Friday 28 August 2020

Current Netflix Top Picks #15

I've been in such a slump with pretty much everything recently. Blogging, cooking & even just watching TV. I've just not been able to find anything than can hold my attention. Does that make sense? We watched so many boxsets and films at the start of lockdown that by the time restrictions started to ease and we could sort of start to get our lives back a little, I just had no interest in watching anything else for a little while. As we did watch so much during lockdown though, I still have some Netflix recommendations that I wanted to share!
collage - Netflix poster, Lovebirds poster, White Lines poster, Eurovision poster, Celebrity Masterchef poster, Selling Sunset poster

The Lovebirds

This was a proper laugh out loud comedy. We watched this quite early on in lockdown & it's ended up being one of my favourites that Netflix have released over the last few months. It stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani (funny in every film he's in) and they were perfect together. They play a couple on the brink of breaking up who one night get unintentionally embroiled in a bizarre murder. They flee the scene worried they'll be seen as suspects but with people trying to track them down can they even survive the night, let alone save their relationship? It's hilarious. I can't wait to watch it again.

White Lines

I heard really mixed things about this so had no idea if I was gonna love it or hate it. Now I've watched it (and I actually got through the whole series in a day) I can say I'm in the camp of people who actually really enjoyed it. This is set in Ibiza and follows Zoe Collins (played by Laura Haddock) as she tries to solve the mysterious death of her brother, a famous DJ from many years ago. Whilst there she meets many of Axel's old friends and colleagues and it turns out they've all got secrets they've been hiding. I can see why people didn't like it and some of the accents were a bit dodgy but I personally found it a really easy watch!

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

I'm not sure there are words for how much I loved this. I went into it not expecting much to be honest as I think a lot of people probably did and I find Will Ferrell films can be a bit hit and miss sometimes but I thought this was absolutely brilliant. I must have watched it at least 5 times since it came onto Netflix and I'm sure I'll re-watch many more times too. Will Ferrell & Rachel McAdams play Lars and Sigrit, aspiring musicians who are given the chance to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Content. I think Rachel McAdams is fab in this as is Dan Stevens who plays a singer from Russia. It's so funny and the music is so catchy. If you haven't watched this already, it's the perfect Saturday night film!

Celebrity Masterchef

I am thrilled Celebrity Masterchef has been added to Netflix. There's only 2 seasons so far which is  a little annoying but I live in hope that they'll add more of the previous seasons soon. I just love cooking shows. I watch them all the time and each year I always look forward to Masterchef, whether it's the 'normal' version or the celeb one. I always find it so interesting seeing what everyone chooses to cook - it gives me inspiration and I also love the mass catering challenges! This is one of the only shows I've really enjoyed binge-watching over the last few weeks.

Selling Sunset

I was a little late to the party with this one but OMG I am obsessed! Whilst I do love reality TV, it usually takes me a lot longer to get into American shows but I can totally see why people have been talking about this non-stop for weeks. If you've not seen it already, Selling Sunset revolves around a real estate company, the Oppenheim Group and the women who work there. Whilst we get to see some of the amazing homes in L.A, so much of it is about the girls and their own personal lives. It's very Real Housewives so if you like that, this is for you.

Have you watched much on Netflix lately?

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Thursday 27 August 2020

Thinking Of Starting A Fast Food Delivery Service? How To Make It Happen*

This is a collaborative post*
It's one thing to consider yourself a foodie and a person who appreciates all types of cuisine, flavours, and ingredients, but it is an entirely different thing to take that passion for food and turn it into your career. They always say to take what you love to do and make it your job, so why not take that love of food and translate it into a smart career move? If you're thinking about starting your own fast food delivery service there are a number of thing to consider. These tips can help you get started and make sure your venture is a success.

What Will Be Your Unique Hook?

The first thing you'll want to think about is your offerings. What will you offer to customers that is unique and special? This is what will prompt people to give your new food delivery business a try and choose your company over other fast food options. In reality, this can prove to be the toughest step of all.

Perfect Your Recipes

You'll also want to be sure you give yourself plenty of time to perfect your recipes. Instead of creating a menu with dozens of choices, it's always best to stick to your best dishes and really master them. You can focus on growing the menu later after you establish a following.

