Book Review – The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson had been on my kindle TBR list for ages and after reading the synopsis again I decided to give it a go.

Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.

Synopsis

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

Review

I feel I must start with a bit of a warning about this book. It has some disturbing content and may be a little bit unsettling for some readers. It will most definitely not be for everyone.

Aside from the blurb, I knew nothing at all about this book and hadn’t read anything by Dot Hutchinson before. After reading the book, this will very likely change.

The story is dark and twisted in a way I’ve not come across since reading Karin Slaughter’s Blindsighted. However I felt compelled to keep reading.

The story is told from two points of view. Firstly there is Maya, a former captive from the garden, who is retelling her story and refuses to be rushed. Secondly there are the FBI agents in charge of the case. The book alternates between past as Maya recounts her horrifying tale of captivity and the present as the FBI conduct their interview with her.

This type of storytelling worked really well within the book as it allows the reader time to process what had happened to the girls in the garden without becoming too overwhelming. In my opinion, it helped to add a little suspense to the story and kept you hanging on as each little mystery was revealed.

The character development is good. However, I found the overall storyline little lacking in places and the ending twist didn’t quite deliver the sharp intake of breath I expected after reading the rest of the book. Nevertheless I’m not going to let a slightly lacklustre ending spoil what was one of my favourite reads this year.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

 

TSG Book Box – J’Taime

*Disclaimer: This is a totally unbiased review of a product I purchased myself. I am in no way affiliated with Emma-Louise Smith or The Stationery Geekette

Firstly I must apologise for the lateness in writing this post and must point out that the last date for ordering the next box has now past. However they April box will be on sale from 1 April if you wish to order.

Anyway, back to my review. As I mentioned last month there are now three different box options to choose from (standard box with paperback/kindle voucher, deluxe box with book/kindle voucher or a basic accessories pack), This month I went for the kindle option.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, this month’s box was titled Je T’aime. As the name suggests this month was all about love whether that be hearts and flowers or self-care and the contents supported this 100%.

The chosen book was Wintersong by S Jae-Jones and focuses on the bond between siblings and since I had opted for the kindle book I received an Amazon gift card code so I could download my book.
Other items in this months box were a handmade bookmark, a face mask, some hot chocolate, a chocolate rose and some hand cream. Unfortunately I never got the chance to sample ANY of the chocolate as my kids got there before me (but since this month  we are all about love I let them off).

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Debbie x

Top 10 Gift Ideas for Stationery/Book Lovers

Who doesn’t love to receive a gift every now and again. Today the PGC are sharing with your their top 10 gift ideas for stationery and book lovers.

All my chosen items are from UK sellers on Etsy as I believe in helping small businesses thrive.

My Top 10 Gifts for Book Lovers

The Sunai – This Savage Song Scented Candle by Book and Nook  *  Literary Quote from J K Rowling by Fable and Black  *  Shakespeare Quote Bracelet by Jezebel Charms  *  Harry Potter Spell Earrings from Bookish  *  Enamel Pin from Literary Emporium  *  Never Judge a Book by It’s Movie Mug by Dreamscapeink  *  To Kill a Mocking Bird Finch Brooch by House of Ismay  *  Alice Bookmark by QuirkyArtsHere  *  Harry Potter Book Bunting Garland by Attic Books UK  *  Oscar Wilde Quote Locket Necklace from The Locket Library

My Top 10 Gifts for Stationery Lovers

Stationery Addict Hashtag Pencils by DelightfulNote  *  Stationery Addict Tote Bag by MiniFelts  *  Planner Addict Mug by DoodlesPlan  *  Pencil case by Lola AND Gilbert  *  Pink Crystal Pen by DottyMooShop  *  UKPA Planner Band by Cherry blossoms in the market square  *  Pencil ring by RockCakes  *  Galaxy Stationery collection by Fuzzlepip *  Stationery Badges by Woah There Pickle  *  Moon Phases Notebook by Newton and the apple

Check out what the rest of the PGC girls have to offer below.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Book Review – In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II

I obtained this book via Amazon’s Kindle First scheme where you can pick up a copy of next months new releases for 99p (free if you’re a Prime Member). My February choice was In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II by Rhys Bowen as anything relating to Bletchley Park intrigues me immensely.

