Book Reviews are Moving

Just a quick public service announcement regarding my blog content, in particular my book reviews.

As you know I have been publishing a lot of reviews of late. However, I have been giving a lot of thought to the direction I want to go with my blog and have made the decision to transfer my book reviews and book related posts to their own little area of the internet.

My New Blog

From now on all reviews can be found on my new book blog My Eclectic Reads.

If you love books/reading why not pop over and join me in my new adventure.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

My Planner Journey

Today, along with the other ladies within the Planner Girls Collective, I am going to share with you my planner journey and why I plan.

My Planner Journey

I’d never really felt the need for an official ‘planner’. I was one of the lucky people who just remembered. You know the kind, the ones who always remember birthdays, phone numbers, names. Well that was me, until I had my second child and became a SAHM.

That’s when everything changed. After my first I went back to work so my brain was still in use. However when my second arrived 14 years later, followed by my third 2 years after, my baby brain kicked in with full force and I slowly started drowning in appointments and paperwork.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve been a fully fledged stationery junkie for as long as I can remember. My mum used to work in an office and there was a never ending supply of pens, paper and sticky notes.

When I was little I loved starting a new diary at the beginning of the year and writing down all the important things you need to remember as a 7-year old! I never really got into the whole ‘Dear Diary’ craze, but I had a go once or twice.

Once I left school and got a full-time job I realised I needed some way to remember everything. I started out with sticky notes everywhere, until one day the cleaner lost one of my more important notes. After that fateful day, I moved onto a standard A5 notebook where I wrote down EVERYTHING! It had personal items, such as buy bunny food, in with work items, such as finalise year end accounts.

I also dipped my toe into the whole technology based planning when I encountered the various software packages at my disposal such as Outlook and OneNote. However, no matter how hard I tried I still couldn’t give up my paper. I always had a notebook nearby no matter where I was.

In 2012 I gave up my office job to be a SAHM and it turned out to be a complete shock to the system. Juggling the demands of a busy house together with the demands that came with a newborn baby meant I needed something to keep my baby-brain in check. I knew I needed to do something and quick.

During one particularly bad day I was browsing Pinterest when I stumbled across lots of blogs/advice about organisation. One such blog was A Bowl Full of Lemons. The information on this blog was a complete game changer and I slowly began to get myself back on track.

Planner Community

I began to set up my first planner and joined a group on Facebook. From there I came across the whole planner community, in particular a Facebook group called UK Planner Addicts. It was in her that I learnt that there are lots of other people out there just like me.

Since that time I have been introduced the world of Filofaxes, Kikki K, Bullet Journaling, Traveler’s Notebooks, Erin Condren, Happy Planners and everything in between.

I have learnt about washi tape and have found a whole new world of stickers and paperclips. It’s like I’ve found my tribe and I love it.

My Latest Obsession

Since encountering the planning community I’ve also been introduced to loads of other fabulous planning and journaling techniques. I’ve dabbled in memory planning and creative/art journaling and if it wasn’t for my planner keeping me organised with all my day to day things I wouldn’t be able to find the time for the hobby side of things.

 

So there we have my little planning journey. Don’t forget to check out the planner journeys of the other girls and find how how they became planner addicts.

 

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall

Title: My Sister and Other Liars

Author: Ruth Dugdall

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Page Count: 364

 

Synopsis

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.

Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.

Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.

The brain is not like the body: it does not let go so easily and is harder to control, and as I drift to sleep it takes me elsewhere, to the place of all my nightmares.

Review

After reading this book I can safely say that the subject matter is not for the faint hearted. The topics include self harm, eating disorders and crimes of a sexual nature.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ruth Dugdall and although the story is a little uncomfortable at times, it made for compulsive reading.

The book focuses on Sam, a patient in a specialist hospital dealing with eating disorders. We follow her story as she works with her therapist on the run up to her review hearing.

Sam believes she deserves to die due to events in her past and her doctor is trying to get her to open up. The story is set in the present, although we share Sam’s memories from the past as she talks to her doctor.

We hear about her sister and how she was attacked on Sam’s 16th birthday and left with disabilities. We are also introduced to her parents and a few other characters.

I felt the some of the characters were a little unbelievable, such as why a 16 year old was taking on the role of PI to find out who attacked her sister. Surely the police would have done a much better job than they appeared to have done.

I’ll admit to figuring out some of the secrets before they were written but the identity of the attacker eluded me almost until the end.

