Saturday, 28 March 2020

Selfcare and Covid-19

Hello Readers,
I’ve been struggling on how to start this so I'm going to start with what has become my mantra it’s a line from Eddie from The Rocky Horror Picture Show “Stay sane inside insanity" which is kinda life at the minute.

However, you are feeling right now it is valid and real If you need it to feel valid, I give you permission we are living in both physically and emotionally draining times. Whether you are working for the NHS, Key workers, social distancing or in self-isolation for your health. Also, special shout out to all of you all battling with your mental health. If you have friends or family you know who struggles take two minutes out your day to drop them a message just asking if their okay, it can make a difference.

I have also noticed I am facetiming people a lot more which is nice and is helping me gain a little more normality back. It's odd how the things we used to take for granted now make the difference. Also, ignore all the pressure to be productive you want a nap and to have a PJ day you do you boo!! You wanna write the next harry potter series go for it!! just don’t feel the pressure from others.

What am I doing to look after myself?

Enjoy the little things
Mother Goose and I have an every other day dance party we have put a collection of our favourite songs in a jar and pull the song of the day out. I have also started colouring in my swear word colouring book surprisingly therapeutic.

Social distancing in real life doesn’t mean social distancing online
Drop that friend a message, facetime, house party there are so many options on what we can do nowadays. Yesterday, for example, most Fridays my friend and I meet up for a coffee well today we had a facetime coffee date we had our drink and our cake as usual. I have also organised and unofficial watch party for tonight with a group of friends and Disney+ and messenger commentary.

Keep your brain busy
For me personally, I feel better when I’m learning or when I keep myself busy so I am currently re-learning BSL (British Sign Language) and refocusing on crochet. Again, a small bit out my day focusing makes a difference.

Keep active but be sensible
I’m lucky I live a little out of town so I have open spaces nearby. I have been forcing myself out of the house for a run or walk that isn’t too far away from my house or do a little yoga in my living room.

Take time for you
Do something for yourself each day no matter how small the gesture. Have that bath, read that book, paint your nail, hell even dye your hair. Showing yourself a little love can make a lot of difference. Also, give yourself a bit of a break we are in unknown territory and we are all hitting the ground running.

Try keep a routine
This one is a general MH one for me but keep some kind of routine. Don’t stay in the same PJ’s and don’t let little things slip. I’m part of a group on Facebook where someone keeps posting this reminder for people and its great and cute it shows someone cares. This is my reminder for you.

I hope this helps, let me know how you are looking after yourself?

L x

Monday, 23 March 2020

Book Review: Kill or Cure: Oblivion by Pixie Britton (Gifted book)

Hello Readers,
I would like to say thank you Pixie for sending me both an advanced ebook and physical copy of Kill or cure: Oblivion

I am keeping this spoiler free till the 6-month point and then I’m letting it all out this is your warning.

First off seeing as this is the end of the trilogy, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad, it doesn't help that this trilogy is special to me. Kill or Cure was one of the first books I got approved for on NetGalley when I became a book blogger so I’m a little attached. Here are my reviews of Kill or Cure and Kill or Cure: Bloodlust if you need a catch up. Warning once you start this book you are quickly swept back into the world and once the book has its grip on you it doesn't let go. 

Alyx is seventeen and despite all the events from the first book and second book you can still tell she’s a teenager. You can tell she’s had to grow up a lot but unlike some dystopian books where you don't need to remind yourself about the age of the main characters. Heads up this is an emotional rollercoaster of a finale I was right there with the gang I laughed, I got angry and I got more attached to a dog than I thought possible (if you know you know).  One thing I will say there are some brilliant character arcs in this book that were done wonderfully and, in a way, the felt real which is a testament to Pixies writing.

I love Alyx’s character growth she’s still kickass but even more so as she has to protect her brother Tommy and with Pixies writing you’re right there with them, you are willing to fight for tommy and the gang. Alyx has been so strong throughout the first two books and her resilience and her ability to adapt is honestly inspirational. Thank you, Pixie for giving us a powerful yet relatable female lead throughout this series. Anyone needs an update the virus still hasn’t consumed Tommy. General Sinter is such an interesting character your emotions towards him are palpable. Also for the record I am against violence but I wouldn’t slow down my car to miss him if he was crossing the road.

Pixie’s writing is wonderful you really are buckled in for the ride you end up fully suspending your disbelief and you become fully emotionally attached and you want to protect Tommy and the gang. Even after the previous two books I still don’t know how Pixie manages to keep the balance between the character and story development in a way that is effortless to read and it is honestly delightful to read. Also how she manages to keep the story growth composed and flowing while having this book set against a busy, fast-paced world is remarkable.

That ending!!!! That is all you're getting!!!

Friday, 20 March 2020

Blog tour: Cursed, a folktale inspired collection edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane (Gifted book)

Hello Readers,

First of thank you Lydia and Titan for sending me a physical copy of Cursed and for inviting me onto the blog tour.

Seeing as today is my stop on the cursed blog tour and most of us are limiting out contact with people go grab a biscuit and a cuppa or you know in the current climate water (too soon). I’ve got a spotlight and a miniature review just for you.

This post contains links to buy the book, I do not profit from the sharing of these links. 

Title: Cursed, a folktale inspired collection
Edited: Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane
Featuring stories by:
Charlie Jane Anders, James Brodgen, M.R. Carey, Christopher Fowler, Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Golden, Christina Henry, Alison Littlewood, Margo Lanagan, Maura McHugh, Tim Lebbon, Lilith Saintcrow, Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith, Adam Stemple, Jen Williams, and Jane Yolen. 
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tales
Release Date: March 3rd 2020
Cover Image:
Book Blurb:
Fairy tales take a weird twist in this anthology compiling stories from an all-star cast of fantasy writers, including stories from Neil Gaiman, Charlie Jane Anders and Alison Littlewood.

