The Art of Buying Books (and reading them years later…)

Hey loves!

I hope you’re all well. I apologise that it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted anything. It’s exam season, in fact the first English paper was today, and it’s just manic. I’m feeling all kinds of things: pressure, worry, apprehension and excitement.

When the majority of my time is absorbed in work, it always means that my reading is reduced. I’ll look at the page and the words are all dancing around. I read a page and then have no idea what has happened and I also find that I tend to DNF more books when work is full on anyway. It’s not all doom and gloom though because I’ve also spotted another pattern… I’m VERY good at shopping! (To be fair, I never need an excuse to shop.) I’ve become on first name terms with the staff at my local Waterstones, I’m obsessed with the telephone box library and I’m desperate to find more and I talk about books all the time too. It’s all well and good finding these books but I’m sure like the rest of you, your to be read pile is like mine. Mine spans two book cases and I now have three piles on the floor…some of these books I’ve had for years…

So I thought I’d share more book buying posts with you! This may inspire me to read them quicker so I can legitimately buy more. I always find new books to get based on your posts so hopefully I can help you add more to yours too! Let’s kick this one off!

First of all: paperbacks. You know when your arms get tired and the hardbacks are just too heavy? Love the paperback for this reason! The books below are from a subscription box that I receive monthly – all crime and/or thriller. I’ve not heard of any of these before so I feel quite excited about them! I also love receiving post so I do love it when they arrive!

However, I do really LOVE a hardback. I think my heart is with them to be honest. There are some stunning ones at the moment too. I feel like a lot of work has gone into making and maintaining new editions so they are visually beautiful. It sounds really odd but I love how they look on the shelf. Books decorate a room I think so I’m more than happy to have them all around me. I believe I’ve got some gorgeous ones here too. Some of these are signed editions as well! I love the fact that these are much more accessible now. I remember being desperate to meet my favourite writers to get signed copies but it just isn’t always possible as they were usually based in London. Now they are readily accessible to us all which means it’s much easier to get a signed copy. I keep all my signed copies and really treasure them.

The last thing I’ve really got my eye on is books with sprayed edges. This has really taken off in the past year or so but they really do add something. I keep an eye out for these as well because they’re really pretty! Sometimes there’s a pattern but sometimes it’s just colour. Either way, I really like the attention to detail! I’ve only got a couple so do let me know if there are anymore out there at the moment! Answers on a postcard if you know what these two books are…

I can’t wait to share more book buying posts with it. I’m absolutely certain it will be a regular thing because I literally cannot stop myself buying books. Now is probably not the time to confess that it was a New Year’s Resolution to buy less so I could clear my pile. Needless to say, that didn’t last too long. Regardless, have you read any of these? What did you think? Or am I missing out on a book that I HAVE to read? Let me know!

Big Love all xxxx

Reading Round-Up: April

Hey Loves!

I hope you all have had a great start to May. I was relieved to have a bank holiday here just to adjust with going back to school! It’s always a little more intense this time of year because we are approaching exams and it’s all just a little bit much… Much love to all the educators out there! I feel you! Anyway, today I wanted to share with you my round-up for April. I’m absolutely buzzing about this because in March I was really disappointed with myself. This month, probably because of a two week holiday in reality, I am sooo happy because I felt like I was really making a dent in my to be read pile. Now, I may have also ordered more and found more in the community telephone boxes but…the point still stands.

Now, I am really thrilled to say that I managed to read 19 books in March. There were some absolute corkers in there too! I literally cannot wait to share them with you. Some I’ve blogged about already so for the interests of sharing more books with you all, I’ll not include them in my top three. Let’s check out the shelves!

So, I already reviewed The Mad Women’s Ball and The Lost Apothecary already and it was crystal clear that I absolutely loved those books. I’m still raving about them with my friends now. Likewise with Rachel’s Holiday, what an incredible book that is too and I really hope you enjoyed those posts. I’ve attached the links to the titles above just in case you missed them. Now, onto my top three which is an ever increasing difficult decision.

