Book Review: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

I have to admit, I was reluctant to review this book – I wasn’t sure if I could find the right words to convey its brilliance. But I’ll give it a go..

Joanna and best friend Laura are on a night out, drinking and dancing in a local club, when Joanna is sexually harassed by a fellow reveller. Disconcerted, she and Laura decide to call it a night. On her route home down a deserted canal path, Joanna realises she is being followed, and what happens next changes her life forever.

From here, the book splits into two different scenarios – ‘Reveal’ and ‘Conceal’. It follows the story of the Joanna who tries to do the right thing and gets punished, and the Joanna who chooses to do the wrong thing, and ultimately punishes herself.

The two different stories are impeccably and emotionally written, and I found myself rooting for Jo in both realities, even as her lives disintegrate and she struggles to rebuild. The upheaval she experiences in both stories, and the changes she has to make to and for herself in order to cope with her lives in the aftermath, are so exquisitely crafted – you can really feel every emotion with her.

This is hands-down one of the best books I have read so far this year. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

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5 Tips For A Happy and Single Valentine’s Day

“Well, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and I still don’t know what to get myself,” I said to my co-worker yesterday.

Yes, it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, a little joke between single people. And I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

It’s definitely something I’ve said before, on many an occasion. I worked it out the other day – I have been officially single for 10 years. Yes, 10 years!

Well admittedly, there have been a couple of hiccups along the way, but the last time I was in an official, proper relationship on Valentine’s Day was in 2007.

Okay, so it’s 11 years. I can’t count.

What I can do though, is the single life. I love it. And it does make me feel a little superior when February 14th comes around. I don’t have to brave the shops to buy a ridiculously over-priced trinket, or mull over a funny and mildly insulting card, or a smooshy one.

(Funny and mildly insulting all the way, if you were going to ask.)

And if there is a part of me that looks on enviously at loved-up couples proudly declaring their adoration for one another, it has been buried deep down, rarely to be seen.

But I am aware that not every single person out there is as cynical and hard-nosed as moi. In fact, some of you hate being single, and hanker after that perfect love, or even just a little companionship. Being single does not sit well with some.

Regrets and wishful thinking are the worst things to dwell upon on Valentine’s Day. Remember: you don’t need another person to complete you, or make you happy. That lies with yourself. A relationship should be an added extra to an already happy life that you have created – not somebody else.

So what can you do to pamper yourself this Valentine’s Day?

  1. Be kind to yourself. If you are feeling down because you are surrounded by lovey-dovey couples as you queue up in the supermarket with your ready meal for one, don’t. Instead of focusing on other people’s happiness, focus on yourself. Do something that makes you happy. Get out of that queue and add chocolates and wine to your basket. Or ditch the ready meal altogether and take yourself out for a meal at your favourite restaurant. Being single doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the things you love. Romance yourself!
  2. Be grateful. Instead of lamenting your single state, think about the things you have to offer in your next relationship. Accept that the past happened for a reason, and that the lessons you have learned can be applied to your next romantic encounter. List 3 advantages of your single life. For example, mine would be the freedom to do what I want, when I want without having to consult somebody else; being able to come home after a tough day at work and curl up with a book in silence; the independence I have. Life isn’t always hearts and flowers in a relationship.
  3. Meet up with family or friends. There is no reason to stay in and dwell. Get out and about, meet up with people, do something to take your mind off those negative thoughts. It is perfectly acceptable to have fun as a single person on Valentine’s Day. After all, let’s face it.. it is only another day. And, believe it or not, you aren’t the only single person in the world. Who knows what could happen while you’re out and about?
  4. Renew your love affair with yourself. Remember all of the things you love about yourself and write them down. Start an inspiration journal, and jot down the things you are thankful for every day. Learn to like yourself again. Take personality quizzes, read up on your star sign, get to know yourself as you would any romantic interest. Reaffirm your importance to yourself.
  5. Spread the love. Show some kindness to somebody else. Cook for a friend, buy a gift for a loved one. Do someone a favour and not only will they benefit, but you will feel amazing!