Here in this book you'll find unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the more traditional to the modern - giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you; some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality.

Links to Buy the Book:

Miniature Review

There are so many great authors in this book and it’s hard not to skip to your favourites first. For me this book was perfect I like all the gory details from the original tales (sorry!). I am also a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, Christina Henry and Tim Lebbon so I completely imploded into a fangirling mess when I got the email. Fairy tales and folk stories are a staple of Fantasy fiction they have a way of dealing with the unexpected price victims have to pay for their misdeeds and have been a staple of the genre.

The book is packed with great tales and some amazing authors, some of the stories are retellings while some are original. Whatever style you enjoy, or writers that you like, you are sure to find what you’re looking for in here. The book has something for everyone within its dark delights.

Each author fulfils the brief and I enjoyed how diverse the ideas were. Each story is different from the one before it, which means that you go from one story to the next, never quite knowing what to expect. There are a lot of tough topics covered most of which you would expect to find in an anthology of this type. This book may introduce you to some authors you may not have read before, and also remind you how good some of the better-known authors are.

this book is packed with great tales, and some amazing authors. Whatever style that you enjoy, or writers that you like, you will find something to read in this book. Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane provide a useful aide-memoir at the end of the book for you to use and discover more which was a lovely touch.

Happy Reading
L x

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Blog Tour: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (Gifted, Review)

Hello Readers,
I would love to say a huge thank you to BKMRK and Hachette for not only sending me a physical ARC copy of Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales but for inviting me on the blog tour.
First, off I’m not going to lie I saw the words queer re-imagining of grease and lost my mind and it was on my Wishlist. I read this in two sitting I just has to know and who doesn’t love a book that does that. Waterstones has it summed up beautifully “SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets a modern-day, queer re-imagining of GREASE.”

Just a little editor’s note the next three reviews are all out fangirling sorry, not sorry!

I am also going to try to keep this spoiler-free and can I just say the spoilers are GREASE based so what can I say? and one spoiler is Love Simon based, if you know you know. 

If like me you were raised on GREASE you are going to be hit right in the nostalgia feels as the story is recognisable (also if you’ve not seen GREASE spoilers and if not go watch it). This book drew on the overall concept of Grease and some scenes and characters are reminiscent of the original but this is still its own story, it is like seeing an old friend.

Ollie and his parents moved to North Carolina from California for the summer after his aunt became ill (Our Sandy). He spends most of his summer at the beach, taking care of his young cousins. There he meets Will and Ollie and Will have a summer fling. It's intense and passionate but once the summer is over Ollie is baffled by Will's silence no calls, texts, nothing. (Oh hi Danny!). 

As if that's not enough for Ollie to deal with, his family has decided to stay in North Carolina to help care for his aunt for a year. Which means poor Ollie has to start a new school for senior year. Obviously, he ends up going to Will's school (are you loving it yet). It doesn’t take long for Ollie to discover that it's the same school Will attends, which is fantastic (Skip the next paragraph here to be spoiler free) until he discovers that no one knows Will is gay, and this version of Will isn't someone that Ollie likes he is the complete opposite of the Will Ollie meets.

Ollie is befriended by three girls who kind of take him under their wing. These characters added a depth to the story and I love how relatable issues are.  Let’s be honest I’m biased but Ollie is the kind of narrator who is all fumbly with all the unfortunate moment's life throws at you and has the brightest heart of gold and he's a lovable dork. I love him. It is kind of painful in bits as Ollie doesn't deserve to be an afterthought no one does. But saying that I thought Will was created so well, particularly when he was being an asshat and as much as I hate to say it I can understand why.

I think this book does a wonderful job of representing what it's like to be LGBT+ and closeted, openly out and confused. There was so much aching and longing and fear held within this wonderful book’s pages. It feels real, yet well handled, and you can’t help be enveloped by the story.

This book also looks at family grief and the anxiety of watching someone dying. Please don’t think it is all doom and gloom there were so many pages that had me laugh out loud. I am a huge fan of when an author knows how to do the cute funny scenes, but can jump into serious moments just as well and Sophie has done it wonderfully.

Do yourself a favour and pick up this book

Thank you again, BKMRK for the ARC and tour invite

L x

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Thank you!!

Hello Readers,

I have somehow hit 50,000 views on Readers and I just want to say thank you. You guys are actually amazing I know I haven’t been the best blogger the last couple of months so thank you for sticking with me. My blog is less than two years old and I can’t believe how much it has grown in that time thanks to you guys.

 I lost my voice through being bullied and it took me a couple of years to find it again and to get the confidence to share it with the world. Thank you for allowing me to get it back and believe it or not I honestly thought no one would care about what I had to say so thank you for proving me wrong.

I have some exciting things to announce for my two-year anniversary on April 15th I can’t wait to finally share my schemes with you guys.

Don’t forget to check out my social media feeds
Lauren x

Lets talk about… The Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Hello Readers, 
If you follow me on Instagram you already know my views at the minute. If not hello and grab a cuppa let's have a chat. Yes I know I'm not a medical professional its just a bit of common sense. 

First off, I am so sick of the panic buying this is where the real danger is at the moment.
The other day I went shopping I saw people buying
  • 8 packs of 24 loo rolls
  • 15 bags of pasta
  • 4 big pints of milk
  • 7 bags of rice
  • 5 loaves of bread
  • Trolleys full of tinned goods

People need to calm the fuck down!! Tell me now what in the hell are you going to do with all the stuff! And secondly, you know milk and bread go off right (milk is icky once frozen so don’t try that with me). 

