no matter what I’m working on.

 

1. The first and most crucial step in any writing journey is making time to write. Quite often the early stages of a project are spent daydreaming. I come up with characters first usually, sometimes a hook. After the Eclipse came eclipse first, and then Olive, and then Cassie. The rest of the plot slipped in afterwards. Once I’ve spent enough time thinking, I make sure to begin scheduling physical writing time into my schedule. I work in a book shop (it’s an awesome job, but I’m often tired from days on my feet) so I often have to write around my shifts. It’s so important to make time and space for your writing! My advice is not to cut out all your other activities and hobbies (you’d be surprised how many plot twists I’ve thought of while watching reruns of The Simpsons or Law and Order: SVU) but to dial them back.

 

2. The other thing I make sure to do during the early stages of writing is to read. A lot. As I mentioned before, I work in a book shop so I’m nearly always reading anyway. The trick I’ve found, though, is to read something different to what I’m writing while I’m in the early stages of drafting. This is to make sure I don’t get my wires crossed! But during the daydreaming and editing phases I like to read in the genre of my project, especially choosing books by authors who really excel at what I’m struggling with in this particular project.

 

3. Next I have to find my ‘writing place’. I like to move around my house a lot, choosing a spot that works for a particular project. I wrote most of After the Eclipse sitting at my kitchen table. The book before that was written in my study (which, uh, I really ought to use more), and the book after I wrote largely from the sofa! It really helps me to compartmentalise if I have a working place I associate with a book, but I do get bored quite easily.

 

4. Another way I get myself in the right mood is by making novel-specific writing playlists and/or Pinterest boards. I go back to these whenever I feel like I’ve strayed too far from my vision and it really helps me to get back on track. Plus it’s a fun way to procrastinate when I get stuck!

 

5. I love to write my drafts as quickly as possible. My ideal drafting time would be around 6 weeks. I let myself obsess over a book, and I live there in the world without any sort of continuous break until I’m done. It helps me to keep in the characters’ heads, but also I have a terrible attention span so I lose track fairly quickly if I take too long of a break. I’m a fan of the phrase ‘write quick, edit slow’.

 

6. The final step before edits is to put it in a drawer. Or folder. I’ll send it to my agent or a friend so I can’t fiddle with it for a while. Then I’ll let it sit until I’m ready to tackle it. I’m always amazed what I miss on the first round!

 

These are just the things that work for me, though. I’m sure there are as many writing processes as there are writers!

Books

February Wrap Up & March TBR ’19

Well February proved to be a complete fail when it came to reading. I don’t know if I would count it as my slump coming back, as I did read a fair amount, but I didn’t actually manage to finish a single book.

I worked through two books this month, After the Eclipse -which to be fair I am almost finished with- and a buddy read of The Cruel Prince with Ellie over at Hatterell. You really should check out her blog, its full of really interesting reads and she’s super lovely!

So within the 28 days, I managed to read 294 pages of After the Eclipse and 142 pages of The Cruel Prince, making a total of 436 pages. Hay, that could be a book, so its not too bad. But anyway,  I want March to be better!

So the first two books on my March TBR should be no surprise, I plan to finish off both After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. I’m certain that I’ll have these finished by the end of the month.

At the end of this month I will be going away to Gran Caneria, so I will probably not get much reading done then, as I am going with my partner and his family. So with this in mind, I am only going to be putting two other books on this list before my Twitter Poll book.

Firstly, for the holiday I will only be taking my kindle so as to save of luggage weight. Currently I have Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo on there, and I really do want to get through it so that I can move on to the Six of Crows duology and then King of Scars. I did try to read this when I moved last year, but it didn’t really happen- for some reason I do just really struggle to read on my kindle. But with two four hour flights, I am determined.

Now however much I really do want to pick up The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, I just know that realistically I will not get threw it before I go away. With that in mind I am going to hold off starting on this book until I am back and can adore it like I know I’m going to.

Therefore, the next book that I can not wait to pick up, The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman, is going to be my other TBR book for the month. I don’t know overly much about this, which I have done on purpose, so all I really know is that its a thriller mystery, that I have a feeling has magical or supernatural elements. Thank you to Titan Books for sending me a copy as I really have been looking forward to this one for a very long time! It comes out in stores on the 16th of April I believe.