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️

Book Review: The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

Samantha lives a quiet and lonely life in England. Bored with her job as a schoolteacher and disillusioned with love after a messy break-up, she develops an obsession with US convict Dennis Danson, currently on Death Row for the brutal murder of a child in Florida’s Red River county. Handsome and charismatic, he claims he is innocent, and has a huge following of those who believe him. Caught up in the maelstrom, Sam begins a letter correspondence with him and eventually they fall in love. She decides to travel to the US to meet him in prison, and once there her old life fades into the past. They marry, and she becomes embroiled in the campaign for his release.

It happens sooner than she anticipates, when a man confesses to the killing, and Dennis is exonerated. Sam is both nervous and excited in equal measures, but life with Dennis isn’t exactly what she expected it to be.

After Dennis’ estranged Dad commits suicide, the newly-married couple escape from the media storm surrounding his release and return to his childhood home in Red River, under the pretence of clearing the house. But Dennis appears to have unfinished business in the town..

Upon arrival, Sam realises she is out of her depth, and she desperately clings to the belief that Dennis is the man she loves even as doubt and distrust cloud her brain.

I really enjoyed this book, despite a strong dislike for the characters. Sam has major self-esteem issues, and idolises Dennis despite his mood swings and cruelty. There were quite a few moments in the book when I could have reached into the page and shook some sense into her. Dennis is a master of manipulation, and she is very malleable. The relationship between them is definitely one of control, with Dennis having the upper hand at every turn.

A dark psychological thriller of my favourite kind, with a sinister atmosphere. I would highly recommend it.

Thank you! #300

So, it would appear that I have hit 300 followers! Yippeeeeeeee!!

While this may seem like baby steps to some of you ginormous and successful blogs, I am so pleased and proud of my little site. I have a tendency to waffle, and I’ve still not quite found my niche. But this teeny tiny blog is slowly growing by the day, and I want to thank you all for joining me on my aimless journey.

I’m not yet sure where I’m going, but I’m going to have fun getting there.

Thank you! 💜💜

Eternally Single.

So, as Valentines Day approaches and the shops are filled with heart-shaped balloons and over-priced flowers, that difficult question arises that I have to contend with every year.

What should I get Mum for her birthday?

Yep, my mum was born on Valentines Day, which is quite sweet. Can be quite pricey though if I decide to buy her flowers.

Nevertheless, she will be the only person I’ll be buying anything for on February 14th.

Another year as a single girl. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was in a relationship on Valentines Day. If I wrack my brain..

2007. Yes, I have been single for going on 11 years. Well, there have been a couple of hiccups along the way, including the doomed love of my life. But none of them were real meet-the-parents, change-my-relationship-status-on-Facebook types of relationships. More a string of disappointments and bad judgements.

So I remain a Single Pringle for Valentines Day 2018, and it really doesn’t bother me – it never has. Having worked in retail for so many years, VD is just another over-priced event designed to sell more crap in an attempt to prove your love for someone.

Do I sound cynical? Maybe I am, or maybe not. Do we really need tacky mugs and teddy bears holding hearts to show our love for someone?

The answer is a resounding NO. If you love someone, they should know that year round, and not just on one day in February. Cute cards with romantic messages are lovely, but they shouldn’t be used as a way to declare your love – unless you are a secret admirer or looking to break the ice. But long-term, relationship kind of love should be shown regularly, and not just as an afterword in a card.

Yes okay, I’m single so I really shouldn’t have an opinion on this. But I was once in a relationship – yes really. He wasn’t into showing love of any kind, and Valentines Day was always approached in a half-hearted, if-I-have-to kind of way, which effectively killed off any thoughts of romance. It, along with a plethora of other failings, eventually killed off our relationship too.

Nowadays, I like being single. No hassle, no drama. Also, no flowers, and no cute cards with teddy bears on. In my experience, the romance I dream of doesn’t exist for people like me, so I’m quite happy to buy a romantic ready meal for one and open a bottle of wine in front of the telly. No expectations, no disappointments.

Okay, don’t listen to me. I’m a bitter, love-less singleton.

Who needs Valentines Day? In fact, I propose a second Halloween instead. Loads more fun.

