Book Review – Younger

Today’s book review is Younger by Suzanne Munshower. This was another of my Kindle First choices.

They look at the shoes, the watch, and the bag. Then they decide where to seat you.

Synopsis

When PR pro Anna Wallingham gets dumped by her last client, she finds herself running out of options in LA, where looks trump experience. Desperate to prove she is still relevant, the fiftysomething accepts a shady job offer from Pierre Barton, secretive billionaire owner of Barton Pharmaceuticals. Isolated in a facility outside London, she agrees to test a new top-secret product guaranteed to make her look thirty years younger. Anna is starting to look on the outside the way she feels on the inside: ageless. But she soon discovers that her predecessor died under mysterious circumstances, leading her to research just who stands to gain—and lose—with this miraculous product. When Pierre drops dead in front of her, she takes off on a dangerous journey across Europe hoping to stay alive long enough to uncover the truth.

With the hard-won knowledge that younger isn’t always better, Anna is determined to escape and reclaim her life before it’s too late.

Review

I’m not really sure where to go with this review as the book was in no way a thriller, which is what it was sold as.

It began with a lot of promise. Her boss arrives at her apartment and promptly dies. Anna changes her name and goes on the run across Europe.

The book goes on to explain how Anna got to where she is now. This is where I lost interest. We hear about her shopping trips (which became a little tiresome) and the ‘life coaches’ appointed to make her sound and act appropriate to her newly come by age (I didn’t care)

I was almost a third of the way through the book before I found anything remotely resembling a ‘thriller’ and even then it fell a little flat.

The characters, although plentiful, didn’t engage me in the way I had hoped and I found myself uninterested in whether or not they found the answers they were looking for.

Overall, the book was OK, but maybe just not my cup of tea.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

April TV Schedule

What’s on your TV schedule for the next month? Any series coming back that you love?

It’s that time of year when the TV listings switch around and all the programs you enjoyed watching before Christmas start coming to an end to make way for some new ones.

I don’t tend to watch too much live TV. I much prefer to catch up with things (cuts out the adverts) and love my Sky+ and Sky Boxsets for this reason.

So what am I looking forward to in the next few weeks?

Blindspot

Blindspot is due to return to Sky Living in April following it’s mid season break and I can’t wait. I love this program and can’t wait to see how they wrap everything up this time around.

Doctor Who

The Doctor is due to return around Easter with this season (Season 10) being the last for Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat. There is already speculation over who will be returning as the 13th Doctor. Personally, I have no idea who it will be and it’s safe to say that for the first couple of episodes I won’t like whoever they cast!

Madam Secretary

I didn’t watch this when it was first shown on TV but am currently working my way through the Sky Boxset and I’m loving it. I seem to be enjoying my American political dramas at the minute as I’m also catching up on Scandal.

Quantico

Quantico returned to our screens for a second series in March and, as with the first series, I’m loving it.

Other series that are currently taking up space on my Sky+ box are Shades of Blue, Lethal Weapon and lots of DC/Marvel shows.

What are you looking forward to watching in April?

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie

Parkinson’s Awareness Week

Today I’d like to talk to you about something that affects me on a personal level. I’d like to talk to you about Parkinson’s.

I know it seems like every month there are various health awareness days, weeks and months from the various charities/organisations each promoting their cause and April is no different.

This month is

  • Stress Awareness Month
  • Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
  • IBS Awareness Month

Then we have

  • Parkinson’s Awareness Week on 10-16 April
  • Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week on 17-23 April
  • MS Awareness Week – 25-30 April

Finally

  • 2 April – World Autism Awareness Day 2017
  • 11 April – World Parkinson’s Day
  • 17 April – World Haemophilia Day 2017
  • 25 April – World Malaria Day 2017

Although there are several areas mentioned above that I support, I would like to talk to you specifically about Parkinson’s as this is one disease that is very close to my heart as a few years back my Dad was diagnosed this currently incurable disease.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition caused by a lack of a chemical called dopamine due to some nerve cells in their brain dying.

