Things I wish I could tell the girl in the photo

Just to clarify before we get into it, the girl in the photo is me not just some random kid. And look how goddamn cute I was! I came home from a trip away to my boyfriend’s parents house “up norf” and saw this photo sitting in my parents bedroom. First of all, the frame is actually mine so I’m not so happy that my mum stole it but I thought it was cute nevertheless. I was looking at the photo whilst listening to Lea Michele’s version of “Wake Me Up” by Avicii (it’s a beautiful cover, you have to listen!) and all of a sudden I started crying. I know it sounds like I’m making this up but I’m not, genuinely, started to cry. For reals.

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My Favourite Disneyland Paris Park & Studio Rides

I love every aspect of a Disneyland Paris holiday: from the journey on the Eurostar, the hotel, the parades and the character meets. But the rides and attractions also play a huge part of the holiday for me. I’m not a lover of big, big rides so Disneyland is ideal for me because most of the rides aren’t too scary but some are just enough to give you a thrill! I’ve spent many an hour queuing for all the rides at Disneyland Paris so here are some of my favourites.

My Favourite Disneyland Paris Park and Studios Rides Continue reading

The 30 Disney Questions Tag

I simply could not pass up the opportunity to take part in this tag – I love Disney, you love Disney, we all love Disney (okay well maybe not all of us and if you don’t love Disney then seriously, what happened to make you this way?) I pinched the questions from Danielle at Underland to Wonderland who’s post you can find here. Enjoy and feel free to pinch! Oh and apparently this tag was supposed to be done in 5 minutes but I didn’t get that memo so it took me more like 5 days.

The 30 Disney Questions Tag Continue reading

Man’s Best Friend: A Tribute To All Our Loyal Canine Friends

Last month saw the start of the brand new series of Paul O’Grady’s, ‘For The Love of Dogs’. I don’t know about you but I absolutely adore that show and haven’t missed a single episode since series 1. Paul O’Grady, fellow dog lover, heads into Battersea Cats and Dogs Home in the UK to give us, the viewers, a little insight into the workings of the rescue centre and also the sometimes very grisly background of some of the poor, unfortunate dogs that walk into the centre every single day. As well as extremely informative and eye-opening, the show can often be heart-wrenching and I’ve been known to shed a tear sob uncontrollably at a handful of cases Paul has worked with on the show.

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8 Photos of Happiness

I was tagged by the lovely Leanne to take part in this tag, ‘8 Photos of Happiness’. I thought it was such a beautiful and uplifting idea that I had to give it a go. Just 8 photos with a short description of why it was a happy moment. So simple but effective and sometime, photos really do speak a thousand words.

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This tag was originally created by Ariel’s Little Corner of the Internet and the intention is simple. Share 8 photos that represent a moment, object, place or feeling that makes you happy. Then tag others to share their own photos! So lo and behold, here are my 8 photos!

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Books That Made Me… Fall in Love

Today I’m pleased to bring you another guest post in my ‘Books That Made Me…’ feature and today it’s Kiera’s turn from The Book Cwtch and she’s talking about the books that made her fall in love. Enjoy!


Books That Made Me… Fall in Love

This is the first time I’ve done a guest post for another blogger and I’m so glad it will be for Jenny. She’s been super great helping me with all my questions.

I believe that books that made you fall in love are the books that will stay with you for the rest of your life. I’ve read so many amazing books in my lifetime so picking my favourites was a tricky process. But I’m really happy with the books I’ve chosen as they are the ones that left lasting impressions on me and helped shaped me into the person I am today. Continue reading

Book Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

RED-HILL_final-cover_9781476759524-2What it’s about:

For Scarlet, raising two daughters alone means fighting for tomorrow is an everyday battle. Nathan, desperately clinging to a dead-end job and a loveless marriage, survives purely for his little girl, Zoe. Whilst Miranda’s biggest problem is driving her sister home from college with their boyfriends, whilst keeping her new Mini Cooper scratch free.

When news comes of a deadly epidemic, panic seeps into homes all over the world and chaos ensues… Knowing that they can’t outrun the danger, they all head for shelter and security at the same secluded ranch – Red Hill.

When a normal day spins out of control and the world comes crashing to an end, how far will they go to save their loved ones? Would you slow down to help a stranger if you were both running for your lives?

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?

