I was very excited to receive an email last week inviting my family to a preview screening of Incredibles 2 in The Gate Cinema in Cork. Held by Vodafone Family Firsts, the event was screening the movie a week before the Irish release date of July 15th. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance and headed along to the screening at 11.30 on Sunday morning. We’ve watched the first Incredibles movie with our four year old, and he is mad about all things superhero so the going was good. He’s also a happy cinema goer, which is always a bonus.
I hardly dare say it, but the Summer has arrived in Cork. There are intervals of sunshine between the rain and I wind up sunburnt while driving the car. I really should just apply the sunscreen before getting in the car even if it’s lashing as a habit, it’s happened more than once. With the good weather joining us occasionally, it’s nice to get out to new places as a family and we’ve just discovered the beauty of Fota House and Gardens during May. More specifically, the arboretum and gardens around the house – we’ve not done the house tour but it is beautiful to look at. Here’s how we got on!
I like a good psychological thriller novel, and this is an arena that female authors are knocking out of the park in recent years. Increasingly, I am seeing Irish authors popping up in this category and one of them was a name familiar to me, Andrea Mara, a fellow parenting blogger who writes at OfficeMum. Having read her debut novel last year, The Other Side Of The Wall, I was excited for what was to come from her followup thriller, One Click, when it was released this May. I pre-ordered it onto my Kindle so it popped up late at night and I was hooked. Having read it, I thought it was something my readers on here may find a good addition to their Summer bookshelves, so am sharing my review on here – as well as a competition if you get to the end and feel intrigued!
So, what’s it all about?
When Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, she has no idea what will come of that single click.
Her daughters are surprised that she posted a photo without consent, but it’s only when she starts to get anonymous messages about the woman on the beach that she deletes the photo. It’s too little too late, and the messages escalate, prompting Lauren to confess to the woman. The woman has her own dark story, one that might explain the messages, but Lauren isn’t convinced. Then her ex-husband begins to harass her, telling her she shares too much online and brought this on herself.
She’s also dealing with other problems. A difficult client at work starts to show up in places he shouldn’t be. Her younger daughter is behaving out of character and Lauren can’t work out what’s wrong. And the cracks are literally beginning to show in her old South Dublin house, mirroring the cracks in her carefully curated life.
Meanwhile, the messages from the internet troll become more personal and more vindictive. Her friends feel she should stand up to her stalker, but Lauren isn’t so sure. And then she makes one small mistake that brings everything tumbling down.
So, what did I think?
One Click, Mara’s second novel published by Poolbeg, is a proper page turner. I couldn’t get to the end fast enough to find out the twists and turns. As someone who takes a lot of photos to share on social media and on my blog, the concept is definitely something which caught my eye – and the far-reaching power of the internet is always a worry, particularly as a parenting blogger. This is a realm that Mara knows well herself. Little things like the points being made by family and employers about social media use definitely sounded very familiar and gave the story a good sense of grounding in reality.
The inclusion of an online troll, or multiple trolls, as it were, in the story is definitely something which most people with an online presence can relate to. Combined with pressures going on in Lauren’s life, you can really get a clear picture of how these things can escalate and impact on your mental state. The lack of understanding from those who are not in that same arena – in this case, Lauren’s ex-husband, is also something that I have experienced – it can be easy to forget when your world is based around online people that the real life people around you may have no clue what the big deal is to you.
Cleo’s story intertwining with Lauren’s adds an extra element to the story and a few red herrings along the way which kept me on my toes.
There is a whole lot going on in this story but I powered through it in a day – testament to how much I wanted to figure out every twist in the story. There are a lot of back stories to keep track of, and I did have to re-read one or two sections to make sure I was definitely on the right track, but it was compelling writing and I couldn’t put it down.
I’ve seen others describe this novel as a precautionary tale, and that it certainly is. While we can easily base our lives online and not see any harm in it, opening ourselves up, in particular to a world of people who may not be who they say they are, is something that we shouldn’t walk blindly into. While I am hopeful that the real life consequences aren’t as mad-cap as they are in this tale, it definitely gave me food for thought afterwards.
Alternatively, the lovely folks at Poolbeg have given me a copy to give away, a signed copy no less! If you’d like to be in with a chance to win, leave a comment either in this blog post or on this Facebook post and let me know what was the last book you just couldn’t put down – I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been reading! I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday 6th June at 6pm and will organise for the prize to be sent out to you ASAP so you can get your Summer reading on!
