Thursday, 30 December 2021

What I Read In September, October, November & December

 I have been so behind with blogging recently so this post is literally months later than I planned! I still wanted to share it before I talk my favourite books of the year and set myself a new Goodreads challenge. Luckily there aren't loads of books to talk about since my last reading roundup so it won't take too long to get through! Here are the books I read in September, October, November and December.

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis - ⭐⭐⭐

It was in 2020 I think that I first read a book by Lia Louis, that being Dear Emmie Blue and I really did enjoy it. I was so excited for her new release Eight Perfect Hours so I grabbed it as soon as I saw it was on one of the kindle deals recently. On a snowy evening in March, Noelle finds herself stranded after a blizzard closes off the roads. All seems lost until she sees Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger who is also stuck on the road with no-one for company. They find themselves stuck for eight perfect hours and at the end of that, neither of them want to say goodbye. Eventually parting, they both face facts, they'll never see each other again but maybe fate has other plans.... I'm glad I've got to read another book by Lia Louis as I find her writing style just flows really well and it always hooks me in but I can't say I loved this. It was sweet but I wouldn't be in a rush to read it again.

Baby It's Cold Outside by Emily Bell - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was such a lovely book and exactly the sort of thing that I needed. I read it all in about a day which in the past when I was reading all the time was a regular thing but not this year so that shows how much I enjoyed it. Baby It's Cold Outside follows Norah who faces Christmas alone contemplating the mad idea of trying to reconnect with someone she met ten years ago. All those years ago on a trip to Italy, she met & fell for Andrew but since then life has got in the way and they've not seen each other since. They planned that if they were both single on Christmas Eve 2019, they would meet in Dublin. Norah has nothing to lose but will Andrew be there? And even if he is, has she actually been missing out on someone a little closer to home? This was very predictable at times but I didn't even care, I just found it a really easy read and it made me feel all festive!

Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I find books by Jane Fallon so easy to read and I always tend to really enjoy them for that reason. When I've been in a slump with reading or just can't decide what to go for next, a book like Worst Idea Ever usually really gets me stuck in again. This is one of Jane's latest books and probably my favourite one from her so far. Worst Idea Ever is about best friends Georgia and Lydia. Best friends tell each other everything don't they? When Lydia's online business starts to struggle, Georgia wants to help her. Setting up a fake Twitter account do so, she hopes moral support from a potential new customer may give Lydia a boost. But then Lydia starts telling her new internet friend things about Georgia and Georgia realises maybe she's got herself in too deep. Can their friendship come back from this? This is definitely one of those books that you know from the beginning the characters have created an absolute mess and it's almost hard to read at times because of it but there's a lot of humour too and I really liked Georgia and her husband as characters.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This had been on my to read list for a long time so when the trailer for the TV adaptation was released, I knew it was finally time. When I can I like to read the book before seeing the show or movie if one has been made and I'm glad I did that with this. The Girl Before follows Emma and Jane. Two women in different years but in the same house. The first tenant Emma needs a new start. A house she can feel safe in after a break-in. One Folgate Street seems perfect. But there are rules. The landlord won't allow books, photos, clutter or personal effects. The house is intended to transform the occupant and that's exactly what it does to Emma. Years later Jane is the newest tenant. All seems too good to be true and she soon learns it is. She discovers how much she looks like the previous tenant and how similar they were but will she have the same tragic fate? This was such a good psychological thriller and I couldn't put it down. Loved the short, snappy chapters and it was so easy to flick from one persons perspective to another. I thought the TV adaptation was brilliant too. 

So that's finally a roundup of my final few books of the year! Not as many as I hoped but I think I know now not to aim so high with my reading challenge in 2022.

I'd love to know if you've read any of these books?

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Monday, 25 October 2021

Can Some Food and Drinks Wrinkle Your Skin Permanently?

 *This is a collaborative post

Can the food that we eat and the drinks we consume contribute to wrinkled skin? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, poor dietary habits and wrinkles are linked in several direct and indirect ways. Wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of premature aging are often brought on by conditions such as obesity, malnutrition, poor hydration and mineral imbalances, among others. Although an unhealthy diet is not the only reason why people suffer from conditions that lead to premature aging, it is certainly one of the primary contributors. Scientists have identified various food and drinks directly linked to premature aging and we are about to warn you against some of the most harmful ones next.