We are going to cause more damage to ourselves and each other because not everyone has the luxury of being able to bulk buy!! I’ve worked in retail and I have seen people trying to work out what to put back because they're over on their budget and it is heart-breaking to witness without the ability to help. Also, not everyone can afford to change where they shop!! And not everyone can afford to go to different shops to get the basics they need!! Your own stupidity and selfishness are going to have some dangerous effects!! You think I'm being dramatic – between April 2019 and September 2019 The Trussell Trust's foodbank network provided 823,145 emergency food parcels to people in need, which is an 11% increase from 2018. 

Figures from September last year tell us that 14.3 million people in the UK are in poverty.  Yes, I said poverty! Now imagining being one of them and now not being able to shop, not being able to get pasta or rice that are known to be a dietary staple to stop people going hungry. People who rely on the own-brand products now can’t get them, what effect is that going to have on them and their health. There is a real danger of people starving! People really need to pull their head out their ass. I have even noticed that charity trolleys aren’t getting as many donations as normal which again is going to have a knock-on effect. 
To the people who took and stockpiled the hand gel and hand wash - you know some people have autoimmune disorders and are now struggling to protect themselves? When my grandma was going through chemo, she took a really bad turn and we ended up having to mini-quarantine the house, with guidance from the local cancer unit we had four hand gel stations around the house and extra soap near each sink. I honestly couldn’t imagine being in that situation now.
At the time of writing this post, 6 people have died in the UK from coronavirus. Let’s put this into perspective, these statistics are for the UK:
16 people kill themselves each day
450 people die from cancer a day
On average 2 women are murdered every week due to domestic violence.
On average 30 men are murdered every year due to domestic violence. 
6,600 people died during the 2019-2020 flu season
I think the media is making this seem a little worse than it is. Yes, Italy and China are under strict guidelines but we aren’t near that stage yet. The wash hand stage is the first step I think there are three maybe four more steps before it is classed as a pandemic. Also, remember in 2009 the swine flu pandemic (that killed 214), no one lost their shit this much. I think the only thing that has increased since 2009 is social media and the need for a 24-hour news cycle. There is so much scaremongering occurring across all my feeds but some like-minded people are taking the same ‘calm ya tits’ approach and I salute you. 

Thanks to my wonderful fairy blogmother (Emma/SassandClacks) for this wonderful quote
“I think it's right we have a level of caution (after all COVID-19 might just feel like the flu to us, but can be deadly for the elderly, immunocompromised, etc, so we should be cautious about carrying and spreading it) but at the same time, stockpiling and panicking does more harm than good”

Just one final note you know supermarkets are a breeding ground for viruses, right?  They are near impossible to keep clean, from people picking up products and putting them back, to people not taking heed and coughing and sneezing openly still.  The poor staff can clean the machines down constantly but given how busy the stores currently are it is near impossible to keep up.  Just think how many people are doing their shopping daily compared to staff it’s a losing battle. Just remember they are trying to keep everything clean and stock on the shelves but its going out just as quick thanks to the current hysteria.   

So here’s the take away from this long post
  • Wash your hands with SOAP! (this one shouldn’t be new!!!!!)
  • STOP panic buying
  • cough or sneeze into the crease of your elbow

 L x

Monday, 9 March 2020

19 Love Songs by David Levithan (Gifted Book)

Hello Readers,
Thank you, Ben at Electric Monkey, for sending me a copy of 19 Love Songs by David Levithan for free in exchange for an honest review
This is such a beautiful book and within this collection of short stories the tales are wonderfully charming, gentle and loving. The short stories, deal with love, self-acceptance, self-identity and coming-of-age while some of the stories were cute, some were sad and some were just plain funny. The idea for these short stories has been taken from letters David wrote to his friends on Valentine’s Day. I also couldn’t choose my favourite story if my life depended on it.

 The stories explore power, sexuality and focus on marginalised groups. Not only does it include gay, lesbian couples and there is also a transgender representation. Some of the tales deal with major moments, while some deal with everyday occurrences. Yet everything is realistic and has been done wonderfully and respectfully. This gets slightly more brownie points for the representation and I have already recommended it to some people who I know enjoy LGBT+ literature.

Every single one of these stories was heart-wrenching in the most wonderful possible way and I couldn’t help but love this compilation.  This book serves as a reminder to remember to love yourself for who you are and to not settle for less, let's be honest we can all do with this reminder. I love the perspective David creates with his characters, and the way even the smallest gesture can tell so much about these relationships.

I do have a slightly selfish note but occasionally the jump from story to story was a bit jarring as I wanted a little bit more but that might just be down to me. After reading the sweet love story of David’s parents, he was shown what kind of love is possible from an early age and you can't help but feel warm and fuzzy. There's something here for everyone. One thing you can take from this book is love even in all of its guises is all that matters regardless of who it is between.

L x

Sunday, 8 March 2020

International Women’s Day 2020

Hello Readers,
Happy International Women’s Day this year I thought I would share inspiring women who are outside influences on my life. This posts contains links to support these strong independent women. I will just say two people on this list don’t know that they are so SURPRISE! I'm going to start with you.

Anita at Sugar and Sloth
Not only does Anita make the cutest items in her store she is such an amazing person. She has set up a safe place on the internet where likeminded people come together and just show each other love and support. Anita is an anxiety warrior and has her own battles but still finds time to show everyone love and sends out love-filled emails and texts. I am honestly so grateful to her for creating such a wonderful community and one I am glad to be part of. Anita’s influence is that everyone can be nicer and it even the smallest gesture no matter how small can ripple out.

