March Reads

Greetings team, and welcome to March’s edition of my 2018 reading updates. Thanks to my commute and the snowy weather I’ve read a lot of books this month – ten to be precise. And they’ve all been good. There have been tales of great explorers and young girls lost in this crazy world. Plus assassins and murderous nannies. What a great mix, right?! Read on to see what I thought of my March reads.

March Reads - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

The List of Real Things by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

This is a lovely book about a young girl dealing with the loss of her parents and grandfather and also her youngest sister’s fantastical imagining’s. It’s also about growing up and balancing first love and friendship with embarrassing family and doing what must be done.

The Colour of the Sun by David Almond

There’s something so special about David Almond’s writing and his latest novel is no different. It’s a beautiful look at the wonder of this world and dealing with loss. All wrapped up in a tale of a young boy trying to discover who killed a gang member. It’s lovely.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

I’m a massive Louise O’Neill fan so when her first adult book was thrust into my hands a month or so ago I was very happy. So happy in fact that I pretty much cancelled all plans for 24 hours and got reading. And guys, it was good. It’s an honest and unflinching look at one women’s relationship with an older, richer man who wants to keep their relationship secret. He uses her when he wants, is awful to her and the relationship is clearly abusive – both mentally and physically. So you’re of course rooting for her in the hope that she realises what he’s doing to her is wrong and that she finally walks away for good. Unfortunately she can’t and is too hung up on him – jeopardising her new relationship and being destructive with her friends and family. The characters are all unlikeable, their decisions ridiculous and awful and yet the book is still incredible. It’s engrossing and frustrating, brilliantly written and heartbreaking.

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

I loved this book. It started as a normal teen read about first love and forging your own path while dealing with parents who want something totally different for you. With characters that I could identify with and who were just normal kids – not up themselves or annoying at all. And then a terrorist attack happened in the town where the book is set, and Mia, who happens to be Muslim and have the same surname as the attacker, is suddenly viewed as someone other than just a normal teen. She becomes a target for prejudice and her parents become even stricter and harder on her. Will she have the strength to decide her own future or will fear of disappointing her family stop her from doing what she wants? I really enjoyed how the book morphed into a different book, one that looked at wider issues and prejudices and asked important questions. I think that’s important. Definitely a good read and one I’d recommend to others.

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club by Alex Bell

I loved this book. It’s a magical adventure following one girl’s polar adventure. She’s joined by a rag-tag band of friends who are with her when they become separated by the adults and ‘real’ explorers. The book has everything you want in a brilliant adventure tale, including unicorns, snow princess and savage attacking cabbages. Yes really! It’s so incredible and just a fab read – no matter your age you’ll love it.

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

I love Sarah’s writing – it is so beautiful and emotional – and her latest, a book written with Brian Conaghan, where they write a chapter apiece, is no different. Nico and Jess are two troubled teenagers who meet and form a connection. Nico has recently emigrated from Poland and Jess is struggling with the violence happening at home. They meet and friendship becomes love, but is that enough for them to deal with what’s happening in their lives?

You have to read it to find out – it’s brilliant, thought-provoking and stunningly written and it doesn’t end how you think. But it does end perfectly.

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

Both my sisters have been trying to get me to read this book for ages but I’ve just had so much already on my TBR pile that’s just come first. But now that I’ve finally read it I can see why they pushed it so hard! It’s such a good read. It’s centered on a government trained assassin who’s left behind that world to become a saviour to those in need. He keeps to himself and doesn’t have friends or make relationships until one day he gets a call for help and things spiral out of control. He’s shot at and pursued and his entire world is threatened. This book is good. It’s like all the best spy novels and features a brilliant hero that you can’t help but root for. Oh and it’s a fast-paced page-turner of a book.

Spark by Alice Broadway

I’ve been waiting to read Spark the follow-up to Alice Broadway’s incredible Ink for close to two years after reading Ink on submission at my old job. And thankfully this book did not disappoint. Spark is phenomenal. It’s a brilliant book about secrets, lies, fairy tales and learning to think for yourself and question what everyone’s telling you. It’s absolutely astonishingly excellent.

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

This book opens with the words: The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds and from those words I was hooked. This is the tale of one family and what happens when they hire a nanny. A nanny that’s brilliant with the kids and becomes part of the family. Before taking part in a heinous crime. So not an easy read but a really good one. I devoured this book in 24 hours and would definitely recommend it. It lost a little of its brilliance at the end as the last few pages felt rushed, especially after so much build up to the crux of the book. But that didn’t ruin it. It’s just something worth knowing before you start I think.