You'll Need a Vehicle for Your Deliveries

Of course, in order to get the food delivered to your customers, you'll need some sort of delivery vehicle such as a van, a small vehicle, or even a bike. And that also means you'll need to look into fast food delivery insurance for that vehicle. Obviously, speed is of the essence when delivering food to customers, so with that said, this type of insurance is traditionally higher as there is a heightened level of risk involved. Quotezone is the perfect place to find competitive quotes on fast food delivery insurance in the UK. It will provide you with a list of quotes from the top UK insurance providers quickly and smoothly, allowing you to pick the best provider for your needs.

Start Working on Branding

Now you need to create buzz around your delivery service and the food options you offer - in other words, the branding. In today's digitally focused landscape, social networks are typically the best platform to spread the word, market your business, and truly create buzz. You can use these networks to post pictures of dishes, upcoming promotions, pricing, and other details that will spark the attention of potential customers. Just be sure that you can stay on top of customer engagement, which means answering as many comments and questions as possible in a timely manner. This helps to give a face to the brand and make it feel more personal.

Following Your Food Dream

By using these tips and steps, you'll be well on your way to following your dream of starting your own fast food delivery and catering service.

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Monday 24 August 2020

M&M Cookies Recipes

It's not often you'll see me posting cookie recipes on my blog because they're actually one thing I find quite tricky to get right! Recently I've been sharing lots of brownie recipes aswell as a beautiful lemon & blueberry cake and an extravagant cheesecake but a few weeks ago I really fancied some cookies so I whipped up a batch with added M&M's. Some weren't shaped perfectly but they tasted amazing and they made our home smell like vanilla biscuits for hours! You could of course switch out the M&M's for things like smarties or mini eggs (at Easter obviously) or even skittles for a fruity twist! I'm a huge fan of every type of M&M though so I went for the chocolate ones this time.
M&M cookies on a flower trinket dish on heart chopping board, cath kidston mug to the left, book to the right with candle on top
125g butter or margarine
100g light brown sugar
75g granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
250g M&M's

1. Add your butter and both sugars to a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy
2. Add in your egg and vanilla extract and mix again until everything is combined
3. Pour in plain flour, cornflour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and beat until a cookie dough is formed
4. Add in 230g of M&M's and mix again until they're distributed well through the dough
5. Form balls weighing about 60-70g from your dough, put onto a baking tray or plate and pop in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. You could chill them in the fridge for an hour if you'd prefer
6. Whilst your cookie dough if chilling, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees or 180 fan and line 2 baking trays with baking paper
7. After 30-60 mins, take your cookie dough out of the fridge/freezer and put onto your baking trays. You want to leave some space between each ball of dough as when they cook they'll flatten and spread
8. Add a few more M&M's that were leftover from earlier to each cookie dough ball, pushing in a little
9. Bake in the oven for around 12 minutes 
10. When baked, leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack if possible. After around 30 minutes, enjoy!
M&M cookie held up over flatlay
M&M cookie on flower trinket dish on heart shaped wooden chopping board with cath kidston mug to the left, book to the right with candle on top
These will last about 3 days, though to get the best out of them I'd recommend eating on the first and second day and I'd also recommend storing them in a tupperware to keep them as fresh as possible. If you wanted you could also enjoy these warm! Just pop into a warm oven for 5 minutes or the microwave for about 30 seconds. They'd go so well with a scoop of ice cream too! Who doesn't like warm cookies?

A similar recipe you might like is my peanut butter cookies!

What's your favourite thing to bake?

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Saturday 22 August 2020

The Perfect Couple By Lisa Hall Book Review*

I received a copy to review but all opinions are my own*
Today I'm back with another book review and it's a thriller this time! I love a good thriller and it's made a nice change after reading quite a variety of different genres recently. I was kindly send a copy of The Perfect Couple by Lisa Hall and I couldn't wait to share my thoughts with you.
The Perfect Couple by Lisa Hall book cover
'When Emily applies for a job as a housekeeper for widower Rupert, it's a chance to start over - a steady job and regular money means she can work towards her own place, not sharing a grimy flat with old mate, Mags. As Emily gets to know more about Rupert's world - how he likes his supper when he comes in from work, who his friends are - she can make sure everything runs like clockwork for him. Soon there's a spark between them; Rupert likes Emily and invities her to stay. For good. To the outside world, they seem to be a perfect match. There's just the small issue of what really happened to Rupert's first wife...'