I was lucky enough to meet Emma at the barrister’s book chamber event last year. We kept in contact and not only does she slay pole and look graceful (not jealous at all) she has become my fairy-blogmother. I also have so much love for her brutal honesty and our sense of humour is in the same vein. We also check-in and make sure each other is okay with the mental health battles. Emma’s influence is to be fierce and not to change yourself to fit in

Em and Christine at And That’s Why We Drink
I started listening to ATWWD back in 2017 around the 10th episode. It has been great to get to go on the journey with Em and Christine from just starting to now doing live shows. It was after listening to them for a couple of months the idea of starting my blog started to get traction and well here, we are. I have so much love for their friendship and their ability to make you feel like you are sat there with them having a chat with old friends. They have always been honest and open with their listeners and I have so much love for them. They have inspired me to reach my goals and to aim a little higher and it's okay to do that while laughing and joking.

There is a P!NK song for every occasion. Her music is so powerful and emotive. Along with being a brilliant songwriter P!NK has been outspoken about LGBTQ rights and is a huge supporter of same-sex marriage. As well as being involved with several charities. Also, her speech at the 2017 VMA’s!!

Honourable mentions
Pixie Britton
Jamie-Lee Nardone

Who is your strong female influence?

L x

Thursday, 5 March 2020

World Book Day 2020 (GIFTED, PAID, AD)

Happy World Book Day Guys!

Today I have two things to share with you a collaboration with Viking Office Supplies (GIFTED, PAID, AD) and my favourite childhood book. Thank you, Viking, for inspiring me to create such wonderful book inspired art and it’s something I think I’m going to play around with.

This year for World Book Day Viking wanted to celebrate the love we have for books and how they can be re-purposed as a craft material. Honestly, guys give it a try you’ll be just as amazed as I was. Go on you can do it; I believe in you rip that page out and make something pretty (If you do tag me, I want to see). To help get the creative juices flowing they included
·         Book Art (Book) by Clare Youngs
·         Book pages
·         Coloured card
·         Alphabet letter stamp set and inks
·         Picture frame
·         Shape punches (I think that’s what they’re called)
·         Blank sharpie
·         One extra thing I found I used a lot was a cutting knife but I already had one for Pumpkin Carving
If you’ve come over from Instagram you know I was sick and uploaded a video how amazed I was that I had created an apple from the book. For anyone interested the apple didn’t make it I couldn’t fan it out nicely and possibly made a slight Frankenstein’s monster looking apple before I stepped way. Well, it turns out I went a little over the top creatively and it turns out books are a beautiful material to work with here’s a link to my Instagram to see what else I created in more detail. Let me know if you would like a step by step creation post in the future. 

 While flicking through “Book Art” I saw the wonderful Lion and I instantly thought of “The Butterfly Lion” by Michael Morpurgo. “The Butterfly Lion” is one of my favourite books when I was younger and the only one, I still have. I have a very well-loved signed copy from when I got the chance to meet Michael back in 2003/4 (I think). Also, it’s a little sad but I reread the “The Butterfly Lion” at least once a year.  

Synopsis below taken from Michael Morpurgo website
Bertie rescues an orphaned white lion cub from the African veld. They are inseparable until Bertie is sent to boarding school far away in England and the lion is sold to a circus. Bertie swears that one day they will see one another again, but it is the butterfly lion which ensures that their friendship will never be forgotten.

What is your favourite childhood book?
L x

Monday, 24 February 2020

Film Review: The Addams Family (2019)

Hello Readers,
Seeing as the new animated Addams family is going to be released to DVD soon, I thought I would finally share my views on the new version and the classic and I may even bring up the musical (YES, I said musical).


First off, I actually liked the new animated version and saw it twice. You can call me a soppy cow but I liked the added bit at the beginning with the Wedding and with the Queen that is Christina Aguilera singing Haunted Heart was a beautiful touch. Let’s be honest we all love watching the Addams family be ghoulish because deep down we know they’re loving, decent and fiercely loyal to each other.

I also have a theory; this is a shower set the world to right theory but…. Almost all of Addams families fit into one timeline. What!!! I hear you cry! Take my hand and follow me down the rabbit hole, you ready?

So, in the original series, Wednesday is a young child. Then comes the 2019 movie where she is a pre-teen. Followed by the live actions (we are ignoring the Tim Curry one sorry not sorry) which let’s be honest is a full teenager. Then the musical which I think is very late teens early twenties. Comment down below if you think I’m crazy. 

Okay so back on track.
The film places the Addams in the present day and modernises the mob mentality this poor family usually faces. Instead of pitchforks and torches, we have moved into paranoid online neighbourhood watch groups run through mobile phones. The usual themes follow about being different and being seen as odd.  The morbid awareness of the Addams family compared to the normal boring dull everyone is the same neighbour equals

One thing I have always taken from The Addams Family is that’s it's okay to be different and this film highlights this beautifully. This new movie still has its dark themes, Morticia using an Ouija board and crystal ball to talk to her parents, Pugsley attempting to kill Gomez, Wednesday shooting arrows at Uncle Festers. Oh, and slight spoiler the IT joke well played guys, well played. I also love the nod to the headless horseman with a tree names Ichabod, Along the lines of great names Wednesday pet being called Socrates is brilliant. 

Also, all the way back in 2010 there was rumours that Tim Burton was set to co-write and co-produce the film, with a possibility to direct a stop-motion movie. But in July 2013 however, it was reported that the film was cancelled. Hey, people in charge please make this happen giver Tim free reign. 

Also, just for fun my rankings (Let me know if you agree?)
The Addams Family Values
The Addams Family
The Addams Family Musical
The Addams Family Animated
The Addams Family Animated TV Series
The Addams Family TV Series
The Addams Family Reunion

L x

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Franks Cayenne Pepper BBQ pork belly Ramen (PAID, AD, GIFTED)

Hello Readers,

Before we start a little disclaimer: Schwartz sent me Franks Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce for review, but all views are my own. Franks Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce is available from Tescos.