Alcohol: A Leading Cause of Premature Aging
Most of us know how we look in the morning after a night of heavy drinking, so this one is quite self-explanatory! Although we tend to believe that those effects will always be temporary like they are now, that is not true. Frequent (weekly/biweekly) binge drinking sessions and excessive consumption of alcohol on a regular bases are both related to permanent wrinkles and other signs of premature aging. The negative effects of alcohol are brought on via constant but mild dehydration and skin inflammation. While some of the skin damage if irreversible without medical aesthetics treatment procedures, detoxed alcoholics can regain at least a portion of their original glamour with a healthy lifestyle and diet.


Refined Sugar: Sweetened Beverages & Food
When consumed regularly and in excess for a long time, refined sugar can become a cause for serious health concerns, addiction and of course, symptoms of premature aging. To get a better understanding of how excess sugar consumption is often responsible for wrinkles, fine lines and other dermatological health issues, just go through the following:

- Excess sugar availability creates glycotoxins, aka Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs)

- Glycotoxins break down collagen via oxidation, creating gaps between the fibres

- These gaps show up on the skin surface as wrinkles and lines

- Broken fibres leave the skin more prone to sun damage, which leads to a depending of existing wrinkles, as well as the formation of new ones

- AGEs are also linked to diabetes, a disease that damages the entire body from the inside

Are Your Wrinkles Reversible?
Thanks to technological advancements made in the field of medical aesthetics, PICO Clinics assures us that not only is it possible to reverse untimely wrinkles, but even natural, age-induced wrinkles can be reversed at their clinic. The clinic in London also specialises in treating lines (face, neck, forehead, etc) with the same technology. Since every human's skin is different, book an appointment with them first to know more.

Avoid adding sugar to your coffee/tea and reduce your consumption of artificially sweetened beverages (soda, refined fruit juice, cold coffee, etc). To avoid glycotoxins in particular, you will need to reduce your consumption of heat-processed sugar, dairy and meat products. As far as alcohol is concerned, it's better to practise the rule of portion control. Irrespective of the frequency, always keep your number of drinks per session low (1-3).

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Monday, 18 October 2021

London September 2021 - River Cruise, & Juliet, Pretty Woman & More

 Hi, it's been a long time again hasn't it?! I was very unsure whether to even write this post actually as blogging just isn't at the forefront of my mind anymore but I still love looking back on old posts, especially more personal ones like this so even though it's taken a little while, I still wanted to write this. About 18 months later than planned, George and I finally got to go on the London trip we had planned and it was so worth the wait. When we first went in lockdown we all naively believed it really might just be 3 weeks and part of me really clung onto the hope that our April 2020 city break would still go ahead but clearly it didn't and it kept getting pushed back and pushed back. Luckily after re-arranging about a million times, September 2021 was the lucky month.We ended up going for 3 nights which was perfect as by the end of it my feet were absolutely dead and I don't think could have walked any further but it also meant we got to see so much and really take our time. There wasn't really any time to do anything on the first evening due to when we arrived but we gained an extra morning so the next day we got out early and headed to Borough Market. This is one of our fave places in London and we always end up making a visit. To be honest it was a little disappointing this time though. Maybe it's just the after effects of Covid still? There were far less stalls than usual, a lot of the ones that were there were quite samey and it just didn't have the same atmosphere it normally does. That being said we did try some amazing food, the main thing being a Moong Dal Dosa from Horn OK Please. This is honestly one of the best things I've ever eaten and I would happily go back again just for that.That afternoon we had booked to go on the London Eye River Cruise. This ended up being absolutely brilliant and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It's only about 40 minutes long which I think is perfect really as you see so much but it doesn't drag. It starts at the London Eye and takes you along the River Thames showing some of London's most famous landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral, Shakespeare's Globe, Tower Bridge and lots more. The tour guide really knew her stuff and was funny too and we both left having really enjoyed ourselves. The weather wasn't amazing that day but luckily the rain held off for the boat trip and London is beautiful regardless so it was nice to just sit and take it all in. Tickets are about £13pp and I couldn't recommend it enough.That evening after a stop at Whole Foods and Creme Cookies, we finally got to see our first theatre show in almost 2 years. I was lucky enough to be invited to see & Juliet when it was first showing in Manchester in 2019 (you can find my blog post on it here) and it was obviously one of the shows we were supposed to see last year as it had transferred to the West End. It was completely worth the wait. I think it's possibly my new favourite musical as I'd go back and see it again and again. The cast are just insanely talented, the music is incredible, the set, just everything about it. The atmosphere was on another level and it just felt really special being back in a theatre. The next day started by venturing out to Notting Hill which is one of my fave places in London. Maybe because I've watched Paddington and Nothing Hill so much. It's just such a calm place, or at least it has been whenever we've been and there always seems to be something new. We had to pop into the actual Notting Hill Bookshop while we were there and I loved the idea of their 'Blind Date With A Book'. We both picked one up and I can't wait to read mine, it's an author I've not heard of before so it's such a fab way to discover books you might never have picked up before!We then went to Old Spitalfields Market for the first time and I can see this becoming a new regular spot of ours when in London. The most incredible food, we were absolutely spoilt for choice. 

