May kids reads

So, mid-May and we are in the final countdown before little girl #3 comes along. Having lost a baby last August I am definitely ready for my baby to be here. I know how lucky I am but this pregnancy has been proper stressful. I am at that strange third trimester phase of being excited and also terrified of change. Typical cancerian, change is a little scary for me!!! 🀣😱. Next week we are off to Mousehole in Cornwall for our last holiday as a 4. Definitely the last time we can all fit comfortably in the car. I am completely ready to have some proper family time. Sandcastles, crab salads, ice cream and hopefully some good books.

  • The Railway Children by E Nesbit.
  • E Nesbit died 4th May 1924.

β€˜β€œOh! My Daddy, my Daddy!” That scream went like a knife into the heart of everyone in the train, and people put their heads out of the window to see a tall pale man with thin lips set in a close line, and a little girl clinging to him with arms and legs, while his arms went tightly round her.’ β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚

Not a review but who doesn’t have fond memories of The Railway Children??? We used to have it on cassette and it was definitely one of my favourite. I also loved the film. Mr Perks has to be one of the best characters and I remember loving the part when the Old Gentleman sent the hamper when mother had influenza. Just beautiful.

  • Peter Pan by J M Barrie.
  • J M Barrie born 9th May 1860.

‘”Wendy,” Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, “Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”‘🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I wonder what Mr Barrie thinks of the legacy he left behind? I remember my dad taking me to see it at the cinema….it must have been re-released as this outing definitely didn’t happen in 1953. Following the Leader is a song that we probably sing everyday in my family!!!

  • Toto. The Dog Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo.
  • L Frank Baum born 15th May 1856.

From master storyteller MICHAEL MORPURGO, and illustrated in stunning colour by the award-winning EMMA CHICHESTER CLARK, comes a surprising, charming and uplifting twist on The Wizard of Oz, told by a very special and unforgettable character: Dorothy’s pet dog, Toto. A perfect, collectible gift for all children (and children at heart).

β€œI was there,” Papa Toto said, and those magic words sent shivers down my spine. It was going to be the Wizard story. β€œDorothy and me were both there.”
We were all silent, snuggled up together, waiting, waiting.
Then Papa Toto began…

When a twister descends on their Kansas farm, Toto and his owner Dorothy hide in the house – only to be plucked into the air and whisked away!

Coming down with a crash in the mysterious land of Oz, the pair meet a series of extraordinary characters: a scarecrow who believes he has no brains, a tin man without a heart, and a cowardly lion who may not be as cowardly as he thinks he is.

But Toto and Dorothy are desperate to return home – after all, home is home, and home is best! So they set off with their new friends on a journey down the yellow brick road to find the only person who might be able to help them: the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

But what they find might surprise them. And on the way, all of them will learn that what they think they are missing might have been there, all along…

Beautifully illustrated throughout, this is an unforgettable telling of a classic story, and a must for every bookshelf.

I was really happy to discover this book and it would be a perfect gift for a Wizard of Oz fan. Telling the tale from Toto’s point of view is a fab twist and Chichester Clark’s illustrations are beautiful and colourful. Unfortunately, Edie (6) was a little young to appreciate it….you know when you have to skip bits or use ridiculously exaggerated voices to hold their attention??? Yes, I felt that I had to do that a lot. Anyway, I think it would be brilliant to read aloud to a 7/8 year old. Lovely book.

  • The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem.
  • Jill Barklem born 23rd May 1951.

If I had to name a book or series that summed up my childhood it would be the Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem. When my sister and I were little we lived in a village outside of Market Harborough. My paternal grandparents lived in Carlisle so seeing them was a big treat. I remember when we woke up in the mornings we could get into their bed and Grandma would read to us. Grandpa who was a typical dour Scot would try to grab our legs under the covers….I remember always being a little scared of him. Coming from a family of boys he found the idea of granddaughters pretty terrifying. Not so my Grandma. I used to love her reading to me and Brambly Hedge was my favourite. I loved the idea of the mice having their whole world under our noses. The illustrations were absolutely wonderful – really detailed so there were always new things to spot. I think my favourite was Winter Story. This one really captured my imagination….the mice find a forgotten part of the house which is full of old toys and dressing up clothes….what child wouldn’t love this?!?!? My idea of heaven.

The Well-Loved Tales from Ladybird are a massive hit in our house. I remember loving them as a child so every time I pass a second hand book shop I scour the shelves. Ceci completely adores The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids, The Three Little Pigs and also Rapunzel. Edie is more of an Elves and the Shoemaker kind of girl. I also remember having a lot of these stories on cassette….the accompanying music was always something by Beethoven….did anyone else have the same tapes???

  • The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside.

Wherever Jenny goes, her worries follow her – in a big blue bag. They are with her all the time – at school, at home, when she is watching TV and even in the bathroom! Jenny decides they have to go, but who will help her get rid of them?

A funny and reassuring look at dealing with worries and anxiety, to be used as a spring board into important conversations with your child.

13th-19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought I should post a book that helps deal with anxiety in children. With the imminent arrival of our third daughter, I wanted to read a book which would prompt the girls to tell me their worries about the baby. Brownie points go to the emotional and hormonal mum but my girls weren’t interested. No worries apparently. πŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. So instead of pressing the issue, I read the book in bed with a nice cuppa. πŸ˜‚πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜‚The illustrations are lovely and it’s perfect for KS1 and 2 children who like me are worriers. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈI have had depression on and off since I was 16 years old. It is not something I am ashamed of. It’s something that makes me me along with a wobbly mummy tummy and small boobs. I used to feel guilty that I had no β€˜reason’ to be depressed but now I accept that it’s just down to chemistry. (I always hated chemistry at school so it’s probably karma🀣). I have taken Citalopram but am currently taking Sertraline for my depression. Both have worked well and I have always been able to come off them easily when I have wanted to – MYTH 1 BUSTED. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

I am getting on well with Sertraline and still able to get emotional when my daughter sings songs from The Greatest Showman. Your drug of choice DOESN’T have to make you feel like an emotional desert – MYTH 2 BUSTED – If your medication isn’t working for you, try something else. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

I think the important word in MHA Week is to be AWARE. Be pro-active about your mental health. No one should feel hopeless and like you are at the bottom of a dark well. No one should feel ashamed when they are struggling. Please ask for help. Go to a doctor or a counsellor. You have one life. Live it! Learn what keeps you sane. For me it’s books. I need the escape a book provides me, I need the feeling of achievement finishing a book gives me and most of all I need the solitude that reading provides. πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šPlease don’t suffer in silence.