I’m not going to lie the first recipe I thought of was spicy BBQ chicken wings but lest be honest there are probably over 100 recipes. So, I thought about my current food crush and that is Asian inspired dishes. I remembered when I visited my cousin last year, he made me chilli ramen so we both put our heads together to get this recipe (also for the record my recipe is nicer than the one he made).  

This recipe is for two people but feel free to add and change bits. That’s the great thing about ramen it can be easily changed or evolved, if you want to add more garlic or ginger go for it. This recipe makes a slightly spicy pork belly, even with the chilli added and a couple of drops of the Franks added to the broth it isn’t overpowering. 

So it seems like there’s is a lot of ingredients in this recipe but a lot of them I already had, which is something I was aiming for. I messaged a couple of friends asking if they had them too so it wasn’t going to be an expensive and over the top recipe. I’ll be honest the broccoli is left over from our Sunday roast. I honestly think the only ingredients I had to buy was the pork belly, spring onions and the Pak Choi.

Also, I am honestly such a lazy cook if I can put it in the slow cooker and forget about it for a couple of hours, I am so on it which is the start of this recipe. This also means the recipe isn’t that complicated I think the hardest part is timings on noodles and stir frying.

Let me know in the comments if you give it ago. 

  • 1 and a half tablespoons of Franks Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • Slice Pork belly
  • 1 Pak Choi
  • 1 Chilli slices
  • 4 Broccoli little florets
  • 1 nest of Egg Noodles
  • 3 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • Pickled Ginger (Let me know if you would like the recipe)
  • 2 Spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 750ml Stock (Chicken or vegetable work best)
  • Sugar pinches here and there
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1cm nub of garlic

Prep the night before
Whenever I cook with pork belly, I sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper and lay the pork on kitchen roll to also help add flavour you can keep or remove this step its personal preference, I think.

The day of cooking
  • Place the pork belly in the slow cooker on low for 2 hours with the stock, garlic, ginger, and a little sugar. This also helps build a beautiful broth for your noodled later on.
  • Once the pork belly is in the slow cooker, I mix the Franks and the BBQ sauces together with a little ginger and garlic.
  • After two hours remove the pork belly from the slow cooker but keep the broth.
  • Coat the pork belly with the franks and BBQ sauce mix and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar to help blacken the pork in the oven.
  • Place in the oven at 200 degrees in a glass dish for twenty minutes.
  • Cook your noodle by following the method on the packaging, instead of plain water I tend to use the broth the pork was cooked in.
  • While the noodles are boiling away its time to stir fry the Broccoli, Spring Onions, Chilli and Pak Choi with the soy sauce.  
  • Slice the cooked pork and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.
  • Divide the noodles between two bowls
  • Top each bowl with the stir-fried broccoli, Spring Onions, Chilli, Pak Choi and pork belly
  • Add the broth for your own personal preference (everyone likes it slightly different)

L x

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade (Spoilers) Gifted

Hello Readers,

Thank you, Jamie and Tor for sending me a copy of Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade for free in exchange for an honest review.

Straight off the bat this book set itself up as a brilliant book and it doesn’t disappoint!

A great prophecy foretells that the chosen one will save all life from extinction. When Mathias's grandmother reveals he is the chosen one he is shocked but determined to set out on his quest to save the world. We are all set up to prepare for the golden boy Mathias to begin his quest but instead of the small-town boy fulfilling the prophecy and becoming a hero, he dies in the second chapter. I bet you didn’t see that coming.  

His best friend Aaslo has to take over and does all he can to help save his friends and family. As you can guess most of the story is from Aaslo’s perspective and it’s hard not like him along the journey he’s stupidly likeable. Can I just mention that Aaslo didn’t want to go on the quest in the first place but knew he had to accompany Mathias on his quest to make sure his best friend wasn’t hurt. Aaslo never wanted to be a hero, but that's exactly the role he has been forced into. 

Aaslo is pretty relatable, he's grumpy and has his bad off days. Also, let’s be honest we would all be wooo epic adventure gets halfway and be like Aaslo with his desire to go back to his trees throughout the journey. What complicates Aaslo's job even further is the fact that he also has to contend with a bunch of arrogant gods who are playing games. Aaslo meets many characters during his journey and encounters some questionable individuals who may or may not be able to help him, which was a massive part of my enjoyment. I enjoyed the wayward thieves, Teza and special mention to Dolt. Honestly, despite being side characters they are just as exciting as the main protagonist, and I enjoyed the interactions and reactions that Kal has written. Kal I will forever hold a place for this a band of misfits.

The fate of the Fallen is a story that I couldn’t put down. It is everything you could possibly want as a reader. Kals book is wonderfully descriptive he spoils us. You can easily picture the environments we visit on this breath-taking journey through cities, forests, swamps, sprawling estates, wide open plains, the setting never gets boring or stale and gives an epic sense of adventure. The dialog and prose of the story flow from moment to moment but is not jam-packed with so much action and detail that the reader gets over whelmed.   

The world-building is really great and helps it to stand out is the number of different elements from all fantasy sub-genres included and one of the most welcome aspects in this book is how often I was truly surprised by some of its choices. Kal has a talent for lulling you into a false sense of security then bam the rug is gone.

I’m a big fan of this goofy yet terrifying fantasy. 

L x

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Blog tour: Traumata by Douglas Renwick (AD/GIFTED)

Hello Readers,
Thank you again, Bookollective for inviting me onto the tour and for sending me a copy of Traumata by Douglas Renwick for free in exchange for an honest review.

