An Idea For Insomniacs.

It’s no secret that I have trouble sleeping. Just last night I was up until after 5am. This is a frequent occurrence. Despite the many different medications I take that apparently make you drowsy, it’s rare that I get an uninterrupted night or even close my eyes until gone 3am. Reasons range from racing thoughts, ruminating on things from forever ago that cannot be changed, to me just not being tired. I’ve tried breathing techniques, no caffeine, baths, lavender oil and all of the so – called ‘Sleep Hygiene’ tips and tricks given to me in therapy and from various people from the mental health team in my region. Nothing works.

But………I think I may have found something that will help. Especially with the racing thoughts.

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It’s called Can’t Sleep Write Now a nocturnal journal for tireless thinkers. I will link some places to buy this at the end of my post but first I would like to talk a little bit about it.

This is made by ‘Chronicle Books’ and is a hard backed book. It has a satin ribbon bookmark attached to it to keep your place. Before you get to the journal aspect of this book, there is a small introduction which tells you a little about the how day and night affect our thoughts. Peppered through the book you will find quotes about the power of night time. My favourite is one by Marie De Rabutin-Chantal – “There are twelve hours in the day and above fifty in the night”. It certainly can feel that way when you can’t sleep.

The description of this book says that this guided journal turns sleepless nights into a source of inspiration and features dozens of provocative creative writing prompts. Skimming through my copy I can see prompts ranging from a simple ‘why can’t you sleep?’ to ‘write your own operating instructions’ and ‘write the shortest story ever written’. There are also some pages with no prompts, leaving you free to write down whatever you are thinking that particular night. Of course you are not bound to fill out the pages in any particular order. If you wish to you may search to find something that captures your interest or you could flick to a random page and dive in there.

As a self confessed over thinker, I have my fingers crossed that this will both help to empty my mind of racing thoughts  and also give me something interesting to look back on when it is completed. I don’t know about you but as it gets later my thoughts get stranger!

If any of you decide to try this do let me know how you get on. I hope you’ve all had a very merry Christmas ❤

I bought my copy for £7.69 from HERE (Amazon UK)
If you are in the USA you can get it HERE (Amazon US)
And The Wordery has it too with the bonus of free international shipping!

 

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Girl Online by Zoe Sugg.

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Publisher

Penguin Random House UK – Published November 25th 2014.

 

Synopsis

I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has – I can’t believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! – and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes…

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family – and the panic attacks she’s suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

 

My Review

Let me start off by saying that I am glad I waited a couple of days after reading this before writing my review as Zoe has now confirmed she had a ghostwriter (Siobhan Curham).

I have very mixed feelings about ‘Girl Online’. The writing style is very immature but at 28 years old, I’m not sure that I am the target market for this novel. I would recommend it more for ages 12-18. It is a very light read with a rather predictable plotline –

  • awkward girl meets hot boy
  • best friend becomes jealous
  • hot boy teaches awkward girl to believe in herself
  • boy and girl are separated
  • they begin to doubt their relationship and break up
  • big reunion at the end and everything is peachy

I can’t help but feel I’ve read this multiple times before. It’s the classic ‘teen angst’ plot line. Little things about the story bothered me, like using all the standard ‘touristy’ places in Brighton – beach, pier, Choccywoccydoodah etc. I would have thought that people actually living in Brighton would have had their fill of these places and visit other locations not swarming with tourists. If any of my readers are from Brighton, please feel free to correct me on that as I am just assuming.

Another issue I had with this novel is the believability of Noah as a famous musician and song writer. If you have read the lyrics of his song’Autumn Girl’ you will probably get my point. I mean…really?!

Some plot points seem to be thrown in just to fill  up pages. Elliot’s homophobic father just seemed like an afterthought and Ollie suddenly deciding that he likes Penny just doesn’t sit right with me. I mean, I get that Ollie is a symbol of her awkward phase before she met Noah and that Noah represents how she has blossomed into a confident young lady (at this point I have Britney Spears ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ in my head but you get where I’m coming from) but why, after 4 or 5 years does Ollie suddenly want her? There is no reason given. I’m probably being pedantic here but it annoyed me.