Right that is all from me this month. I am currently writing this from our tiny cottage in Mousehole Cornwall. Ozzie has taken then girls rockpooling so I have about half an hour before they return overtired and probably with bleeding knees!!!!

May Beauty

Body confidence. Something I am not feeling at the moment. I would love to be one of those women who embrace their pregnant bodies and all the stretch marks but right now, with 6 weeks left I feel pretty rank. My bump looks like a sack of spuds that is just hanging off me. My tummy is covered in stretch marks – I was really good with bio-oiling in my first pregnancy, during my second I got a bit cocky and lazy and as a result I am a stretch marked nightmare. I also had an umbilical hernia which was repaired after my second daughter was born so although I don’t have an outy this time, my tummy button is a little like a fried egg. I also have varicose veins everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. Really. I feel heavy, bloated and cumbersome. Now for a bit of positivity…..my skin looks good. I like my pregnancy freckles and I do look kinda glowy or that could be the sweat…..don’t get me started on the sweat. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

  • Drunk Elephant. Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser. Β£29.

My husband calls me an advertisers dream and unfortunately he is right. When Drunk Elephant first arrived in the UK I really wanted to try it mainly because of the packaging. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ The bold colours are just so eye catching. Then of course I read reviews and REALLY wanted to try it. I was a good girl and used up all my other cleansers, all the while looking at the pot of green loveliness that was waiting for me in the bathroom.

πŸ’šπŸ˜πŸ’šπŸ˜Good points…..

1. It has lasted ages so far….8 weeks and going strong.

2. Honestly does melt the makeup. Gets rid of waterproof mascara with no scrubbing and no irritation.

3. Leaves skin really soft.

4. Comes with a little vial of Bamboo Booster Grains to exfoliate.

5. The colour of the packaging. I πŸ’šthe green!!!

6. It comes with a funky, magnetic spatula thing. To be honest, I think this is a little gimmicky….I mean do we really need a spatula? Can’t we just gouge??? For those who aren’t gougers I’m sure it’s a good thing and magnets are cool.

Bad points…….

1. The smell of β€˜nothing.’ This is a pretty ridiculous bad point and hard to explain unless you have had an opportunity to smell the β€˜nothing.’ The lack of perfume prevents irritation but the smell of β€˜nothing’ is quite strong. 🧐🀨😊🧐🀨😊🧐🀨😊🧐🀨🀨⭐️🀨 In conclusion, I would definitely repurchase.

  • Clairol Root Touch Up. Β£4.99.

Brilliant. School run, pouring rain, Edie tells me I look β€œjust like a man.” She then softens the harsh brutality of her comment by saying that I look like β€œthe horrid boy from the wizard film.” She means Draco. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ She isn’t talking about my youthful 11 year old skin, she means my slicked back blonde hair. πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈ πŸ‘±πŸ½ πŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±πŸ½πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈπŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±πŸ½πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈπŸ‘±β€β™€οΈThis brings me on to my topic….Being Blonde is a Ball Ache! First World Problems I know. As a child it’s ok. You never get to play Mary in the Nativity but you are often the 🌟 or Gabriel. I only started dying my hair in 2011. I just wanted a few highlights for my wedding. Little did I know the high maintenance life that would ensue. The colour options are numerous…honey, ashy etc. It’s a hard colour to wear when you look a bit pale and knackered. And the roots!!!!!! I tried to embrace the roots until a child asked my why I dye the top part of my hair black. Also, I’m not cool enough to be β€˜rooty.’ My hairdresser is totally brilliant but the reality is that blonde hair takes maintenance and I can’t be arsed. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ This Root Touch Up is my saviour. In between dye jobs I just chuck it on, wait 10 minutes and it looks better!!! It defo keeps the dye job going and blends really well with the colour my hairdresser uses.

  • Paula’s Choice Calm Exfoliant. Β£24.00.

I really love this stuff. Having children does weird things to you skin and I have definitely noticed that now my chin is pretty red. I was looking for something calming, hydrating and exfoliating and this definitely did the job. My glowing chin has definitely calmed down. It contains 1% salicylic acid which removes skin build up. I tend to use it in the morning and Pixi Glow Tonic at night and the quality of my skin has definitely improved beyond measure. Sun spots, red patches and pores are reduces and skin feels moisturised. Brilliant.

  • O’Keeffes Skin Repair Body Lotion. Β£5.99.

Thanks to my slack mumness, I am often guilty of shaving my legs with very old razors. Consequently, my legs are often red, itchy and sensitive. The sensitivity definitely gets exacerbated by warm, sweaty, summer nights. This body lotion is brill. Mega thick and if you put it on in the morning your skin still feels moisturised by the evening. Also the packaging is yellow…who doesn’t love yellow? Anyway for quality and value for money it’s top 🍌!

Coming up next month will be reviews of Rose Hibiscus Facial Spritz and Emerald Facial Oil both by Herbivore. They arrived today but I am going to give it a month or so so they can work their magic. So far I can tell you they smell beautiful.

Thanks for reading. See you in June. X

April Reads

  • Hi all. Hope April was a good reading month for you. I have stopped work now and am on baby countdown. Really looking forward to May as we have some nice family time away. We are heading to Mousehole in Cornwall for a week for half term. Think it will be the last time we can all comfortable travel in the car. Definitely not going to be as easy with 3 stroppy kids in the back!!!
    • Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. 4⭐️.
    • Anthony Horowitz born 5th April 1955.

    Sherlock Holmes is dead. 

    Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind. Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Chase must hunt down this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace. 