My Review

It had felt like quite a while since I'd last read a thriller which is a firm favourite genre of mine so I couldn't wait to get stuck into The Perfect Couple by Lisa Hall!

The book opens with Rupert coming to terms with his wife's death and trying but slightly failing, to get his life back together. A close friend recommends getting a housekeeper to help him out and he agrees, which is where Emily comes in. Emily is not long out of a bad relationship, isn't happy living with her flatmate Mags and just seems to want more from her life than she currently has. When she applies for the housekeeping role and gets it, her and Rupert soon form a really close connection. It doesn't take long for them to fall in love and marry, despite reservations from people around them but are either of them as they seem?

This had me on the edge of my seat from the very first chapter. I was so intrigued by Rupert and was desperate to know what had happened to his late wife and I also really wanted to know more about Emily. I didn't trust many of the characters including Emily's flatmate Mags which made for a really interesting story as I was forever questioning each person and wondering what was going to happen next. The chapters alternate between Emily and Rupert which I liked as you could really get to know each character themselves rather than just from the other persons point of view and generally I found this just so easy to keep reading, chapter after chapter after chapter.

I loved that there were lots of twists throughout this and at times it felt very much like Gone Girl with the cat and mouse element to it. When strange and scary things start happening around the house, I found myself wondering was Caro still alive and trying to get revenge?! Was Rupert trying to send Emily crazy? Was Emily actually the bad one and playing a game? I just couldn't predict it.

I'd have liked just a few more chapters at the end to really fill it out and add some extra detail after everything comes to a head but aside from that I thought this was a really great domestic thriller and I'd highly recommend!

Are you a fan of thrillers?

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Monday 17 August 2020

A Night Away In York - First Trip Post Lockdown!

Now lockdown is easing, or at least it is for most of us, it finally feels like it's time to start living again. Whilst there's still a way to go in some areas, generally life seems to be starting to feel a bit more like it used to and I for one am so happy about that. Whilst lockdown was necessary, there's no doubt it's taken a real toll on people's mental health, mine included and I think we're at the point now where we all need to just do what's best for us and our families. One of the things I struggled with the most when life as we knew it pretty much stopped was that all of the plans we'd made for the Summer had just gone. In the grand scheme of things, we're lucky that that's all we had to moan about but it's all relative. A few weeks ago in my city break bucket list I mentioned I was still quite hopeful regarding getting a holiday abroad in later in the year but with everything still so up in the air with quarantine, we've decided on a few UK breaks instead, the first being a night in York.
York Minster
York is one of my favourite cities. George and I last visited in December for the Christmas markets which was lovely so I was really excited to go back in the Summer this time. We tend to just go for day trips every so often but we have stayed at The Grand in the past which I highly recommend but this time we stayed at the Hotel Indigo. It was beautiful and so unique. Everything felt super safe and clean which is the one thing I was slightly worried about but no need. We had to wear masks when walking through reception, there was hand sanitizer on almost every corner of the hotel and everything was sparkling clean. If you're planning a trip to York in the future, I'd definitely recommend checking them out. We thought it was really affordable and it's just a short walk from the city centre so pretty perfect!