That leads us onto the twitter poll books for the month; and I have chosen some good ones this month. So you can choose between, A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, The Migration by Helen Marshall, or Zero Bomb by M.T. Hill. I am really gutted that I didn’t get to The Migration last month, but hopefully I will get to it this month if you decide for me to.

 

 

What are you reading this month?

Lifestyle

Go to bath products…

Not too long ago I did a post all about my favourite skin care products, all of which I use regularly on my super sensitive skin, you can read that post here. So I thought this time around I would talk to you about all my favourite, and go to bath products.

Personally I am much more of a bath person than a shower person. Baths help me a lot with my back and leg pains, so I try to bath each night as it does help me to sleep.

IDShot_540x540How can anybody have a bath without bubbles? Is a bath really a bath if it isn’t a bubble bath? Yes, I am aware that that makes very little sense, but ha I was making an attempt at being funny. But anyway, I have two bubble baths that I generally use, and they are both Imperial Leather ones. For day to day use, I am currently in love with the Special Edition Cosmic Unicorn bubble bath. It just smells so gorgeous, and makes the bath kind of glittery- perfect in my eyes. Though if I am having a late night bath- which happens all too often- I like to use Relaxing Bath Cream. There is something about the smell of this one that just makes me sleepy and want to drift off to sleep. IDShot_540x540 xMy only thing with these are that I am not 100% confident that Imperial Leather products are vegan and cruelty free. This is something that I am very big on when it comes to beauty products. Please let me know if you know anything about this, and any recommendations for bubble bath that is vegan and good for very sensitive skin.

IDShot_540x540aNow onto body wash. Again I have two that I stick too, one that is reasonably cheap and another that is a treat every now and again. Original Source is a really good cruelty free brand that have great products that don’t flare my skin up. Personally I love the Lemon and Tea Tree shower gel, although I do also like the Mint one and want to try the others. You can often pick it up super cheap in Aldi. Then when I want to treat myself, I love the Happy Naturals Nourishing Argan Oil and Sweet Orange Body Wash. It has such a beautiful summery smell, and leaves my skin so amazing soft, especially when using the Happy Naturals body butter. 5060528313483_L

eadsdJust like with shower gels, I actually have two shampoos. I have one that works brilliantly for my hair when it is healthy and doing well (also known as when I’m not on antibiotics), and another that seems to work a lot better if my hair has gone dead because of medication. The one for when its dead, is actually another rather cheap option that you can pick up in most places, the Alberto Balsam Apple Shampoo. This is by far the best smelling shampoo I have ever come across, both me and my partner use this a daily, and we are rather picky about our hair (him even more than me!). But then my favourite is a slightly more pricey product that you can only get in Sainsburys, and that is  Happy Naturals Intense Repair Argan and Avocado Shampoo. Its another of the Happy Naturals products that smells gorgeous. 5060528313162_L

As you may of noticed, I try to focus on vegan and cruelty free products, Happy Naturals and Original Source, I know are 100% cruelty free. Along with Imperial Leather that I mentioned about, I am not sure about Alberto Balsam. If you could please let me know if you know anything more about it, I would love to hear.

Also please suggest any other vegan and cruelty free bath products that you recommend? Ideally not too expensive. I also use a lot of Lush bath products, but I will do a separate post about those at a later date.

 

Lifestyle

Why we had a low-key Valentines…

Now I am aware that this would probably of made most sense to of been published on Valentines, but I couldn’t quite decide whether or not to post it. Its only been this week, going through some tough situations again that has made me realise just how special our relationship is, and how I don’t need society made holidays to prove that to me. Mental Health

Valentines is a lovely public holiday, and I am not one to complain about an excuse for romance. Normally I like to make a big deal out of it, going on a proper date (something we don’t manage often), and generally just not holding back any expense. Last year we did dinner, a film, lots of pressies, and just generally a day all about just us.

This year, things are different. We are in the process of organising moving out, and with that comes a lot of saving. We are soon to go away on holiday, and although we have had all of our flights paid for, we are still trying to save some money for the holiday to really enjoy ourselves. So with all of that, we are really pushing ourselves to try and save as much money as possible.

So we went low-key. A simple home cooked dinner at home after my partner finished work, and a DVD at home with a sharing pack of chocolate. Some would say that this is a big change and question what caused it. But to be quite honest, we do not need big gestures to know how each other feel.