    The game is afoot . . .

    The first book I read this year was The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz and I completely adored it. I still haven’t ventured into any of the work by Conan Doyle (that will come in May or July) but as Horowitz is the only author authorised by the Sherlock Holmes estate to write about the great man, I feel I am well prepared and I feel that when I finally meet Doyle’s Holmes, it will be like meeting an old friend.

    Moriarty didn’t disappoint. Holmes and Watson do not appear and the action centres around American Investigator Frederick Chase, and Holmes obsessed Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard. Jones is a character that appears in Doyle’s novel The Sign of the Four written in 1890. Jones appears as a policeman who comes under criticism by Holmes for his poor attempts at deduction. In Horowitz’s book, Jones appears to have taken Holmes’s criticisms on board to the point of obsession. I don’t want to go into detail about the storyline. I will tell you that after the first 50 pages, I couldn’t put it down. The characters are brilliant and Jones and Chase seem to completely model themselves on Watson and Holmes. I will say that this book is more graphic and brutal than the first and I did miss the detail of Victorian London which was such a big part of House of Silk.

    • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. 3.5⭐️.
    • Barbara Kingsolver born 8th April 1955.

    An international bestseller and a modern classic, this suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and their remarkable reconstruction has been read, adored and shared by millions around the world.This new edition for 2017 features a cover design by award-winning fashion designer, Tina Lobondi.

    This story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. 

    They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it – from garden seeds to Scripture – is calamitously transformed on African soil.

    This book was published in the UK in 1999 and must have been on my shelf for about 15 years. I have to admit that I approached it with some trepidation….firstly, it’s long, 543 pages. I am always slightly wary of long books. I remember as a child feeling very grown up if I was clutching a book with over 400 pages. In fact I would search out long books over shorter novels. Now as a grown up, long books intimidate me. What if it’s just a bore and I have to spend 3 weeks lingering over a book that others have adored but I just find a bit dull??? I suppose I am an impatient reader. I want to try everything – every sweet in the shop and I haven’t got time to dedicate to a massive tome that I’m just not loving. My second reason for reticence was this book was bought for me by my wonderful sister in law. She and many other good friends and readers whose views I respect gave it really high marks on Goodreads. Would I love it as much? Would I disappoint them if I didn’t adore it?

    So, my verdict……???????? A solid 3.5 stars. I can’t say it changed my life. In fact I frequently felt frustrated because it wasn’t the story I wanted it to be. I kept expecting Kingsolver to elaborate on the women’s revolt against Nathan, the evangelical patriarch. Nathan’s relationship firstly with his family and secondly with the community in South Africa was so interesting and sometimes surprising funny, I just wanted more of it…..

    Yet we sang in church Tata Nzolo! Which means Father in Heaven or Father of Fish Bait depending on how you sing it, and that pretty much summed up my quandary. I could never work out if we were to view religion as a life-insurance policy or a life sentence.

    I enjoyed the story jumping for one Price woman to the other and I loved hearing their different perspectives. On reading reviews, Rachel gets a lot of criticism but for me she was my favourite. I thought that as a character she was just so well observed. Starting the novel as a 15 year old, self-centred teenager, she learns nothing and is changed relatively little by her experiences in the Congo. The arrogance of youth that Kingsolver taps into during her chapters is just fabulous. Words that Rachel uses incorrectly and her observations of her surroundings provide a little light relief which for me was much needed.

    That would be Axelroot all over, To turn up with an extra wife or two claiming that’s how they do it here. Maybe he’s been in Africa so long he has forgotten that we Christians have our own system of marriage, and it is called Monotony.

    I am pleased that I have finally read this book. I enjoyed it but feel it probably could have been about 100 pages shorter. I’m sure this sounds like a silly thing to say but for me I was looking for a plot driven narrative and this was definitely character driven. The idea of an evangelical preacher trying to impose his views on his family and a community which ultimately wasn’t interested was the novel I wanted to read and there wasn’t enough of that for me.

    • Engleby by Sebastian Faulks. 4⭐️.
    • Sebastian Faulks born 20th April 1953.

    Mike Engleby has a secret… 

    This is the story of Mike Engleby, a working-class boy who wins a place at an esteemed English university. But with the disappearance of Jennifer, the undergraduate Engleby admires from afar, the story turns into a mystery of gripping power. Sebastian Faulks’s new novel is a bolt from the blue, unlike anything he has ever written before: contemporary, demotic, heart-wrenching – and funny, in the deepest shade of black.

    Before embarking on this novel I read some reviews. One in particular got me scared….’unreliable narrator‘ and ‘not much happens.’ Uh oh. I have to say that I loathe an unreliable narrator. To trek through a book believing one thing and then to be told that you were wrong at the end is so frustrating. It’s almost like the author is having a laugh at your expense. I want to go on a journey with a book. I want to hold hands with a book for the duration of my reading and not to be told at the end ‘ha! Everything you thought was wrong.’ The comment ‘nothing happens’ also got me slightly worried. I need a book to hook me!

    Anyway, surprisingly I LOVED it. I found it moving, poignant, amusing, dark and interesting. It held my attention throughout although I have to admit that I preferred the second half of the novel. The bullying scenes and Engleby‘s resignation to his fate was excruciating. Faulks writes beautifully and I thought Engleby was a really believable character .

    • A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. 4⭐️.
    • Columbine shooting 20th April 1999.

    On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives. 

    For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently? 

    These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts. 

    Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent. 

    All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.

    Each time I start trying to put my thoughts down about this book, I delete the line I have just written. It sounds melodramatic but my head is in complete turmoil. I decided to look through other reviews on Goodreads and I have to say I agree with a lot of them even though many are contradictory. I have also watched documentaries to try to help myself make sense of something which seems utterly senseless. I think this is the first point of controversy. Should Sue Klebold try to make sense of such a senseless act? Is she trying to excuse her son’s actions. By writing this book is she disrespecting the memory of the 13 people who died and the 24 people who were injured? If my child had been gunned down in school would I want to read why it might have happened???? Reading why doesn’t change the outcome!! However, if my child, the child I had raised, looked after when ill, wiped away tears when they were sad, laughed at their jokes and supported their dreams did something like this, as a mother, I would look for reasons to try to make sense of it all. I think that is human nature.