I'll be honest Traumata turned out to be a little different to what I imagined but in a good way. Some of the book is shocking, and graphic, but not for the sake of it making it unnecessary. The story is explosive, emotional and very compelling. However, don’t let that throw you off there is tenderness, love and some nice fluffy bits. 

Douglas has given us the reader a vivid insight not only into a young woman’s grief but life and death in an Afghanistan village. Despite the challenging topics in this book, the captivating situation that Melanie finds herself in, and as her story is revealed it’s so easy to get entangled in her story. I loved the email transcripts and the legal element of the story and they really helped bring the courtroom scenes to life. It’s one of those books where you get that engrossed in the story you just have to know what happens, and you buckle in for the bumpy ride that each reveal and twists and turn gives.

The writing is faultless and concise, making what could have been a dreary legal case book into an action-packed thriller with clever use of language, imagery and intriguing plot lines. Douglas’s research into the legal system has certainly been thought out and developed. Douglas has also managed to create an extreme unimaginable situation yet it remains relatable and human. A good read overall that keeps your interest throughout with a clever ending. Douglas is a great storyteller and he kept me guessing until the last page. I am going to look into some more of his work. 

L x

Friday, 7 February 2020

The Secret Letter by Kerry Barrett AD/REVIEW/GIFTED.

Hello Readers,
I would like to say thank you to HQ books and HarperCollins for allowing me onto the blog tour for The Secret Letter by Kerry Barrett and for sending me a free ebook (Netgalley) copy in exchange for a review.

The first thing I will mention is that this story is set during both the past and present and is told through two main characters, Lizzie and Esther. However, unlike some books I’ve read this story doesn’t get muddled and details lost, leaving the reader confused which is a credit to Kerry’s writing. Kerry honestly does such an amazing job making you connect with these two remarkable women and their journeys. The Kerry brilliantly weaves the lives of two courageous women, despite the time difference Esther set in pre-WWI London and the Lizzie in a modern-day Kent village. They are surprisingly alike as they are both strong women who know exactly what they want.

I loved these strong female characters, they're very likeable as they seem so real and they want the best for others, no matter what. I honestly love then and the way they get up, dust themselves off and off they go again. I admired their determination to succeed and their ability to try again.

Lizzie lives in the present day as she finds herself restarting her life and has a little baggage as she begins her new life as a teacher at Elm Heath Primary. Esther story takes place in 1910 she is a suffragette who is advocating for women's rights to vote and has been dealt a difficult blow with her father passing away, leaving Esther and her mother with an impossible amount of debt. I’m not going to lie I was a lot more interested in Esther's storyline as a Suffragette. No spoilers but I was completely invested in Esther relationship.

The Suffragette’s fight for the vote is one of my favourite periods in history and I enjoyed finding out more about it. Although I did appreciate the subtle ways Esther tale was interwoven into Lizzie's modern storyline.

Kerry has clearly done her research for this book and I liked the way she subtly included real historical events into the story. Some parts were a little emotional and made my eyes a little teary and I had to stop reading and take a minute to collect myself. I thought this book was perfectly paced and plotted to draw the reader into the story. I soon found myself lost in the world of the characters and unwilling to put the book down.

 This book honestly has it all its shocking, heart-warming, funny and superbly researched, what more could you want from a book.

Thank you again for the tour invite

L x

Monday, 3 February 2020

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman

Hello Readers,
Thank you, Jamie for sending me a copy of The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman for free in exchange for an honest review.
The Mortal Word is the Sith title in Genevieve Cogman's wonderful Invisible Library series
Books in the series
The Invisible Library
The Masked City
The Burning Page
The Lost Plot
The Secret Chapter

A quick round-up on The Invisible Library series is a multiple-parallel-world fantasy in which our universe contains untold worlds, many of them inhabited with humans in some alternate version of history, with only a few beings aware of the multiplicity or able to travel between worlds.

The balance between worlds is maintained by the Library and its Librarians. Librarians have unique technology, their own form of magic and the ability to traverse worlds using gateways from their huge and timeless Library into local libraries on the individual worlds.

As a Librarian, Irene is frequently called upon to steal specific rare editions of books to take back to the Library. Usually, Irene can sneakily make off with the said book and the owner is none the wiser. Slight hiccup this time So now, Irene and Kai are now working with dragons and Fae in an alternative Vienna to steal a picture so Irene can obtain a book which would save a world (you following?). Things go awry for the unlikely allies when the mission becomes more dangerous than it first appeared.

not only am I excited that I got to see Irene and Kai in action but I got to meet several new characters. As always, when there are lots of faes involved there are plenty of opportunities for funny, over the top characters. I enjoyed learning more about how the dragons and how they think and their political machinations. I adore the magic system in this series where the Dragons live in high-order worlds & the Fae live in high-chaos worlds. We also get to meet Irene's parents and learn quite a bit more about her complex past and meet some more of Kai's relatives.

Some series favourites are missing and I think it's a brave choice Genevieve has made, I think it worked well and has allowed her to develop Irene and Kai's relationship. There are also deeper themes at work, around family and the weight of the past on how we see things now and there are so many interesting twists and turns that keep you turning the pages. While other story plotlines in this series have examined the Library and Fae this one had some bigger developments surrounding the dragons and their origin story.

Genevieve is stupidly clever at not revealing too much at once but not holding back so much it annoys the reader. This was another well-written story with new information that will probably build into the next books and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Genevieve’s writing style is incredibly witty and interesting, it immediately pulls you in and connects you with the story right from the start.

This book pushes the world building and lore past the last book to newer places, setting the stage for some consequences (slightly worried not going to lie). The writing style also allows you to know a lot of information without feeling too info-heavy, and without information dumps, it is cleverly written. I enjoyed my time with Irene and I can’t wait to see how the revelations about the dragons in this will play into future books.