After checking in we had the afternoon to explore the city. We started off by grabbing some cupcakes from Crumbs Cupcakery which is just next to York Minster, we went for a lemon one and a chocolate cheesecake one, both delish! After stopping for some lunch in the sun we walked around The Shambles which never gets old, did a little bit of shopping and found so many new places we've not seen before. That's one thing I love about York, there's always something new to see. Whilst it was absolutely boiling all day, the sun just made the whole city look even more stunning than it usually does. 
York Minster
Streets of York
After a few hours relaxing in the hotel, we headed out for a meal at Cosy Club. This was our second time visiting as went for a meal when we were in York for our minimoon and I think this time it may have been even better. Again, they've clearly really worked on making it as safe as possible. Our waiters had masks on, there were wooden screens between tables that were already spaced well apart and hand sanitizer available at the door too. We enjoyed cocktails (I finally tried an Aperol Spritz and it was SO refreshing in this heat) devoured Camembert with crusty bread and I had the most amazing main of pan fried chicken breast which was stuffed with mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto and wrapped in smoked bacon. Honestly, I can't stop thinking about it. We finished with mini cinnamon doughnuts! 
collage, cosy club and selfie of us
Streets of York in the evening
The next morning before setting off home we headed out for breakfast. I've been desperate to go to Double Dutch Pancake House and it did not disappoint. I went for the Kinder Bueno crepe which was so filling and sweet but absolutely worth it. They also do incredibly thick milkshakes which are well worth getting! Such a cute little place but make sure you book in advance if planning a trip. 
Double Dutch Pancake House crepes
On our way out of York we popped to Homesense as I'd heard the Autumn & Halloween stock had started arriving and luckily there was all sorts to choose from. I treated myself to a few bits including an Apple Cider candle which I'm going to try and put off lighting until next month. Is anyone else just waiting for Autumn now? I'm so done with Summer and just want hot chocolates, crunchy leaves and cosy jumpers!

Our trip to York might have been short but it was most definitely sweet and just what we needed. We've got a few other breaks planned for the rest of the year so I'm just counting down now until the next one. It feels so good to be doing stuff like this again and I'm making the most of it whilst we can because as 2020 has shown us, you never know what's around the corner. I'll never taking things like this for granted again. 

Have you got any trips planned? How do you feel about travelling now lockdown is easing?

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Friday 14 August 2020

My 2020 Reading Challenge - Update #3

Books marked * were either sent via Netgalley to review or as a PR sample but all views are my own
It's already time for my third reading update of 2020! I'm sure you know the drill by now. Each year I set myself a reading challenge, this year I'm aiming for 100 books as that's what I achieved last year and throughout the year I share 'mini' reviews on all of the books I've got through. If I left this until the end of the year, the post would genuinely never end so it's easier for you to read and for me to keep track when I just share a bunch of books every few months. I shared my last update in May and since then I've had some real highs and lows with reading. During lockdown I had weeks where reading was all I wanted to do - if we couldn't leave the house at least I could escape a little through the characters - but then I also had weeks where picking up a book was the last thing I wanted to do! Anyway, here's all the books I've read since May. Let me know if you've read any of them too!
books stacked on top of one another held up in front of bookshelf

Little Whispers by K.L. Slater* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the second book I've read from K.L. Slater and it won't be the last. Little Whispers is just as impressive as The Apartment which is the previous book I read from the author. It reminded me a lot of Big Little Lies with Janey new to the area and wanting to fit in with the other mums and I liked all of the intrigue and drama that came with that. They clearly all had their secrets including Janey and it was like a ticking time bomb waiting for it all to unravel! I did find this didn't have quite as many bombshells throughout and was more a slow burn than other thrillers I've read recently but overall I still really enjoyed it. Already looking forward to K.L. Slater's next book!

The Bride by Wendy Clarke* - ⭐⭐⭐

I love psychological thrillers and this really had some great elements of one throughout. I genuinely had no idea where it was going to go the whole way through and I never knew who to trust which added some suspense but overall it needed more. More development of the characters, more backstory to the main character Alice and maybe a bigger twist at some point as I felt the ending was a little flat.

The Retreat by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐⭐

This really threw me as it's so different to other novels from Mark like The Magpies, Here To Stay and Because She Loves Me. This felt much more like it was trying to be a horror, a bit Stephen King but I don't feel it packed as much of a punch as it could have. I'm glad I read it but I personally didn't feel it was as good as some of his other books.