    I went completely numb as detailed information about the massacre rained down on us. It was like a documentary so violent and depraved that I would never, ever under ordinary circumstances, have watched it.

    A single fact had emerged, without any ambiguity at all: Dylan had done this thing.

    The event had been planned a long time in advance, and Dylan had participated in the planning. The attack had been carefully times and strategically constructed. Dylan had deliberately killed and injured people. He has derided them as they begged for their lives. He had used racist, hateful language. He had not shown mercy, regret, or conscience. He had shot a teacher. He had killed children in cold blood.

    I was, and will always be, haunted by how those lives ended.

    For Sue Klebold, her husband Tom and her son Byron, I am desperately sad. They are mourning the death of Dylan whilst coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t the son they thought he was. How do you deal with thoughts like these? I guess the answer is that you don’t. You spend the rest of your life knowing that your son is dead and he is responsible for gunning down innocent people. In writing this book, Sue isn’t trying to excuse the act. At no point do I feel that she tries to get the reader to empathise with her son.

    On reading this memoir, I looked back on my behaviour as a teen. I went to a highly academic girls school in which I never felt comfortable. I wasn’t clever enough. I carved my niche by being the joker and as a result, the teachers thought I was a trouble maker. Looking back on it, I was probably a nightmare to teach but I remember feeling very isolated and misunderstood during my teenage years. I desperately wanted to fit in and if I wasn’t allowed to do things that my friends were able to, I would lie. My behaviour was out of control and I did some things I am ashamed of. As someone who has struggled with depression my whole life, I can say that without a doubt it started at this school. Did my parents notice? I mean they were up at the school frequently, discussing my behaviour with teachers but I don’t think they really saw how depressed I was, partly because no one including myself realised how depressed I was. With depression, you don’t wake up one morning, having had a personality transplant and being in the depths of despair. It is a gradual thing. Sometimes so gradual that you don’t notice it creeping up on you. Your depression becomes part of your personality. Teenage depression must be a nightmare to diagnose. When do you decide that a hormonal outburst isn’t something more sinister? Luckily for me, I was struck down with glandular fever which took me out of school for a few months. I say luckily because I was absent for so long that I had to repeat my year. The thought of doing this at the same bitchy girls school was impossible so I went to another school. This new school was less academic and more arts based. Without a doubt, if I hadn’t changed school I would never now be an opera singer. Incidentally, it was at this school that my depression was diagnosed.

    So what has this got to do with Dylan Klebold? I don’t think I would ever have gotten to the point where I walked into a school with a fire arm BUT I was on a very destructive path. Probably due to sad stories like these, I feel schools are much more aware of mental health. In fact my 5 year old often tells me that she needs some “me time.” 🀣 I laugh but surely this can only be a good thing. I hope that now, 20 years on from this awful massacre, that parents and teachers are more aware of the mental health issues that affect kids. I also hope that nowadays, that individuals feel more proactive to seek help when they feel they are having a mental health issue.

    As a parent, this is a particularly hard book to get your head around. I guess when the unthinkable happens, society looks for reasons and for someone to blame. No one picked up the signs that these boys were so damaged and dangerous so was this whole disaster a dreadful combination of ignorance about mental health issues and the ease by which these boys acquired guns? I don’t think we will ever know the answer but I applaud Sue Klebold for writing this book and making me question the unthinkable.

    • The Five by Hallie Rubenhold. 5⭐️.

    Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. 

    What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. 

    Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women. 

    Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

    When I look back on the month of April, Jack The Ripper is a name that has come up a lot. At work we opened Jack The Ripper:The Women of Whitechapel, I listened to this great book by Hallie Rubenhold, I bought it for a few friends and I also watched that documentary with Emilia Fox. I have to say, I thought the documentary was pants…..wondering around Whitechapel with your iPad…it was just really pretentious.

    Our production wasn’t about Jack. In fact ‘Jack’ never appeared but was always an ominous presence. The set was coffins hollowed out on the floor. We sang ‘Fourpence a coffin, or tuppence a rope. A penny will buy you a blanket.’ In the 1800s, homeless paupers would save their pennies to sleep in a ‘coffin’ in a doss house. If you didn’t have the money for a coffin you could pay to sit on a bench with a rope stretched in front of you, so you had something to lean on. It was information like this that I swallowed up when reading the book by Hallie Rubenhold.

    The Five isn’t about the Ripper. If you are interested in social history, pick it up now. Rubenhold tells each woman’s story….their falls from grace, living in poverty with children to feed, moving from one abusive relationship to the other and their daily lives on the streets of London. A completely brilliant and desperately sad read.

    That’s all folks. Thanks for reading. See you next month.

    April Kids Reads

    Yay, the end of April. This is where I finally get off the hamster wheel and stop work. Baby not due for a few weeks so I am looking forward to cosy nights in and reading….not very rock and roll. I finished last week and had big plans of reading fab books with the girls. Disappointingly, we have read Stick Man EVERY night. Last night, I attempted a bit of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was going well and even provoked a few laughs. However, as soon as we got to a couple of pages with no pictures, the interest stopped. I find myself turning the pages dreading being faced with no pictures. Not to be discouraged I have decided to let them choose a book each night but also mummy gets a choice. Yes, it makes storytime longer but it also means that Stick Man is diluted a little. I would like to add that I do love Stick Man….just not EVERY night.

    • Hans Christian Anderson born 2nd April 1805.

    One of my favourite films as a child was Hans Christian Anderson with the great Danny Kaye. I remember feeling so, so sorry for the poor cobbler who seemed ostracised by parents in the village for being a storyteller. I found the film almost painful to watch, particularly the part where Anderson tells the story of the Ugly Duckling to the little boy who is bullied for having no hair. Writing this now, it’s strikes me as quite a strange choice for a 7/8 year old child to take to heart so much.