L x

Friday, 31 January 2020

The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield

Hello Readers,

After reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz and When I Fall,I Shall Rise I ended up reading a lot of historical fact/fiction medleys. Just a warning this book has some dark moments and was hard to read at some points that being said these horrific events happened and skimming over the words isn’t going to make that fact go away.

People who know me in real life have even asked me why I read so many Holocaust survivor memoirs and I think it's because I believe everyone has to know some of the stories in a less fluffy version of what’s taught in school. Yes, books like this one are difficult to read but we need to learn from people’s experiences so history does not repeat itself. This book reminds us of the dangers of what can happen when you dehumanise a human group and anything goes and that the words ‘we shall not forget’ should never become an empty phrase.

One thing that does scare me when I read Holocaust survivor memoirs and even historical documentaries is how easy mob mentality turned against a type of people and what happened. How many people turned a blind eye to the suffering because if they didn’t, they would have been killed or taken to a camp. How anyone could have the mindset to think to treat fellow human beings in such an atrocious way is right still blows my mind. Also, how anyone could survive these camps is unbelievable when you peek behind the curtain (Further education than school fluff). With that said now to the review.

This book is an incredible true story of strength, sacrifice and courage. This true story is about the Kleinmann family, mostly focusing on what happened to the father Gustav and eldest son Fritz. Jeremy takes us on their horrific journey, from the betrayal by their ‘good’ neighbours, to systematic demonisation, dispossession and ‘transportation’.   Gustav and Fritz were seized by the Nazis and thrown into various Concentration Camps before finally ending up in Auschwitz with only the love and support of each other as comfort. At times it seemed that the strength of one was the only thing that kept the other going and it was beautifully written and portrayed.

This book was both heart-breaking and difficult to grasp. Jeremy is doesn’t turn a blind eye to the selfish instinct for survival that, is a part of the camp narratives which if you’ve read tattooist, you’re not that surprised about it but it’s still a slap to the face. There will be times when you want to be angry but this is history and it happened getting mad can’t change anything and it is also basic human nature to survive in any way possible hello Stockholm syndrome. Also, let's be honest you would do anything to make you’re suffering a little less for a little extra food or cloth. 

This book is both tear-jerking and inspiring I cannot gauge the cruelty that can be brought out in humans and I cannot stop being amazed at the bravery and persistence of those who survive. It isn’t all doom and gloom there is comradeship, friendship in some surprising places and has some good luck thrown in.

 I spent the majority of this book in absolute horror (despite other books I have read) of the way that people were treated. However, the love between Father and Son with their unconquerable spirit and refusal to give up despite horrific punishments was awe-inspiring. Even the reunions are treated simply, without fuss and without ever forgetting the appalling weight of suffering behind them. This book is an unashamedly emotive and a deeply moving story. I will never forget this courageous family and all of the other families all over the world that suffered during the holocaust.

L x

Friday, 24 January 2020

The Extinction Trials: Rebel by S.M. Wilson

Hello Readers,

Today I have the third book in The Extinction Trials trilogy for you. Here are the reviews of The Extinction Trials (Book One) and The Extinction Trials: Exile (Book Two). All the books in this series have such a beautiful cover and the third fits in lovely with its predecessors. Also, spoiler warning!
I am just going to say I have really enjoyed watching Storm, Lincoln and the gang setting up on Piloria over this trilogy and I think it has the potential to become a larger series but that might just be me being greedy.

If you’ve seen my reviews of the first two books you know how much I loved Piloria and wanted to stay there in a little hut/cave and play with dinosaurs and adored the wonderful bright scenery compared to Earthasia. I found the tropical setting once again magical and the idea of dinosaurs and humans inhabiting the same space both terrifying and thrilling.

Instead of a mission to Piloria and back this time they are sending ships from Earthasia to colonise the dinosaur continent which sets up an entirely different set of challenges for our beloved characters. Returning to the island was great because again it brought in some of those same practices where humans run things down and destroy what they don’t know or understand. There’s still conflict, which is well done and the political atmosphere is still tense.  It was nice to see Storm and the other survivors of the trial know what to kill yet be the strongest advocates for cohabitation. Storm in particular really seems to be coming into her own as she has had to step into more of a leadership and mediator role.

From start to finish, the story is engaging and full of emotion Wilson does dystopian so well. The opening chapters grab you and tell you to run the chaos is fascinating and the tension is palpable it is a great piece of writing and it is executed beautifully. There is sadness and anger, mixed with happiness and hope and just pure intensity the entire way through. I ended up feeling for the characters and rooting for them and enjoying their complex character and relationship development. I had no idea how this book was going to end it could have gone in any direction and I love how there is no indication which way it's going to go.

 Honestly, everything about this book series is great, from the beautiful cover to the characters, to the intense main story. Overall, this book series is just incredible, exciting and the perfect for people who want to try something different.

L x

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Battle beyond the Dolestars by Chris McCrudden

Hello Readers,
Thank you, Jamie for sending me a copy of Battle beyond the Dolestars by Chris McCrudden for free in exchange for an honest review.

So, I will be honest I LOVE Red Dwarf so this series is right up my street. This is the second book in series and not one to let old habits die OBVIOUSLY I have read the second one first. Credit to Chris’s writing despite joining the story here I felt perfectly comfortable and there wasn’t a section I was unsure about. Chris has included enough backstory to not feel lost.

I loved the Red Dwarf books and this is in the same comedy stream. Chris has a slightly different humour but good heavens, the puns flow like a mighty river. I’m sorry, not sorry I love a really bad pun. Despite all the puns and humour, there are also some interweaving of subtle, and less subtle references to the total shambles that is our current political climate and the plastic problem that is plaguing the oceans.

