The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag 2019

As of the morning of 1st June I had read a total of 47 books this year, according to Goodreads I’m 6 books ahead of schedule for my 100 book goal (although, really I’d like to get 120). I feel like that’s a good variety to post the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag! I also did this tag last year and it was really fun. So let’s see what I’m loving this year.

Best Book Of The Year So Far

So far I think it’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! I know I’m so late to the party and I actually read Daisy Jones & The Six first but Evelyn is my favourite.

I listened to this on Audible and the narration was absolutely perfect, I was listening to it every waking moment and got through it super quickly and now I recommend it to everyone.

A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

Red,White and Royal Blue is probably my most anticipated read of the summer. I’ve been watching everyone in the US raving over this book and I am so desperate for my copy! An LGBTQ romance with a royal element? Gimme, gimmie, gimmie!

Most Anticipated Release Of Autumn/Winter

I loved P.S I Love you and the fact that there is going to be a follow up made me so happy. So, of course I’ve ordered Postscript by Cecelia Ahern which comes out the day after my birthday. Seems like a good start to turning 25.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

I hate this questions but it has to be The Mermaids Voice Returns In This One by Amanda Lovelace. I loved her previous 2 poetry collections in the series The Princess Saves Herself In This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One and I love mermaids but this just seemed rushed to me unfortunately.

Biggest Surprise So Far

Your Heart Is The Sea was sent to me by the publisher and I’ve read Gill’s poetry before and it was okay but then this came in the post. This is the first collection I’ve felt a deep connection with, I felt like this was written for me. I related to every page and really hope to read more of this from Gill in the years to come.

New Favourite Author

Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m obsessed with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books. I got through 2 full novels and a shorter story within a matter of weeks. The characters are so alive and lived within my head for a long time after I finished reading.

So, I’m slowly making my way through all of her books and I’ll be watching her social media for her next amazing book, although as Daisy Jones came out not so long ago I know it’ll be worth the wait!

Your Newest Favourite Character

There is no character that jumps out as my new favourite so far!

A Book That Made You Cry

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton is about a man who spends decades in prison not only for a crime he didn’t commit, but could not have been involved in at all. His only crime was being poor and black and this was a tough read. A beautifully written book that broke my heart.

A Book That Made You Happy

Are you ready for one of the CUTEST books you’ve ever read? Heartstopper by Alice Oseman made my heart so happy it’s a really sweet graphic novel about friendship and love. So, so, sweet.

The Most Beautiful Book So Far

Out of books I’ve read it’s Five Feet Apart not only is this a beautifully written (and emotional) book, this cover is absolutely beautiful it’s such a delicate design too. Love, love, love it.

What have you loved so far this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations below!

Book Review: Voices Of Powerful Women by Zoe Sallis

Voices of Powerful Women is a very unique book. A range of questions are asked to powerful women, some of them you will know, others you might not. For me, there were quite a few I didn’t know but I still got a lot out of their responses. Featuring politicians, environmentalists, humanitarians, entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, actors, world leaders and Nobel Peace Prize winners there is a real variety.

When I requested this on Netgalley, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t really want to know too much. Reading the opinions of successful women? Of course, I would want to read it. While it took me a little to get into the format when I did I flew through it, although I did take some breaks to look up the women in more detail.

I will say there are some voices in the book that didn’t seem to add much, Yoko Ono being one of them. I felt her answers didn’t really add anything to a wider conversation, it was usually only a sentence or two. Whereas other women seemed to give really thoughtful and insightful.

This would make a great resource for anyone who is doing a little bit of soul searching. I know it made me really question the world around me as well as the answers I would have given to these questions if they were asked to me.

To give you an idea of the kinds of opinions and the women you will read from when reading this book, the following women contributed; Isabel Allende, Christiane Amanpour, Maya Angelou, Hanan Ashrawi, Joan Baez, Benazir Bhutto, Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, Emma Bonino, Shami Chakrabarti, Jung Chang, Kate Clinton, Marie Colvin, Marion Cotillard, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Carla Del Ponte, Judi Dench, Shirin Ebadi, Tracey Emin, Jane Fonda, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dagmar Havlová, Swanee Hunt, Bianca Jagger, Nataša Kandić, Kathy Kelly, Martha Lane Fox, Dame Ann Leslie, Professor Wangari Maathai, Mairead Maguire, Mary McAleese, Soledad O’Brien, Sinéad O’Connor, Yoko Ono, Mariane Pearl, Kim Phuc, Paloma Picasso, Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, Paula Rego, Louise Ridley, Mary Robinson, Jody Williams.

Overall, I gave this 4 stars. This was a really intriguing read and when I finished I felt empowered by the words I had read as well as the women whose voices I was reading. A really excellent collection would recommend.

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for my copy in exchange for a fair an honest review.