After some deep deliberation, I’ve decided my top three are as follows:

  1. Yinka, Where is Your Husband? – Lizzie Damilola Blackburn. I loved this for the honesty, the family and the pressures that brings, the representation of the single life and the pressure to get married. It’s also really well written and incredibly funny. I always find that honesty is the best policy and this shone within this book. Want a story with a strong female lead? Then this is for you.
  2. The Storyteller – Dave Grohl. I heard such amazing things about this book and I am thrilled to say it absolutely lived up to expectation! I found it a really engaging piece of non-fiction – so much so that I’ve added this to my curriculum! (If anyone knows how to tell Dave Grohl himself – let me know!) Lots of music stories and famous people but also really humbling. Loved it.
  3. Queenie – Candice Party-Williams. For some strange reason I missed the boat with this book. I found it by pure chance and I read it in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. Like Yinka, it was honest and reflective, meaningful and incredibly open. I am so glad I managed to finally catch up with this one and read it!

And that’s it! Don’t get me wrong, this month was really successful for reading and there’s other books on that list that I really enjoyed. I had the best break with reading and resting. It was much needed and I am really grateful for it. I’ve got myself into a bit of a reading slump following this but I’m sure it’ll come back.

Let me know what amazing books you’ve read recently and I’ll be sure to add them to my to be read pile! Continue to stay safe and well and surrounded by beautiful books.

Big Love xxx

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! Cannery Row – John Steinbeck

Hello Everyone!

I hope you’re all okay. I’m back at work now but definitely looking forward to the bank holiday weekend! Hopefully the weather will pick up again and it’ll be glorious instead of chilly… I had heard that May apparently is meant to be the coldest on record! I jolly well hope not… I need some sunshine in my life.

Today I want to share with you my category and book choice for April. I love my Book Bingo and I’m super proud of it. It’s really pushed me out of my comfort zone which is really what it’s all about. For April I decided to pick: Read a classic you should have read by now. I don’t know about you but I always find pressure with the classics, like I’m meant to have read them and I even get embarrassed when someone mentions a classic I haven’t read. That being said, I did study a number of them when I was at university so this category did throw up some challenges. Overall, I decided to read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I love Steinbeck’s work as they really do depict a specific historical time period but I’ve only ever read (and taught) Of Mice and Men. This is becoming increasingly controversial so I have relished the opportunity to reach out into more of his work.

What’s it all about?
On the surface, the plot is really simple: a group of men want to throw a party for their friend. However, this book is so much more than that. Its role is to capture the feelings and the people all located in one place: the cannery district of Monterey, California. The people there are down on their luck, lacking opportunity and those who choose for other reasons to not live in the more respectable area of town.

“The inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing.”

The first character we meet is Lee Chong, the owner of the Lee Chong Grocery. On the surface, it appears like he values profits over people however, the actions from Chong that he values people more than money. Steinbeck uses Chong to show how things aren’t as they seem and people can have different personas. Following Chong, we are then introduced to Mack and the boys. Again on the surface they are known to be pleasant guys and good hearted. But, they do have a tendency to take advantage of people and situations to benefit themselves. They refuse to live according to the conventions of society to become ‘successful’ in terms of the world view.

‘A little group of men who had in common no families, no money, and no ambitions beyond food, drink, and contentment.”

Arguably, the most important character is Doc. He is different to the others and is viewed which such high regard. He’s unlike the others too as he is educated and cultured. He is the one that the others look up to. He is always there to offer help and support. He gives advice to those who need it and also provides medicine or other medical services should they be required too. His nature inspires Mack and the boys to try and give Doc a party to thank him for everything he does for them all. There is one issue though: money. The boys take up odd jobs with none of them quick to take up anything long term. The main job is to capture some frogs.

‘He lived in a world of wonders, of excitement. He was concupiscent as a rabbit and gentle as hell. Everyone who knew him was indebted to him.’

Unfortunately, the party doesn’t quite go to plan to begin with. Sadly, Doc returns home to find his place trashed – the door hanging on its hinges, the floor littered with broken glass, phonograph records – some broken, some stolen, mostly littering the floor. Doc naturally is furious and doesn’t really understand what has happened to cause this. After he’s calmed, Doc apologises to Mack for his reaction. Mack reveals the intentions of the men and how it went wrong. Mack does seem to be someone who has regrets himself and is quite a reflective character. He promises to pay for the damages that was caused during a lengthy speech. But, Doc stops him because he knows him too well and Mack knows he is completely right.

“You’ll think about it and it’ll worry you for quite a long time, but you won’t pay for it.”