That evening after a wander around Covent Garden, one of the most beautiful places in London, we went to see Pretty Woman the musical. Pretty Woman is my all time favourite film so I was super excited to see this. Again, it was just lovely to be sat in a theatre, there really is no feeling like it. It was so nice to hear all of the famous lines from the film and the cast again were amazing. Bob Harms who we actually saw in Come From Away a few years ago, steals the show but Aimie Atkinson, Danny Mac and Rachael Wooding aswell as the whole ensemble are just brilliant. The more I think about it, the more I just want to go back and see it again.I think both & Juliet and Pretty Woman were the perfect shows as our first ones back after Covid and lockdowns etc. I think everyone just appreciates everything so much more than before so the atmosphere is only even better, you could even tell the casts in both shows are just happy to be back doing their job! 

Like with any trip, it went too fast and I already miss it but luckily we'll be back in December so it's not too long to wait. I love London all year round but when the Christmas markets are on and everywhere is just so festive, it's only even better so I'm so excited. 

Where's your favourite place in London?

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Monday, 13 September 2021

What I Read In June, July & August

 I didn't plan on leaving it so long since my last blog post but I've just really not felt like writing anything recently and since 2021 started, I've really found myself pulling away from blogging. I don't want to just stop as there are still things I like to share but I do feel very differently about it now and I can't see myself ever going back to blogging several times a week like I used to. One thing I do want to keep up with, even if they are less frequent, is my reading roundups. When I read a lot in one go, I share them monthly but as you might have noticed from the lack of posts, I've really slowed down on the reading front so there's been no books to talk about! I've ended up combining my thoughts on the books I read in June, July and August so here they are.

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane - ⭐⭐⭐
I find books by Mhairi McFarlane really hit and miss sometimes. I adored You Had Me At Hello and If I Never Met You but then struggled a lot with Don't You Forget About Me and her most recent book, Last Night. I don't think it helped that I was trying to read this as we were in the middle of moving house as it meant I was only ever getting to read little snippets so it was much harder to get into the story and remember what had happened previously. I really liked the premise of this book though. It follows a group of friends Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed. Eve has been secretly in love with Ed for years but has never told him but then one night a tragic accident happens and their lives change forever. I actually went into this convinced I knew what was going to happen but I was wrong and that is one big positive with this book, it completely threw me and I never guessed how it would end. 

