Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #80

It’s Friday, I have the afternoon off work and I have a coffee in hand. What’s not to love about this day so far? I hope your day has started just as well! And now on to my happy things from the last seven days, I wonder what’s made the Friday favourites list…
First up, exploring where I live. We’ve been living in Streatham for almost two years now, and yet I still haven’t made it to Morden Hall Park, which is just ten minutes from my house. Clearly I’m an idiot as it’s amazing as I discovered when we headed there on Sunday. Morden Hall Park is a National Trust property with beautiful gardens, which are free to enter. It’s beautiful and I loved it. There are hidden benches, beautiful roses, a water wheel and a lovely river winding through the old deer park. I will definitely be going back.

Happy Things - Friday Favourites #80 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Next up, Pimms O’Clock! On Wednesday I sat on the Southbank with friends catching up over Pimms and it was lovely. I should definitely do it more often, it’s most certainly a good way to spend the evening!

Happy Things - Friday Favourites #80 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

After two weeks of holiday and illness I’ve finally been back on the fitness train this week. And it feels good. There really is nothing quite like a good run or a long swim to make you feel refreshed. Why do I let myself forget this? Anyway enjoying fitness again is definitely a good thing, what with my new attempts to create new habits. Although I didn’t go swimming this morning so that’s less good. Oops!
My current read, One of Us is Lying, also makes my happy list this week. I started it on Tuesday and have raced through it. I highly recommend this brilliant, twisty teen read. Can you guess who really did it?

Happy Things - Friday Favourites #80 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

The last item on today’s happy list is a clear example of my old person tendencies, but please forgive me! We got our fireplace plastered this week, which involved the removal of a lot of bricks and rubble, which was a bit of a faff. But it was so worth it as it already looks so much better. We still have a few days to wait for it to be finished but I can finally see how good the living room will look when it’s done. I’m so happy!

So there we go, my happy things! How’s your week been? What would be on your happy list?

-Fi x

All Things Fitness: Creating Better Habits

Back in 2014 I embraced a number of good habits and became so much healthier, not to mention happier, in myself. However, since then I’ve picked up those bad habits again and I’m not sure I’m happy with where I am and what I’ve done to my body and fitness levels. So instead of making excuses or pretending I’m okay with this I’ve decided to make some changes. Not insane changes, like never eating sugar again or running five miles a day. Instead I want to look at creating better habits. Ones that I live by for the rest of my life and not for five minutes to get me out of my current dissatisfied state.

I want my life to be about balance. About both treats and exercise. I no longer want to feel guilty about missing a run or for eating that second biscuit. I don’t want to count calories in things that are good for me – avocado I’m looking at you. I will track calories, but not when it comes to fruit and veggies. I don’t want to say no to a piece of fruit because that’s the snack that takes me ‘over’ my daily calorie goal. That’s not right. And that’s certainly not conducive for creating better habits.

As part of this focus on balance I want to start a fortnightly or weekly post about how this new way of life and these habits are good. Just some time for me to pop in and update you all on how my new habits are going. I’m currently thinking about how I format these posts, so if you have any ideas do let me know. At the moment I’m thinking of covering the following things:

  1. Daily Exercise
  2. Food – new recipes, new treats
  3. Next week’s goals
  4. Weigh in
  5. How I’m feeling

Let me be clear as well, this isn’t about dieting or an insane workout schedule. This is about finding balance and being healthier but I won’t be starving myself. After all I’m running a half marathon in three months. I can’t do that without fuel for my body. I just don’t need to be fueling my body with a chocolate bar at 4pm every afternoon when the afternoon slump occurs, or thinking that a three-mile run once in a blue moon will have me half marathon ready! Balance and healthier habits will get me there though – and that’s the focus!

I think I’ll probably share these posts on a Monday to allow me to recap on the week before and also as I hope it’ll keep me motivated to continue these habits, or more likely, jump back on these habits again for the new week. So all being well week one will appear on the 24th. Here’s hoping that by using the blog as a little online diary it’ll allow me to start taking better care of myself. Only time will tell!