If you can bring yourself to read this dark and gritty thriller then I would highly recommend it

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Presidential Shift by C G Cooper

Presidential Shift by C G CooperTitle: Presidential Shift (Book IV of the Corps Justice Series)

Author: C G Cooper

Genre: Thriller

Page Count: 174

 

Synopsis

The vice president killed…
The first lady attacked…
A president on the edge…

Cal Stokes, former Marine and owner of Stokes Security International (SSI), has had a busy year. Trying to calm his inner demons and forget the tragic loss of his men, Cal dives headlong into his work, taking the battle to the enemy. Now the president needs his help to uncover a leak in his administration and start the long road to cleaning up Washington, and wrestling power back from corrupt officials who threaten to plunge the American government further into the abyss. Will Cal uncover the truth before it’s too late?

Most Americans have no idea the level of corruption that exists within their own country.

Review

Presidential Shift is the fourth book in the Corps Justice series and although this is the first book I’ve read by C G Cooper, it definitely won’t be my last. I’ve already downloaded the first three books of the series as my interest was piqued by some of the existing relationships within this book. They had obviously been developed in previous book and I want to know more. That said, it is still possible to read this book as a standalone without it impeding the flow.

There were a couple of areas where I began to feel a little bit lost, especially with some of the Marine references – Semper Gumby anyone? Fortunately I was reading on my Kindle and was easily able to use the capabilities to find out what they were talking about and continue with the story.

The book pretty fast moving, steadily picking up the pace right until the end. Although, I must admit that I had my suspicions about who was behind everything from very early on. I did begin to doubt myself before finding out I was, in fact correct in my assumptions. It may be because I have a bit of craving for US political dramas at the minute. Whatever the reason, there were still lots of twists and turns.

My only issue is that by the end of the story I still had a couple of unanswered questions. Hopefully, the characters will pop up in future stories and their stories will develop further.

Although I had my suspicions, a main plot detail about one of the characters wasn’t mentioned until right at the end. Personally, I don’t think it would have ruined the ending. In fact I think it may have thrown me off the scent.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

The Spookshow by Tim McGregor

The Spookshow by Tim McGregorTitle: The Spookshow (Spookshow #1)

Author: Tim McGregor

Genre: Paranormal

Page Count: 114

 

Synopsis

Life used to be normal for Billie Culpepper. Drab even. That all that changed after an accident left her in a coma for three days. That’s when the spookshow really began, when Billie realized that she could see the dead.

And the dead could see her.

Now, they won’t leave her alone.

Accompanying two friends through a haunted house, Billie uncovers a terrible secret that brings, not only the police, but the homicide detective responsible for putting her into the hospital in the first place. He’s also the one man she sworn to stay away from.

Generations of teenagers and thrill-seekers had stomped in and out of the murder house over the decades.

Review

I picked this book up for free from Amazon (as I do many of my books) as the blerb drew me in. I’m glad it did, despite it being outside my usual choice of book.

Considering I usually avoid anything remotely spooky like the plague, I found this book more physic fiction than out and out horror. The story was scary enough to give you a chill without the nightmare scenario. All in all there was a great balance on that front.

It’s eventful and fast paced and I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not without it’s flaws. There appears to be a backstory between the main character, Billie, and the detective which gets a little confusing. I couldn’t help feeling as if I’d missed a crucial part of the story. However, I have since found out that this is the topic of the second book.

It’s as if this book is there to catch your attention and the following books in the series elaborate on the things you have learnt. I’m not sure I’m completely hooked with this series, but am willing to give the next book, Welcome to the Spookshow, a try.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Family Fun at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Last week we had a lovely day out at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, It was a bit of a spur of the moment trip if I’m honest. My OH had just taken possession of his new (to him) car and wanted to give it a bit of run out.

This was our second visit to YWP, the first being a couple of years ago and there have been a few changes since we were last there.

We arrived a little after lunch and decided we should grab a bite to eat before heading off to see the animals.

After navigating the gift shop without it costing us anything we headed to the Safari Cafe, located within then Safari Village.

The menu had a good selection of both hot and cold foods and an equally good selection of drinks (including alcohol for those who fancy a tipple).

As we only wanted a light lunch we opted for ham sandwiches for the kids and paninis for me and my OH. I went with ham and cheese while Rik settled on mozzarella. We added a couple of side orders of chips too.

To drink I had a diet coke, the kids had juice and Rik had a salted caramel milkshake.