I wrote this review off the back of reading Andrea Mara’s One Click which I purchased myself, I have not received any payment for this review and all opinions are my own. Poolbeg have very kindly offered the prize of one signed copy of One Click. This post contains some Amazon affiliate links, which means if you purchase the book on there, I get a few cents thrown my way, but I only ever use these links for products and books that I really do recommend.
In less than two weeks, we will know the result of the referendum which proposes to repeal the 8th Amendment in the Irish constitution. The end is nigh, people, it is DECISION time. For those left undecided, it’s time to get making up their minds. A hashtag caught my eye in the last few days, #whoneedsyouryes. It was sparked by a campaign from the National Women’s Council of Ireland under the same name, and contains powerful stories and thought provoking insights from people thinking about this referendum. If you haven’t already, I compel you to read through at least some of the tweets. For me, I wrote what I could fit into the character limit as one of the categories of people I believe my yes will be for on the 25th. But afterwards, so many more occurred to me, and I felt the need to share them. This is who my yes is for.
In my inbox, this week, came some great news – the announcement of Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why. The show made a big bang last year when it hit our screens with hard-hitting scenes telling the story of Hannah Baker and the tapes where she recorded the “reasons” that she was no longer here from beyond the grave. With that in mind, I’ve been inspired to write my own 13 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Netflix this May – and the weather is an extra one (where is all that sunshine gone?).
As we come up to the referendum which will decide whether or not the 8th Amendment of Bunreacht na hEireann is repealed, there is a whole lot of information being thrown our way. In 1597, Francis Bacon wrote “Knowledge itself is power”, which has been interpreted as saying information is power. However, in the current climate of fake news and scaremongering, the debate as to whether to allow women to decide for themselves what happens to their bodies or to leave it up to the state rages on. What is clear is that the funding for the campaign is unequal, with the conservative leave-it-as-it-is side being able to fund a far larger poster and leafleting campaign than the grassroots activism seen on the Repeal side. With increased funds comes the increased capacity to reach more people – and so it is necessary for those on the side of change to ensure that the truth does out, that these myths and lies and fake statistics are called out for what they are. (more…)
I’ve started re-watching old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy lately while I’ve been off work. I’ve been a fan of Grey’s Anatomy since the early days and though I fell away from it for a while, I’m straight back in there now. It’s the perfect mish-mash of funny, serious and damn heartbreaking. I’m invested in these people like they’re real, they’ve been a part of my life for a decade.
While re-watching, I’ve noticed in some bits that they’re referring perfectly to how life with a toddler is. So, here’s 22 times that Grey’s Anatomy perfectly summed up what it is like to be a parent to a small child.
In the cast of Life, this leading lady is now mother to a four-year-old boy. He may not look it, or fit the clothes just right, but he’ll tell you very clearly that he’s four. And that means he’s strong, and brave because that’s what “four boys” are. He turned four last Saturday, and we celebrated with a party with some of his friends from his creche in a Cork soft play centre. There was what can loosely be called a PJ Masks cake, at least one set of tears per child who turned up in the two hours and everyone seemed to have fun, so I guess we call it a success! I like the format I did for last year’s birthday post, an update all about him and his life.
Ireland’s national holiday, St Patrick’s Day, falls this Saturday, 17th March. Each year, we celebrate St Patrick, the guy who got the credit for bringing Christianity to Ireland (apparently Palladius didn’t kick up enough of a stink about it). Each year, we have parades and family events as well as a bank holiday. St Patrick’s Day has a reputation for being linked with alcohol consumption, so I’m encouraged to see how many family-friendly events are taking place this year. I did a roundup of the events happening in Cork in previous years and people seemed to find it helpful. Hopefully, this may be of help to you in picking what you are doing with your family that day.
The Beast from The East has been making its way across Ireland. The street value of a sliced pan is high, motivation to go into work is low, and there’s talk of red alerts meaning nobody is going anywhere. Which means the schools are closed, and it’s debatable as to what the escape options are over the next few days. If you’re at home with the kids, this all sounds brilliant for the first 24 hours (or if it’s a threenager, 24 minutes). However, after a while, cabin fever may well kick in. I’ve asked other members of the Irish Parenting Bloggers what they’re planning to do to stave off the crazy cabin fever over the next few days of Snowmageddon – here’s what they’ve come up with.