-Fi x

The Book Corner: June Reads

June Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

Photo by Rachel Lees on Unsplash

Greetings friends, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. What exciting things are you up to? The end of my week was fairly busy and with plans yesterday too I’m definitely feeling the need for a slower day today. That’s what Sunday’s are for after all! Part of a slowish Sunday? Reading of course, so as I’ll be spending most of today with my head in a book it seems sensible to bring you my June reads post today too. A little behind schedule, I know – sorry, but blame Photobucket and their stupid new account changes!

Before I dive into the June reads and my mini reviews of each book I should probably mention that when I started compiling this list I thought it had been a bit of a rubbish reading month. I felt like I’d barely read anything at all, but actually it was a good reading month! I read seven books, plus one work book that I can’t discuss yet, so definitely not a bad month for reading. Maybe it just felt that way because of the second half of the month. For the last couple of weeks I was in a bit of a reading slump and feeling like everything I read was a bit meh. It’s funny how your brain at one moment in time can cloud something that’s actually been awesome, isn’t it? Anyway on to the books!

June Reads #1 – The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

This was a surprisingly good book, I say surprisingly as I’m never really sure what to expect from a 99p Kindle sale book. Especially when I’ve forgotten why it caught my eye in the first place! It’s a really easy read and follows a lonely woman who inherits a house and a pile of lost things from her employer. While reuniting owners with their random items she ends up finding herself. Clichéd perhaps but still good!

June Reads #2 – When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

This is such a good book and the perfect summer read. It’s the tale of two teens whose parents have arranged their marriage, which one of them (Rishi) is on board with this and one of them isn’t (Dimple). The book explores both points of view really well, so you totally ‘get’ both Dimple and Rishi’s opinions on it all. Also, as characters Rishi and Dimple, are so well written and complete – you can’t help but want to be besties with both of them. I defy you not to love this book

June Reads #3 – The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This is the second book from award-winning Kiran Millwood Hargrave and it’s just as delightful as her first. Her writing is so beautiful and every sentence is perfect, plus her characters are just great. This book follows a young girl growing up on an Island of lepers who is forced to leave the Island with the rest of the non-leper children and adults. This is a tale of acceptance and family, prejudice and love and the lengths we’ll go to for those we love.

Fi's June Books - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

June Reads #4 – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This book should be required reading for everyone. It’s a brilliantly written look at the horrific and wrongful shootings of black people in America. It’s told from the perspective of a teenager who watches her best friend gunned down for no reason. You then follow Starr during the aftermath of the shooting and how it impacts the two communities she lives in. The run down, poverty stricken community where she lives and grew up and the largely white, very privileged private school she attends. It’s heartbreaking and honest, moving and anger inducing. It’s absolutely an important read.

June Reads #5 – I See You by Clare Mackintosh

This is a brilliant page-turning thriller of a read and is would be perfect beach fodder. The book follows a women who sees her picture in the classified ads along with people who have met grisly deaths. Talk about a freaky idea! The book flicks from the police investigation back to the women and the impact it has on her family. Having these different perspectives makes this novel a real speed read. Oh and the fact that Clare Mackintosh is a genius at creating suspense. I couldn’t put the book down during the last 100 pages – it was just that good!

June Reads #6 – Calling Major Tom by David Barnett

I was a bit meh about this book when I was reading it. It just didn’t hook me in right away and I had to force myself to finish it. I have no clue why that is. It must have been more about me than the book itself, as now thinking about it, it was really enjoyable. It looks at the relationship between a man headed to Mars and a family struggling in North England. And this combination makes for a heart-warming read. It’s possibly a bit too predictable by the end. And I could have done with feeling more for the characters sooner than the last act but overall a good read. Plus it was 99p on Kindle – so can you really go wrong with that?