    Growing up, I remember thinking that Anderson was a cobbler who fell in love with a ballerina in Copenhagen. In fact, the real life of the author is nothing like my beloved Danny Kaye film.

    Anderson was the only child born to parents in Odense in Denmark in 1805. As a young child, he was sent to a poor school where he became an apprentice to a weaver. At the age of 14, he moved to Copenhagen. His beautiful soprano voice earned him entry into the Royal Danish Theatre where he had aspirations of becoming an actor. When his voice broke, he decided to dedicate himself to poetry and writing. Anderson’s initial fairytales were revisions of stories he had heard as a child. They were heavily influenced by Christianity and on initial publication, sold poorly. 1845 was a breakthrough year for Anderson as his fairytales were published in 4 different translations.

    So what of Anderson’s legacy?? Disney films, songs, paintings etc. Edie is currently obsessed with the Don Bluth film of Thumbelina and she really enjoys the original story. For those who love the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, the Anderson tale is much darker. No reggae singing crabs here. Instead we have tongues being cut out and the Mermaid feeling like daggers are cutting her legs when she walks. It’s dark guys. Needless to say, it satisfied Edie’s blood lust and is now her story of choice. 😱😱😱🀣🀣

    • I want my Tooth by Tony Ross.

    Major Event in the Andrews household!!! Edie finally lost her first of about 5 wobbly teeth. She was utterly overjoyed. I seem to remember being a little freaked out when it happened to me, but not Edie Mae, no, she views it as a coming of age rite of passage. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. We read this book to celebrate. Whatever lengths I go to, to introduce my children to new books, they always find returning to the likes of The Little Princess and Peppa really comforting. I also quite enjoy these books as I can work on my Julian Clary and Jane Horrocks impressions. Clary is seriously hard to get right however!

    • Nothing can frighten a bear by Elizabeth Dale.

    Daddy Bear insists that nothing can frighten a bear – but when there’s a noise in the night, Baby Bear isn’t convinced. The bears set out to make sure there aren’t any monsters but, as they vanish one by one, it looks like Daddy Bear might not be so brave after all!

    We took this book out of the library a couple of weeks ago and the children loved it so much that I had to buy a copy. Firstly I need to say that there is nothing scary about this book so don’t worry about bad dreams. The end is brilliant. The rhymes are great and each rhyme is concluded on the page turn so both Edie and Ceci enjoyed guessing the word. I thought maybe it would be a bit young for Edie (6) but I think she enjoys it more than her sister.

    Right next month there will be more books….promise!!!!! If not I will write a very in-depth discussion about Stick Man.

    Thanks for reading.

    April Beauty

    Woohoo. I have finished work. It is currently 8:02 am and I am leisurely walking the dog whilst contemplating brunch with my sister. I didn’t have a show last night so even though the 3 year old got into bed with us I don’t feel like death. Baby isn’t actually due until beginning of July but work has a holiday in a couple of weeks so I have been really lucky timing wise. My plans???? As every good pregnant woman will say “I plan to redecorate my whole house.” πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

    • Merumaya Mineral Cleansing Paste. Β£18.99.

    Ooooooh I love a cleanser that leaves my skin feeling cleaner than a clean thing and this one does!

    It contains Zinc for skin healing, magnesium which helps skin look stress and anti fatigue free….something I definitely need, copper which keeps skin supple, iron to give skin a glow (defo needed), silicon to help form collagen, corindon 100 which is a very fine powered to polish the skin and finally sweet almond oil to nourish and moisturise. What a list!!!! You can put it straight into dry skin to give a good deep cleanse or mix in a little water to dilute a bit. It is gentle enough that skin doesn’t feel tight or tingly but you do get that feeling of a good deep cleanse!!!

    • Everyday Oil. Dr Jackson. Β£62 for 50ml.

    As a teen, I luckily escaped the misery of full on acne. I did however get a few spots before my period each month. I lived in fear of these pussy, red mountains so after cleansing twice a day with Clearasil I would lather on the Oxy10. Twice a week I would scrub my skin raw with Apricot Scrub and to finish this highly complex skin care routine, I would smear my eyelashes with Vaseline to ‘help them grow.’ My poor skin. No moisturiser, nothing nourishing or hydrating. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ As a grown up, I have gone to the other extreme and in my opinion you can’t hydrate enough. I bloody love an oil and this one is my current oil of choice. Branded as a unisex product (surely all products are unisex no?), the packaging is lovely and reminds me of those old-school apothecary bottles. Apparently it can be used on nails, skin and hair but in my opinion it too luxurious to waste on my nails and hair. This is a skin treat. It’s made with baobab and Marula oil which is really hydrating and also arnica (the stuff your mum put on your bruises) which helps to calm inflammation and irritation. In my opinion, the arnica is what makes this stuff special…..if you are someone who is prone to spots and steers clear of facial oils because of the fear your face will look like a chip pan….this is the oil for you. It’s absorbed really quickly and helps calm spots as a treatment. I use it after moisturising to seal in all the good stuff. It’s also apparently fab to use after shaving your beard. πŸ§” Brilliant buy. Give it a whirl.

    • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Β£26.00.
    • Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer. Travel Size Β£15.00.

    So let’s talk about primers. Do you wear one? To be honest I never used to bother but now I am a bit of an addict. Putting foundation straight onto my face feels a bit weird. I tend to go for Korean brands…Erborian and Skin 79 make brilliant BB and CC creams but I was recently sent these two primers to review so I thought it was worth a shot. The combination of the fact that I work on stage and I am unashamedly a sweaty lady, mean that I need a primer that literally melds my make up to my skin. Both of these did and I didn’t need to reapply my foundation at all. They both cover my horrible open pores and feel really light when wearing. If I had to choose my fave it would be the Radiance Primer for quite a few reasons. Firstly, it is absolutely gorgeous to wear on its own….it provides light coverage whilst giving skin that healthy glow you see on 14 year olds after a game of netball. This is not a glow you often find on 37 year olds who are surviving on chicken nuggets and 5 hours of sleep a night! Remember that thing when you first slept with a bloke and you woke up before him to put on a layer of makeup to convince him you are still luscious even after a night of full on frolics???? Well this is the product you need. It makes you look better than normal with minimal effort. Secondly, it is packed with hyaluronic acid which I bloody love. Skin feels moisturised all day and you don’t get those annoying patches of uneven colour. You also feel that even though you are packing on the makeup, you are giving your skin a bit of a treat at the same time.