CharlooDividerReview:

I won a signed copy of this book in a giveaway a while back and had not previously heard of it but after reading what it was about I knew it was my kind of book, especially with it being inspired by The Walking Dead – one of my favourite television programmes – I was eager to start reading. Red Hill is set against the backdrop of an apocalyptic world and follows 3 main characters, Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda on their journey to safety and trying to find their loved ones. They all decide to head for the same secluded ranch in the countryside – Red Hill – where they believe they can find shelter and stay safe. All 3 of their journeys overlap along the way and whilst taking cover at Red Hill they begin to seek comfort and assurance with each other and realise that despite the catastrophic events, when the world ends, love can survive.

Watching Zombies and reading about them are very different things. You have to rely on your own imagination to make it scary enough to do it justice and I was a bit worried and curious how it was going to translate as I’ve never read any zombie related books before. But as I said, I am a huge Walking Dead fan so it was easy to put a picture together in my head. I liked the 3 different points of view, Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda. It was interesting and exiting to hear how people with different personalities were dealing with their individual situations. I particularly warmed to Nathan however, with his wife leaving him the very day the deadly epidemic broke out, there was something really touching about a single dad who was previously depressed and in a loveless marriage having to pull everything together to take care of his daughter. At the beginning, they are just 3 normal people trying to make sense of the whole thing and doing whatever they can to keep those closest to them safe but you slowly learn about each of their pasts along the way and how all of the characters who end up at Red Hill ranch are in fact all linked in one way or another. I thought that was a really nice touch to the story because it showed not only that it’s a small world but in the midst of all the devastation, they all share some common ground which I think was the reason they all felt for one another’s situations. I liked that despite everything, the whole story centres around love. Not only the unconditional love you feel for your children or parents but new feelings that rise between two of the characters who had never previously met and probably never would have if it wasn’t for what happened. It shows that love really can be found in darkest times.

I think this book was fantastic at showing the emotions of the characters – if not more than any zombie film/programme I’ve watched. When watching it, you see the actions the characters are taking when they are afraid or determined but you can’t always feel it, and the looks of their faces don’t sometimes register what they are probably feeling inside. This book however painted a very good picture of the state some of these characters got in when they were scared or alone and for me, I could actually feel the sheer panic rising up in me for some of the situation they found themselves in. The only small criticisms I have for this book is firstly, I would have liked some more background information on how the zombie apocalypse came about in the first place. You do find out the general gist of how it started but I would have been interested in hearing the specifics. Secondly, during the first part of the book, before the characters actually reached Red Hill ranch, I had quite a hard time imagining the setting in my head. The towns, roads and highways all seemed like a bit of a blur to me but that may be down to the fact that this book was set in America and whereas I’m in London, we don’t use some of the same terminology.

Zombie apocalypse fans who like The Walking Dead, drama, chaos and a bit of romance thrown in – this one’s for for you. This was a touching yet dramatically devastating story about love, loss and how the human race would cope if the unthinkable happened. The characters showed courage, determination and how in the event of a global tragedy, you would do everything in your power to keep those closest to you safe.

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jamieAbout Jamie McGuire

Jamie McGuire is the New York Times bestselling author of Walking Disaster, Beautiful Disaster, and the Providence trilogy. She and her husband, Jeff, live with their children just outside Enid, Oklahoma, with three dogs, six horses, and a cat named Rooster.

You can find Jamie and Red Hill on the links below

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Goodreads

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Cover-to-Fault-In-Our-Stars-the-fault-in-our-stars-34488682-1523-2339What it’s about:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

The Fault In Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heart-breaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

CharlooDividerReview (Spoiler alert):

I have never before had such an unclear opinion of a book. I both adored and despised this book. I wish I could write a review without giving anything away for the people who haven’t read it but I simply can’t so I’m sorry in advance. This book is about terminally ill, Hazel Grace. At sixteen years old she is wise beyond her years and knows full-well that she is going to die young. Then one day she meets cancer survivor, Augustus Waters, in one of her Support Group meetings and they quickly fall in love. He introduces Hazel to a whole world of possibilities until one day when tragedy strikes and Hazel and Augustus might not get their happy ending after all.