It's wacky and more than a little weird but as soon as I got into the mindset of a world where sentient machines have taken over I didn't want to leave.  There is no Terminator-style human-robot instead lamps, photocopiers, and a particularly evil smartphone lead the machine charge. There are genuinely funny moments and the pacing is frenetic and relentless. The bad guys are boo-worthy, the good guys are courageous and funny.

This is a fascinating premise and the machines aren’t quite as you may have imagined them as mentioned above. There are ever parlours where machines can go, in private, to have their buttons caressed by humans and we’ll leave that there!

One of my favourite concepts Chris has is on Earth, there’s a gap between the virtual and the physical world where passage into the Internet is possible making it tourist destination. The Internet cats are absolutely hilarious.

This is a great story not only is it mad and quirky it’s a fun read that will lighten your mood and make you smile. The first book has been added to my ever-growing TBR pile and I can’t wait to see what Chris comes up with next.

L x

Thursday, 9 January 2020

The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

Hello Readers,
Thank you, Lana for sending me a copy of your book The Existence of Amy for free in exchange for an honest review.

Today I have another wonderful book by the lovely Lana Grace Riva, this book is about five times longer than her first book (Happier Thinking). I was so excited when Lana emailed me asking if I would take a look at her second book.
Honestly with in the first couple of pages, I could identify with Amy and I was ready to fight her corner and if I’m honest her story struck a chord (Hello to all my fellow anxiety warriors). Amy is so easy to relate too and the situation she has found herself in. Amy can remember a happier time in her life and is wishing for the happier times to come back (We’ve all been there Hun). It was so easy to get emotionally attached to Amy or at least feel empathy and it honestly felt like she was a friend. I found myself glued to this story as I wanted to discover more about her and how she balances her OCD and depression with her normal life. 

All Amy wants is to feel is “normal”. Her brain has complete control over her, it’s almost like she can’t think independently of her daily struggles with her Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression which leads to anxiety. There were times where Amy was having a conversation with her brain and it is a little heart-breaking and realistic.

Lana does an excellent job getting Amy’s voice across. You honestly feel everything that Amy goes through on a daily basis. I also liked the raw way Amy talked about her experience of living with OCD and depression. I found that to be very realistic and the concepts of the two different illnesses were honestly presented.

Without spoilers, Amy sinks to her lowest point. However, despite her feeling alone and blocking out the world (Again some of us have been there). Amy doesn’t realise she has good friends, colleagues and a whole army of people there to support and help her.

The entire story is from Amy’s point of view and thanks to Lana's writing I really felt like I was transported into Amy’s head. This is the kind of book that you can enjoy in one sitting it was such a wonderful and easy read. I think the representation is really good and I can easily recommend  this book it if you are looking for a mental health book. On a slightly selfish note I kind of wish that it was a bit longer as I wanted to spend a little more time with Amy.

L x 

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Small changes can make a difference

Hello Readers,
Today's post is about the little changes I am making this year to be more environmentally friendly. I remember seeing a quote a couple of months ago and now obviously I can’t find it and this might be a little off but you get the point (I think).

The world doesn’t need a few people making a huge difference it needs a lot of people making a small difference

Which got me thinking that in the New Year I am going to try to make small changes and hopefully pick up some better habits. I have compiled a list of my changes and one is a product I was GIFTED.

Menstrual Cup
I must admit that when I saw people starting to be more open about menstrual cups I was sceptical. I know they aren’t a new thing but it is a small and easy change that can be made. Now, this is going to get personal feel free to skip to Finlay Beeswax Wraps. I finally caved and got a cup at the beginning of October and regret not doing it soon. I’m not going to lie there is that moment once is boiled and your face to face with it in the bathroom like okay so this thing is going in and it is going to be comfy okay then!?! Honestly, you can’t feel it and is so much easy than pads or tampons at least for me.

Finlay Beeswax Wraps (AD, Gifted)
I was kindly sent this to review and my god have they been a godsend. Nothing is too much for these wraps from sealing food to marinate in glass bowls to pack up sandwiches. Also, sorry but clingfilm is a pain in the ass that stupid I’m going to stick to myself and be impossible. Once you warm the wrap up in your hands the wraps will =moulds to most things and easily seals and stays closed. I also love the design is cute who doesn’t love cartoon bees.   
Thermal Cups
Most of us have a thermal cup now the trick is remembering to take it with you. A couple of places are now taking a little of the price of your drink in return for taking in a reusable cup. Okay so not complete eco-friendly to make but there are even a couple being made out of recycled material or more recyclable materials. I think the fact that more of us are choosing to use reusable cups shows an effort to reduce our negative impact on the planet.

Okay, this one is slightly frowned upon the straws I am reusing are plastic. The straws I take out are hard plastic ones that I got with a cocktail making set and my Nightmare Before Christmas tumbler. So still plastic but reused and washed after each use. So far these have done great and I am looking into getting a metal replacement at a later date when these are unusable. 

Stop Being Lazy
The older I have got I have gotten a little lazy. Yes, I run but I have gotten into the bad habit of driving to the corner shop that’s less than a 20-minute walk away. Like its pure laziness, there’s no excuse so this is getting cut out, I think I am worse in winter.

Okay, this one sounds worse than what it is. The carrier bag charge came into law on the 5th October 2015 so this one isn’t new at all. However, I still don’t grab my bags when I go clothes shopping. The weekly shop I am fully covered all there and ready to go in the trolly. There is just a little black spot when I go into town for clothes or silly thing, but not when I buy books. So, this one I am going to boss this year or at least attempt to. 

What changes are you making this year?

L x