    Thanks so much for reading and see you next month. X

    March Reads

    Hi all. I hope everyone is well. I didn’t have very high hopes in terms of reading for March. I started the month with the John Irving which seemed to take FOREVER to read but on finishing, I was obviously inspired to devour another 5 books so I’m pretty happy. I finish work in mid April so I am looking forward to tons of early nights in my bed with a book! Simple pleasures.

    • The Cider House Rules by John Irving. 3⭐️.
    • John Irving born 2nd March 1942.

    ‘The reason Homer Wells kept his name was that he came back to St Cloud’s so many times, after so many failed foster homes, that the orphanage was forced to acknowledge Homer’s intention to make St Cloud’s his home.’ 

    Homer Wells’ odyssey begins among the apple orchards of rural Maine. As the oldest unadopted child at St Cloud’s orphanage, he strikes up a profound and unusual friendship with Wilbur Larch, the orphanage’s founder – a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether. What he learns from Wilbur takes him from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to an adult life running a cider-making factory and a strange relationship with the wife of his closest friend…

    Long books. What are your thoughts on long books? As someone who sets themselves a Goodreads challenge, I admit that I am often guilty of reading shorter books that are about 250-300 pages in length. I am definitely an impatient reader. When it comes to books, I feel a little like a child in a sweet shop….I want to try EVERYTHING, I don’t want to linger too long on one book. At a time in my life when my priorities are my children, feeling like I have achieved something for myself each day is really important to me. Usually this is something as simple as remembering to put my eye cream on. πŸ˜‚πŸ€£. Getting through at least a book a week makes me feel positive and challenged. The challenge of getting through 720 pages of The Cider House Rules in a week was a challenge too far. I felt like I was barely making a dent in it…I’m sad to say it was a little soul destroying and frustrating. Once I hit the 60% mark however, I raced to the finish line and I now feel crazy happy….not least because it has freed up space on my book shelf to fill with new books. πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

    So did I enjoy it?? Yes but I didn’t love it. It was a little slow and rambling for me. I enjoyed the beginning of the book the most. Dr Larch was a brilliant character and I enjoyed all the stuff about back-Street abortions. I listened to a podcast with John Irving and it makes sense to me that he is so heavily influenced by Charles Dickens. Irving seems obsessed by haunted figures. Scarred, damaged characters – prostitutes, abandoned children, ether addicts…. they all appear in this book. Don’t let this put you off however. In amongst all the damaged souls, Irving manages to inject humour and lightheartedness. Unfortunately, for me however, the enjoyment and the time it took for me to read the book were not directly proportionate.

    • A Stitch in Time by Penelope Lively. 2⭐️.
    • Same Penelope Lively born 17th March 1933.

    Maria is always getting lost in the secret world of her imagination…

    A ghostly mystery and winner of the Whitbread Award,republished in the Collins Modern Classics range.

    Maria likes to be alone with her thoughts. She talks to animals and objects, and generally prefers them to people. But whilst on holiday she begins to hear things that aren’t there – a swing creaking, a dog barking – and when she sees a Victorian embroidered picture, Maria feels a strange connection with the ten-year-old, Harriet, who stitched it.

    But what happened to her? As Maria becomes more lost in Harriet’s world, she grows convinced that something tragic occurred…

    Perfect for fans of ghostly mysteries like β€˜Tom’s Midnight Garden’.

    Last month I attempted to read Milly Molly Mandy to Edie. It was a complete and utter failure. My 5 year old city girl was underwhelmed with quaint country life. She couldn’t believe that Milly Molly Mandy spent her time picking blackberries and running errands. “The most boring book ever” I was told. This got me thinking about how literature has changed. Edie is too young to read A Stitch in Time….the back of the book says it’s recommended for 9 year olds. Having said that, I don’t think she would enjoy it when she gets to 9. I am embarrassed to say that me at 37 found it dull!!!! Looking at reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, the star rating seems high but nearly every review is written by an adult who remembers it from their youth.

    A Stitch in Time won the 1976 Children’s Whitbread Award so at the time it was obviously incredibly popular. Undoubtedly, the writing is lovely and the character of Maria is beautifully drawn. I particularly enjoyed Lively’s description of Maria’s parents who were obviously the dullest of the dull. My issue with the book is that nothing really happened. It is slow but I guess that is because in the 70s, the pace of life was slower. Nowadays, we are spoiled by the internet, social media etc. We are used to things happening immediately, at the touch of a button…..you can even turn your house lights on with your mobile phone! I guess we don’t have to work at things as much. This book made me think how much the Harry Potter phenomenon must have changed literature. I’m not saying I need magic and giants but I need SOMETHING and I know my children definitely do.

    • The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. 4⭐️.
    • W.C. Minor died 26th March 1920.

    The making of the Oxford English Dictionary was a monumental 50 year task requiring thousands of volunteers. One of the keenest volunteers was a W C Minor who astonished everyone by refusing to come to Oxford to receive his congratulations. In the end, James Murray, the OED’s editor, went to Crowthorne in Berkshire to meet him. What he found was incredible – Minor was a millionaire American civil war surgeon turned lunatic, imprisoned in Broadmoor Asylum for murder and yet who dedicated his entire cell-bound life to work on the English language.

    Wow just wow. I am so pleased I read this book. I first heard it mentioned on the brilliant podcast What Shall I Read Next. It was described as a non fiction account of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary and the story of WC Minor who contributed 12,000 words and definitions but was also a patient of Broadmoor. Does that not sound like the most amazing tale??? I bought it straight away.

