Monday, 5 December 2016

5 Gift Ideas For The Book Lover In Your Life

I love receiving books as a gift - I think they can be quite personal and say a lot about the person gifting them to you, and what they think of you. Crikey, that's a bit of pressure, isn't it? Anyhoo, I love nothing more than picking up a good book and thinking 'yes, so and so would love this!' It's such a good feeling. Sure, at times I've been guilty of buying my loved ones books I would rather receive myself, but if you've got friends with similar tastes then this needn't be a worry. 

Prefers Halloween to Christmas? 
If your book fan is more likely to be hiding in darkness rather than under the mistletoe, then why not pick up the newly released The Nightmare Before Christmas book, written and illustrated by the genius himself Tim Burton? With never-before-seen illustrations, this is a must have for any Jack Skellington fan. 

Always dragging you to the nearest pop up foodie spots? 
I bought the Where Chefs Eat book for Joe last Christmas, as it really does list all the best places to eat in the UK. You can buy a world version, but I thought this cute UK edition would be better suited to us - but if you know someone who loves travelling then the world edition might suit them too! Or, if you've only eyes for Pizza, there's even a Where Chefs Eat Pizza edition! 

Got a fun and fashionable friend? 
Most readers started with The Tale of Peter Rabbit as a nipper, so these gorgeous editions with redesigned front covers from leading fashion designers will be ideal for your fashion-forward friend. With designers such as Orla Kiely and Henry Holland creating new covers, they give the much-loved classic tales a new twist that any book lover would be happy to see in their collection. 

Minimalist or not enough space to keep books?
Whether their house is bookless by design or if they simply cannot fit a bookshelf in their space, then why not try a Kindle? You can easily keep 10,000 books on there, and they're lighter than a traditional paperback - I've certainly seen the perks of having a Kindle in my life. Whether you choose a fancy Kindle Fire or the classic Kindle Paperwhite, there's certainly one out there for everyone. 

Fan of Margaret Atwood or Emily St. John Mandel? 
If you couldn't get enough of Atwood's Oryx and Crake series or St. John Mandel's Station Eleven then When The Floods Came by Clare Morrall could be the next best book you read. This is a startling vision of a possible not-too-distant flood-prone future and completely full of suspense which keeps you hooked as the story goes on.   

So there's a few new suggestions for your loved ones - or yourself, I won't tell! What books are you hoping to find under the tree this year? 

*Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Recently Read #3

I've been getting through a few books on my kindle recently so I thought it was about time that I shared them on here too. Sometimes I forget that I even have my kindle, but I've managed to squeeze in some extra reading during the evening and get my read count up. I'm still way off my Goodreads challenge, but I'm as hopeful as the next fool. I've only eight books behind schedule - I can do it, piece of cake! 




The Yellow Room - Jess Vallance
If you receive a letter telling you your father has died, what do you do? 
Anna's father left when she was very young and Anna, now 16, is living with her ambitious, unemotional, scientist mother. Then she receives a letter from her father's current girlfriend, Edie, with some shocking news: her father has died. 

Edie would like to meet Anna because she has something for her from her father. Anna's friends think Edie is not to be trusted and that she should steer clear. But Anna is drawn to Edie: her warmth, her character, her ability to rustle up delicious meals, all of which it seems her own mother is seemingly incapable of... and the way she can tell Edie the secret that is buried inside her, that she cannot bring herself to tell her mother or her best friends. 

A taughtly told, compelling tale about mothers and their daughters - and the lengths that some will go to, to make their dreams come true.
Pretty good intro, amiright? I definitely couldn't wait to read more. Vallance is clearly a very talented writer - she managed to portray some great characters within The Yellow Room, from the ordinary Anna to villain Leon, as well as approaching subjects such as mental health and bullying in a careful manner. The Yellow Room is a great book for young readers, and I would definitely recommend it to someone who is branching into YA for the first time. 


When Everything Feels Like The Movies - Raziel Reid
Everyone wanted to break me. But stars aren't broken, they explode. And I was the ultimate supernova. 
My name was Jude. They called me Judy. I was beautiful either way.
School was basically a movie set. We were all just playing our parts. The Crew, the Extras, the Movie Stars. No one was ever real . . . especially me. I didn't fit any category.
All the girls watched me - I could walk so much better than them in heels, and my make-up was always flawless.
All the boys wanted to, well, you know . . . even if they didn't admit it.
They loved me, they hated me, but they could never ignore me.
I only had eyes for Luke. A red carpet rolled out from my heart towards him and this year, on Valentine'sDay, I was going to walk that carpet and find my mark next to him. It would be like a dream.
But my dream was going to turn into a nightmare.
This is my story.
When Everything Feels Like The Movies follows the life of Jude - a trans, gay eighth grade student. Although it was quite difficult to read - Jude receives so much abuse and hate from pretty much everyone at school - as it is inspired by true events, it make it even more harrowing to realise the horrid ordeal members of the trans community are subjected to every single day. 