The truth is, me and my partner have a lot to deal with, between my health issues, and his daughter, but we always make time for each other. We never go a day without telling each other exactly how we feel. We constantly do the little things, to keep each other happy and strong to get through the challenges of life.

He never lets me go to a hospital appointment without knowing I have all of his support, and he has missed out on many nights out and fun things in order to sit at my bedside in A&E holding my hand. Ive spent hours awake in children’s A&E to support him when his daughter is unwell. We never have to feel bad for the other, this is just what we do to support each other.

And its not a big deal, that is just what a relationship is. There is no need to have a specified day to feel like we have to prove anything, as we make sure that we prove it everyday.

That being said, I will never complain at taking the opportunity of Valentines to have a super romantic day. But we don’t need it. And for now, what we need is to save up our pennies and continue to prepare for our future to come.

How did you spend your Valentines day?

 

Books

The Harry Potter Tag!

I have seen this tag dotted around for quite a while, but I stumbled on Jenny in Neverlands post today and decided to have a laugh and do this tag. I am a huge Harry Potter fan as many of you will know, so this tag just seems perfect for me. So lets get into it.Hogwarts

1. What House are you in?

Hufflepuff, definitely Hufflepuff. I am very proud of my house, and probably have way too much Hufflepuff themed things for one normal person to own. Message from future me- I did the Pottermore house sorting quiz and I got Hufflepuff, no surprise.

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2. What is your Patronus?

I think I would probably have to be something clumsy and awkward, so I’m thinking something like a Panda? I should probably do a quiz to find out for sure. Okay- future me- I did the Pottermore Patronus quiz, and my Patronus is an Otter, I am happy with that.

3. What is your wand?

Rowan wood with a dragon heartstring core, 12 ¾” and reasonably supple flexibility- answer from Pottermore

4. What would your Boggart be?

I am a huge scaredy cat, and am easily scared by many things. Think I would probably say my boggart would be Spiders, bugs, or dirt.

5. What position would you play in Quidditch?

Not so sure I would even play. I used to play forward in Hockey, so I would say probably Seeker, but my lack of mobility may make this hard.

6. Would you be a pure-blood, half-blood or muggle born?

Half-blood, my Dad used to be a big Harry Potter fan, he even read me the books when I was younger. A far as I’m aware though, my Mum isn’t a big Potter fan. Plus I’m always a bit out of the ordinary.

7. What job would you want to have after leaving Hogwarts?

I would love to help young wizards with getting ready for their first year of Hogwarts, maybe helping them find their wands? Or even maybe a role in Hogwarts, but probably not a teacher as such, more just supporting the students. Does Hogwarts have school counsellors?

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose?

Definitely the cloak of Invisibility. I would love to be able to go about as I want without being disturbed, so often I’m not in the mood to talk to people, but don’t have the heart to tell people that.

9. Favourite book?

Any of the Illustrated Editions, definitely Chamber of Secrets if I had to chose one. But when its just the normal editions then I would probably say the Deathly Hallows.

10. Least favourite book?

I don’t think I have a least favourite book, they are all amazing!

11. Favourite film?

Order of the Phoenix. I adore the Dumbledore’s army thing that goes on in this film, plus you have to love anything with Sirus in.

12. Least favourite film?

The final one, Deathly Hallows part 2; its so epic, and yet so boring. I just don’t feel like there is any story to it once the battle begins. Making it only about half an hour of decent film.

13. Favourite character?

How am I only meant to choose the one? I love so many of them. Luna, Hagrid, Dobby, Neville, Ginny, and that’s just naming a few…

14. Least favourite/most hated character?

I don’t really hate any of them. Even the bad guys have their purpose in the story, and many are still really interesting characters. Like Umbridge is a really nasty character, but she’s also really interesting to read about so don’t think I could say I hate her. Think the only character that I feel could of used more shaping to make me love him was Cedric Diggory. I see the point of his character, but feel it would of been better if he’d been in previous books so he had a more well rounded character.

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

Does Dumbledore count? He just seems like such a great head teacher. So caring, and willing to go above and beyond for his students to get the best out of them.

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

That would have to be Umbridge, she really is an evil piece of work.

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

No I don’t think I really do. I haven’t read any of the scene plays, and not so sure if I actually want to?

So that’s the Harry Potter Tag. I am not going to tag anyone, but if you want to take part then you really should. Its a good bit of fun for  a blog post.