The Sun In Her Eyes by Paige Toon - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I don't think this will go down as one of my favourite books of Paige's but I'm really glad I read it. There's always some sort of love triangle in Paige's book which I love and she just always manages to make you feel like you're part of the book too, like each of the characters are real. My main criticism with this is that one of the characters seemed to completely change about halfway through and from there it became quite predictable. Apart from Paige's latest release, I've now managed to get through all of her books! She's clearly a firm favourite of mine.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley - ⭐⭐⭐

I really wanted to love this but I just didn't get the hype. Maybe that was the issue, it was so hyped up and I'd seen so many people rave about this since it was first realised, maybe I went into it expecting too much. Like with An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena, I just felt underwhelmed by it. There were many characters to keep track off and I just didn't find it particularly thrilling.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley held up in front of bookshelf

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Now this was a thriller! I'm already thinking it could be a contender come the end of 2020 for my top 5 books of the year. Mother and daughter, Maggie and Nina have dinner together every other night but when they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room and into the chains that keep her there. Maggie did something years ago that Nina can't forgive and she now has to pay the price. It's just so unlike any thriller I've read before and such an interesting concept. I had no idea where this would take me and I loved that a certain character got her comeuppance at the end, though no one in this book is perfect. I was often wondering who I would side with and honestly at times they were both as bad as each other. Very dark, uncomfortable and extremely tense.

The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson - ⭐⭐⭐

I enjoyed this but it wasn't quite as good as I was expecting. For a romance, apart from the initial time where Phoebe and Sam actually meet and fall in love, I didn't actually find it that romantic. It was quite predictable in that obviously everything wasn't going to go as they hoped and as much as I wanted them to be together, I didn't feel as invested in the characters as I usually would with a book like this. A nice read but not really on par with books I've read recently from Paige Toon & Sally Rooney.

My Darling by Amanda Robson* - ⭐⭐

Unfortunately I was really disappointed with this. I didn't particularly love a previous book of Amanda's but I thought this sounded really intriguing so I wanted to give it a go but I didn't think this was any better. It feels harsh to say it was poorly written but the chapters jumped all over the place, sometimes when one chapter was supposed to be a certain character, it was clearly actually the perspective of someone else, maybe an editing error? I don't know. Very anti-climatic.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

As soon as I started this book I instantly warmed to the character Queenie. I found her relatable for a number of reasons but this was such an interesting read as Queenie goes through so many things that I, as a white person never will do so I felt like it taught me a lot aswell. This book tackles many issues from racism to mental health issues, childhood trauma to relationships and I think Candice handled each subject perfectly.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams laid flat on top of 4 other books

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐⭐

This creeped me out right from the very start and that's why I like Mark's book so much. They always genuinely make me a bit scared as I'm reading them and I find the suspense just builds and builds like you're actually there with the characters experiencing it all too. I've read a few books of Mark's now that trick you into thinking it's going down a supernatural path which isn't something I really like so I hope in future there's more stories like Because She Loves Me, Here To Stay & The House Guest which are all more domestic thrillers.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I ended up loving Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG so I was really excited to start Little Fires Everywhere before watching the TV series and I was really impressed. It wasn't quite as gripping as the former in my opinion and it was harder to feel for some of the characters as they were just so unlikeable but I still found myself unable to put it down.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I could talk about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for days but I won't because I've already posted a review recently. I genuinely didn't think anything would top Normal People by Sally Rooney but this came along and blew me away. I was in awe of Evelyn and just fascinated by her life and the secrets she'd been keeping. I loved the writing style and found the way it was set out made it so easy to just keeping going and going with it. It's one of the first books this year that kept me up for hours because I just had to know what was going to happen next.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid held up over flatlay of other books

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd - ⭐⭐⭐

This starts with Samantha writing to a prisoner on death row. She's convinced he's innocent and they soon fall in love but when he gets released after new evidence comes to light, she starts to wonder why he's acting so differently and if he really is as innocent as he's protested. This started off really well and I was quite intrigued by the story as it's not like any book I've read before but in the end it was pretty anti-climatic. The ending felt a bit all over the place.

The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker* - ⭐⭐⭐

I reviewed this not long ago which you can find here so I'll keep this short and sweet but I really enjoyed this. I loved that whilst this was a romance and a big part of it was the will they/won't they between Robyn and Will, it was also about friendship and seizing the day. It's a lovely lighthearted read.

The Waffle House On The Pier by Tilly Tennant* - ⭐⭐

Just the name of this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! It made me long for days at the seaside so I really loved the coastal setting and it was really easy to picture everything. Unfortunately I don't feel I ever connected with any of the characters and I found it hard to get invested in any of the relationships. I also found the ending to be quite abrupt and I'd have loved a few more chapters.