It was pretty obvious what was going to happen. It’s a cancer story – someone’s bound to die. But the matter of who left me dumbstruck. I’ve watched a fair few films similar to this book e.g. Now Is Good but they didn’t have as much of an effect on me. I shed a few tears at the end and that’s about it. This book was different. Although you didn’t write it, you essentially make up your own story in your head. You imagine the characters and places exactly how you want them to look and form connections to those you identify with so this book had me in absolute pieces at some points because I’d come to know these wonderful characters inside my own imagination. The book is written from Hazel’s point of view which definitely adds to the emotion. At first I really wasn’t sure about this book. I felt like I was reading a more depressing version of Perks of Being a Wallflower and I found the first few chapters extremely uncomfortable and I frequently had to stop reading because all the talk of cancer, death and oblivion was too over-whelming. As the story went on however, I kind of got used to it. It’s an hugely delicate subject and not something you want to “get used to” but it gave out some really important messages and by the end made me think about life and death and everything in between completely differently to how I did before. It also has some fantastic quotes and you know me – I love a good quote.

If you haven’t read the book yet and don’t want any spoilers then I suggest you stop reading but like I said I simply cannot write this review without giving some of the main parts away. I really liked how during Augustus and Hazel’s happy days the chapters were quite long but then as it neared the end for Gus the chapters got noticeably shorter – to a mere 3 pages during one chapter. I’m not sure whether anyone else noticed this but it made an impact on me. I also liked how the first 3/4 of the book were mainly Hazel’s struggles then the tide dramatically turned and all of a sudden it was all about Gus and Hazel seemed to put her problems aside. The last part I need to make a comment on is the bit that destroyed me. I have never cried so much at a book than I did at that one part. The deterioration of Gus. I found it much worse than his actual death. He went from this lively, charismatic, somewhat cocky character to a frail, incompetent cancer patient and it was absolutely heart-breaking and as sad as it is, I love the way he doesn’t pretend to be a hero and doesn’t pretend that there’s anything glamorous about illness. Because there’s not. This book is so raw and is guaranteed to break your heart. (The part when he gets stuck at the petrol station and couldn’t work out how to use his G-tube and he’s crying down the phone to Hazel and she turns up and he’s covered in his own vomit and keeps saying he just wants to die. I just didn’t know what to do with myself, seriously).

I also found out that John Green served as a chaplain at a children’s hospital which is where the idea for the book flourished. It’s devastating to know that there are children/young adults out there actually going through the same thing but nevertheless I think it’s a good source of awareness. I don’t know what else to say expect read it for yourself.

Book Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson-Walker

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Age-of-Miracles-UKWhat it’s about:

What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day became night and night became day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on a family and a young girl, who is already coping with the normal disasters of everyday life? One seemingly ordinary Saturday morning in a California suburb, Julia and her parents wake to discover that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. No one knows why, no one knows how to deal with it. The enormity of this change is almost beyond comprehension.

Told through Julia’s eyes, this beautiful and original novel shows how easily life can fragment, within a family, within a community, and on a far wider plane, when the rhythm of life as we know it is knocked so unexpectedly out of kilter.

Review:

When I decided to take on the Richard and Judy summer 2013 reading challenge I was absolutely delighted when I saw this book was one of their choices. I read this once last year and finished it cover to cover in a day. This is the authors first novel and when I read it the first time around, it wasn’t very well-known. This book deserves to be read and now thanks to the Richard and Judy challenge it will be and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did. This unique and fascinating story is told through the eyes of Julia, an 11 year old girl who lives a very ordinary life until what they would later call, ‘The Slowing’, occurs. ‘The Slowing’ is what scientists call this phenomenon. The earth’s rotation is gradually getting slower and slower. Crop begin to die, illness starts to occur and society begins to break down and as the minutes bleed into hours and hours into days it slowly but significantly changes everyone’s lives, including Julia’s, forever.

I praise the author for writing such a touching and somehow, realistic novel. It’s one thing to make up entirely new worlds altogether but being able to stray so far from the norm like this book does is extraordinary and a great amount of thought and imagination that must of gone in to successfully changing something we are so familiar with and take so much for granted. It really does send your imagination wild and I think the reason I found this book such a interesting read is because we’re always looking for something new and exciting to happen and this book delivers just that. In a seemingly normal world, full of normal problems, this huge change occurs that changes everything and everyone and it’s so exciting trying to imagine living and adjusting like the characters do in the book. I also like how this book is told from the point of view of someone who has already lived through what she’s telling. The way she refers to things that have yet to happen is intriguing and it gives you a sense of hope for the characters that you grow to love. Julia has all the worries an 11 year-old girl should have. Not fitting in at school, liking a boy for the first time, problems at home and losing friends. Take out ‘The Slowing’ and you’re left with a series of unfortunate but very realistic events but Julia mentions in the book that she doesn’t know if what happened to her family was due to ‘The Slowing’ or not. Which I think is one of the main points of the story. If ‘The Slowing’ had never happened – how would life have panned out?