The loss of nerve cells in the brain causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear. Plus without dopamine people can find that it takes longer to do things as their movements become slower.

There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s and we still don’t know why people get the condition. However, drugs and treatments are available to help manage the symptoms, which get worse over time.

So why am I writing this

People with Parkinson’s need a breakthrough. Only with the support of the public can we develop better treatments, faster.

It was over 50 years ago since the last significant drug discovery for Parkinson’s was made. However, the current Parkinson’s drugs aren’t good enough. They don’t stop, slow down or reverse the condition or its effects. They can only mask some symptoms for a time – and they can have distressing side effects.

I’m seeing this first hand with my Dad. His current level of medication is causing hallucinations. He has seen people stuck in trees and a whole family sat in the living room watching TV with him.

World Parkinson’s Day

This year World Parkinson’s Day (Tuesday, 11 April 2017) falls within Parkinson’s Awareness Week. This day marks 200 years since the Parkinson’s was first recognised as a medical condition.

How can you help?

On World Parkinson’s Day, use the hashtag #UniteForParkinsons wherever you can on your social media channels. I know I will be!

If you want to find out more about Parkinson’s and what you can do to help/raise awareness then please visit Parkinson’s UK and the EPDA 

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

6 Months to Change My Life – Review

Back in September I set myself a set of goals in order to make some changes in my life.

Unfortunately I have fallen very short with almost all of my goals, so much so that I decided to abandon them at the beginning of the year. I spent some time reassessing my situation and trying to work out where I went wrong.

How Did I Do?

Personal Development

I have set up my planner and have almost set up my GTD system. However I haven’t been using them as much as I’d have liked recently.

Since the beginning of the year I have read a total of 13 books so I have managed to keep up with this.

Relationship

Again this is a 50/50 win. We haven’t been having as many date night away from home or our movie nights but the counselling is going well.

Health and Fitness

The less said about this the better. I haven’t reach my target weight, nor have I begun any kind of exercise routine.

Career/Blog

This is one area where I have actually made some progress. I’ve been trying to post regularly and have begun to look into ways to monetise by blog.

I have also been looking at some possible jobs in my local area which fit in with my family life so all in all I would say this was an area that I am winning in.

Charity/Giving

Again, I have made some progress on my goals for this area. I have been giving blood as often as I can and have been helping others where possible too.

The only thing remaining is to make a decision regarding the Dyspraxia Foundation role.

Friends/Family

Things haven’t worked out too well in this area. I have made some moves towards reaching my goals but unfortunately they haven’t quite gone to plan.

Finances

Not gone quite as well as planned due to some unforeseen expenses. However we have some money saved some I’m not counting it as a loss just yet.

Physical Environment

There is no way to put this other than to say that this area has been a total fail. That said I have got some new bedding, towels and paint for our bedroom so I did make some effort.

As far as the clutter goes, it’s still there smirking at me with all it’s friends – I’m blaming Christmas and birthdays for it all!

Wellbeing

As many mums will tell you, taking care of yourself is usually low on the priority list. Well, this mum is no different. No matter how hard I try to find regular time for myself I usually end up cleaning up after the kids or something equally as mundane.

Fun/Recreation

It’s easy to see where my priorities lie. I have managed to book a family holiday and had an amazing time for my 40th birthday.

We have also had some amazing family fun so overall this area is on track.

Where Did I Go Wrong?

After giving it some thought I think my main issue is trying to do too much in one go. It’s also pretty easy to see, after analysing my wins, where my priorities and focus lie. I love reading and writing so any goals relating to these areas are easy for me to reach. Whereas, things like exercise and eating healthily, aren’t things I overly enjoy (although I love the results) so I find goals in these areas harder to focus on.

Next Steps

I’m not giving up on my goals just yet, although I will be making some changes. I’m planning on reducing the number of goals I aim for within each area and will be focusing on the goals I find harder more often.