Anyway, enough whining, lets get to what I did enjoy about ‘Girl Online’. It was a light enough read to pull me out of an almost-4-month reading slump. I could just switch off and relax whilst reading it and didn’t have to concentrate too hard to follow what was going on. I only actually took around 3 hours to read this which surprised me as the book does look fairly hefty but if you look inside you will see the print is quite large. Honestly, the book could have been condensed down a lot more to save paper. I am however, interested to see where Zoe (Siobhan?) goes with the next installment.

I have deliberated long and hard about the rating for ‘Girl Online’. I originally wanted to give it 2.5 stars but in the spirit of the holiday season and taking into account the fact that it has eased me out of my reading slump, I will give it 3 stars. I would recommend this for teen readers who want a nice, easy read over the Christmas holidays.

 

Rating

starstarstar

‘Memory Stick’ UK & European Giveaway – ***Closed***

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Win ‘Memory Stick’, a journal by Huck And Pucker where you can record your thoughts, happenings, hurrahs, ideas and conversations. (If you loved ‘Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith you will love this.)

Many thanks to Huck And Pucker for providing this journal for the giveaway.

The giveaway will run from 12am on 22nd September 2014 until 12am on the 4th October 2014. The winner will be notified within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway. The only mandatory ways of entering are to follow myself and Huck And Pucker on Twitter. The rest are entirely optional ways to give yourself more entries.

Good luck guys xxx

Click Here To Enter

***BLOG TOUR*** Quest For Honor by David Tindell.

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Hi guys, I am so excited for my first blog tour. Especially as the book sounds so amazing and I get to share an excerpt with you lovely people.

davidThe author, David Tindell, is trained in martial arts much like the protagonist of this novel. You can find David on Twitter here and also visit his website here.

So here is a little bit about ‘Quest For Honor’ – 

“I love the name of honor, more than I fear death.” Julius Caesar

Jim Hayes lives a quiet life in Wisconsin, training in martial arts and studying the warrior ethos. Unable to prevent the murder of his wife six years earlier, Jim is determined that the next time he is called upon to act, things will be different, and he can restore the sense of honor he believes he has lost.

His estranged brother Mark, an Army colonel commanding a firebase in the mountains of Afghanistan, sees his career winding down and wonders what lies in store when he comes home. After years of dedicated service to his country, he fears nothing else will measure up when he removes the uniform for the last time.

In lawless Somalia, al Qaeda chieftain Yusuf Shalita, tired of endless jihad, has decided to defect, in one last attempt at redemption. But Shalita has only met one American he has ever trusted, so he tells the CIA he will surrender himself to Jim Hayes, his old friend from their college days in Wisconsin. That demand will bring the Hayes brothers back together in a way they never imagined, as they fight to prevent a new and devastating terror attack on the very heart of America.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? I love the cover too. A lot of the time I find that the cover of a book is what draws me in. If it’s a book I haven’t heard of before or a genre that I don’t usually read, but the cover catches my eye, then nine times out of ten I will pick that book up and add it to my TBR pile. Here is the cover.

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And here is the bit that I have been looking forward to the most. I love when I get to share something special with you and it doesn’t get much more special than a thrilling excerpt from the book. So here is the super special excerpt that I have to share with you all.

***Somalia

They came for him sometime mid-morning, the same two men who had brought him breakfast a few hours ago, some sort of broth with a few vegetables, hard dark bread and a bottle of water with an Arabic label. They were Middle Eastern in appearance, early twenties, dressed in nondescript shirts and fatigue pants, with one guy incongruously wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. Jim got to his feet and stood with his hands raised. The Red Sox fan came in first, leveling his AK-47 at Jim. Another armed man appeared behind the first in the doorway. The first guy said something to Jim, motioning with the gun to the door. Jim took some cautious steps toward the doorway, keeping his hands visible. He forced himself to smile, and the second guy’s eyes narrowed.

There was a hallway with two more doors on the right, the same side as Jim’s cell, and three on the left. At the end was a larger door. When they opened it the sun blazed in. He shaded his eyes with his left hand, making sure to keep the right held shoulder high, palm facing outward.