Synopsis

World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.

As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?

Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.

Review

After the first couple of pages I did wonder if I would be able continue much further due to the stereotypical 1940’s English upperclass language – there were a few too many jolly goods for my liking.  However, I persevered despite finding myself reminiscing of episodes of Blackadder Goes Forth at times.

The opening of the book provides the reader with a full list of characters, which can sometimes be a little off putting for some especially since there were so many to remember. That said once you began reading it wasn’t that difficult to keep track of the various characters and their connection with the plot.

As far as the mystery aspect of the story goes, there are twists and turns throughout the book which, for the most part, keep the reader guessing.

Overall In Farleigh Field turned out to be a much lighter read than I was expecting considering the subject matter but nonetheless an entertaining read.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Keeping Mum ~ Oh My Blog! featuring Jades Long Journey

Oh My Blog is a monthly interview series where fellow bloggers come together to answer a series of questions on a specific theme. This is a chance to get acquainted with a whole range of bloggers, some of whom you may not have heard of before, and learn a little more about them!

This month, the theme is Mums (because it’s Mother’s Day soon!) and we’re hosting Jade from Jade’s Long Journey.

1.  Introduce us to your mum. What’s her name? What does she do? Reveal her age if you dare!

My mum is called Sarah and she works in a hotel which is great if I need a hotel room as she gets discount. I don’t think she will mind me telling you all that she is 47 years young.

2. What’s the one thing your mum always used to say to you?

I was a naughty child so I was always getting told off so I think as bad as it sounds it I always remember being told I was grounded. Oops!

3. Someone’s playing your mum in a film. Who is it and why?

This is really hard and I honestly have no idea. If Barbara Windsor was younger I would say her because my mum has a similar laugh and she loves carry on films.

4.  She’s won the lottery. What’s the first thing your mum buys for herself?

This is a conversation we have had many times, when I was little I picked the lottery numbers and every number I picked came up the issue being my Nan refused to pay for the numbers I chose as she thought they were silly. So I know she would buy herself a horse and stables.

5.  What embarrassing story about you does she always tell when you meet new people?

I don’t think there is one. When she met my boyfriend for the first time she hit him with a whip and put a vibrator on her nose (we were in Ann Summers). My sisters normally tell the stories.

6.  What are your plans for Mother’s Day this year?

I think we will just go for a meal she has been eyeing up a menu at a local pub restaurant that has a 32oz steak (could be 23oz).

7.  What’s her favourite TV show at the moment?

Well The Walking Dead has just come back on so she will be hooked on that but she also likes watching her old classics like Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

8.  What’s the biggest or most important thing that your mum inspired you to do?

To be strong and not let things get to me. It is something she inspired me to do without even knowing it.

9.  Your round at the bar! What’s your mum drinking?

Strawberry Daiquiri  

10.  What’s the biggest different between you and your mum?

She loves horses and spiders and I’m scared of both spiders more than horses.

11.  Most important question of the lot. What is your mum’s stance on 50 Shades of Grey? Does she love it? Hate it? Not even know what it is?

She has read it but I haven’t as I’m really not a fan. I think she enjoyed the books.

12.  What’s your favourite memory of your mum?

Oh there are so many as she is just funny unintentionally. We were all talking about the game station SEGA and she said oh yeah the logo was green and we all just looked at her and said no it was blue her response well it was green in my head. And life with my mum is just like that.

13.  What do you think your mum was like as a kid?

A bit of a goodie two shoes. She was in the church choir and was on songs of praise but left when offered to help at the local stables.

14.  Cast your mind back a bit; what was the thing you did as a child or teenager that made your mum the angriest she has ever been with you?

I don’t think I dare say on here. I was arrested once accused of theft from a house I babysat in she was pretty angry with me until she knew I didn’t do it.