Clean by Juno Dawson

This is an incredible book – a page-turner of a read focused on addiction. It follows Lexi who gets taken to rehab by her brother after overdosing. There she meets other addicts and learns that she’s just like them – an addict, beholden to the drugs she takes. While in rehab she examines why and how she has become addicted it’s a no holds barred look at that side of things. Lexi is a flawed and often times spoiled girl, but you can’t help but support her thanks to Juno’s incredible writing. I adored this book.

So there we have it, my March reads – and so many brilliant books. I’d be hard pushed to choose a favourite, which is always a good thing! Tell me, have you read any of them? And if so, what did you think of them, any favourites?

-Fi x

Life Lately

I’m pretty certain that there won’t be a Friday favourites post this week. You see I’m off for a long weekend to Budapest, so it’s unlikely that I’ll be writing a blog post during my trip. So instead I thought I’d do a little life lately list in order to catch you all up on what I’ve been up to lately. Because of course you’ve been pondering on this topic for quite a while!

Watching: Black Lightning – a new superhero show on Netflix, I’m obsessed. Anissa is my favourite character and Gambi and Jefferson. Okay they’re all pretty great and my allegiance changes continuously.

Reading: I read Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale during my week off and it was a very good read. It’s a Russian folklore/fantasy read with a feminist twist.

 

 

Visiting: Lately I’ve been spending my lunchtimes wandering around my little patch of London. Visiting hidden corners, finding colourful buildings and just enjoying being out in the fresh air.

Wearing: Over the weekend I switched out my winter clothes for the spring ones. It feels like the sunshine might be around to stay so I’ve packed away most of my jumpers and unpacked my summer dresses. I’m hoping that the tights may be gone soon too. Also I’ve finally switched to my mac instead of my winter coat. Living the dream!

Planning: Obviously I’ve been doing a little planning for my Budapest trip, plus there’s been bits and bobs to do for my Australia trip later this year.

Listening to: I’ve jumped back onto the podcast train recently, with both The West Wing Weekly and Slow Burn which is a podcast about Watergate. Slow Burn is absolutely fascinating. Now of course I know the main pieces about the Watergate scandal, but this gives a lot more detail.

Drinking: I had my first iced coffee the other day, now if that’s not a sign of spring then I don’t know what is! Also lately I’ve become a little bit too reliant on a mid-afternoon Diet Coke, so I might need to cut back. But it’s better than a second coffee, so you know, swings and roundabouts.

Buying: I’ve picked up some new jeans at the weekend, it was the classic doing my food shopping in Tesco and I passed a pair of light blue jeans that looked comfy. The next thing I knew they were in my basket. But actually they are the comfiest things ever, so yay for making good life decisions. Apart from that I’ve not bought much else. I even ignored the Hufflepuff pajamas in Primark a couple of weeks ago. Who even am I?!

 

Friday Favourites 108 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

 

Cooking: I’ve done a lot of slow cooker meals recently. I made pulled pork over the Easter weekend and it was so yummy. One day I will write it up for the blog. I promise! Also Fi made a potato, artichoke and cabbage curry the other day to make the most of all the vegetables from our OddBox.

Eating: The Leon vegan wrap is my current favourite lunchtime treat of choice. It’s my fallback on days I haven’t made a packed lunch. I also managed to book in a Dishoom breakfast last week. Obviously I went for my favourite egg and bacon naan.

So what have you all been up to lately? Any good books I should read, recipes I should make or things I need to buy?

Potato, Artichoke and Cabbage Curry

For the last month or so we’ve been getting an Oddbox, which is a fortnightly delivery of surplus fruit and veg. As it is surplus food you don’t necessarily get the same stuff each week. I really like this element of the boxes as it means I’m trying something new and different with each delivery. Well not necessarily new, more likely veggies that I’m not massively keen on or haven’t really cooked before. It’s most definitely been fun to give new recipes and foods a try over the last few weeks. And that’s what I’m sharing today, one of my recent new recipe finds – a potato, artichoke and cabbage curry.