June Reads #7 – Not Working by Lisa Owens

This book got me out of my mini-reading slump and it’s hilarious. It’s about a women in her late 20s/early 30s who packs in her job as it wasn’t her ‘dream’ job. We then follow her as she tries to find out what she wants to do with her life. Each chapter is broken into smaller sections focused on everything from zebra crossings to coffee, which range from paragraph length to just a sentence or two. Some of these bits are right on the nose and ridiculously funny. I could totally relate to so much of this book and I’m pleased I was swayed by this brilliantly bright cover and decided to pick it up. Definitely one to add to your TBR pile!

So those are my June reads, but what about you? What was the best book you read last month? You know I’m always on the look out for recommendations!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #79

So before we dive into this Friday update here’s a question for you. Why is going back to work after a week off such hard work? Honestly I’ve felt absolutely exhausted this week, and there shouldn’t be any reason for it. It’s not like I had super long lie-ins last week that my body needs to forget. Or even that I’ve had a busy week so far. But I’m totally knackered! Hooray for Friday I guess!

So over to my Friday update and what has helped keep me going this week. First up, last weekend, we had friends visiting and we all took a trip to Bletchley Park, the home of the code breakers in WWII. It was an absolutely fascinating day out of London and I learnt so much about the work that took place during the war. The grounds are set up as they were during the war, and you can wander through the old house, the cottages and then the various huts, to get an idea of what life was like at Bletchley. What struck me was the level of secrecy that surrounded the work done here, it is absolutely astounding. I’m certain either Fi or I will write a post about our trip soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Next up is food! I went to The Diner for lunch yesterday and it was so good. There’s a branch of this restaurant just opposite my office, so it’s easy to trip and fall in! The next thing you know you have a basket of chicken and sweet potato fries, it’s odd how that happens, right?! Anyway, it’s been a while since I’d been to The Diner so I made the most of it by catching up with a friend over delicious food.

Now I have to admit that I haven’t been watching much of Wimbledon this year, you’d think with a week off I would have done, but for whatever reason I haven’t. What I did see, and what I loved, was Andy Murray’s post match interview (linked here) where he casually calls out a reported over an incident of everyday sexism. The complete and utter disdain he has for the reporter is brilliant. As is Judy Murray’s response to the incident (here). So thank you twitter for pointing both of these out to me, I got a lot of joy out of that!

Now let’s talk about the weekend, because everyone loves a weekend. First up i’m off to watch some cricket tonight at The Oval. Then on Saturday I’m going to an outdoor cinema in Croydon. Such fun! I’m also hoping to have a bit of a chilled out time and catch up on some much needed sleep. Plus I want to start half marathon training this weekend, October is going to come round so quickly. Eek! You’d think I’d feel better about training after three races, but nope not at all! Anyway, I’ll see what the weekend run brings before I panic about that!

So there we have it, a very brief Friday update for you as it’s all I can handle right now! I hope you all have an epic weekend planned, here’s to me getting a lot of sleep!

Laura xx

 

Out and About: Beach Ready

 

Last week I went to the beach for the day and it was perfect. It’s my first trip to the beach this year, so I wanted to make the most of it and get beach ready. Which is what I am sharing today. Now don’t worry I’m not about to become a beauty blogger! For me beach ready means being organised, planned, and well packed in order to make the most of my time at the seashore.

There are so many utterly glorious beaches in the UK and they all deserve to be explored. My personal favourites are those along the Kent coast, in Wales and also Dorset. Mainly because these are the places I tend to head to, they are the places that I know. That being said I know that the rest of the UK coastline has some fabulous beach spots too. Maybe one day I’ll get to explore them all.

Now without further ado let’s dive into my tips for getting beach ready.