15.  Finally, what’s the BEST piece of advice your mum ever gave to you?

If your not happy then leave.

If you enjoyed this post, you should head over to Jade’s blog and social media.

Blog   *   Twitter   *   Facebook   *   Instagram   *   Pinterest

Thanks for reading

Oh My Blog!

Planner Wishlist ~ Planner Girls Collective

Every self respecting planner has an ongoing planner wishlist. Somewhere they keep the never ending list of things they have seen used by other planners and just have to have. I’m no different and this week, along with the other ladies from the Planner Girls Collective, we will be sharing with you our planner wishlists.

At the minute I’m currently trying to work through my current supplies so there isn’t too much on my planner wishlist. However given the right opportunity the following items would definitely be  working their way to my collection.

My planner wishlist includes everything from new planners to items to be used within my existing planners.

My Planner Wishlist - Uglydori from UglyBugPlans on Etsy.My Planner Wishlist - Staedler Triplus Fineliner pensMy Planner Wishlist - Zebra Midliner Soft Colour Double-Sided Highlighters My Planner Wishlist - Tombow Dual Brushpens

So that’s my list. What would be on yours?

Also, don’t forget to check out the lists of our other ladies

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Book Review – The Russian Renaissance by Ian Kharatomov

My own reading challenge and the book group I’m part of have a book set in Europe as one of the prompts hence my choice of The Russian Renaissance by Ian Kharatomov. This book was read on my Kindle.

SYNOPSIS

Constantine can no longer hide in Europe. As he discovers a century-old secret, he must flee back to Moscow, chased by assassins.

Only one man can save him. Eugene Sokolov: an officer in the world’s most elite rescue unit, a martial arts legend… and Constantine’s brother.

They face an enemy unlike any other. In a game run by a KGB spymaster, the fate of Russia will depend on their survival.

Review

I’ve not read a thriller of this kind for quite some time and I must say I enjoyed it. There is a good mix of Russian history, action, suspense and intrigue as the three main characters – Eugene, Constantine and Asiyah – fight to avoid a full blown revolution and environmental disaster while battling past demons.

I found myself rooting for the characters of Eugene and Constantine and found them easy to relate to. Asiyah on the other hand didn’t quite give me the same connection. There was something about her character that didn’t quite gel with me and I didn’t have the same concern for her safety as I did for the Solokov brothers.

I have vague memories of some of the events mentioned in the book and even those before my time were detailed enough that I didn’t need to be reaching for Google every 5 minutes.

There is sufficient explanation of the environmental issues. I must admit I glossed over slightly but not enough to lose track of the story.

On the whole I enjoyed the foray into the world of Russian politics. I felt the book had just the right amount of intrigue and action to balance out the deeper subject matter.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

I couldn’t live without …

The Planner Girls Collective are discussing what they can’t live without this week Obviously since we are ‘all about the planners’ chances are there will be a lot of planner related items but don’t be surprised if a few non-planner related items pop up.

I’ve got to admit I have struggled a little bit with this question as there are a lot of things that, given the choice, I wouldn’t want to give up, however if I had to I could probably live without them as they make my life easier/more fun.

I thought I’d ask my OH what he thought (silly idea), his answer was air!! So off I went back to my little corner to have a long hard think and here’s what I finally decided on.

  1. My phone – I’m a little sad to say that my phone is pretty much an extension of me. It keeps me in touch with family and friends, both real life and virtual. It allows me to keep notes while out and about, check things out on the internet, stops me from getting lost, reminds me about things – I really would be lost without it.
  2. My family – they drive me crazy sometimes but I really wouldn’t like to be without them for very long (although I’d happily take a weekend away without any of them once in a while)
  3. My regularly used planners – I can’t pick a particular one and say that’s the one as I love them all equally and they all have their own uses and help keep me sane.
  4. A good selection of pens – what use is a planner without something to write with, yes I could have said a pencil but that would soon get boring.
  5. Books/Kindle – I need to have at least one book to keep me from going completely crazy. Reading is my daily dose of self care.
  6. Tea – while most people need coffee to get going on a morning I most definitely will not function without at least one cup of hot tea. Any mums out there will relate to the fact that most of the time your hot drinks tend to be lukewarm at best by the time you get around to drinking so I make it my mission to have a hot drink first thing on a morning.