Potato Artichoke Cabbage Curry - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

One of our recent boxes had these two unusual, to me anyway, ingredients in it. I’ve obviously had cabbage before but only at my parents or in restaurants, I’ve never cooked it and don’t know what to do with it, other than it being a side to a main meal. As for artichoke hearts, I’ve never had then. At least not that I can recall anyway. Until they arrived, I didn’t even know what they looked like! Anyway after a bit of research, we settled on this potato, artichoke and cabbage curry. And spoiler, it was delicious!

It was also super easy and was perfect as leftovers for lunch the next day. Always, an essential thing to consider when it comes to meals, am I right?! So if you’re intrigued, read on and get cooking your own delicious veggie curry. You won’t regret it, of that I’m sure!

Ingredients:

1 onion / 4 cloves of garlic / 3 crushed cardamon pods / 1 tsp coriander seeds / 1 tsp chilli powder / 0.5 tsp ground ginger / 0.5 tsp ground turmeric / 280g Jerusalem artichoke and potatoes (washed and cut into chunks) / 400g sliced cabbage / 415g chopped tomatoes / 100ml coconut milk

Method:

Slice the onions and fry in oil until soft / dry roast the cardamon, cloves and coriander until fragrant, then grind up with the chilli / add all the spices, plus the garlic, to the onion / add the cabbage, artichoke and potato pieces and coat with the onion and spices / add the tomatoes, coconut milk and enough water to cover the cabbage / simmer on low heat for an hour / serve with rice, naan bread and mango chutney / enjoy!

Friday Favourites #114

Greetings friends and HAPPY FRIDAY! Does anyone else feel like this week went by super fast? Or is that just me? I did only work a three-day week so that might have something to do with it, but whatever the reason it’s been a lovely speedy week. So let’s make that number one on today’s Friday favourites post. After all a lovely speedy week has to be a good thing, right? As the weekend is already in touching distance despite it feeling like we’ve just finished the last one. Oh joy!

 

 

<> Number two on the Friday favourites list? Well that’s easy. It has to be my third viewing of Hamilton. I went again on Monday night with some of my faves and had the best time. Everything about it was perfect and it was just such fun. Each time I see it I’m amazed at how funny and how completely incredible it is. I really cannot express how much you all need to see this musical. It’s amazing.

<> In other news we had the Easter weekend, so of course that makes the list of Friday favourites. Even though I was ill the ENTIRE WEEKEND, yes the whole time, I still had a nice time. I mean being forced to lie on the sofa surrounded by your favourites while you read or Netflix and eat Easter eggs is only going to be a good thing. Especially when it last for four whole days. The actual dream. Am I right?!

 

 

<>Another exciting thing this week is that I went to my first ever Lush Book Club. This week’s book club was with Katherine Arden, the author of the Winternight series, of which I’m a big fan. I adored both The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower. So it was lovely to hear Katherine discuss her books, inspiration and the importance of heroes that are both sexy and serious. The night also included getting chocolate cupcakes, a free copy of The Girl in the Tower and lots of free Lush goodies. Interestingly the three free products that we were given were all specifically chosen as they were linked to the themes or characters in the book. How cool is that?

<>I’m very late to the game but this week I finally got round to watching Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and LOVED it. It was so beautifully acted and the storyline was gripping. I’m super pleased the story went where it did as I was worried it was going to go too far or unrealistically at the end. If you’ve not seen it you definitely should!

 

 

<>Other things that are making me happy this week include the lovely spring like weather. It’s really been so so beautiful this week. Yes it’s been a bit nippy, but it’s also been wonderful. And the lighter evenings coupled with the blue skies has made such a difference to my life. Why do I always forget that?! Also we went to The Charlotte Street Hotel earlier this week for cake and coffee and it was so nice. I fell in love with everything – including the bathroom wallpaper, the hotel facade and my cute Easter nest cakes. So cute!

So there we go, some happy things from the last few days! What’s made your week awesome? Do let me know!

Fi x

Recent Reads 2018, Part 2

 

Greetings chums, how are you all this fine day? Happy Easter Monday. Isn’t this post perfectly timed to help you find new books for the last day of your Easter break! I figured that the start of April seemed the right time to share part two of my recent reads series. We’ve had three months of the year now, so I should be a quarter of the way through my GoodReads goal of reading 50 books. Spoiler, I am. To find out just how many I’ve read have a good old read below.