The Food

Tip number one when getting beach ready has to revolve around food, so first up it’s time to make a picnic. For me food at the beach is all about the grazing, so I always opt for individual rolls, pork pies, sharing packs of crisps (or pringles) and pieces of fruit.  If that feels like too much work then at the very least pack snacks and cold drinks. So that you can enjoy a couple of hours of beach time before heading for the nearest cafe or beach bar.

The Entertainment

You’re going to be on the beach for a good few hours, so make sure you’ve got captivating reading material, some music and beach games. I’m talking a football, a pack of cards or a bucket and spade to keep yourself entertained. Because if you’re on the beach then you are definitely young enough to make sandcastles!

Bring the Shade

Number three on the getting beach ready list is a beach umbrella or something similar to create some shade. Now I know everyone wants to get a tan, but a shady spot is not just for children and pets! We had the Luna dog with us so we needed shade, but actually the humans were much more enamoured with the umbrella than she was.

The thing is I always forget is just how hot the UK sun can be. Especially when you’re on the beach for a full day. The coastal wind completely tricks me into thinking I’m safe and out of the sun, until I get home and I’m lobster pink. So get a pop up tent or a sun umbrella that has UV protection in it. Then be the smug person on the beach who is totally cool and collected while others are turning into lobsters….

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Arrive Early

When it comes to heading to the beach I am definitely my Mother’s daughter. I like to get up early and get the driving done. The thing is there will be an afternoon sleep session, so an early start isn’t going to be that big of a problem to contend with. Plus you’ll be able to get the best beach spot and find a decent parking place to save you carrying all the beach paraphernalia too far.

Go off the Beaten Track

When heading to the beach try to find the quieter areas. That might mean walking a little further to get away from the main beach but it will be worth it. The beaches are more likely to be smaller, have less people and the water might even be calmer. Yes it will probably be a little further to walk to get ice cream but if you’ve packed all the snacks then that won’t be a problem!

So there you have it, my tips to being beach ready. Now go forth and enjoy the British summer.

Laura xx

 

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #78

Happy Friday friends! How are you all today? I’m on the last official day of my week off so I’m in that weird mix of joy from having had a fantastic week, to pain that it’s so close to being over. Woe is me! But as this is my Friday Favourites post I’m going to dwell only on the good things today, so read on for my happy things from the last week!

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

Number one on the list? Going to the seaside. I was only by the sea for about 36 hours, but I had the best time ever. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been to a beach in the UK – in fact I can’t remember when it was. So it was glorious to be back in Sandbanks, my happy place, for a day of sunshine and paddling, lounging and ice cream. Definitely food for the soul. If you ignore the sunburn that also occurred. I also visited Mudeford for the first time and it’s gorgeous – I had no idea! It has the cutest little beach huts and there’s a number of perfect spots for sitting and watching the boats and paddle boarders go by. It was so lovely.

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

We also made it over to the Isle of Wight as part of our seaside trip. So Thursday was the perfect day of walking from Ryde to Seaview and back, stopping only for lunch and ice cream. It’s about a 5 mile round trip, but with such stunning views that you barely even notice the distance. Not to mention the pupster is good at distracting you by being cute in the sea! I’ve been to Ryde before but never really branched further than the high street so wandering along a stretch of the coast was glorious. And pub lunches are always a good idea!

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

Talking of good ideas, I started my week with a 4.5 mile run followed by a delicious brunch in Balham. I’ve not run that far in a long while, so it was reassuring to know that I can still run longer than 3 miles. Even if I did find it ridiculously hard. Here’s hoping that, by upping my training over the coming months, I’ll be ready for the half marathon in October…

Something else that made my happy things this week was getting back into my reading groove. I’ve not loved many of the books I’ve read recently but that seems to have been cured with the latest series by Sarah J Maas. I’ve basically raced through The Court of Thorns and Roses this week. Thank goodness. Apparently a fantasy series featuring fairies, a doomed couple, magic and a terrible curse was all I needed…

In other news this week has been a week of getting all the house jobs done. I’m really impressed at how much we’ve accomplished in just a couple of days. Everything from weeding to tidying, a deep clean to a loft sort out and baking and photo frame finding. This week has been immense in getting all the tasks done. A pat on the back to me!