April & May 2019 Favourites

April & May 2019 Favourites!

Ok, we’re playing catch up a little bit! I could say there wasn’t enough in April to be excited about but in all honesty I forgot. I thought I’d written it, then I was too late. You guys know how life gets. BUT we’re back with my April and May favourites. Let’s jump in

Books

April was the month I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid one of my new all time favourite authors! I read three of her books in less than 2 weeks. Daisy Jones and The Six was an incredible look at a band in the 1970s and it just felt so real, I’ll have a review on that soon. Following that I listened to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and was transported to old Hollywood – I would 100% recommend the audiobook.

I also read the next book in the Izzy O’Neill series by Laura Steven and I loved it so much! I laughed, got emotional and have been recommending it to everyone. I also got my order of White Rose on the day of release this is a novel about Sophie Scholl written in verse and was a interesting way of looking at The White Rose society.

And last, but not least, I was able to get an advance reader copy of Lucy Powrie’s The Paper and Hearts Society. It’s absolutely adorable and a book for book lovers. I was sent a copy of this for review and I can’t wait to share that with you this month!

Watching

I’ve been actually spending more time than usually watching TV and movies because two of my favourites have ended. It’s been emotional guys. One I haven’t watched yet was the end of the Big Bang Theory – one of my favourite shows as a teenager, I’ll get to it eventually.

Firstly we got to the final of the Avengers films as we know them, I was in a cinema at 8am on a Friday morning to watch and cried so hard I gave myself a headache. I loved it. That said, I think I’m going to need a bit of time before I watch it again because, boy, was that emotional.

Then the following Monday we had the end of Game of Thrones and, I thought it was ok – not exactly how I would have ended it but the series itself had some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen. I definitely think we needed a longer season or another 2 seasons so it didn’t feel as rushed.

I also had a bit of a Netflix binge and finally watched Bodyguard, yes I’m well aware I’m a year late to the party. I really enjoyed it and am keeping my fingers crossed for a second season. Next on the list is Killing Eve before the second season is released in the UK in June.

Life

April

April was pretty quiet and I spent most of my time either working or at home BUT I did end up with some new glasses 🤓. I also found my wedding venue! It’s absolutely beautiful and more than I could have imagined. I’m absolutely in love with it!

Unfortunately, April was our last month full month with Wickett, as he passed away in May but I love this picture of him nibbling on some Broccoli. I also picked up these beautiful earrings from local designer Hannah Viner (her website is here). I’ve been wearing them constantly and they’re so sweet.

May

May on the other hand was pretty busy. My lovely Mum bought me a set for my business with branded goodies, I absolutely love it. Next up I FINALLY got my first Loungefly bag which I’ve wanted for ages and, of course, it has Ewoks on it including Wickett.

I also had my friend Sarah’s Hen Do in London, the Wellcome Book Prize ceremony and a meeting that deserved a Lola’s Cupcake. I got my hair coloured so hello red and we bought home two new hammies, Ghost and Nymeria.

What did you get up to in April and May? I’d love to hear below!

Book Review - Five Feet Apart

Book Review: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis

Do you want to cry some big ugly tears and feel all the feels? Then this is the book for you. A novel following two Cystic Fibrosis patients, both with a very different view of life and their illness. While Stella likes to be in control, Will is fed up with regimens and trials. When the two meet the unthinkable happens – they begin to fall for each other but how can you fall in love when you have to be five feet apart at all times?

So, Five Feet Apart has been everywhere in the last few months because of the film that came out (as of writing this I still haven’t seen it) and I decided to read it because of the hype. To put it simply, I’m really glad I did.

I will admit that when I first started reading I did find it quite slow, I could put it down and walk away but something kept me coming back to it. I wouldn’t say it’s a book that you devour quickly, it’s more of a slow burn but once you’re in, you’re in. I fell in love with these characters and I was rooting so hard for them, as well as having a soft spot for side characters too.

Now, I can’t say how accurate it is from a CF perspective BUT I have watched a few YouTube videos to see what people who do have it think. They really thought it was a good representation, which gives me hope. Also, it’s worth mentioning the two co-authors on this book both have CF which I think is a bloody excellent idea and something we should see more of in books.

I gave this a 4.5 stars. A really emotional read and one I, personally, learnt a lot from. Have you read the book and seen the film? How do they compare? Let me know in the comments below!

What I Read in April 2019

At one point I thought April was going to be a terrible month reading wise, I seemed to be in a total funk. So, it was pretty surprising when I found a new favourite author this month! Also, audiobooks are a wonderful way to help out when you’re struggling with concentration!

First up, poetry. I was sent a copy of Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill. This was an incredible collection and one I completely related with. It’s also a lot longer than most poetry collections, I gave this a full 5 starts and I think you’ll love it.