Half Lost (The Half Bad trilogy #3) by Sally Green **** 4 stars

This one is the last book in the Half Bad trilogy. It’s been a good 18 months since I read book two in this series, but I was soon utterly engrossed in the world of black and white witches. The book is full of twists and turns, as the Nathan, Gabriel and their allies try to bring peace to their world. Sometimes I’m disappointed by the final book in a series, but not this time. I loved every second of this book and raced through the pages. I thought the ending was perfect. Actually it was something else too, but I don’t want to say anything more for fear of ruining the ending for those that haven’t read the book yet. There are rumours of this being made into a film, and if that’s the case I am totally there for this adaptation.

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks **** 4 stars

Harriet and Charlotte are best friends who tell each other everything. But then one day Harriet’s daughter Alice disappears while Charlotte is taking care of her. Suddenly both women are searching for answers. How could this happen? Where is Alice? And how well do you really know your best friend? This is a fast paced, gripping thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

*I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review*

Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie **** 4 stars

I seem to remember mentioning at the start of the year that I wanted to read more Agatha Christie books. I loved Murder on the Orient Express and The Body in the Library last year so I’m keen to continue reading more from Christie. Elephants can Remember is a definitely a good one. This is a Hercule Poirot mystery that sees our favourite detective and his friend Mrs Oliver investigate an apparent murder suicide that occurred 20 years ago. Without giving too much away I liked this story, the mystery and the solution that Poirot and Oliver uncover.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena *** 3 stars

The Couple Next Door was a huge hit last year, and as with every other huge hit I waited a little bit before reading it. I don’t like to fall into the hype around books and I think waiting a bit helps with this. That being said I half loved and half didn’t love this book. I thought it started off well, a baby goes missing from her own house, who did, what are her parents hiding and who has the child. As to be expected there was a lot of twists and turns in this one, which kept me gripped. However, the last third of the book because a little unbelievable. I just feel that the twists went too far in the end.

 

 

recent-reads-Brightstorm

 

The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz **** 4 stars

This is a glorious book. I was fascinated by the three main characters Ben, Clare & Lucy and was invested in their stories from the very start. For me Clare’s story was my favourite and I found myself racing through this book trying to work out how her story would join up with Ben and Lucy’s. If you’re looking for a gripping book full of mystery, well-written characters and with a heartwarming feel to it then this is the one for you.

*I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review*

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy ***** 5 stars

Brightstorm is a fabulous book full of friends, family and adventure. Maud and Arthur are in Lontown waiting for their father to return from his latest expedition to discover South Polaris. But then the unthinkable happens and the twins find their world turned upside down. Now with a band of new friends the pair set off on their own adventure to find their father and clear the Brightstorm name. This story is just really really lovely, yes it’s aimed at 8-12 year olds, but I don’t care. I whizzed through the book and I can’t wait to read book two. It made me want to fly a sky-ship and meet the thought-wolves.

The Friend by Dorothy Koomson **** 4 stars

It’s been a while since I read a book by Dorothy Koomson, but after a couple of chapters I remembered just how much I love her stories. When her husband changes jobs, Cece moves her family from London to Brighton. She’s soon embroiled in a web of secrets. What is her husband hiding? What secrets do her new friends have? And why was a woman left for dead at her children’s new school? The Friend is packed full of intriguing characters, lots of secrets and believable relationships between all the characters. Also I’d quite like a Brighton beach hut pretty please.

*I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review*

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley *** 3 stars

Next up on the recent reads list is book three in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series. I’m a big fan of these books, they’ve got the family saga thing going on, along with mystery and intrigue. The Shadow Sister follows Star as she searches for the truth behind her heritage. Set in England we switch between Star’s life in London and Kent and the life of headstrong Flora from The Lake District one hundred years earlier.

 

 

The Last Mile by David Baldacci *** 3 stars

I had a craving to read an American crime thriller so I searched my Kindle and found this from David Baldacci. This is book two in the Amos Decker Memory Man series and follows as he attempts to uncover who murdered Melvin Mars’ parents and then set Mars up to take the fall. Mars has been on death row for twenty years when, just before his execution, someone else confesses to the crime. This is exactly what I needed to read and it’s exactly why I picked a Baldacci book, he never disappoints. I’ve got book three on my bookshelf so I may have to dive into that one soon.

Everywoman by Jess Phillips ***** 5 stars

This was the most perfect read during a snowy weekend. I read it in just 24 hours. Everywoman is written by MP Jess Phillips. She shares her thoughts on a number of topics, including growing up, motherhood, violence and equality. It’s a witty and insightful read that encourages everyone to stand up and make their voice heard. I had so many emotions reading this book, I highly recommend.