What things could you not live without?

Check out what the rest of the Planner Girls Collective can’t live without

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

Q & A with a 3-Year Old

Today marks my youngest’s third birthday. I’m still trying to work out where the time has gone. Anyway, in keeping with our family tradition we asked her the same questions we have been asking my son since his 3rd birthday.

Here are her answers

What is your favourite colour?

Red (she was wearing her Wonder Woman costume at the time)

What is your favourite toy?

Poison Ivy (she had just received this doll for her birthday. To be honest it could have been any one of a number of things)

What is your favourite fruit?

Bananas (this was completely expected as she has one for breakfast nearly every morning)

What is your favourite TV show?

Batman (other than her dad and brother being batman obsessed, I’m not too sure where this came from)

What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch?

Potatoes (not sure where this came from, although she does like mash)

What is your favourite outfit?

Wonder Woman (see explanation above)

What is your favourite game?

Batman (again, I blame her brother for this)

What is your favourite snack?

Apples

What is your favourite animal?

An elephant

What is your favourite song?

All the Single Ladies by Beyonce (known as Oh Oh Oh by Anya)

What is your favourite book?

Jack in a box (I have no idea what this book is or where she has seen it as it’s not one we have in our collection)

Who is your best friend?

Niamh and Norah

What is your favourite cereal?

Rice Krispies

What is your favourite thing to do outside?

Play on my bike (again she got a bike for her birthday and has been wanting to play on it since 6.30am)

What is your favourite drink?

Juice

What is your favourite holiday?

Baby?? (No idea what was going through her head, although I think she was getting a little fed up by this question)

What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

Hailie

What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast?

I’ve just telled you that (she’s not one for wasting time repeating herself!)

What do you want for dinner on your birthday?

Tea towels (not sure of the nutritional value, but I’m sure I can oblige if she really wants.)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Go to sleep (it must be terribly hard work being three)

So there we have the thoughts of a newly 3-year old.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Budget Craft Ideas

Being a crafting addict can sometimes be an expensive hobby, they weeks the girls in the Planner Girls Collective will be sharing with you some their budget ideas/supplies for crafting and the like.

Pinterest

One of my first suggestions when it comes to crafting/planning on a budget is to check our Pinterest, there are hundreds of ideas on their from painting with toilet rolls to using washi tape on everything. You’ll also find plenty of free planner printables here. However, be warned, if you have never visited Pinterest before, be prepared to lose an hour or so of your life while you find more things that you need/want to do than you will ever have time for.

pAPER PRODUCTS

When it comes to supplies you can’t beat a visit to the local DIY store. I pick up wallpaper samples for covering my TN notebooks and also making dashboard. I have also used them to make dividers.

Colour swatches are also good to pick up. I’ve used them in both my my creative journal and also in my planners.

I also keep a few random pieces of wrapping paper, tissue paper as you never know when they might come in handy.

Cheap scrapbook paper can be found in Poundland and The Works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it is possible to pick some up from the most unusual of places. Here’s a couple of pads I came across at local children’s attraction for 50p each!

Washi Tape

Another item that no craft/stationery addict should be without it washi tape. You can find endless uses for this fabulous product. It can be used it decorate your planner pages (obviously) but it can also be used to cover mistakes.

You can use it to make bookmarks, bunting, wall art and the best thing is you can pick up rolls of tape from as little at £1 from Poundland and Hobbycraft.

Hobbycraft £1 washi tape

Other Ideas

Decorative paperclips are also easy to make and you can pick up the necessary items in your local pound shop. I made this one using a piece of ribbon from a subscription box and a paperclip I found lying around at home.

 

It’s safe to say that you can find plenty of supplies on a budget if you look.

The rest of the Planner Girls Collective have loads more ideas for you, so why don’t you head over and check out their suggestions.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x