Since Valentines Day falls midweek this year, it’s possible that any plans, if you’ve got them, will be centred around the weekend. Alternatively, you might just be planning a lovely quiet evening at home. Either way, Netflix has you sorted out with a menu of love stories and romance to snuggle up to this Valentine’s Day. Who knows, the kids might even stay asleep for the whole date night! Grab some microwave popcorn and chocolate, and get stuck in. Here are 21 romantic date night movies on Netflix, ready for your choosing this Valentines Day. (more…)
Pancake Tuesday is tomorrow – 13th February. In the past, it was intended as a way to use up all of the eggs, butter and fat before the Lenten fast. These days, it’s much more of an excuse to get pancakes for many meals (or at least one) midweek. Whether you’re a thin crepe with lemon and sugar, or thick American pancakes with all the fixings kind of person, here are a selection of pancake recipes tried and tested by parenting bloggers that you AND your family are sure to love, without any pre-made mixes in sight!
I’m a big crime fan, I have been for years – factual or fictional, I lap it up. What that says about me as a person is another question altogether, but the genre completely fascinates me. I’d love to study Criminology, but thanks to knowing full well I haven’t a hope of ever passing a Garda medical, the practical side of me has left it as an armchair hobby for the moment. The genre has grown massively in popularity in recent years, in particular with documentaries and podcasts. I’ve been enraptured by True Crime podcasts for the last few months, they’ve drawn me in with eyes wide open. I guess everyone is an armchair detective at heart!
Here’s a look at True Crime Podcasts that any fan of the genre will love.
Over the last few years, I’ve tried my hand at a fair amount of chronic illness interventions. Various exercises. Many, many medications. Physiotherapy. Interventions that included big scary needles which hurt like a mo-fo. CBT. Therapy. And throw a few more medications in there. You name it, I’ve probably tried it in my search to end the cycle of chronic pain and depression. It’s been a journey, to use a word that I’m not a particularly big fan of. I’ve tried everything mentioned to me, in the hopes of waking up and having a day with no pain, or a day without thinking dark things. And as far as the depression has gone, it’s mostly been positive. It’s taken some tinkering around with dosages and doctors and therapy but it’s manageable. Chronic pain is a wholly different beast. In my search to find the cure for my pain, I’ve found some halfway fixes, but also discovered some rather awful side effects.
I’d like to start a regular book nook section on this blog of mine. I’m an avid reader, when I’ve got the time, and each year I resolve to make a bit more time of it. In the last year, I’ve joined websites like NetGalley, which has given me more of an impetus to read more. I’ve also started buying EVERYTHING Kindle Deals have to offer – meaning my To Read List is often much larger than my abilities to read it all! So during 2018, I’m going to have a dedicated Book Nook post – the things I’ve been reading, what is next on my list, and other thoughts on reader-y things. There may be other book review posts in between, but there will definitely be at least one a month. So, as always, it’s best to start at the beginning – what have I been reading this month?
As a chronic pain patient, I spend my days willing the pain to feck off and find a new hobby. I’ve got discs bulging in my neck, lower back joints that decide when they want to play ball and unexplained pain in various other places. I’ve tried tonnes of therapies, medications, procedures and am still here, battling away and waiting for a day where I’ll wake up and magically be pain-free. I’ve realized that is unlikely to happen. When I said that to a doctor a year ago, when I was discussing my plans for returning to work, I was told it was an awfully negative outlook to have “for someone so young”. They saw my realism as a thing to count as a negative attitude instead of just deciding that it’s something I’ll have to figure out how to live with instead of in spite of. In contrast to that, it seems that the new wave of thought for pain management doctors is “pain acceptance”, where the patient is being told that instead of pursuing medical cures to their pain, that accepting it and finding holistic methods to deal with it and live with it are better options. This is being met with some opposition, in particular in the USA, where there is lots of talk about the growing opioid issue at the moment.
Organisation is not something that comes naturally to me. I look at Pinterest accounts of people with perfect bullet journals, schedules they stick to and houses so clean they gleam, and then shrink back into my own life and wipe away the crumbs and stare at unfolded laundry. Every year I resolve that this year is to be the year of organisation. I download the apps. The lists get written. I even manage to keep a handle on the laundry for oh, about a week. I do find writing things down tends to help with this, so I was thrilled to receive a Busy B Busy Life Diary in the post last week to help me get on top of my resolution.