January Overview

So, I began the new year with a list of goals that I hoped to achieve during 2018. I must admit, some of them I started in good faith but quickly grew tired of, and although this is disappointing, I do have eleven more months to bring myself up to speed.

In contrast, I made certain changes that have really improved my daily life, so I am willing to overlook the failures for now. All in all, things are going pretty well.

Achievements

  • I have successfully started using my Twitter to promote my blog, and have met some lovely bloggers and followed some amazing blogs along the way.
  • I have reviewed a couple of books received directly from the authors via Twitter, which I see as an exciting development.
  • I hit and surpassed my 200 followers milestone, and am well on my way to 300.
  • I started a new Facebook page share group with my friend, recruited some awesome pages, and it is going brilliantly so far.
  • I have begun to schedule my Facebook posts and shares a day in advance, which has helped free up extra time in my day. I also feel so much more organised.
  • I have been spending 10 minutes a day on the exercise bike, which is a great start to my 2018 exercise regime. It may not seem like much, but it’s better than nothing.
  • I have been listening to a lot more music rather than switching the telly on, and have discovered some fantastic new artists. Well, new for me anyway!
  • I upgraded my phone and went from an iPhone 6 to a 7.
  • I’m a little more settled at work and have been learning new aspects of the job, which I am happy with. I might as well make the most of it while I’m there.
  • I spent an afternoon/evening in Manchester with my friends, eating and drinking cocktails, which was a lot of fun. We visited the Trafford Centre, and ate at TGI Fridays, which was a first for me, and very enjoyable.

[Photo: Mudslide at TGI Fridays]

So, those are the achievements I can bring to mind at the minute. In all honestly, I feel more positive at the beginning of this new year than I have in quite a while. I hope it stays this way.

Goals for February

  1. Make a doctors appointment. Yes, I still need to do that. I have a few minor ailments that have gone on for some time now, and I really need to nip them in the bud.
  2. Drink more water. I’m still struggling with that one. I’m quite a dry person, and I need to change that. After all, I can’t drink wine all of the time!
  3. Write some letters. I’m a little behind on my letter-writing after Christmas and the New Year, so I need to put aside a day to sit down and write them.
  4. Get myself some new glasses. I had an opticians appointment mid-January and they have significantly worsened, so I need to invest in stronger lenses. I have cataracts in both eyes, oddly enough, and next year may be the time to have that operation!
  5. Blog more! I really enjoy it, so why the hell not?!
  6. Complete the online Marketing Diploma course I started last year. I’m about halfway through so it shouldn’t take much longer. It is also something I am considering making a career move into. Or should I say, social media marketing, which is something I am kind of familiar with.

So there are my goals for February. Not too difficult, and quite easily achievable. If I pull my finger out anyway. We will graduate to bigger goals as the year progresses!

Happy Sunday!

Book Review: The Eye-Dancers by Michael S. Fedison

I was sent this ebook by blackcatastrophy.com in exchange for an honest review. My first honest thought was, oh, a Young Adult novel. I’m not really sure if this is my thing.. but then I started to read, and was pleasantly surprised.

12 year-olds Mitchell, Joe and Ryan have been experiencing strangely vivid and disturbing dreams that have lead to numerous restless nights sleep. When they decide to open up to each other and discuss their nightmares, they discover to their surprise that they are dreaming about the same young girl. Even more weirdly, she appears to want something from them.

Schoolfriend and science nerd Marc is sceptical of their stories but agrees to help them find out what is going on. He is certain that there will be a plausible explanation for the dreams and the strange “ghost girl”. But then the boys are whisked away into an alternative universe.

Once there, they discover that their “ghost girl” is Monica Tisdale, a 7 year-old who has been kidnapped from her home, and the boys have been enlisted to help her escape. Will they rescue her in time? And will they ever find a way to get home?

I really liked this book. I found it to be very well-written and engaging. It was a combination of science fiction and adventure, but also self-discovery and growth, touching on young teen issues such as lack of confidence, family tensions, crushes, low self-esteem, and volatile emotions in a matter-of-fact yet sensitive way. While not exactly close friends in the beginning, the four boys learn vital lessons from each other during their adventure that help each of them to deal with their own personal flaws.

4 stars on Goodreads. Really enjoyed it.