I will be back very soon with more information on my goals for the next 6 months so watch this space.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

My Planner Spring Bucket List

The weather is beginning to warm up slightly and the rain is still here so that can only mean one thing. Spring has sprung and as every good planner knows that means its time for a seasonal bucket list and the Planner Girls Collective are no different.

I love a good bucket list (as you will see over the course of this week) and Spring always makes me feel like making a fresh start. They allow me the chance to refocus my attentions and give me time to adjust my course should I have begun to stray (which I invariably do on a regular basis). So without further ado here is my planner bucket list for Spring

  1. Get back on track with my planner/planning routine. Things have be a little bit crazy around here at the minute. This has resulted in my planning routine suffering. I really need to get myself back on track before everything gets completely out of hand.
  2. Organise my planner and crafting supplies. Earlier in the year I bought a Raksog cart from Ikea to use to organise my planner supplies. However I have just randomly thrown everything in and it’s looking messy and disorganised and I can’t find anything. I really need to declutter my supplies and organise them better.
  3. Set up my new Filofax Pennybridge. For Mother’s Day my kids bought me a gorgeous purple Filofax Pennybridge after hearing me complaining about my current purse and raving about how I could organise my cards/vouchers etc (they do listen after all!!). I need to give a little thought about how I want to use it but I really want to get it all set up asap.
  4. Get up to date with my memory planning. I’ve had a couple of big events happen already this year and I really want to record them in my memory planner. All I need to do now is decide if my current journal/diary will work for me.
  5. Find a home for my Cricut machine so I can use it. My OH bought me the machine for my birthday back in February but due to lack of space it’s still in the box. I really need to find a home for it as I’m desperate to start using it.

I’m sure that with a bit of a kick and a lot of motivation I can get all this completed in time to enjoy the summer.

Don’t forget to check out what the other girls have on their bucket lists!

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Book Review – Three Simple Rules

I’ll get straight to the point. Three Simple Rules comes under the classification of erotic fiction. Now, this isn’t something that I would normally read, but since I am expanding my reading horizons I thought I would give it a go.

“It’s better to have regret of what you’ve done, than what you failed to do, it whispered.

Synopsis

I would do anything for my dream job. Now I have to.

In order to save my skin at the office, I’m forced to sell it at an exclusive and illegal blindfold club. He paid thousands of dollars for one night to own me, but when my blindfold comes off, I want more. More nights, more rules, and more from this unavailable and uncompromising man.

Rule number one, no questions. Rule number two, no lies. But, rule number three? That’s the hardest one to obey.

This book contains strong sexual content including M/F/F and is intended for mature audience

Review

Considering the last time I read any erotic fiction it was the 50 Shades trilogy, I wasn’t expecting anything too spectacular from this book. However I have to admit that it was pleasantly surprising and so much better than 50 shades. I’ve already added the next book in the series (Three Hard Lessons, which is all about Payton) to my kindle.

I found I really enjoyed Nikki Sloane’s writing style, although like most fiction of this genre I have read there does seem to be an touch of repetitiveness.

The characters of Evelyn and Logan were easy to relate to but I struggled a little relating to Payton in the beginning.

Don’t get me wrong I did have a couple of issues with parts of the story. One of the MFF scenes did leave me thinking why?

If you’re looking for a quick fast paced read with sizzling sex to boot then I would recommend this book.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

A-Z Book Survey

The lovely Emma over at The Stationery Geekette has tagged me in an A-Z Book tagSurvey. Since I love a challenge as much as I love books I think this is a fab idea. She was inspired by Charlotte over at Wonderfully Bookish, however the original A-Z Book  Survey came was created by created by Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner way back in 2013.

A – Author you’ve read the most number of books from

Patricia Cornwell

This could be one of several authors as I tend to binge read once I find an author I like. Off the top of my head I think it is probably Patricia Cornwell as I have read most of her early books and really want to get back to her later books.