    Without a doubt, this is an utterly amazing tale and one I knew nothing about. When you discover a book like this you feel slightly like you have been given a box of treasure! It has never occurred to me how dictionaries came to be and how they were compiled. I remember when I started secondary school we were told we had to invest in a ‘proper’ dictionary (I guess the word ‘proper’ here, means ‘grown-up’ ie no pictures) and a posh calculator. I never did discover what all those buttons on my posh calculator did and I never did take my ‘proper’ dictionary into school because it was hardback and massive. It still sits on my bedroom shelf back at my parent’s home. The very idea that the dictionary came to be thanks to volunteers who would pour over endless books from different time periods, tracing the root of each individual word is mind blowing!!! Can you imagine the time this took?!?!

    Minor’s story is an incredibly sad one. Born in Ceylon in 1934, he served as an army surgeon in the American Civil War. It is thought that Minor’s mental health problem came as a result of being tasked with branding an Irish deserter. After the war, Minor returned to New York city where he was a frequent customer of the prostitutes in the red light district. By 1868, the army had learned of his mental deterioration and he was transferred to an asylum. In 1871, Minor decided to move to London for a change of pace. His paranoia became out of control and in 1872, he fatally shot George Merrett. Merrett was not previously known to Minor who wrongly believed Merrett had broken into his rooms. He was found not guilty by insanity and sent to Broadmoor where he was given access to comfortable rooms and a library. During his incarceration, he read an advert by Dr James Murray for volunteers to help with what would later become the Oxford English Dictionary. Minor became one of the largest contributors of the dictionary. Dr Murray didn’t meet Minor until 1891 and it was only then that he learned about Minor’s background. Sadly, Minor’s condition deteriorated. He started to believe he was being abducted from his cell and forced to abuse children. These delusions reached a peak in 1902 when Minor cut off his own penis. With Murray’s help, Minor was deported back to the US.

    This book not only gave me an insight into how the dictionary was compiled but it also taught me about the relationship between Minor and Murray-an unlikely friendship based on a mutual respect which helped to create the Oxford English Dictionary.

    • The Foundling by Charlotte BrontΓ«. 3⭐️.
    • Charlotte BrontΓ« died 31st March 1855.

    Written when she was seventeen, The Foundling is a classic fairy tale, set in the imagined kingdom of Verdopolis, which will delight fans of Charlotte Bronte’s later work. Edward Sydney is abandoned as a baby but finds a ‘protector’ in Mr Hasleden, a rich local landowner who declares an interest in the child, and claims him as his own. The boy grows up believing Hasleden to be his father, but, after his death, Edward discovers evidence of his real name and the circumstances of his birth. Full of curiosity about his true origins, he decides to set off on a journey to the mythical kingdom of Verdopolis. There, after several adventures, he meets and falls in love with the noble Lady Julia, only to find she is betrothed to another…

    A few months ago I picked up two books by Charlotte BrontΓ« from a library sale. 20p each! Total bargain. They have sat in my cupboard, untouched and undiscovered until last week when after trawling through the MASSIVE tome that was The Cider House Rules, I felt I needed a book under 200 pages. Similar to my discoveries about the Oxford English Dictionary in the Simon Winchester, this book by Charlotte BrontΓ« has opened up the world of ‘juvenilia’ of which I knew absolutely nothing. The term ‘juvenilia’ is usually given to books written by authors in their youth. In 1826, Patrick BrontΓ« gifted his son, Branwell, a set of toy soldiers. Charlotte, Anne and Branwell each picked soldiers and used them to create characters and lands which were used in their stories, plays and poetry.

    So, the story…. it was full of magic, strong men, pathetic women and amazing insults:

    ‘Get up, heap of baseness, and be gone instantly from my presence!’

    ‘Do your worst, driveling dotard.’

    If I had to use one word to describe it I would say melodrama. I don’t want this to take away from the fact that BrontΓ« wrote this at 17! 17! At 17 I was stealing alcohol from my parents drinks cabinet and snogging boys in parks. Reading Brontë’s work is without a doubt humbling and thanks to her ‘driveling dotard’ is now my insult of choice .

    • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. 4⭐️.

    WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

    A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH

    ‘A masterpiece’ Zadie Smith
    ‘Extraordinary’ Daily Mail
    ‘Breathtaking’ Observer
    A tour de force’ The Sunday Times

    The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War

    The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

    From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

    Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?

    This is Saunders’s first novel having dedicated himself to the short story genre in the past. The novel is based on fact- during the Civil War Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie died of typhoid Fever. Lincoln did apparently visit the body of his son twice on the day he was interred. The whole novel takes place during this one evening. The setting of the novel is The Bardo which is the land between the living and the dead. The novel is a strange collection of quotations, some real and some not.

    This was a book club read and I am sad to say that it was pretty unpopular, in fact, a lot of people didn’t finish. I have to admit that my thought are a little confused. The reason is that I read the book in conjunction with listening to the audiobook. Usually, I struggle to concentrate on audiobooks but in this case, it was the audio which spurred me on to finish the book. The audio is epic with 166 voices. Apparently Random House are hoping for a World Record for most voices on an audiobook. The cast includes Don Cheadle, Susan Sarandon, Julianne Moore and David Sedaris. Over 6 months, the speakers recorded their lines in 17 different studios across America. The recordings were then sent to the audio editor Ted Scott who pieced it all together. Lincoln in the Bardo is a book which translates so well to audio. The book almost reads like a script with snippets from characters and quotes from books so to have each one of these voiced by a different actor makes it much more accessible. Listening to it also slows the reading down. I am definitely someone who can rush reading. The one line snippets and sections of the book which highlight the fact that history is an unreliable narrator, I know I would have skimmed and therefore completely missed the point.

    Saunders calls this an experimental novel. At first I thought this was a disclaimer, almost as if Saunders was making an excuse in case it didn’t work out….”sorry if you don’t like it guys, it’s just an experiment.” For me, this was an experiment that paid off.

    The writing is beautiful, poignant and moving. There is one passage in particular that broke me:

    I was in error when I saw him as fixed and stable and thought I would have him forever. He was never fixed, nor stable, but always just a passing, temporary energy-burst. I had reason to know this. Had he not looked this way at birth, that way at four, another way at seven, been made entirely anew at nine? He had never stayed the same. Even instant to instant.

