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
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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

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
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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