They were facing what appeared to be a central square, with low, one-story buildings around the perimeter. Behind them was a wall about ten feet high, looking like it had been built with the same material as the buildings, probably some kind of bricks made out of mud. There were men walking here and there, some standing and watching them. Every one of them had an AK, some held casually, others loosely from the shoulder by a strap. They didn’t look nearly as tough as the troops Jim had seen at Camp Lemonnier, but Jim knew it would be dangerous to make that assumption.

Everyone in motion stopped when they got sight of the tall American, and they stared. Some looked curious, most hostile. There were a few dark-skinned Africans, but most were Middle Eastern, all with beards. Some looked to still be in their teens, while a few showed some gray. How to deal with those stares? Show no fear, Jim told himself, but that wasn’t easy, because he was starting to feel the first tendrils of something stark and cold reaching into him. It was worse than what he’d felt the night before in Mogadishu while being hustled at gunpoint through rubble-strewn buildings with artillery shells crashing nearby, then shoved roughly into the back of a truck, blindfolded and tied to his seat.

He was led to a long building and pushed inside. It appeared to be some sort of conference room, maybe a chow hall, as it had some rickety-looking metal tables and chairs, now moved to the sides along the walls. At one end hung a black flag featuring a yellow circle in the middle and Arabic writing above it. Jim recognized it from news broadcasts: the banner of al-Qaeda. The writing was the shahada, referring to Allah as the only God and Muhammad as his prophet. Beneath it were three men, sitting in chairs. A dozen feet away were three empty chairs facing them. Jim was shoved roughly down into the chair at the right end.***

The book is available to buy on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback format (and for my UK readers, it is also available on the .co.uk version of Amazon as well as the .com) and if you live in the USA you can go down to Barnes & Noble and pick up a paperback copy. (Why don’t we have Barnes & Noble here??). Unfortunately Waterstones doesn’t carry it but if you’re in the UK just grab it from Amazon. If you have a Kindle you’ll get it instantly and even if you order the physical copy, I find that Amazon’s delivery is top notch and the packaging is fantastic. I have never had a bad experience when purchasing through Amazon.

Thank you all for reading and make sure to get your copy of ‘Quest for Honor’ to find out Jim’s fate.

Boring disclaimer part: I have not been paid by or offered any incentives from either David Tindell himself or the promoters of this book. This post contains entirely my own views and I have received nothing in return for it. 

Trust In Me by Sophie McKenzie.

trust in me

 

 

Publisher

Simon & Schuster UK  – Published May 8th 2014.

 

Blurb

Julia has always been the friend that Livy turns to when life is difficult. United fifteen years ago by grief at the brutal murder of Livy’s sister, Kara, they’ve always told each other everything.

Or so Livy thought.

So when Julia is found dead in her home, Livy cannot come to terms with the news that she chose to end her own life. The Julia that Livy knew was vibrant and vivacious, a far cry from the selfish neurotic that her family seem determined to paint her as.

Troubled by doubt but alone in her suspicions, Livy sets out to prove that Julia was in fact murdered. But little does she realise that digging into her best friend’s private life will cause her to question everything she thought she knew about Julia. And the truth that Livy discovers will tear the very fabric of her own life apart.

 

My Review

I received and e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Uk and Netgalley.

The structuring of this book reminded me of  ‘This Is The Water’ by Yannick Murphy. We have chapters narrated by Livy, the main protagonist, as well as chapters told as memories by the killer.However, unlike ‘This Is The Water’, we do not find out who the killer is until close to the end.

Livy is a character I can relate to in that she has a busy home life and is devoted to her children. She’s very likable, if a little neurotic, and is already in turmoil before Julia dies as her marriage is failing due to her husbands past indiscretions. I wish McKenzie had told us a little more about Will, Livy’s husband, as all we knew was he was a hardworking professional who had been unfaithful in the past. I feel like he was defined by his mistakes and we didn’t get to know much else about him.