My final happy things post has to be the absolutely beautiful Surrey golden hour. On Tuesday post the best barbecue ever we headed out on an evening dog walk back near the parents’. We set off just as the sun was starting to go down and we were greeted by the most beautiful sight. Just look! How incredible a view is that? The English countryside really is rather stunning isn’t it.

Happy Things - Life rambles - This and That Blog

So there we go, some of my favourite happy things from the last week. How’s your week been? Anything lovely to report? Do share!

-Fi x

Clothes Rail: Slogan Tees

If you’re of the same era as me you’ll have memories of slogan tees emblazoned with ‘Team Jacob’ or ‘Team Edward’ and while I didn’t own one (Team Edward FYI) I definitely wished I did. Yes I was that cool. But since the early 00’s there’s been somewhat of a resurgence of the slogan tee and I admit at first I wasn’t really on board with it as it didn’t really seem to fit into my new wardrobe ethos.

The main thing I discussed in my wardrobe planning post a while back was that I wanted to be the sort of person to ‘buy less, choose well’, so my wardrobe becomes a collection of clothes I adore, that work well together rather than a mishmash of things that I bought on a whim that I don’t like enough to wear regularly. To me a slogan tee, a very ‘now’ idea seemed to clash with this. Wouldn’t I wear a tshirt once and then forget about it. Would this just be a fad that I’d be over in a minute or two? So with that in mind, I waited and started to make sensible purchases that fitted into my wardrobe ethos instead.

For the last four months I’ve only bought clothes that I’ve actually needed and that fitted with the ‘buy less, choose well’ idea. So since January I’ve only purchased comfy skinny jeans, striped shirts, a swimming costume and underwear. Things that go nicely with numerous items in my wardrobe and that I love so I should get a lot of wear out of them. Particularly this Joanie swimsuit of my dreams. Talk about true love. And then I realised that somehow I was the owner of three new slogan tees, despite thinking they weren’t part of my wardrobe plan.

So clearly my initial thoughts on slogan tees existing in my new look wardrobe were wrong. Slogan tees featuring a pineapple and the call ‘to be happy’, with embroidery over the pocket and one with ‘We React’ emblazoned on it are clearly essential for my life.

And, even better, they do fit into my new style and wardrobe plan. I wear them with everything – they work under a jumper, over a dress, with shorts and jeans or tucked in to a fancy (or non fancy) skirt for work. There’s just nothing I don’t want to wear one with. What’s more they’ll work perfectly as we transition from summer to autumn and into winter – I just need to add another layer to any outfit that works with a slogan tee. This could be a blazer, a thicker jumper or just a cardi. Easy.

So after that u-turn I’ve decided I need to own more epic slogan tees in my life! Thankfully they’re everywhere right now so this is doable. In fact, here are my current top nine out in the shops right now.


Slogan Tees - Clothes Rail- This and That Blog

Oui Fresh’s ‘Babe With the Power’ tee / H&M’s ‘The Revolution is Female’ tee /  Joanie ‘perhaps’ tee / Muthahood’s ‘Strong Girls Club’ tee Joanie ‘La Mer’ tee / Oui Fresh’s ‘Brunch Club’ tee / Asos’ ‘Bee Kind’ tee / H&M ‘Unicorn Fan Club’ tee

Aren’t they just all divine? With their brilliant mix of female empowerment, quirky designs, foodie related lines and stripes. Plus you can’t go wrong with either monochrome or a pop of colour, am I right?! Plus I figure if the slogan on the t-shirt is one that will always ring true, then it does fit in with my ‘buy less, choose well’ plan – hurray!

So I clearly can’t get all nine, but which do you think I should add to my wardrobe next? I’m torn between the ‘Strong Girls Club’ and the stripey one, but I just can’t choose!