The Boy Most Likely To - Huntley Fitzpatrick 
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the drinks cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house. 
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters. 
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard . . . 

I really wish I had read book one of the My Life Next Door series before picking up The Boy Most Likely To, because I couldn't get enough of these characters. It's a well known premise - bad boy meets good girl, but I thought this had a great twist to this much loved scenario. 

I thought the use of Tim and Alice's voices to narrate their own passages was well thought out - as sometimes this can be a bit gimmicky, but I felt this really added to the pace of the story. Overall, I felt like it was a funny, surprising and charming YA romance. 

*Disclaimer: Some titles may have been provided in exchange for an honest review. No further compensation received.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Desperately Seeking Comfort*

When you first have a baby, you have so many things you need to think about. What sort of crib will they sleep in? What kind of nappies will you use? How will you feed them? I managed to successfully breastfeed Dylan for over a year, so I was quite hopeful I'd be able to do the same with Robin. I've actually had a much easier time with Robin than I did with Dylan - we had to stay in hospital for three days to establish feeding - but one thing I have noticed this time around is how much my back aches.



Just before I left work to go on maternity leave, our offices were being completely refurbished. Despite being the head office for a stylish department store, our floor hadn't been decorated since 2008! My chair was pretty uncomfortable for a regular person, let alone a big ol' pregnant lady so I had to find a mesh back support to give me some much needed relief. A nice, high-backed office chair from Furniture at Work would have been perfect for me! I'm actually looking forward to returning to work to see what the offices look like now.

Back at home, as much as I would love a cute nursery chair to feed Robin in, it just isn't practical in our little house. Instead, I'm trying to convince Joe that we should buy some new sofas as ours are way past their best. Thanks to years of Dylan jumping onto them, they are so uncomfortable and are not nice to sit in. I'm hoping the elusive DFS sale will continue after Christmas in time for me to persuade Joe! 
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Furniture at Work. Content written by myself.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Present Ideas from Wicked Uncle

With Christmas just around the corner, I always have loved ones asking what they should get Dylan - and now Robin - for the big day. Thanks to adverts on kids TV, Dylan would quite happily receive thousands of cheaply made, plastic monstrosities but I'd much rather he had something more creative that allows him to learn as well as play. 
This is when Wicked Uncle comes in and saves the day. They got in touch and wanted to know if we had a 'wicked uncle' who's a bit useless when it comes to buying presents for Dylan. As none of Joe's siblings have had children yet, they're all walking on unfamiliar territory when it comes to children's toys. I asked Joe's brother Jonny if he would like to use the Wicked Uncle website to select some toys for his nephew. A few days later, a little parcel came in the post addressed to Dylan and he was completely thrilled with Jonny's picks. 


Dylan received a Superhero mask maker and some build-it-yourself flying fighter planes. As Dylan is completely superhero-mad, the mask maker went down as a huge hit. Dylan loved creating his own mask, and of course wearing it when busy he's saving day! The flying fighter planes were also a huge hit as he was able to build them with Joe and they had lots of fun racing their planes. I was really happy with the gifts Jonny had chosen, as they kept Dylan occupied for ages and are something he comes to again and again to play with. 


I asked Jonny what he thought about Wicked Uncle and he thought their website was brilliant. You can select toys based on the child's age, or go one step further and narrow down the type of toy you need - something snuggly or something outdoorsy? Wicked Uncle sorts them all out and makes it a doddle! 
*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored a collaboration with Wicked Uncle. Content written by myself.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Getting Ready for the New Year


I don't know if it's just me, but since having a baby I feel like my memory really isn't what it was. Maybe it's because I've always got a thousand different things to think about now, but I found it hard to keep track of all my appointments. Busy B were kind enough to send me their Family Calendar in the gorgeous wreath design to see if it would solve my planning problem. The calendar can track five schedules and even a separate column for birthdays, which is really helpful now that I'm a mam of two now. With visits from the health visitor and countless trips to the mama clinic to weigh my little tubby boy, Robin definitely needed his own little schedule! 