Someone I Used To Know by Paige Toon - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Paige Toon never disappoints. I think there are only one or two of Paige's books that I've given less than 5 stars which is good going for the sheer amount I have read from her. Whilst Someone I Used To Know wasn't my favourite book that's been released so far, there was so much to love about it. This book is about Leah, George and Theo. Then, George is Leah's new foster brother and despite a rocky introduction to the ever growing family, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him as time goes on. Theo, the new boy at school that Summer forms a bond with George and Leah that none of them thought would ever be broken. Life doesn't always go to plan though. Now, Leah is back in Yorkshire with a baby girl but Emilie's father Theo isn't with them. George has also just unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, can they move on from what happened all those years ago and are the feelings between George and Leah still there? There is always some sort of love triangle in a Paige Toon book so I fully expected that but I didn't find this was as focused on romance as previous books, kind of the only thing that let it down a little. I wanted more from George and Leah when they were younger and then I wanted more when they reconnect all those years later but I think Paige was telling a really important story much more focused on families and fostering and everything that can come with that. I'm sure I'll read this again one day.

Freed (Christian's POV) by E.L. James - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I know the Fifty Shades of Grey series isn't to everyone's taste but I personally really enjoy reading the books. I can't say it's the best writing ever but I like the story and I love the characters so I can get past that. I love that E.L. James has released all three books again, this time from Christian's point of view and I've definitely enjoyed them all much more this time round. I find his perspective much more interesting and a little less cringe! I think Freed has become my favourite and I could definitely see myself re-reading it again one day. 

The Marriage by K.L. Slater - ⭐⭐
More often than not I really enjoy books by K.L. Slater. She's one of my go to authors when I feel like reading a thriller so when I spotted The Marriage for 99p on Kindle, I grabbed it. Unfortunately I didn't particularly enjoy this. Bridget lost her son Jesse when he was 18 due to a fight with his best friend Tom. A tragic accident. 10 years on, Bridget has found it in her heart to forgive Tom and they've formed a closer connection than they could have ever imagined. Friends and family can't understand it but Tom and Bridget decide they want to be together and get married. Quite quickly though Tom's mum starts to worry that there's more to it. Has Bridget got an ulterior motive? I kind of went into this with an idea of where it was going to go and it ended up being quite different which I suppose is a positive really but overall the story just fell flat. It didn't seem like a psychological thriller at all!

The Getaway by Isabelle Broom - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
As soon as I read the synopsis for this months ago, before it was released, I knew it would be my sort of book. The Getaway follows newly single Kate as she travels to Croatia to escape her very normal life. She's just been dumped, can't find a job and needs some time to assess what it is she actually wants. It turns out someone else is feeling the same. Alex is different to any other man Kate has ever known but the connection between them is palpable. It wasn't what she planned but could this trip end up changing her life forever? This took me a little while to get into which surprised me but eventually I ended up absolutely loving it and just waiting until I could pick it up again. I thought Kate was really relatable, I liked Alex and I was just rooting for them the whole way through. This has definitely made me want to visit Croatia one day too!

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry - ⭐⭐⭐
This was one of those books that seemed to be everywhere last month! Two friends, ten Summer trips, their last chance to fall in love. You and Me on Vacation is about Poppy and Alex. They first met 12 Summers ago. 11 Summers ago they were forced to share a ride home from college and surprisingly by the end of it, a friendship had formed. Each year since then they've gone away but 2 years ago it all went wrong. Trying to reconcile their friendship, Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. This will determine the rest of their lives. I've gotta say I much preferred reading the present chapters rather than the ones set in the past. I know we needed those chapters from previous summers to build up all of the chemistry and the tension but for me nothing could beat the moments when they were back together in the present. This had some amazing moments throughout and I was rooting for Poppy and Alex to finally come clean about their feelings for one another. Whilst overall I didn't absolutely love this, I can see why it's become so popular.

The Mothers by Sarah J.Naughton - ⭐⭐
This has been on my to be read list for absolutely ages but I ended up being really disappointed with it when I finally got round to reading it. The Mothers is about five women who meet at their NCT group. The only thing they have in common is that they're all pregnant. 3 years later though, they've become good friends. Or so we think? Now someone's husband is missing. One of the women knows something but who? This had such a great premise and to be fair it started out really well but eventually it just got confusing. I thought there were too many characters to keep track of and I just found myself having to go back to figure out who was who which isn't really what you want! 

So that's everything I've read over the last few months. Nowhere near as much as I used to be able to get through in a short space of time but life has changed a bit since then and I just can't read book after book like I used to right now! I'd love to know if you've read any of these books, let me know what you thought of them!

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