So there you have it, part two of my 2018 recent reads series. The ten books mentioned above bring my total books read for 2018 to 21. Which I think it a new record for me at this time of year. I guess this winter weather has to be good for something! Don’t forget that you can see a more up to date view of my reading life over on GoodReads here. Also if you missed part one of my 2018 recent reads then check that out here.

Laura xx

Friday Favourites #113

It’s a bank holiday Friday! Who else is utterly excited by that fact? It’s so nice to have a four day weekend, we should totally be making them a more frequent thing. Who’s with me? But before we dive into the delights that a long weekend brings I’m sharing my happy things from the past seven days.

 

<> I’ve had this past week off work and it has been excellent. I had days to use up, but didn’t want to actually go away anywhere, so instead I’ve had some time at home and it’s been great.

<> On Tuesday I visited my parents and my Dad and I took the Lunabean out for a walk in the woods opposite their house. We had an excellent 50 minute explore through the woodlands. The only downside was when I stepped in a stream and discovered that my wellies weren’t waterproof. So that was fun! But the time still makes my happy things list.

<> Over the weekend I read Everywoman by Jess Phillips in just 24 hours. It’s an excellent read, or at least that’s my opinion.

 

 

<> On Wednesday I had a bit of a lazy day, I basically didn’t leave the house and it was joyous. I did however watch six episodes of Black Lightning on Netflix. I have zero regrets.

<> I took a quick trip to RHS Wisley Gardens this week. My Mum and I wandered around the grounds and marveled at the winter walk and the design of the rockery.

<> Before the above trip to Wisley Gardens my Mum and I made last minute coffee plans with some local friends. We spent a good hour in a local coffee shop talking about everything from Brexit to March for Our Lives and the best type of croissants. All with numerous puppy cuddles of course!

 

 

<> With less than two weeks to go before I turn thirty-three (eep!) I thought I should think about writing a birthday list, just in case anyone wanted to buy me a present. Of course writing the list got me all excited. Now I just need to think of a present for Fi!

<> I’ve done a little Easter baking this week – I made some creme egg brownies, because it’s Easter and I love brownies. I mean do I need another reason?

What has been on your list of happy things this week? I hope you’re looking forward to the bank holiday.

Laura x

A Birthday Wishlist – 2018

It’s been six months since I last shared a wishlist on this blog, I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve been trying to buy less, and think more about what I do buy. And with this I’ve been staying away from online shopping, and therefore not finding things for a wishlist post. But that is no more, you see it’s my birthday in two weeks and therefore I am allowed to make a birthday wishlist. In fact surely it is encouraged at this time of year, no?

I’m hoping at least a few of you agree with me. And if I know you in real life you may be wondering what to get me for said birthday. So the below birthday wishlist should help…

 

birthday 2018

fingers crossed / everything will be fine / dog person / pom pom bedding / jumper / sandals / mug

Like most years I don’t actually need anything for my birthday. Which is pretty great as I can be as creative as I like with my birthday wishlist. Which is also pretty funny as my creativity extends to awesome coloured jumpers, a pile of books and new bedding. So you know I’m not thinking outside the box at all here!

I am contemplating adding a mini iPad to my birthday list. My Kindle Fire is dying and needs a replacement, and a mini iPad seems like the best fit. Especially with my upcoming trip to Australia in June, I’m going to need all the help I can get to survive that flight! Alongside the iPad, I’m also eyeing up a pair of headphones. I use the apple earphones for day-to-day use, but I think for a long haul flight these from Typo might be better. Plus look at the colour of these!

We all know that I have a jumper obsession and that mustard is my favourite colour so I’m clearly fangirl-ing over the latest avid readers club jumper from Joanie. I’ve also been eyeing up this strong girls club jumper from Muthahood, I’m a big fan.

Now as for books, of course there are a good few on my birthday wishlist; The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley, The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-Stempel, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld and Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard.

So for now this is my birthday wishlist. Like I said, it’s nothing too fancy or over the top (apart from the iPad), it’s just what I’ve seen and can’t stop thinking about. What would be on your wishlist if you were making one?

Laura xx

21 Things To Do in London – A Bucket List

 

I’ve lived in London for about eight years now, so I feel pretty confident sharing this London bucket list today. There is so much to do in London, and there’s no way to include everything I love about the city, but these are my 21 favourite things to do in London.