Other authors that could come close include Roald Dahl, John Grisham and Kathy Reichs. All of these authors have provided me with some fabulous reading material over the years.

B – Best Sequel Ever

Red Queen by Christina Henry

I’m not sure I would say this was the best sequel ever, but it is the most recent one I’ve read and really enjoyed and I can’t think of another at the minute.

C – Currently Reading

TSG Book Box

Wintersong by S Jae-Jones and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I usually have two books on the go one on my Kindle and one paperback. My current kindle book is Wintersong by S Jae-Jones and was the March book from TSG Bookclub Box. My current paperback choice is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

D – Drink of choice while reading

A hot drink of some kind

This would more than likely be a cup of tea, although depending on my location I could be persuaded with a hot chocolate or latte.

E – E-Reader or Physical Book

Both for totally different reasons

I must admit that from a practical point of view I prefer my kindle to a physical book. This is mainly due to the ease of being able to carry around hundreds of books which means I never run out. It also means I can read in bed long after my OH has turned the lights out. However, I’m not prepared to give up physical books completely. I love the feel and the smell of a new book.

F – Fictional character you would have dated in high-school

This is hard and I don’t think I have an answer.

I was quite a swot at school so books always came before boys. Plus I think there may have been a bit of an issue if I’d have dated any of the male characters from the books I read in high school as they would have been far too old for me. I never really got into the young adult books from my teens; I seemed to switch from Roald Dahl/C S Lewis/Penelope Liveley to John Grisham/Danielle Steel.

G – Glad you gave this book a chance

Fearless by Nicola Claire

This was a book my mum had shared with me for my kindle and while we both love a good crime/thriller book, my mum also loves her historical fiction and romance.

This book has both and more and I once I got into it, I was hooked. I’m no eagerly awaiting the next book in the series Breathless which is due in April 2017.

H – Hidden gem

I don’t have an answer for this as it can’t have been hidden very well if I’ve read it! Unless I’m interpreting it a little too literally 🙂

I – Important moment in your reading life

Finishing my first hardback book and owning a Kindle.

I’m not sure I can pick just one moment as there are a couple the immediately spring to mind. The first was finishing my first ‘adult’ book – Message from Nam by Danielle Steel. This was quite a big thing for me as the book was a hardback novel and made me feel grown up when reading.

The second is being bought my kindle. Initially I couldn’t get used to it as I was so used to have a book in my hand but it definitely came into its own when we went on holiday and I could take a well over a week’s worth of books without having to sacrifice my clothes!

J – Just Finished

The last book I read was Betrayal by Tim Tigner.

This is the second book I’ve read by Tim Tigner and it probably won’t be the last. You can read my full review very soon.

K – Kinds of books you won’t read

I don’t think there are any.

I’m the kind of reader that will give most genres of books a try. However, I’m not a lover of romance unless it’s in additional to another storyline/plot.

L – Longest book you’ve read

The Lake House by Kate Morton.

I can’t tell you the longest book I’ve ever read as I have only started tracking my reading history recently so I will have to go with the longest book I’ve read in the last 12 months.

M – Major book hangover

Dominic Grey Series by Layton Green

I think my most recent major book hangover was when I finished all the Dominic Grey series by Layton Green. I picked up the fourth book in the series The Shadow Cartel as part of the Kindle First promotion and quickly went back and found and read the first three books.

N – Number of bookcases you own

Just the one.

Personally, I only own 1 bookcase and at the minute that is only half full. Last year I had a mass cull of my paperback books as there were a lot that I’d inherited and they were just gathering dust so I made the decision to get rid of them.

Overall in the house we have four separate ‘library’ areas which include all the kids books too.

O – One book you’ve read multiple times

From a fiction point of view, I tend to be a ‘read it once’ kinda gal as I have so many books to get through. I’m also assuming children’s books don’t count it (The Gruffalo anyone!!) That leaves my productivity books which I refer to regularly so my answer would probably be Getting Things Done by David Allen.