-Fi x

In the Kitchen: Meat Free Meals

There’s something about the summer months that has me leaning towards salads and cold meals, or meals without much meat content. There’s no real logic behind it, other than that generally meat free meals tend to be speedier to make, which is integral when the sun is shining and I’ve been destroyed by the evening commute! So with another two or so summer months to go I’m desperate for more meat free meals. Don’t get me wrong I love my stuffed sweet potatoes, caesar salads and pasta recipes, but I don’t want to get bored with them, so more options are needed asap.

Meat Free Meals - This and That Blog

So after a bout of pinning and research, I’ve now got eleven more recipes to try. They range from super quick recipes to longer curries and they all look so delicious.

First up we have these yummy sounding cheese and broccoli bites, which are an ingenious idea. I bet they’d be yummy in a wrap or with couscous and roasted veg and some sweet chilli sauce. Oh and I bet they’d work as leftovers too. Halloumi is something I definitely don’t cook enough, so these harissa halloumi and veggie wraps need to happen! This cauliflower dhal looks yummy, although it might have to be a weekend meal option and not a mid-week one.

Meat Free Meals - This and That Blog

Baked Brocolli Cheese Balls / Harissa Halloumi and Roasted Vegetables Wrap / Roasted Cauliflower Dhal

I’m a sucker for a sweet potato recipe – they’re just so versatile and easy to cook with – but its high time I tried some new ones, so these sweet potato chickpea burgers and fajita recipes are right up my street. How yummy do they look? And I bet they’re super simple too! Spinach lasagna roll ups sound a bit fancy, but they look like a delicious spinach pasta dish so I’m in!

Meat Free Meals - This and That Blog

Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers / Sweet Potato Fajitas Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

So I’m suitably intrigued by these courgette balls, the dish looks yummy and the creamy coconut tomato sauce idea sounds delicious. Is there anything better than a stuffed mushroom? I don’t think there is, except maybe balsamic miso glazed and pesto covered ones. Yum! This black bean flautus are on the list as I normally stick to enchiladas or fajitas, so branching out to other dishes sounds fun. Plus these take less than 30 minutes and come with a spicy avocado dip. YES!

Meat Free Meals - This and That Blog

Courgette Kofta in Creamy Coconut Tomato Sauce / Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms / Black Bean Flautas

So granted this Spanish chickpea and spinach stew looks a bit more wintry than summery, but it also looks delicious. Perhaps I’ll bring it out on one or two of the colder nights we’re bound to have over the coming months. And now onto my final meat free meal, which is possibly a favourite! Stir fries are such a mid-week dinner win, but they’re always based around chicken, salmon or steak in our house. So I definitely need to try a meat free version, and this peanut one looks right up my street. Yeah for simple dishes.

Meat Free Meals - This and That Blog

Spanish Chickpea Spinach Stew/ Peanut Noodle Stir Fry

Now I just have to decide which one I want to start first, I’m currently learning towards the broccoli and cheese bites or the sweet potato chickpea burgers. Decisions, decisions. For more yummy dinner options, including a fair few meat free meals, head on over to my ‘Savoury Yumminess’ board on Pinterest.

-Fi x

The Book Corner: Recent Reads 2017, Part 3

Once again May and June have been great reading months for me. I feel like I’ve finally organised myself enough to carve out some time each day for reading. Whether it’s during my commute on a Monday morning, in the garden on a Sunday afternoon, or curled up on the sofa with a cup of coffee in the early morning. Since my last update I’ve read a total of 13 books so I’m going to jump straight into telling you all about each one. After all this post is going to be super long without my rambling on at this point!

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

This is a London based mystery where siblings Ted and Kat investigate the disappearance of their cousin Salim from a pod on The London Eye. The pair make their way around London following clues on the hunt for Salim. I utterly adored this book, it’s an excellent mystery story with a clever plot and wonderful characters. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read it. But I was very impressed with myself for solving the mystery. And then I remembered that I was reading a book aimed at children!