The food arrived within 5 minutes of ordering and it was really nice. Rik enjoyed his milkshake but said it tasted more vanilla than salted caramel.

Although we all enjoyed our food, it was a little expensive (£32.50 in total) If we were to visit again we would most likely take some kind of pack up as there are plenty of picnic areas within the park.

 

After we had refuelled it was time for the main event. We paid and made our way into the park.

First up we went to see the Meerkat and Mongoose Mansion before heading into Lion Country. We got a pretty good look at the lions, one of which decided to have a good roar while wandering around the enclosure. This didn’t go down too well with Anya who wasn’t keen on the noise.

On the way out of Lion Country as we headed Into Africa we got to see the rhino. He was a new addition since our last visit and the kids were very intrigued by him.

We gradually made our way around to Leopard Heights spotting lechwe, giraffes, ostriches and emu on our way.

After the leopard we moved onto the Land of the Tiger where we were able to follow one of the tigers as he paced around the enclosure.

One of the main attractions for the kids were the polar bears and as we made our way to Project Polar we stopped off to view the South American animals together with the sleeping giant anteater.

We spent quite a long time watching the four polar bears as they were quite active and playful.

When it was time to move on we worked our way around, past the giant otters and onto Wallaby Walkabout.

Wallaby Walkabout is an open enclosure where you can get up close to the animals. We didn’t get too close as a lot of them had babies and we didn’t want to disturb them. Even so it was still a fabulous experience for the kids.

Lemur Woods was next on our agenda. This is another open enclosure where you can walk around while the lemurs play in the trees above you. Neither of the kids were as impressed as me in here as they thought the lemurs would jump on their heads.

Our final stop was to see the baboon and painted dogs. However they were all more interested in the gardeners working outside the rear of their enclosures so we didn’t get a brilliant view of them.

All in all we had a lovely day and would definitely come back again. Although next time we will be a little more prepared and take our own food.

For more information on pricing, opening times etc visit their website.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

Disclaimer: This trip was organised and paid for by us.

My Top 5 Planner Hacks

This week the other girls and I are sharing with you our favourite planner hacks.

What’s a planner hack?

While most of you are fully aware of what we mean by a planner hack, there may be a few newbies out there who have no idea what we are talking about. Let me explain. A hack is basically anything that you do to customise things (in this case your planner) to make it work for you.

As you are probably aware everyone has different needs and requirements when it comes to their planners so the everyday shop bought items very rarely cut the mustard. So what is a girl to do? They adopt a few hacks to make their planners exactly what they want.

I’m not using many hacks at the minute within my planner and that may explain why I’m not using it as much as I should so I will be reading with interest the other posts in the series.

My Planner Hacks

In the meantime, here are a few of my favourite planner hacks and how I use them

Colour Coding

I use colour in several different ways within my planners. I have a separate colour for each member of my family together with different one for household, finances and cars. In the past I have used different colours for lots of other categories but stopped using this when I changed my planner set up.

I use the colours in different ways depending on my planner set up. In my bullet journal I used highlighters to mark out the months along the bottom of the pages.

I also used colour coding along the edges to mark out specific pages relating to the same topic.

Tip In Pages

This links in quite well with the colour coding mentioned above. When you are using lots of colours, it can sometimes be hard to remember what they all relate to. Cue the tip in page. This is a small piece of paper which is taped to the inside back (or front) cover of your planner/bullet journal and can be opened out when needed.

Again, I use a few different versions of these, They are extremely useful when first starting out with a bullet journal.

Washi Tape

Have I mentioned how much I love washi tape. It’sso versatile and I find it indispensable when it comes to my planners. I use it to mark specific pages such as the beginning of a new month. I also use it to decorate my pages.

Stickers

Stickers are another hack that help save time. I mean if you are writing the same thing day in day out it’s going to get extremely tedious. This is where my stickers come in. I love functional stickers such as these syn tracker ones from The Geeky Planner.

Again, I also like using stickers to pretty up my pages too.

Post It Notes

Some pages are made for post it notes, for example a things to buy spread. It makes complete sense to me to add various post is notes to these pages so that when you are ready to go shopping you can just pull out the relevant post it note and off you go.

It also helps when you need to send someone else to the shops on your behalf as I’m not sure about you, but there is no way my planner is leaving the house with someone else!!!

Well that’s it for my planner hacks. What hacks do you use in your planners?

Also, don’t forget to check out what hacks the other girls are using!