This turn of events mean that the atmosphere is awkward and uncomfortable. There’s friction and tension but when Darling, the beloved puppy becomes poorly and close to death, Mack and the men are forced to make a change. Darling is eventually saved and this gives the men a new lease of life. It is joy and not despair that is running through Cannery Row. As a result, the men decide to throw Doc another party – this time a proper one like he deserves. It. becomes an effort of all the people of Cannery Row with each of them working hard to give Doc a gift. Steinbeck uses this to show that these men, despite their circumstances have good within them and they have the ability to consider others as well as themselves. Doc finds out about the party and decides to make his own contributions. He brings his best records and also orders copious amounts of food for them all. The party ends up being a huge success – one filled with life and joy. The next morning brings quiet and stillness. Whilst cleaning up from the party, Doc remembers a poem that evoked such emotion from his guests the night before. He is in a state of equilibrium and calm. Life is fragile but so so valuable. The people around you make it count.

‘There are two possible reactions to social ostracism – either a man emerges determined to be better, purer, and kindlier or he goes bad, challenges the world and does even worse things.’

Final Thoughts
Short and powerful, I find Steinbeck just an utterly honest writer. He focuses on the men of the time period and shows how the context shapes them. I found Doc delightful but I actually really liked Mack and the boys too. I really need to devote more time to reading more Steinbeck because I do really enjoy it. I’m also really pleased about getting another classic under my belt too! American Literature is one of my favourite things so I really need to devote more time to American writers too. Lots of room for improvement here…

I hope you’re all well. I’ll see you next time for another book related post, I’m sure! Roll on the bank holiday weekend too!

Big Love all xxx

Rachel’s Holiday – Marian Keyes

Hello Fellow Book Lovers!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter and a wonderful time reading plenty and making memories with the people you love most. I did manage to read a couple of books from the pile – I did add an image to my previous post so I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple more blog posts before I return to work! Last night, I stayed up to silly o’clock because I couldn’t put my book down. I was desperate to see what happened. The book I am talking about is of course, Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes.

Now I have to admit that I am a little late to the Marian Keyes party but a friend at work really was gushing about this book and Again, Rachel so I thought I’d give it a go. It really didn’t disappoint. I loved it and completely devoured it. I cannot believe it has taken me this long to get to it! Anyway, I just have to review it so enjoy!

What’s it all about?
As the title suggests, the novel centres around Rachel Walsh, a twenty seven year old, living what she believes is her best life in New York. She lives with her flat mate and best friend, Brigit, believes she is fat and ugly and spends a lot of time at parties or out doing recreational drugs. Rachel doesn’t see this as a problem but Brigit and her boyfriend, Luke, see the dramatic change in her. It all comes to a head when she ends up in a hospital bed after nearly killing herself. As a result, Rachel is ordered home to Ireland by her mother and father and placed into rehab, the Cloisters.

“You only grow up by living through the shit that life throws at you.”

The novel alternates between her New York life and the reasons why she got so heavily into drugs and her time at Cloisters. Sister Josephine who runs the group sessions, in Rachel’s opinion, lives to make her life miserable. The reality is that her role is to get them to face up to the reasons why they are addicts, to see the patterns of behaviour in order to prevent relapses. For the most part, Rachel doesn’t believe that she has a problem. Ever increasingly isolated, Rachel pines after Luke but is distracted by another resident: Chris. Whenever she felt down, he always seemed to be around with his wise words.

“It never rains but it damn well pours and I was afraid I’d be washed away in the deluge.” 

There are two key turning points for Rachel whilst at the Cloisters. The first is the visit of her parents during a group session. The quick fire questioning from Josephine evokes a number of emotions from Rachel – mainly rage. Her dad is quick to dismiss it as the ‘mother’s work’ and her mother is more concerned with how it looks to everyone else. It becomes a natural bone of contention. The second turning point is again during a group session but this time the visitors are Luke and. Brigit. Again, Rachel began with rage and fury about the amount of drugs and the range of drugs she was talking. Also, behaviours that she thought was hidden are also revealed, such as stealing. Ultimately, Rachel was at rock bottom.

“My life was a wreck. I had nothing, no material possessions, unless debts counts. Fourteen pairs of shoes that were too small for me was all I had to show after a lifetime of profligate spending. I hadn’t a job. I hadn’t any qualifications. I’d achieved nothing with my life. I’d never been happy. I had no husband or boyfriend.”