Orphan X by Greg Horowitz

Two people mentioned this book to me in a matter of days, so I treated myself to a copy with my Waterstones vouchers. Luckily for all those involved this one is definitely worth the hype. The story follows Evan Smoak, a man trained as part of a secret government programme to be the perfect weapon. Before the book starts Evan breaks from the programme and turns himself into the Nowhere Man, helping those who have nowhere else to turn. And this is where the story starts for us, as Evan helps people with no other option. It is a gripping adventure filled thriller of a book, so just my sort of read. It’s also full of surprising and interesting characters, and I can’t wait to learn more about everyone in the series. This one is gripping from the start and just begs you to continue reading well into the night. So if you’re a fan of thrillers then this is definitely one for you.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This book was on offer on the Kindle store and I wanted a change from the mystery and thriller genre, so it was the perfect pick. Although thinking about it there is still a mystery aspect involved – so clearly I can’t get away from that! We follow the main protagonist, Lane Roanoke as she returns to her grandparents house to investigate her cousin’s disappearance. Alongside her investigations into Allegra’s whereabouts we also flick back to a 15 year old Lane as she arrives at the family farm for the first time, to live with her grandparents and cousin. So the book weaves through both time periods. We discover the history of the house, and the stories behind the women of the Roanoke family whilst trying to solve the mystery behind Allegra’s disappearance. It’s very dark and disturbing, but it’s well written, if a little obvious in places.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

So I’m writing this post a good few weeks after I read this book and I can’t really remember anything about it. This is a story about a daughter and her mother and their difficult relationship. I started this on a whim and only finished it because it was short and I hate to leave anything unfinished. Saying that I’ve heard so many others sing the praises of this book, so perhaps I just didn’t get it. Whatever it is! This sort of thing happens to me a lot – oh well, I can deal with that!

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A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

Now this book? This one I LOVED reading. Set in 1939 we follow Lily Shepherd, a young girl leaving behind her troubles and embarking on a voyage to a new adventure, and housekeeping job, in Australia. As the ship leaves port the UK is on the precipice of war, which brings another level of complexity to the interactions between all of the passengers. And that’s what I loved most about the books, the wonderful characters and their relationships with each other. The murder and crime part is almost secondary to all of that. In fact when the book ended I really wanted to turn the page and carry on reading. I wanted to know what happened next for all of the characters that I had become invested in.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

I’m slowly re-reading this series for about the nineteenth time. It’s a classic and still one of my favourites. It’s been a good couple of years since I read Goblet of Fire. And yet picking it up and cracking the spine felt like greeting an old friend. Books are magical in that way, aren’t they.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give might just become my favourite book of the year. The book explores the issue of race in America and to me it feels like a must read for everyone. Starr is the only witness to the shooting of an unarmed black boy – her friend Khalil – by the police. The characters are well-written, fully formed and interesting and the story is so important. If you read just one book mentioned in this post then read this one.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I’ve mentioned before that I actually gave up on this one because I wasn’t feeling it. But luckily for me I persevered and continued reading. While it took me a little bit of time to get into the book, it was totally worth it in the end. I guess technically it’s a sci-fi book but it’s more than that. It’s got a really clever concept, girls suddenly (and literally) hold The Power in their hands. The Power is the ability to manipulate electric currents and send electric shocks to others. The book follows four different characters as they adapt to this power and the changes that it brings to the whole world.

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The Memory Man by David Baldacci

The Memory Man follows Amos Decker a former professional football player turned police detective who remembers everything perfectly. We join Decker on the hunt for the killer of his wife and child. David Baldacci is one of my go to authors when I want a good story with intrigue and drama, and a sprinkle of unbelievably to it. Because let’s be honest sometimes we want to suspend reality a little. So if you can handle that, then this is a perfectly good read. It’s the first book in the Amos Decker series and I’m intrigued enough by these characters to continue reading the rest.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

It took me awhile to get into this one, but once I did I speed through it super-fast. Writer Nora is invited to a cottage in the woods for the hen weekend of an old school friend. Early on we discover that the pair haven’t spoken in years, so there’s clearly a story to tell. What follows is a dark and twisted tale of friendship and jealousy, secrets and lies, which leads to an explosive ending. I’m definitely planning on tracking down other Ruth Ware books to dive into.