MY LONDON BUCKET LIST

<> Take in a play at The National Theatre

<> Wander through St James’ Park and admire the daffodils

<> Discover St Paul’s Cathedral and admire the view from the top of the cupola

<> Play Crazy Golf at Swingers in the City

<> Dinner with your favourites at The Wolseley

<> Run through the city, Covent Garden, Westminster and the Southbank, on a Sunday morning

<> Spend an evening at BoxPark (either in Shoreditch or Croydon)

running-link-up

<> Go for breakfast at Dishoom – the egg and bacon naan would be my dish of choice

<> Wander through Borough Market early on Saturday picking up juice and doughnuts for breakfast

<> Stroll through Knightsbridge and Hyde Park

<> Enjoy afternoon tea at Sketch

<> Spend late afternoon and early evening at Wimbledon wandering around the outside courts and watching the main courts on the giant screen

<> Ice skate at Christmas outside the Tower of London

<> See something (anything) at the Royal Albert Hall

london-theatre

<> Picnic on Clapham Common – feasting on cakes from Esca

<> Peruse the flowers at the Columbia Road Flower Market

<> Visit the Victoria & Albert Museum

<> Spend an evening of cocktails with friends at The Booking Office

<> Take the boat to Greenwich and visit The Cutty Sark

<> Visit the Christmas department of Harrods

<> Go to Shakespeare’s Globe, take a behind the scenes tour and then watch Shakespeare how it was meant to be seen

What are your favourite things to do in London? Do you think I’ve missed anything obvious off this list?

Laura xx

Friday Favourites #112

Happy Friday people! How are you all today? And how’s your week been? Mine’s been lovely, so we should just head straight into this Friday favourites post and get celebrating the happy things. Don’t you think? Rather than me waffling for AGES!

<> So first up we have lazy Sundays, aren’t they just the dream? Thanks to the snow I was able to snuggle up with coffee and cake on my bed and read for a peaceful couple of hours. It was bliss. I chose Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the illustrated edition, as my book of choice as its too unwieldy to carry anywhere and I was, as usual, wowed by the stunning illustrations. Jim Kay really has done an incredible job with them. I love his work. Also there’s nothing quite like delving back into a favourite world is there?

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

<> Next up we have some cooking – I’ve been trying to cook more recently as it’s fun and works out cheaper than eating out all the time. And this week’s lamb and butternut squash curry was a complete success. It was delicious, easy and relatively healthy. We’ll add it to the blog soon, so watch this space!

<> I feel like it’s been a week of good food, hooray for that! As I’ve also been spoilt with an Easter themed donut of joy from Doughnut Time – just look at it!. Plus lovely meals at Canteen (homemade pies for the win) and a Mexican feast. Lucky, lucky me! Plus I made a chicken, ham and mushroom pie which was incredible. Food is the actual best!

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

<> I’ve also been loving the sunshine and lighter evenings this week, so that has to make an appearance on the Friday favourites list. Hasn’t it made such a difference? It’s been delightful! Although it has still been freezing. But you know, you can’t have everything!

<> Rounding out this week’s Friday Favourites list we have Peaky Blinders. We finally finished the last episode of season 4 last night after a serious binge session and I loved it so much. Although, I’m somewhat bereft now that it’s over. What will I watch now?! Seriously though if you’ve not watched the show you really must as it’s brilliant. It’s such a sophisticated show, the storylines are excellent and the acting is superb. Plus I just have a real soft spot for some of the characters. Although it’s definitely not an easy watch at times, that’s for sure!

So there we go, a slightly smaller Friday favourites list this week. Mainly because I couldn’t have another food related point! Anyway, tell me, how’s your week been? What would make your list?

-Fi x

February Reads

Greetings friends, how are you this lovely chilly Sunday morning? It’s been snowing again down in London so I’ve taken that as the perfect excuse to hunker down and read all the books. And only stopping for snack breaks and blog post writing. So you lucky things, you get a bookish post for your Sunday morning read – my February reads post. Yes, it’s late but for some reason I’ve only gotten round to writing it now – I’m rubbish, I know! Anyway, onwards to discuss the six books I read in February. A mix of spies and detectives, fairy tales and magical reads. Enjoy!