By the end of the novel, Rachel is open, reflective and honest with herself. She has gone full circle with regards to her drug taking and the rationale about it. She gets herself a little job, she seems closer with her sisters and parents and is ready to start her next chapter. It isn’t easy and she does slip up along the way but the lessons and advice from the Cloisters, ring in her ears. She can and will succeed.

“Talk is cheap, but look at how people behave, not at what they say.” 

Final Thoughts
Like I said, I stayed up to finish it because I had to know if Rachel made it. Despite her flaws, I still loved her character. In fact, her flaws made her all the more special to me. There were things I could relate to: the feeling of inadequacy, fear of what people think and ultimately the fear of failure. I am a complete Marian Keyes convert and will be keeping my eyes out for her rest of her novels. I loved it and I love Rachel.

Until next time…

Big love xxxx

Happy Easter! 🐣

Morning Everyone!

Just a really short post from me today to wish you all a very happy Easter. I love Easter time because it’s spring, the sun is out today as well and it gives us all an opportunity to reflect and focus on new hopes. For me personally, I enjoy reading with an Easter egg too!

Today I’m going to be spending time in the garden with my lovely parents. Then I’ll be doing some reading. I’m getting down my to be read pile I must admit but I keep finding telephone box libraries and finding more gems within them! Look at this pile! What should I read next?

Have a wonderful time everyone! Let me know what you get up to! 📚

Big love xxx

The Mad Women’s Ball – Victoria Mas

Hello Book Lovers!

I’m back today to share with you another amazing book I’ve just finished reading. I feel like I am on a bit of a roll at the moment and like I’m making a good dent in my huge pile of books. Long may this continue!

The book I want to share with you today is The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas. This book has a stunning cover (there’s a theme starting…) and focuses on two strong female characters. Taking us back to Paris in 1885, this short novel packs a huge punch and has left me wanting more. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did.

What’s it all about?
The Salpetriere Asylum: Paris, 1885 where the women are deemed mad or hysterical. However, things really are not as they seem and behind each woman lies a story of betrayal, misunderstanding and fear of what they really know. Under the control of Doctor Charcot, his public displays of hypnotism is enthralling for the audiences who appear. But what about these women? Why are they there? Why are they societies outcasts and who makes that decision?

The two leading ladies of the novel are Eugenie and Genevieve. Their stories become entwined as each woman needs the other in order to survive.

‘Madwomen fascinate and horrify. Were these people to visit the asylum for the late-morning rounds, they would surely be disappointed.’

We learn more about Genevieve first. The head nurse at the asylum, she is stoic and proud. She takes her role at the asylum incredibly seriously and feels like she really is supporting the advance in medicine by working with Doctor Charcot. The women are becoming particularly agitated because of the annual Lenten Ball (Mad Woman’s Ball) the event where the rich come and observe these weak women. For the women, it is their small window of opportunity – to be seen and heard. Head Nurse Genevieve has her own quirk, like the women she cares for – she writes letters to her dead sister. There are hundreds that are stored in the bottom of her wardrobe. It means she feels close to her and she still can live on.

‘She gets up and opens the wardrobe, in which several cardboard boxes are stacked next to the dresses on their hangers. Genevieve picks up the topmost box. Inside are more than a hundred envelopes like the one she is holding.’

Eugenie is incredibly gifted and what you would call, a woman before her time. When I was reading this I was completely taken with her but also terribly afraid for her. My fears would soon become reality. The first incident of note was when she found her grandmother’s pendant after being guided by her dead grandfather. After some forceful probing mixed with love and respect for her grandmother, she reveals that she can see dead people. She confides in her grandmother but ultimately this would turn out to be a mistake. Despite this, Eugenie knows that she isn’t alone and that other people can do what she can, but it is all too much for her father who sends her to the asylum and disowns her.

“No one talks to dead unless the devil is involved. I will not have such things under my roof. As far as I am concerned, I no longer have a daughter.”

Meanwhile at the asylum, spirits are high as everyone is getting ready for the ball. Whilst setting in, the two women are not quite sure how to take each other. However, Eugenie knows about the letters Genevieve has been writing to her sister. Alarmed at first, curious second, Genevieve is unsure what to do. She’s torn by wanting that connection with her sister but also considering her position within the hospital. She absolutely cannot be a part of this ‘madness’. And yet…

‘Eugenie’s eyes are closed now, her tone changed. Although her voice is the same, she speaks in a monotone as though reciting a text that has no meaning. Terrified, Genevieve retreats, pressing herself against the door.’