This book is great and, when I implement it correctly and keep up with it, it improves my productivity immensely. I have a copy on my kindle and a paperback on my desk so I can refer to it whenever I wish.

My son recently began reading Roald Dahl books at bedtime so from a purely fiction point of view it would probably be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

P – Preferred place to read

Anywhere.

Provided I ‘ve got something to read I’m more than happy to read anywhere and everywhere. Unfortunately, since life and family tend to get in my way, the most likely place to find me reading is in bed.

Q – Quotes that inspire you

I love quotes in general but here are a few of my favourites specifically from books that have stuck with me.

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” ― Dr. Seuss

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

R – Reading regrets

I have no regrets about any of the books I have read, apart from maybe jumping on the 50 shades bandwagon.

However, one thing I wish I had started to do earlier is to track the books I’ve read over the years. I’d love to be able to look back now and see what books I read when I was 20 to see how my reading style had changed.

S – Series started and not yet finished

Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell

I have read quite a lot of her books to date but have recently tended to go with my free downloads on my kindle over purchasing new books so I do have a few to catch up on.

T – Three of your all-time favourite books

Picking just three is harder than I thought but the ones I keep coming back to are

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis

My favourite books do tend to change over time so choosing books that stood the test of time was quite difficult. I have chosen to go with books that I know I could read again despite knowing the outcome.

I first read To Kill A Mockingbird at school and unlike most of the other books I read during my English GCSE, I actually enjoyed this one and have read it again several times.

I loved all the Harry Potter books, this was my favourite even though it marked the end of an era.

I loved all of the Narnia book but this still remains one of my favourite books when I was younger. I can’t wait until my children are old enough for me to read this to them.

U – Unapologetic fangirl for

I’m not sure I’d class myself as a fangirl 100% but I’d probably have to say Harry Potter

V – Very excited for this release

Match Up

Match Up is a collaboration written by twenty-two of the world’s top thriller authors, who have paired up their best-loved characters in eleven short stories. I’m particularly looking forward to the pairing of Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.

W – Worst bookish habit

This most definitely has to be not knowing when to put a good book down.

There have been moments in my past where I have been reading while making dinner because I just had to know what happened next.

X – X Marks the spot: Start at the left and pick the 27th Book on your shelf

Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult

I haven’t read it yet, but I already love this book. The rose gold spine is gorgeous, plus it’s a hardback, which is rare on my bookshelf these days (I can’t justify the price to myself)

Y – Your latest book purchase

I haven’t actually received is yet as it is the April TSG Bookclub book – The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

However, if we are talking books that I can actually start reading now then the last one I paid money for was Alfie the Doorstep Cat by Rachel Wells. I also regularly download books from Bookbub for free, the latest one being Dark Heart by Catherine Lee.

Z – Zzzz-snatcher (book that last kept you up late)

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

Although this book was quite disturbing, I found I couldn’t put it down. Read my full review here (blatant self promotion there!!)

 

 

I enjoyed completing this list, even if some parts were a little harder than others.

I’m tagging Alex at Better Together Home, Johanne at Jo’s Writing Space and Rebecca at Lawyer In the Making

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Current Planner Setup

Today it’s time for the Planner Girls Collective to share with you their current planner setup.

I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of March already, this year is flying by. That said I have been using the same planner since it arrived in January. However it is still a work in progress, so lets see what’s changed.

To being with lets recap on what my setup was like in January (you can read about it in more detail here and here). For my day to day planning I was bullet journalling in my moleskine cahier notebooks and housing them all in my Uglydori from Ugly Bug Plans. I was also using a 5-year journal, a Weekly Review and a Gratitude Journal.

To be honest, with regard to the overall planners I’m using, nothing much has changed on the surface. My Uglydori still houses my day to day planners although they are in the process of being switched up. I’m also still using my 5-year journal, a Weekly Review book and Gratitude Journal.

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies in the collective and she what’s changed with their planners since the New Year.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

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