In Ireland, we are in a time of change. While the rest of the world is shouting Me Too, we are shouting “Listen to Me”. In 2018, our government has promised an as-of-yet unscheduled referendum to decide whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish constitution. This amendment gives equal rights to the unborn as it’s mother; meaning that abortion is an illegal activity in our country and disallowing women from invoking their own autonomy over their bodies. The campaign has been raging to get this referendum for many years, and has certainly escalated in the last five years. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about it, and it won’t be the last. This referendum has the possibility to change the lives of women in this country, and allow them rights to gain healthcare they would be entitled to in their own country elsewhere. For that to happen, we need to, in the (paraphrased) words of Mary Robinson on her election to the office of president in 1990, “instead of rocking the cradle rock the system”. There are many facets to this campaign, and one of them is EveryDay Stories.
If you’ve been around here long, you’ll know that I will rave about the wonderful Brené Brown day and night if let go. I discovered her last year on recommendation of my therapist at the time, who thought that her work on vulnerability and shame would do me some good. Since then, I’ve been recommending her work to everyone. If you’ve not yet been introduced to her work, here are 12 quotes which might get you thinking (and entice you towards her books) this January.
Being a mother is hard work. It’s one of the toughest, and yes, most rewarding, jobs out there. It sounds cliched, but it really is one of those things that you’ve got to be down in the trenches to really understand what it is like. It’s a whirlwind of emotions all wrapped into one tiny human who you are SO AFRAID FOR and SO IN LOVE IT all at the same time (while you’re hiding in the kitchen, shoving biscuits into your mouth before their supersonic hearing detects them). It’s a variety of feelings summed up so well by artist Anna Lewis, who has recently released her first book, Sketchy Muma: What It Means To Be A Mother. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy for review by the lovely people at Quercus Books, and have one to give away!
I’ve been using Adsense on this blog on and off over the last year and a half. It’s been a hopefully not-too-intrusive way of gaining a small income to cover the costs of things like hosting, and the odd coffee along the way. I couldn’t exactly say it’s been a mad moneymaker, it’s definitely a slow burner, but it’s something that I can set up and leave it there to passively earn which is nice. However, last year, Google Adsense changed their set up and took away the Plugin which had made it so easy to install ads on my blog. I took them away, not knowing the best way to do it, but recently decided to take the plunge and go for it again. Here is how I got it sorted out in one night, and have been reaping the benefits ever since. So, how do you set up Adsense on a WordPress Blog without much technical knowledge?
We’ve survived another year, 2017 is over and 2018 has begun. All without certain world leaders getting at the nuclear codes, and after gaining some new debatable words into the dictionary. For us, it’s been a mish-mash of a year. I really like the framework of Where Wishes Come From 17 from 17, so here’s a look at the BadMammy Year That was 2017 – how was it for you?
If you’re active on social media, or have an interest in public health, you may be aware of Orla Tinsley, a Cystic Fibrosis patient who has written extensively about her life with Cystic Fibrosis. Orla is a journalist and activist campaigning for many health issues, including the rights of transgender people to gain gender recognition, as well as gaining essential health care resources for cystic fibrosis patients. This December, a few days before Christmas, Orla underwent surgery for a double lung transplant. Seeing her tweet about it made me well up. I don’t know this woman at all. I know of her, I follow her on Twitter, but we’ve never met nor conversed. But seeing the power of what one person’s actions in life and death, by being an organ donor, can do to affect another affected me more than I thought it could.
As December rolls faster towards the end of the year, it’s a time of looking back to see what has been. The wonderful powers of social media have made this even easier, with various round up tools presenting us with a pre-filtered image of exactly how our year went. Last year, I did the Instagram Best 9 and shared it here, and I found it a really nice way to look back on the year. So, in the interests of not fixing what isn’t broken, here’s a look at 2017 through the same lens, my Instagram Best 9.
As the man in red is just about to pay a visit to houses worldwide, there are quite a lot of young people looking to be in possession of new Apple iOS devices, iPod Touches, iPhones, iPads. All of which they’ll be working with skill while lots of parents try to figure out how exactly they’re doing what they’re doing. As much as we want to protect our kids from everything that could possibly harm them, or from making mistakes that they will regret, in the era of the screenager, it is a seriously tough job keeping track of absolutely everything they get up to. There are however some safeguards which you can take to make sure that your child is safe in their usage of this technology, while remaining relatively hands-off and allowing them to embrace the age of technology (while ignoring you as they beat their high score in Candy Crush Saga).