The relationship between the two women change and they are no longer nurse/patient. Genevieve believes her and feels that she needs to repay the kindness shown to her. The two women help each other, sacrifice themselves for each other. The ball isn’t going to the be the same this year. Eugenie will finally get an opportunity for a fresh start away from the family that betrayed her. Genevieve makes the ultimate sacrifice.

“Existence is fascinating, don’t you think?”

Final Thoughts
This book is incredible. We see the horrors of how women used to be treated, just because they thought differently or believed differently. We see the value of friendship and sacrifice. We see the need and want for spirits to guide and support. We also see the fears of the time too. Life was very different in 1880s Paris and despite this being a fictional piece, it is clear that it is influenced. The overall thing I enjoyed most was the fact that women reign supreme and stand tall despite being different and wanting to challenge boundaries and constraints of the time. These 200 pages are beautiful and essential. What a stunning book.

Big love xxx

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner

Hello Loves!
It’s finally Easter break! 🐣 I am honestly so relieved and I had to admit, I was questioning if I would make it – I’ve never felt so stressed or exhausted… The mornings this week have been tough – but I did it and now I have two weeks of rest, recovery, reading and napping. Hopefully the weather as well will last – there’s nothing better than Spring sunshine. Easter is a huge event for my family too so I’m really excited about that also! Good things are approaching!

Anyway, this post is to hopefully make amends for not being successful in my reading challenge last month. I picked the category: Read a book of the month (Waterstones or equivalent). I’d started four books for this and failed them all for different reasons. Then, I realised that I’d read the books from the Waterstones book of the month so I then branched out to research more books of the month. I stumbled across the Goodreads list and the rest, as they say, is history. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner was on my shelf after being gifted by a friend and that decided it. Fate some may say! I absolutely LOVE this book so I hope you all do too!

On with the review!

What’s it all about?
First of all, the book is visually stunning. The purples and gold really make it a picture on your shelf. Moving away from the look of it, the plot is also stunning too! I love this book and it will be one that I gift to my friends as well. It’s a book that you have to read.

Each chapter alternates between the three main women: Caroline, Nella and Liza and their respective time periods, modern day and 1791. Despite being over two hundred years apart, the lives of these two women are about to be linked forever. The novel opens with Nella, a brief chapter about a letter, a desperate woman, a remedy and a history to the apothecary. Her mother’s before her, the shop historically was a place for women to come to cure their maladies. However, things had taken a much more sinister turn: murder. What had led Nella to this point? There’s only mere references, but a broken heart is evident. As a result, a decision was made, no other woman would hurt like she did.

‘Beneath the ink strokes of my register hid betrayal, anguish…and dark secrets.’

Number 3 Back Alley is the geographical location of the shop. However, it is hidden and is only known about by word of mouth. The front is an empty room with a sack of grain and a small hole for Nella to see who is there. Behind the scenes were huge amounts of herbal ingredients, glass jars, grinding stones and a notebook with the names and ingredients administered over the years. Nella’s mother at the start, with her continuing the work of the apothecary. One day, a charming and interesting girl arrives with a note from her mistress. Her husband was having an affair and that woman needs to go. Instinctively, Nella knew what to do but the child unnerved her. Death and children shouldn’t mix. The remedy = a poisoned chicken egg.

‘My mother had held tight to this principle, instilling in me from an early age the importance of providing a safe haven – a place of healing for women. London grants little to women in need of tender care; instead, it crawls with gentleman’s doctors, each as unprincipled and corrupt as the next. My mother committed to giving women a place of refuge…’

Caroline found herself in London for what should have been a romantic weekend for her ten year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, things are not good with her husband James as she discovered his infidelity. Finding herself in London meant that she needed to make her own way and her own plans. Curiosity getting the better of her, she meets Alfed, a mudlarker. In the dead of night she heads towards the Thames, unknowing what she will find but the call is much stronger than she realised. She’s given a quick piece of advice: look for inconsistencies and finding something is fate. Despite the smell, she finds a quirky glass vial which raises more questions than answers. She feels a pull to find out more. Her London trip is now focused around this small, glass item and its story. Alf also introduces Caroline to Gaynor, his daughter at the British Library. A budding historian herself, the two become the best of friends.