    He came out of nothingness, took form, was loved, was always bound to return to nothingness.

    Only I did not think it would be so soon.

    Or that he would precede us.

    This passage is Lincoln talking about the death of his son. I think this must perfectly describe the loss of a child: almost a magical entity that is not meant for this world….a burst of energy.

    One of the most interesting topics that the novel brought up was that history is an unreliable narrator. We reply on people of the time to relay events but everyone sees things differently. There were a couple of chapters that expressed this beautifully. One, describes the moon on the night of Willie’s death and the other the facial features of Abe Lincoln. The majority of accounts differ which makes the reader question who to trust.

    I would say that it takes a good 60 pages to get into the swing of this book. Once you get used to the method of writing and the world that Saunders creates you will be massively rewarded. I am so pleased I read this book and can honestly say that I have never read anything like it. There are also tons of discussion points which would make it a great book club choice.

    • After the Party by Cressida Connolly. 2.5 ⭐️.

    ‘I always wanted to be friends with both my sisters. Perhaps that was the source, really, of all the troubles of my life…’

    It is the summer of 1938 and Phyllis Forrester has returned to England after years abroad. Moving into her sister’s grand country house, she soon finds herself entangled in a new world of idealistic beliefs and seemingly innocent friendships. Fevered talk of another war infiltrates their small, privileged circle, giving way to a thrilling solution: a great and charismatic leader, who will restore England to its former glory. 

    At a party hosted by her new friends, Phyllis lets down her guard for a single moment, with devastating consequences. Years later, Phyllis, alone and embittered, recounts the dramatic events which led to her imprisonment and changed the course of her life forever.

    This is the first time I have come across a book discussing Sir Oswald Mosley’s party The British Union and the fate of its followers during WW2. Apparently, around 800 of his supporters were imprisoned without trails or access to legal representation under the Defence Regulation Act.

    Connolly said she was inspired after reading a book called Blackshirts on Sea: A Pictorial History of the Mosley Summer Camps 1933-1938 by A. J. There seems to be relatively little fiction written about The National Union of Fascists and how Oswald Mosley came to power and I was definitely excited to discover more about this period of history. Unfortunately this is where my issues with the book lay. I felt there was minimal character development so I struggled to empathise with the characters and the historical detail was so scant I felt utterly frustrated. The book was readable and the writing good but the novel just left me feeling a bit ‘meh.’ I can’t really work out Connolly’s intentions….she managed to write a novel with minimal story and no historical depth.

    Thanks for reading. See you next month.

    March Beauty

    Hi all. 3 completely wicked products this month. None of them crazy money and all completely fab.

    • The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. Β£11.20.

    In my constant quest to look like I have had 8 hours sleep when in fact I have had 5, this stuff from The Ordinary is the business. 🀩🀩🀩πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€© It’s cheap, it works and it lasts yonks. As with all peels, don’t go crazy…once, twice a week and don’t follow it with your glycolic toner, retinol serum etc. I read a review on Amazon of a lady who used it every night…I’m convinced she looks like Anjelica Huston in The Witches….sans mask! πŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈA couple of words of warning…………………

    1. It tingles a little. Don’t be alarmed. Man up!

    2. When the peel is on it looks like you have smeared your face in the blood of vestal virgins. Maybe don’t apply when there is any danger that the postman will knock at the door. This is without a doubt a nighttime ritual when the blinds are down and you are alone. ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️ Anyway, it works. In fact I just did the school run without make up. Am still wearing massive πŸ•Ά – it doesn’t eliminate eye bags but my skin is clearer, sun spots reduced and open pores….what pores???

    • Hask Purifying Deep Conditioner with charcoal and citrus oil.
    • Boots. Β£2.99.

    I have to admit that I am pretty good about maintaining my hair cut and colour. This shouldn’t really be a boast as since my amazing hairdresser has moved to Leeds, she hops on the megabus every 6 weeks (πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ🚍🚍🚍) and comes to London to do a handful of haircuts for clients. Brilliantly for me, this involves minimal effort. I can sit in my kitchen in my pjs, safe in the knowledge that my whole family are queuing up in a production line to get their hair done without leaving the comfort of our own home. Lazy, lazy, lazy. I actually live in fear for the day that will surely come when Elthia wakes up, wonders what the hell she is doing, decides not to board the megabus at 5 in the morning for a 6 hour journey and we never see her again. This day will happen and I will have stop being a lazy bitch and drag my family to a salon!

    So, as I say, my colour and cut are always pretty up to date. The condition of my hair is unfortunately crap!!! I received this hair mask in a beauty box and it’s brill. Bloody everything has charcoal in nowadays doesn’t it? I was a little concerned before opening that it would stain my blonde hair but as you can see, it doesn’t really have a colour. It smells really citrusy which I love and is absolutely fine to use on coloured hair. I particularly like the fact that’s it’s purifying so it removes all the product build-up (a lot of dry shampoo and hairspray) and leaves my hair feeling baby soft and with a new lease of life! You can buy this little packet of Joy for just Β£2.99 from Boots. My hair is chin length and the packet has lasted 3 washes which is great. Defo worth a try.

      Kate McIver Secret Weapon Serum. Β£34.99.

    Woohooo! Another beautiful product that works like a dream. Secret Weapon Serum by Kate McIver. 🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️In 2016, Kate was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Treatment left her skin dull and dry. Using her knowledge from her job in skin aesthetics, she decided to make a product that would give women their confidence back. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒThe Serum is oil based so it instantly feels hydrating and really pampering. It contains borage, rosehip and evening primrose which contain fatty acids to develop healthy skin. These 3 ingredients contain Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which encourages the production of collagen and elastin which fight wrinkles and encourage that β€˜well -rested-glow’ something I am always on the hunt for. All natural, no harsh chemicals and suitable for vegans. It’s honestly totally gorgeous and if your tired, dull, dehydrated skin needs a treat you should try it. πŸ’žπŸ’ž

    Anyway thanks for reading. See y’all next month .