I also bought a copy of The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One the third part of Lovelace’s magic series. This one was ok, but seeing as it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year I felt a little disappointed. I seemed to lack the depth that the others held for me, but not a bad collection I gave it 3 stars.

So I might have found a new favourite author to add to the list. Why didn’t I get to the wonderful Taylor Jenkins Reid before? I’d heard about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo but hadn’t gotten around to it so first up was Daisy Jones and The Six (5 stars). I was hooked, I devoured it and felt like the characters were living in my head.

I immediately went and downloaded the majority of the rest of her other books. Next up was Evidence of The Affair (4 stars), told through letters and a short available on Audible, it was excellent. I also downloaded Evelyn Hugo on audiobook – I’d heard this was a great way to listen – every minute I could I had my headphones in or my speaker on (5 stars).

I also listened to I Found My Tribe, a story about a family grappling with Motor Neuron Disease and the relief of the sea (4.5 stars). I was also given access to an early release of Blossoms in Autumn, I thought this was incredibly sweet with great art, but the plot changed at the end and kind of ruined it for me (3 stars). And last, but definitely not least, Izzy O’Neil is back in A Girl Called Shameless and once again Laura Steven has knocked it out of the park cementing her as one of my favourite authors.

So there we have it 2 more favourite authors in a single month, let’s hope that May carries on the same way. What did you read last month? Let me know in the comments below.

Hard Pushed – Leah Hazard

Saying that midwives are incredible is an understatement. These women (and sometimes men) are the bringers of life, people that labouring mothers can love more than their partners at some points. But who are they behind the scrubs and the smiles? What do they see every day? Leah Hazard has spent years working as an NHS midwife and this is her story.

I absolutely adored this book, because it was so interesting. Through Leah’s eyes, we see snippets of different women as they make their way through labour. From women who are awaiting their first bundles of joy, to teenagers going through it alone, there are a number of stories that made me want to reach through the pages and hug them. Each experience seems to different but so similar at the same time and while this is, as Leah puts it herself, a ‘love letter’ to the women she has helped and her fellow midwives.

While this does have wonderful moments, what stands out is that Leah is not afraid to share the pressure midwives are under. Understaffed, underfunded and often running on empty.  Many midwives have walked away, not because they don’t love their jobs but because they are burnt out. Missed breaks, hospitals fit to burst and often not enough beds. It is one of many memoirs from medical professionals I have read in the past few years that I feel should be required reading for those making cuts to NHS services.

I gave this book 5 stars and devoured it in 24 hours, and that includes a nights sleep in-between. Leah Hazard clearly not only has a talent for writing but also a kindness that exudes from the pages of this book. Like many other medical memoirs, I am in awe of those who care for us in our hours of need. This is incredibly well written and I urge you to pick it up.

A copy of this book was given to me to review via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: What Would The Spice Girls Do – Lauren Bravo

I’ll tell you what I want what I really, really want. This book, although I didn’t know what before I bought it, but that is why this review is here so you know from the off. Ok, maybe not my most eloquent intro but I was SO excited by this book.

If you were a 90’s kid you will know the Spice Girls were everything. Hit after hit, I idolised them and when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I didn’t know quite how much I would enjoy it until I finished it on a trip to London and listened to all the songs as loud as my headphones would go (sorry fellow travellers but you needed to spice up your life.

A collection of personal memories, those of fellow Spice Girls fans and looking at the cultural history of five women who wouldn’t take no for an answer and how they changed our lives. Additionally, Bravo considers modern problems through their eyes and ask what would they do? Hello new motto for life!

This book is incredibly well written, of course it is fun but it’s also very informative. Bravo considers what the Spice Girls were up against for the time, how they broke boundaries and more. The were, an always should be considered groundbreaking in the music industry.

What I found really interesting though, and this might just be the marketing geek in me, was looking at their choices from a marketing perspective. Bravo pointed something out I hadn’t considered that they made the Spice Girls merch something everyone could enjoy. From Spice crisps to a Spice Cam no matter your budget you could enjoy it.

I was a Spice Girls collector, long after the split I was picking up everyone else’s memorabilia at car boot sales to add to my own…it now live at my Mum and Dads. This book brought back the joy I felt for my entire childhood. I was born in 1994, when I was 2 years old I bopped to Wannabe, at 3 I had my own Spice Girl oufits, I had to start school with bunches like Baby Spice. And then, the holy grail, my Mum got us tickets to see them live at Earls Court in December 1999 – minus Geri, although I made up for that in 2007.

I’ve been recommending this to anyone and everyone who I know is a Spice Girls fan, of course I gave it 5 stars. This is a small but mighty book and while I listened to the audiobook, I now need to get my own copy of the actual hardback and proudly display it on my shelves. If you loved the Spice Girls this is for you. Trust me, you won’t forget it.

And now I leave you with the Spice classic that started it all.