‘Places and people, I thought to myself. I could feel the change in myself at this very moment: the discontent within me seizing the possibility of adventure, an excursion into my long-lost enthusiasm for eras past.’

As the novel progresses, the lives of these three women become more intertwined. Caroline is busy asking questions and researching the contents of the glass vial, Nella and Liza are busy trying to limit the damage that is being caused. Whilst all mixtures before have gone well, the issue of Lady Clarence, her husband and his mistress did not. The wrong person died and the bottle had the same image of a bear and the address on the back. This discrete apothecary, fill of its potions and its secrets was now at risk of becoming public knowledge.

‘At present that seemed like a dream; with my mistake, I might have doomed her and all of us within the pages of her book. I thought again of the many names I’d traced in the register a couple of days ago, I had darkened the ink strokes in order to preserve and protect the names of the women… Now, I feared I hadn’t preserved and protected anything at all.’

The end of the novel is simply stunning. No spoilers here but the I adore the end – the loyalty, the companionship and most of all, the love and respect between these women. This history of the past, the women and their stories have helped shaped Caroline’s future. Gaynor becomes a true friend of Caroline, she (re)discovers who she really wants to be outside the confines of a marriage and the history of the women and their need for the apothecary shop at 3 Back Alley lives on. The title may be the ‘lost’ apothecary, but Caroline has certainly made sure it is found now.

‘I remembered Batchelor Alf’s words on the mudlarking tour, about how finding something on the river was surely fate. I hadn’t believed it at the time, I now knew that stumbling upon the tiny blue vial was fate – a pivotal turn in the direction of my life.’

Final Thoughts
There are not enough words for how much I loved and enjoyed this book. Sarah Penner is a name I will be keeping an eye out for in the future, that’s for sure. This book is perfect for showing the strength of women, what it means to stand by each other and the lengths women will go to to protect those around them. It also shows the devastating effect of being hurt and how that changes people. After all, it was that betrayal that changed Nella. I also loved that the action truly centres around a book that has been passed down from mother, to daughter and now to Caroline. Stunningly beautiful, for me this book is a masterpiece.

Big Love all xxxxx

Reading Round-Up: March

Hey Loves!

Let me be the first to wish you a very, happy April! Has anyone else noticed the rain/sunshine/sleet/hail/snow? March seemed to go in the blink of an eye for me, partly because I spent most of it ill or injured… but I have high hopes for April. To all my friends in education, if you’ve broken up for Easter enjoy! If like me you’ve got one week to go – don’t worry! We got this! (She says hopefully!)

It’s hard not to feel disappointed in myself for March really. I didn’t complete my reading challenge (I started four different books for it but I think it was more me, than them. Apart from one: Still Life which had no speech marks in. What is that even about? I spend my working week encouraging children to use punctuation so I really cannot spend my weekends reading books without it – sorry…) But I did manage to read 9 books which considering the circumstances, I think is ok. There were some great ones in that 9 thought so I can wait to present to you the shelves. Let’s check them out!

Like I said before, I’ve had a fair few books that I failed with last month but the ones I read were brilliant. My top three are as follows:

1. The Curfew – Tim Logan. Logan is one of my favourite writers so I got this book and devoured it in a day. It’s just as gripping, thrilling and terrifying like the other novels. I don’t think it’s my favourite but it’s definitely a must read.
2. The Last Supper – Rosemary Shrager. You may have heard of Shrager for her culinary endeavours as she is a popular chef in the UK but this is her first dabble at writing and I really loved it! I got myself a signed copy too because I had a good feeling about it. This book contains two of my favourite things: whodunnit and food. What’s not to love? I hope she has more planned!
3. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside – Jessica Ryn. This book gave me all the warm feelings I needed when feeling rubbish. I found this in my local Salvation Army store as I was dropping some donations off so really fell on my feet. For the bargain price of 50p, this book has become one of my favourites.

As I said before, I’m hopeful for a better reading month in April which should lead to a better blogging month too. Thanks for sticking by me though!

Big love all xx

Telephone Box Libraries/Book Exchange pt 2

Hey Loves!