I love the concept of this story and it’s honestly unlike anything I’ve read before. Many critics have mentioned the fact that the author is inconsistent and lacks scientific knowledge but to me, I really don’t think that matters. The story is written by an 11 year-old girl, the fact that she has no scientific knowledge, other than what she hears on the TV, is what I think makes the book so successful – the element of the unknown. I admire how the author has managed to create this wonderful catastrophe but at the same time capture all the problems of life that will soon feel insignificant compared to the main problem at hand. Although I, as a reader, could not comprehend life as they experience is, I can relate to some of the smaller worries Julia and her family have to deal with. This is not only a story of a dramatic change in the world we live but a story of friendship, family, young love and the incredible strength of humankind.

Book Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

51Y4Yv79ZWLWhat it’s about:

When Emma Hunt’s son is diagnosed with Asperger’s, she knows she will do anything to help him.

She expects other people not to understand. She expects the stares and whispers. She even expects trouble with the police. But she doesn’t expect Jacob to be charged with murder. And when all the hallmarks of your son’s condition – his tics, his inappropriate actions, his inability to look you in the eye – can be read as guilt; when you cannot put your hand on your heart and swear he is innocent… How can you help your child then?

CharlooDividerReview:

Shamefully, this is the first Jodi Picoult book I’ve ever read. I didn’t realise what I’d been missing and from the very first page, I was hooked. This story follows a teenage boy called Jacob Hunt who has Asperger’s, a form of autism. He can’t communicate like the rest of us, takes everything everybody says literately and can’t empathise. His routine cannot be changed, he can only eat certain coloured foods on certain days and he gets agitated extremely easily. He also has a fascination for crime scene investigation. In order to try and fit in better, Jacob needs extra help. One day his social skills tutor Jess, is found dead and Jacob is the prime suspect. This is a gripping story of Jacob’s struggle to fit in with everyday society, a mother’s unconditional love for her son and the unconventional relationship between two brothers.

I love the way  this book is written as she writes from the point of view of all the characters; Jacob, his mother, his brother, his lawyer and a detective. I felt much more involved in the story, the characters, their lives and the problem they face. Rather than feeling like an outsider looking in, I was able to look at the story from different perspectives. For example, Jacob’s mother would have found Jacob’s behaviour fairly normal, having to live with him whereas the Lawyer found it strange because he was unfamiliar with Jacob’s condition. I found Jacob’s chapters particularly interesting, as I have zero knowledge of Aspergers and Autism, It was fascinating to get into the mind-set of a person with the condition and I praise the author for the amount of research that must have gone in to this novel to make it as raw as it is. With regards to Jacob’s condition, I was impressed that there is no sugar-coating. It’s very emotional. It’s very dark and it’s very real and being in his world is as equally intriguing as it is scary and it’s hard to imagine that there are people in the real world that have similar everyday struggles. Due to the plot of the story, a large amount of the book is based in a courtroom during Jacob’s trial and sometimes I find novels like this quite tedious after a while due to the excessive use of legal terms which I simply don’t understand but this was different because of the unique circumstances of the story which made it all the more enjoyable and page turning. One of the things I like most is how carefully Jodi fails to reveal anything until the very end. I was equally confused as some of the characters in the book were which is another reason I found it more enjoyable in first person because essentially, you’re on the same page as they are. The very last sentence of this novel literately sent a shiver down my spine and I think that’s when you know you’ve just read something really amazing.

The only critiscism I have is that I found the book a bit long. I don’t mind long books and as much as I enjoyed it, I felt this was a bit unnecessarily long at times and she could possibly have compressed some of it into a few less chapters however I can’t blame her for wanted to be thorough. All in all, a fascinating subject, an intriguing plot and likeable characters which leaves you rooting for them until the very end.