Another great addition to the Family Calendar is that it has monthly pockets - these are so helpful for putting in receipts or birthday party invites, and helps keep my fridge door from being cluttered! Ever since Dylan started school in September he's been invited to birthday parties left, right and centre so I can't wait for January when I pop the calendar up and hid away all the Angry Birds and Minion invitations! 




As if that wasn't enough, there's also some handy stickers included with the calendar. With stickers to mark term times, days out, sleepovers and so much more, they're really transforming my event-tracking life! The colours work so well with the calendar, and I've even ordered a few different styles to really take it to town. 

Before I went on maternity leave, I loved using my Busy B double spread busy life diary, which you can see pictured above, as it allowed me to track my work events and 'life' events, as it were, so I'm really looking forward to using this calendar in 2017. Busy B is a brand I love so I'm sure the Family Calendar will be perfect for us! 

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*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Busy B. Content written by myself.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Staying Safe in the Workplace*

Since leaving university, I've worked in my fair share of offices. Ranging from a wonderful little converted town house in Bath to a concrete-nightmare 1960s building due some care and attention, each office has required different knowledge for staying safe in the workplace. Whether it's a lengthy walk to the nearest fire safety point, to ensuring doorways aren't blocked by excess packaging, I've had to make sure I knew all the ins and outs to keep myself and my colleagues safe. Just make sure your safety coordinator isn't Dwight Schrute. 
When I interned for a health organisation, you can bet your bottom dollar that I was up to speed with all the latest health and safety, and even had to complete some exams before I could properly start working. Of course, you don't need to wait for your work to offer you the opportunity to take part in a Health and Safety course - you can take one independently with SHEilds NEBOSH Training UK, and it goes with you wherever you work. Joe does this for his Health and Safety examinations as it means he can work freelance in other kitchens. 
This is really helpful if you work for yourself or if you have your own company and hire a team. Having yourself or your workers trained up to the latest health and safety standards is essential as it can actually save you a lot of hassle and money. For example, an improved workplace environment can be achieved - having a bright, non-damp workplace is key for boosting performance - and less costs due to accidents and health issues if your health and safety policy is up to date. 

If you think you'd be interested in some health and safety training, then SHEilds NEBOSH Training UK are an independent examination board and offer a range of globally-recognised, vocationally-related qualifications for workers in the private and public sectors. 

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with SHEilds. Content written by myself. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Some Christmas Gift Ideas



Okay, so now it's November I can finally accept that Christmas is around the corner. It's been quite nice to not work in retail over the festive period this year, as anyone who does will tell you how Christmas starts in September (or earlier!) if you have to peek into a stockroom at all. Anyhoo, the flip side of not working over Christmas means that I'm having to be a bit more frugal with my Christmas picks this year. I thought I'd pull up a little gift list of a few things I've got my eyes on for the nearest and dearest in my life incase it offers any help to anyone reading. 

First up we have the Fisher-Price Roaring Rainforest Jumperoo for little Robin. He'll only be four months by the time Christmas is here - I say only, when really I'm wondering where my tiny baby is going - so he won't actually be able to use this but at that age he can't really use anything so I thought it's better to buy something he needs while it's relatively cheap and put it away for when he's big enough. When people have asked, I've suggested that they could get Robin some clothes in the next size up, or toys that can be used from 6 months and over. Along this line, I've given friends and family a strict 'no teddies' rule, as our house is already swarming with teddies of Dylan's. 

Speaking of Dylan - we also have a house full of Lego! I thought a great idea to curb the lego buying is instead of buying him a lot of annoying sets, that this LEGO Star Wars 75146 Advent Calendar would fit the bill. Some of the Star Wars kits cost more than I'm hoping to spend on the entire family, so being able to get some cute little bits for around £20 seems like a bargain to me!

Can you believe I've never played Cards Against Humanity? I think this is more of a stocking filler kind of game, but I'm looking forward to buying this and having a play with some of our more outrageous friends! Another great buy for outrageous friends could be this Plant Theatre Boozy Gardeners Kit. I originally had Joe in mind for this one, what with him being a chef and all, but I think anyone can appreciate some cocktail-inspired plants, right?

And it wouldn't really be a gift list without a suggestion for myself. Anyone who knows me will know I'm a huge Margaret Atwood fan, so I'd love to find Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold under the tree. I think this would be a great present for any fans of ol' Shakespeare too so that basically doubles the amount of people you could potentially buy this for!



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*Disclaimer: This post was contains affiliate links.
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