Lost by Leona Deakin* - ⭐⭐⭐

After loving Gone by Leona Deakin, I was really excited for the second instalment in the Augusta Bloom series. Like last time, I got stuck into this straight away and I was intrigued to see where the characters had all ended up. Luckily this is set just a few months after the first book and the gaps are filled so we're completely upto date before there's a new mystery to uncover. I liked Bloom & Jameson rebuilding their relationship whilst working on a new case but I did find I was more interested in that rather than finding out what had happened to the characters they were investigating. Whilst I genuinely had no idea where this was going to go, I did think towards the end of the book there were a few too many characters and I kept getting mixed up with who was who. I did prefer the first instalment in the series over this but I'd definitely be keen to read a third if there was one.

The Chocolate Lovers' Diet by Carole Matthews - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I finally got round to reading the second instalment in the Chocolate Lover's series by Carole Matthews and I think I might have preferred it to the first. I had a deeper understanding of all of the characters in this and I love that they each had their own story going on but they always come together as a group and it's never too much going on at once, it just works brilliantly. This has real Sex and the City vibes so if you're a fan of that, I think you'd like these books.
The Chocolate Lovers' Diet by Carole Matthews stood up on bookshelf

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐

This is definitely my least favourite book of Mark's which is a shame. It had some really good moments throughout and as always was quite creepy but I just didn't think it was as gripping as most of his other books. It felt more of a crime fiction throughout which isn't a genre I'd usually go for.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - ⭐⭐⭐

I was a little disappointed in this to be honest after being absolutely obsessed with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by the same author. There were moments where I was gripped by the story and I do think Taylor is an amazing writer but generally I didn't enjoy the way the book was set out, some of the chapters felt far too long and I don't feel like there were any big stand out moments that wowed me.

The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas by Carole Matthews - ⭐⭐⭐

The third instalment in the Chocolate Lover's series and I just love these girls. I love how Carole ensures each character has their own story going on and that no-one in particular is the main character really. My criticism with this book though is that it was just too long. It felt like some chapters were just repeating stuff from the other books and a few moments felt like they'd been done too many times already. That being said, I will definitely be reading the fourth and final instalment in the series soon!

The Perfect Couple by Lisa Hall* - ⭐⭐⭐

I really did enjoy this and it genuinely kept me on the edge of my seat from the beginning. I didn't trust either of the main characters which was interesting as I really expected one or the other to be the clear baddie but that wasn't the case and there was a real unpredictability to it. My only criticism is that the ending felt a little rushed.

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It actually took me until I was about a quarter or so into this for me to really start to get invested in the characters and feel that urge to keep picking it up. I found it quite a slow start but once it did pick it, I did not want to put it down. I really liked Emmie and when characters like Elliot were introduced as a potential love interest, I liked the route it went down. It really made me smile towards the end and I loved the balance of friendship, relationships and Emmie's personal journey throughout rather than it just being focused on one thing.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis book cover
I think I should probably leave it there for now before I read more and end up adding to this over and over again. I've had a few reading slumps so I've been unsure of if I'll hit my 100 book target this year but there's still plenty of time to go.

Have you set yourself a reading challenge this year?

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Friday 7 August 2020

Dear Emmie Blue By Lia Louis Book Review*

I received a copy to review but all opinions are my own*
I've said before that I love nothing more than a book all about romance. I love to get lost in a love story, as you might be able to tell from my many reviews of books like One Day In December, One Perfect Summer and Five Years From Now. They don't seem as easy to come by nowadays or at least that's what I've found so I was thrilled when I received a copy of Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis to read recently.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis book. Pink background, flower dish to the right with perfume on top
'Emmie Blue has a secret... A long time ago, Emmie Blue released a red balloon with a secret message hidden inside - and against all odds, across hundreds of miles of ocean, it was found on a beach in France by a boy called Lucas. Fourteen years later, on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Emmie hopes that Lucas is finally about to kiss her. She never expected him to announce that he was marrying someone else! Suddenly Emmie's dreams are shattered and the one person in her life she can rely on is slipping through her fingers. But what if Lucas isn't her forever? What if her love story is only just beginning...'