The killer, who describes himself as a “psychopath” is pretty well hidden in this book. For a while I was completely convinced it was a certain person, then in the middle of the novel my suspicion switched to somebody else and only about three quarters of the way through did it actually click with me who the killer was. I found the killer to be very cold and calculating, describing the murders with no emotion. He also only actually killed out of perceived necessity 4 times, the rest being purely for his pleasure. It was almost like he was claiming the victim as his own by killing them and keeping mementos from each person. He also claimed that he loved Kara, despite killing her, saying that she was his ‘angel girl’. Why kill her then? Why not try and be her boyfriend if you love her? I mean, he wasn’t rejected by her. He never even tried to be with her so what’s with the brutal murder? I would also have liked, at the end, to have some sort of reaction by the killer’s family instead of being left with no clue about the fallout.

Julia is a character that confused me greatly. We hear one version of her from Livy, another from Damien, her ‘Dirty Blonde’ and a third from her twin brother. I can believe that Livy and Damien’s versions of her were both true but her brother’s nastier version of her was neither proved or disproved and I would have love to know either way if he was telling the truth and if not, why. I feel that there was a lot more to Julia than we were told in the book.

Overall the book is gripping, although very repetitive in places. We hear Livy obsessing over Catrina it seems like every other page. I get that you would be worried about the woman your husband had an affair with but I think McKenzie over-egged the pudding a little. Also, I think that some of the action was maybe a little far-fetched. The one thing I really don’t like, not just in this book but in any, is any sort of violence or murder involving children. There isn’t a lot of it in there but it makes me really uncomfortable to read about it. I’m just really sensitive over anything to do with children or the elderly. Not the authors fault, I know, but if I had known about certain things that happened in the book before reading it then I would perhaps have thought twice. I’m going to give this book a solid 3 stars. I honestly would have given it 4 had it not been for harm coming to children in the story. That’s just a personal thing.

I would definitely recommend ‘Trust In Me’ for any fan of crime novels and thrillers. If, like me, you are sensitive about violence towards children, I would suggest proceeding with caution.

 

Rating

starstarstar

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Perfect By Now: The Unofficial Guide to Sweet Valley High by Robin Hardwick.

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Publisher.

Amazon Digital Services – Published February 13th 2013.

 

Blurb.

If you were a teen during the mid-eighties to to mid-nineties, chances are you have read a Sweet Valley High book. You may have discovered them at your local library Their soft-focus pictures of beautiful, blonde twins beckoned you. They seemed sophisticated. Dangerous. You probably were on the cusp of starting high school and couldn’t stop reading anything and everything about what high school was like. You dreamed of boyfriends, dances, adulthood!

If You Lived Here,You’d Be Perfect Right Now chronicles author and retro pop culture enthusiast Robin Hardwick rereading the entire series and documenting a grown woman’s view of the angst and absurdity of the lives of the perfect Wakefield twins Each book of the series is revisited with equal parts sociological lens, parody, and sardonic nostalgia.

 

My Review.

As a girl in her late twenties, I am the right age to have been completely obsessed by the Sweet Valley books in the mid-nineties. And obsessed I was! I longed to have a twin sister and have – as Francine Pascal or one of her ghost writers used to say – “golden blonde hair, aquamarine eyes the same colour as the ocean and classic So-Cal good looks.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only girl who wanted a best friend like Lila Fowler or a hunky boyfriend like Ken Matthews and a social life that consisted of hanging out at the mall or in your friend’s parents mansion.

This book takes us right back there to the adventures of the outgoing, popular Jessica and the shy, studious Elizabeth, but reading it through the older, more cynical eyes of Robin Hardwick. Through these eyes, the once popular, spoiled Jessica comes across as having more than a few sociopathic tendencies. Manipulating everyone around her and taking no responsibility for her actions, she is a lot less appealing and I no longer wish I was her! Elizabeth, once endearingly shy and always a sympathetic ear for her friends, now appears to be nothing more than an interfering, uptight shrew. (Harsh? Maybe, but fair.)

The book itself is edited poorly. Too many errors spoil the read. That, coupled with the fact that Hardwick, while undoubtedly witty, re-uses her quips almost as often as Francine Pascal re-uses the “one of the Wakefield twins is kidnapped” plot line, makes it a disappointing read. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sorry that I read it. It was fun to re-visit my childhood for a while. I very much doubt I will read it again, though. I’m giving this book 2 stars, purely for the nostalgia. If you, like me, were a Sweet Valley fan, you might enjoy it. Just don’t go in expecting too much.

 

Rating.

starstar