The Good Immigrant, by Nikesh Shukla

This is a collection of essays from black, Asian and minority ethnic voices exploring immigration in Britain and I think it’s a must read for everyone. It’s hard to pick a favourite essay in this book as they are all eye-opening and thought provoking in my opinion. I will say that I especially enjoyed reading playright Inua Ellams’ essay Cutting Through. In it he discusses the research he took when writing his latest play, The Barber Shop Chronicles. I actually saw this last month at The National Theatre and absolutely loved it (as mentioned here). I’ve not experienced theatre like it before, I could have watched it for hours.

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

This is a follow on from The London Eye Mystery mentioned at the start of this list. Sadly Siobhan Dowd dies before she was able to write the second book, but she left behind the book title. Luckily the ever talented Robin Stevens took up the mantle and wrote The Guggenheim Mystery. It’s another wonderful read and I personally think it’s a perfect follow on from book one. Ted and Kat are now in New York City and are trying to find a stolen painting. Reading this made me wonder why I have never visited the Guggenheim Museum on my visits to this city. Something that I have to rectify on my next trip.

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Book four in the Throne of Glass series is everything you would expect. It’s got complicated characters, a twisting story and the most detailed setting I’ve ever read. The way this story is going is so intriguing, I would never have guessed that the story would reach this point when I started reading book one a year or two ago. If you’ve yet to discover this series then I’d highly recommend you give it ago.

So there we have it, all 13 books that I’ve read in the last two months. To see what else I’ve read in 2017 hop on over to parts one and two, or see the full list over at GoodReads here. Do you have any recommendations to share with me? What have you been reading lately and what should I try next.

Laura xx

Life Rambles: A Change of Plan

I know it’s Friday but this is not going to be a Friday Favourites post. It should have been. In fact my plan was to spend this afternoon writing up the post and then sharing it with you all. But then Photobucket and their change of membership happened and suddenly all of our blog photos have been replaced with the ugly square that you can see on other posts. Now that’s irritating in itself, but on top of that Photobucket are asking me to pay £400 in order to upgrade and get my pictures back onto my website. Which I’m clearly not going to do, so those ugly images aren’t going anywhere soon – so sorry for that.

So what’s my new afternoon plan, I hear you ask? Well I’ve got to figure out a way to get my images out of Photobucket and into a new place. One that isn’t going to charge me a fortune each year for using a site that’s covered in adverts. And then I’ll be fixing all the image links on the blog. So fun times all round!

The most frustrating thing about all of this is that there was absolutely no warning. If there had been then at least I could have planned for this happening on this day, because I love a good plan. But no, a plan wasn’t possible, for whatever reason. I work in business change and my whole working life is about having a change and communication plan, so the fact that Photobucket didn’t deem this necessary with this update is laughable.

Anyway, to stop this post from being a complete moan fest I will tell you quickly that I’ve had a very quiet week, which has been just what I have needed. I’ve managed to go for an early morning swim twice this week. Foodwise I’ve made some super quick but delicious meals and I’m currently reading a wonderful book. It’s book four in the Throne of Glass series and I am in complete awe over the way that Sarah J. Maas weaves such an incredible story and creates utterly remarkable characters. It’s the kind of story, you never want to finish, and yet you need to know what’s going to happen.

I hope everyone has had a lovely week and is looking forward to the weekend. I’ve got the next nine days off work, and I am completely looking forward to it. At least I’ll have plenty of time to fix my blog photos!

Laura x