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

This is a beautiful book inside and out. The Language of Thorns is a collection of six short stories, all of which are re-imagined fairytales set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Each story has a beautifully decorated border that relates to the story. As you turn the pages the illustration grows adding to the magic of the book. The tales are darkly atmospheric and with brilliant twists on the original tales – like The Nutcracker and Hansel and Gretel. They are all dark feminist tales featuring themes of love, revenge and sacrifice. This is the perfect read for a dark and stormy Sunday afternoon under the blankets. It’s impossible not to adore this book, even if you don’t have any knowledge of Bardugo’s Grisha universe.

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

Now we all know I’m a big fan of Robin’s brilliant Murder Most Unladylike books and this one, number six in the series, is my favourite of the whole lot. It sees our favourite crime fighting duo head to Hong Kong to visit Hazel’s family. Within hours of their arrival disaster strikes – Hazel’s half brother Teddy goes missing and her beloved maid is killed. Thankfully Hazel and Daisy are there to investigate, and hopefully save the day.

With the setting moving to Hong Kong we’re immediately in a role reversal with the girls. Unusually for her Daisy’s not sure what’s going on and doesn’t feel confident in what’s happening, whereas Hazel’s right at home and able to take the lead more. For fans of the series this is a big departure from the usual books, and one that makes a great change. It’s wonderful to see Hazel stand up for herself a little more and to take charge.

Aside from the character switching I loved exploring 1930’s Hong Kong through this book – it was so vividly described. Everything from the house layout to the food to the cultural differences were so brilliantly explained. I really did feel like I was there in Hong Kong with the girls. As per usual I managed to work out who the murderer was but I didn’t quite work out all of the how. One day I will work it out before I’m told – I’m determined!

February Reads - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

The Black Widow by Daniel Silva

This is number thirteen, (I think?), of Daniel Silva’s books about an Israeli spy and I love every single one of them. Gabriel, the Israeli spy, is an incredible character, with a strong moral core and an incredible strategic mind. The tasks he (and his team) are asked to do are varied and dark, and this book is no different. It opens with a terrorist attack in Paris and continues with his team training a civilian doctor and getting her to infiltrate a terrorist organisation. Stretching from Paris to Israel, via Washington and London this is an all-encompassing read for fans of thrillers, spy novels and most of all good, dripping reads.

A Country Escape by Katie FForde

Katie’s books are always such escapism and I’ve been a fan for a long time. Despite that it’s been a while since I settled down with one of her novels so this was a nice return. It follows Fran who has sort of inherited a farm – well if she can manage to make it financially viable, get rid of the long lost relative that wants to inherit it instead of her (and turn it into fancy houses) and stop being scared of the cows on the farm.

This story is packed with a whole host of lovely characters, plus a couple of baddies, and as ever I wanted to be in the story too. The countryside setting is always a delight and a nice change from the London crazy. There was something about this book that I couldn’t get on board with and I’m still not sure what it was – it was well written, the story had good twists and turns, even if it was a bit predictable, and it was good escapism. There was just something missing for me this time.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I had such high expectations for this book. It’s been lauded in the YA universe and it sounds like something I’d love. I just didn’t and found the last 100 or so pages such a slog. The Hazel Wood is about Alice, a girl whose childhood consists of moving from place to place with her mother due to bad luck following them around. When her mother goes missing Alice has to face The Hazel Wood – a mysterious forest that inspired her grandmother’s book of fairy tales. With dark fairy tales, mysterious happenings and a love interest with such potential this should have been a great book. But it just didn’t work. The world building was confusing, the characters did things that made no sense for them and the Hazel Wood part was odd. I’m very sad about this as I wanted to love it.

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

This is an incredible book, telling the tale of a toy emporium in London run by the Goodman family. Started by Papa Jack and continued by his two sons, Kaspar and Emil, who couldn’t be more different, the emporium is a magical place. This is an insanely magical read. It’s a brilliantly woven fairytale-like read, full of incredible characters, beautiful storytelling and magic on every page. The emporium is incredibly realised and vividly described –  it feels like you’re actually in the toy shop surrounded by the magic of the toy makers.

Just when you’re getting to grips with the magic of the toy shop, the whole story twists and turns thanks to the First World War. We’re then taken on a stressful ride of PTSD, death, horror and misunderstandings – I didn’t expect this twist but it made for such an incredible read. I was hooked within a couple of chapters and raced through it in two days. This book is so good it’s parachuted to the top spot on my 2018 favourite books.

So there we go, my February reads. Have you read any of them, if so, which did you love?

-Fi x