My Review

Straight away I loved the concept of this story, a young Emmie releasing a balloon into the sky one day for it to be found by Lucas who has just moved to France. What are the chances of someone actually finding it in the first place? But then for them to end up being your best friend? It's the stuff of dreams. As they grow closer, Emmie realises she's in love with Lucas but when she decides its time to reveal her feelings, he announces he's getting married to someone else. This leaves her in a dilemma - should she still tell him how she feels in the hope he feels the same? or should she accept it and move on?

I'm sure we can all relate in some way to unrequited love or wanting someone you can't have so I felt for Emmie when she's battling with her feelings. She also had her own challenges to deal with because of her childhood - not knowing who her father is, a tricky relationship with her mother and the trauma of something that happened to her when she was a teenager. All of these things made me genuinely care for the character though and I thought these all added some real depth to the story. It definitely wasn't just focused on romance which I liked and I enjoyed the interactions with her hilarious friends just as much as I did with Lucas and other potential love interests.

The story is told from Emmie's perspective and we occasionally get flashbacks to give us some background into her current challenges with various things and of course her relationship with Lucas. I did find the first quarter of the book a little slow and it took me a while to really get stuck into it but once it picked up and a certain character was introduced that I didn't expect, I could not put it down.

If you enjoy anything with romance then I think you'll love Dear Emmie Blue. It's a really sweet story about first loves and friendships with a whole lot of heart and some really touching moments. I already have a feeling I'll be picking it up again in future to re-read!

Are you a fan of romance books?

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Monday 3 August 2020

3 Photos I Loved In July

So in 2018 I first wrote a post like this, sharing some of my favourite photos from the past month and since then I think I've done two. I really intended to do them every so often but then gradually just forgot about it and ended up posting many book reviews, recipes and other things instead but now lockdown is easing and life is getting back to some sort of normality, I wanted to document some of the things we've been getting upto over the last few weeks. There's no denying a big part of 2020 has been tough but July felt like the start of us all getting our lives back a little and we actually had some plans for the first time in a while! Here's 3 photos from July that I really loved.
collage - pink background, text with title, selfie at the beach, meal at miller and carter, bear at daycare

A Day At The Seaside

The first photo I wanted to share is from a recent trip to the seaside. We originally had plans to go abroad for our anniversary in July but of course Covid came along and ruined it. Whilst of course we were disappointed for a while, we knew we could still do something just as fun closer to home. There's nothing I love more than a day at the beach with my two favourite people, eating fish & chips, ice cream and doughnuts and paddling in the sea, and that's exactly what we did. The weather was perfect and it felt so good to just get out somewhere normal again! When we got home we watched Hamilton on Disney+ which was all I hoped it would be and more and on the whole, it was just a really lovely day. 
Selfie at the seaside in Bridlingont

Our First Post Lockdown Meal

George and I had our first post lockdown meal just over a week ago and it was just insanely good. We headed to one of our faves, Miller and Carter, everything felt really safe and clean and the service was pretty perfect. To start we had the best nachos with allll the toppings and halloumi fries. Who knew pomegranate seeds went so well with halloumi? Little bursts of heaven. Definitely need to re-create that at home. And the steak was out of this world and totally worth the wait. I love a date night but we don't get them very often anymore, though this was technically more of a date day but still, it felt good to be doing things like again.
Steak, chips, salad at Miller & Carter

Bear Loving Life

The last photo I wanted to share was this adorable photo of Bear at daycare. I mean, I take about a million photos of him a day so there's plenty of him I could share but I feel like this one just sums him up. Always happy, always smiling, always wanting to play. He'd only been groomed the day before so was looking particularly handsome though he's always a cutie and it seemed like he did nothing but run around and play all day with his pals. He makes my heart melt.
Bear at daycare
I'd really like to get back to writing posts like this more regularly as it's such a nice way to look back on the previous month and see some of the highlights. Whilst we're not out of the woods yet, after months of lockdown, July has felt like a really positive step in the right direction and I just hope it continues.

Are you starting to venture out more now lockdown is easing?

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