Emma-Louise Smith at The Stationery Geekette

Kelly Vizma at The Scrapbook Girl 

Louise Parkinson at The Vintage Planner

Alyson Duncan at A Life Lived in Words

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

 

The Week Ahead – 17.04.17 to 23.04.17

It’s Sunday and I’m looking at the week ahead with another weekly spread. I’ll be honest with you and say that I’m not really using my planner as much as I should. This has meant productivity and organisation has been suffering too.

I’ll be reviewing my planner set up over the next week or so and making some improvements. Hopefully I can be more productive in May .

In the meantime here is this week’s pages in my week on 1 page with notes Travelers Notebook from Travelers Times on Etsy.

I am using the stickers I received from LGD Designs on Facebook which were part of the TSG BookClub Box.

Sample stickers from LGD Designs on Facebook

I love the colours. They are just right for brightening up a rainy day (which is exactly what the weather is doing as I write).

I also managed to find some pink and lilac washi tapes which coordinated perfectly with the stickers.

 

So there it is, another week decorated and ready for the details to be added.

Do you decorate your planners? Are you a functional planner with white space or do you prefer to cover your full page?

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

Wintersong by S Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S Jae-JonesTitleWintersong

Author: S Jae-Jones

Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

Page Count: 368

 

Synopsis

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen, Liesl feels that her childhood dreams are slipping away. And when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. But with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.

Review

Wintersong was chosen by Emma-Louise for the February TSG Bookclub Box. I’d heard a few good reviews about it before I got around to reading it. Unfortunately I didn’t fall in love with it.

The book is a retelling of the film Labyrinth (which I love) and bears similarities to a poem by Christina Rosetti called The Goblin Market. So far so good.

I loved the descriptive world building and beautiful writing. For a debut novel the writing was impeccable. It’s a well written fantasy and I can understand the 5 star reviews and the hype. It just didn’t cut it for me – I didn’t connect with the characters very much or fall in love with their story.

So why didn’t I love it?

The romance was all over the place. One minute they’re all over each other, the next they can’t even bear to be in the same room. Also for a YA novel the content is a little more ‘mature’ than I would have expected at times, definitely not for the younger age of the proposed demographic. I’m not sure I missed the point, but I also feel like the reader is being given the wrong ideas surrounding the sex as Liesl is expecting it to fix her.

Although the Goblin King was the one character I actually liked for the most part it felt like he was secondary character in the story a lot of the time. I understand the story focuses on Liesl but it also about her connection with the Goblin King and I didn’t really see that.

I struggled to keep up with the plot and where the story was going. Just when I got a handle on things, the goalposts moved and we switched direction leaving me bewildered.

My final disappointment was the ending. It was so anticlimactic. Don’t get me wrong, I was anticipating the majority of what was going to happen, but I expected a little more in the way of consequences.

There was no explanation. What happened to everyone afterwards? How did it happen before? There are too many aspects of the story that are thrown at the reader and then left unresolved.

I’d like to hope that there was a reason for the ending – a second book maybe? If that’s the case then it would make a little more sense and hopefully answer all my questions.

Despite all my disappointments I would recommend this book purely down to the writing. Wintersong is beautifully written and extremely descriptive. Fingers crossed for book two.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

 

Execution is Everything by Nick Warren

Execution is Everything by Nick WarrenTitleExecution Is Everything: A Jon Kaine Short Thriller

Author: Nick Warren

Genre: Thriller

Page Count: 120

 

Synopsis

When you have 10 seconds to live, Execution Is Everything.

Dr. Jon Kaine has flown into New York to commit a crime, but that’s not the problem. The problem is the late-night bar he hides out in, the gang that runs it, and the beautiful woman who follows him inside.

Kaine is a psychologist – more used to business pitches than bar fights – but as the night descends into violence he’s forced to put his skills to darker use.

Submission. Affirmation. Respect. Three weapons in the ancient art of manipulating people.

Review

I completely devoured this book. I read it in one day as I couldn’t put it down.

I love the character development, especially the main protagonist. They are totally engaging and believable and extremely well developed for a book of this length.

The story is packed with plenty of tension and is totally different from anything I’ve read for a long time. I especially loved the psychology aspects within the plot, it adds something to the whole story. It was interesting to see how it’s possible to ‘outwit’ people just by knowing how they will react in certain situations.

It definitely left me wanting more and I’ve signed up for parts 2 and 3 so will update my review when I’ve read them.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x