How are you all? Well, what a shocking couple of weeks I’ve had: flu, foot injury and then what I think was Covid (all tests were negative but I’ve never felt that ill before and I’m still coughing…) I am here to share with you another explorations post. To be honest, I should have done this before so I apologise for it taking me so long! Anyway, rather excitingly, I’ve only gone and found another Telephone Library / Book Exchange box! I am so excited. They’ve become my latest obsession to find one so full marks to my wonderful dad for spotting this one for me!

Hopefully you’ll remember my previous post where I found one of these beauties in a village not to far from my parents house. You can see my previous post here. This is slightly further away but not by much. This wonderful (yet slightly messy) book exchange is in the glorious Bearley, near Stratford upon Avon. I did leave a good 12 books for the next person to find. I love these community projects so much because I love finding some great books and I also love leaving some books for other people. We never really know when our next favourite book will come! I am desperate to find more so please let me know if you spot anymore and I’ll have to find them!

My TBR is so big that my shelves are full and I have three piles of books on the floor. Being poorly has meant that my reading has slowed right down again but I’m hoping to get back on it now! I did pick up three books thought which have been added to the collection. There were so many exciting ones, it’s really easy to get carried away. Do let me know what amazing books you’ve been reading recently – you know I like to add them to the never ending list…

I really hope to find more of these! As I said before, let me know if you find one near you! I’d love to visit and leave books for people to find. I hope as well that you all continue to stay safe, well and read plenty of wonderful books. Thank you all for being so patient with me and supporting me in my absence. I adore you all. Until next time…

Big Love xxx

Tom Clancy’s The Division: Recruited – Thomas Parrott Book Tour

Hey Loves!

Today is very exciting. I’m part of my first ever book tour!! I really was so thrilled to be considered and I’ve loved every second. Thanks so much Aconyte Books! I loved the sound of this one so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I really hope you enjoy it too!

What’s it all about?
This is a dystopian novel about a future ravaged by a virus…. I know! Close to home. However, this is not a book that bears any resemblance to the current situation with COVID-19. In this bleak vision of the future a virus, sometimes referred to the Dollar Flu or the Green Poison, has ravaged society across the globe causing total system collapse.

We start the story with our heroine, Maira Kanhai, living with a group of other survivors in a community they call Athena. Life is tough, they scavenge food to survive, a watch is kept day and night to avoid other groups who are willing to take by force what they might want. But Athena is slightly isolated from the mad violence that exists in the city, they are on the outskirts. As the months go by it gets harder and harder to find food.

Maira decided not to dance around the subject. “As some of you may already know, and others may have heard, we have a supply situation on our hands.”

Maria’s previous service in the Navy has led her to being nominated as Chief of Security for their little community but it also means she has carried the blame and anger from some when things haven’t worked out. In an ill fated attempt to secure weapons with which to protect themselves, Maira led a number of volunteers into an ambush which resulted in the deaths of a number of community members – that night still haunts her and eats away at her conscience.

As the community seeks further afar for food they attract the attention of a murderous gang called the Outcasts. The outcasts claim to carry the virus and want to infect all the survivors. They are violent, aggressive and attack the Athena community. Despite the defences Maira has established, the Outcasts quickly force them fall back. It becomes clear they cannot hold out but then help arrives. Three agents from the mysterious and secretive Division use their hi tech government weapons to defeat the Outcast attack although not without losses of their own.

Maira stared. Her mouth worked silently. At last, she managed to rasp into the radio. “South post is gone. The way to Athena is wide open. Anyone with a gun, we need you. Now.

The Division agents were not there to save Athena, they are also concerned about the supply situation. They believe something is blocking the roads and supply routes. Their mission is to get supplies moving into the city again. Carrying the weight of yet more deaths under her command, Maira volunteers to join them, hoping to bring the food Athena desperately needs.

The novel tracks the progress of Maira and the Division agents as they track down the problem. As you might expect things get tough, maybe even desperate at times. They uncover totally unexpected problems and also make new allies who will work to help them.

The story is fast paced and as the plot moves along we get to understand what motivates Maira as well as uncovering more of her past. Details about the shadowy Division and the agents they employ begin to emerge, are they the good guys they at first appeared? In order to find out you’ll need to read it, I’m pretty sure you won’t be bored.

Final Thoughts
Well, there you have it! My first book tour. How exciting!! I really hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did. I can’t wait to be a part of more of these in the future. It’s a really wonderful way to connect with more wonderful readers and share some great books.

Big love all xxx