It’s the last day of April, so I’m definitely late to the parade on this challenge, but I thought to compile the whole month as a blog post would be a nice way to put all these recommendations and listings together! This challenge on Twitter was initiated by @Jabberwocky808 and has been joined in by a multitude of readers with thousands of suggestions. Here’s my addition to the Reading Irish Women Challenge.
I’ve been blogging a lot less than I wanted of late, it’s been busy. I’ve been getting into strides with college work, epidemiology is kicking my ass, and when it isn’t, my body is deciding to take over. And that’s all before dealing with the junior tyrant who resides in our house half the time. It seems he’s on a job share with our very sweet, funny four year old. An eternal balance that I’ll write about at some stage when I figure out what exactly I’m doing (he may be 18 by the time I figure that one out). October has been a month of lots of change. Here’s just a snapshot of what we’ve been up to.
I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts of late that I’ve gotten fully sunken into.
The people from Spotlight in the Boston Globe (yes, the same people that the film is about) are doing an excellent investigation into the case of Aaron Hernandez, the NFL player who was convicted of murder and died by suicide in 2017, called Gladiator. It goes beyond the case itself and looks into Football Inc to see what exactly caused the horrific acts which took place and what could have been done to prevent them.
CBC have done an incredible podcast series called “Uncover: Escaping NXIVM” which I’ve barely been able to stop listening to – but definitely isn’t one for in the car with kids as it contains some VERY adult themes. In the investigative podcast series about the “wellness” group which the authorities have now labelled a cult, they look into its leader, Keith Raniere, and one woman’s journey to get out.It discovers what drew Sarah Edmondson to Raniere and his followers and how she ended up turning on him. Not one for the squeamish but definitely a compelling story.
On a less serious side of things, Eliott has been OBSESSED with the song Shotgun by George Ezra. It’s been playing here A LOT. I still can’t believe his face matches his voice, but whatever, it’s a VERY catchy song. And very cute when my four year old, who knows three lines, is singing it happily.
I’ve finally immersed myself in The Crown. I know, I know, I came SO late to this party but I LOVE it.
We’ve also been watching the third series of The Good Place. We’re rather resentful for the weekly wait between episodes, because we arrived rather late to the game and got to binge watch the first two seasons. So it feels AWFULLY forking unfair to have to wait a week between episodes. But they are TV gold and so so worth it. I NEED a Janet in my life.
For the coming month, we’re getting stuck into the final series of House of Cards. (For those not up to date, please be aware that the trailer is for the final series of the show and therefore may have spoilers!)
I’ve been doing a lot of academic reading this month as the Masters is proving to be VERY full on (as I probably should have expected). However, I have had a few good reads which I will compile into a much fuller book review post. Here are just some of them in brief
The Importance Of Being Aisling – the much-awaited sequel to Oh My God What A Complete Aisling. I have a lot to say about this book, but in short – I thought it was even better than the first. Total heart warmer of a read.
All American Murder by James Patterson. Yeah, this one wasn’t such a heart-warmer but it was fascinating. It also dealt with the case of Aaron Hernandez. I’d read the book before starting the podcast so I’m kind of getting a 360 look at the whole case. As a crime writer, Patterson certainly knows how to use the language to keep people gripped and at times it feels difficult to remember that this all happened, it’s all real and these are actual people’s lives and deaths.
The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin. This one was a kids book purchase, introducing children to mindfulness and giving a way to deal with fears, like a fear of the swimming pool. I thought it was a really charming read and a good introduction for kids, one which our four year old is learning day by day.
A whole lot of coffee. And probably not enough water. Must strive to do better. Next month will be better!
Layers. Because between the changeable weather, buildings that have blasting heat on one second and walls made of glass letting out heat the next and medication causing hot flashes, I seem to be an every-season-in-one-day kinda girl these days. Much as I love my wooly jumpers (and I LOVE them, so cosy), having to attempt to discreetly pat down my forehead from sweat-gate while in a meeting with people I would like to work with is MORTIFYING and not worth it.
I’ve recently discovered a penchant for Massaman curry. I don’t do spicy food, so curries have never really been my thing, but oh my god, I have found the food for my death row meal. Now if I could just figure out how to make my own perfect one from scratch so that the local Thai place doesn’t wind up just setting up a direct debit, that would be wonderful. Any suggestions for a good recipe?
In September, I started a part time masters in Public Health. It’s very full on and I’m currently trying to get my head around epidemiology, which is basically statistics on steroids. It’s not been easy, and hasn’t been helped by the brain fog that I’ve been experiencing, but I am enjoying having something to focus on that isn’t my pain levels or my frustrations at life. I’m also looking forward to getting to get stuck into my chosen research topic over the next few months – how I’m going to juggle it with work, parenting and everything else is yet to be determined but fingers crossed it will all fall into place.
Last month, I got a rather incredible surprise by being awarded Best Parenting Blog in the Blog Awards Ireland! I wasn’t able to make it to the ceremony, thanks to a pesky presentation in college, so the very lovely Sinead from Bumbles of Rice collected the award on my behalf.
I am beyond thrilled that my little corner of the internet has been considered to be something more than just the place I put my ramblings. I started writing this blog almost five years ago and never really saw it becoming what it has done then. Back then I was just pregnant, hormonal and needing a place to vent. It’s become a place where I’ve shared my experiences, gotten to meet others who have been there, done that and had their t-shirt puked on. I’ve met incredible people who have not only become online friends but some of them “real life” friends as well. So winning the award has really put a smile on my face and I am so thankful that others out there like what I write.
Darker evenings encouraging the Netflix binges of new shows and reading of books, once we manage to get the little man to get into bed.
Hallowe’en this year was also a bit of fun, given that it was Eliott’s first that he properly got into. He dressed up as Catboy from the PJ Masks in full costume and had a ball trick or treating!
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This CatBoy enjoyed his first ever trick or treating and is now stuck into his first ever viewing of Halloweentown, absolutely ignoring all the sweets…. #allhallowseve #catboy #pjmasks #pjmaskscostume #pjmaskshalloween #trickortreating #dressuptime #parentsofig #pjmasksallshouthooray #catboycostume
Cold weather (well, changeable weather) has a habit of making my muscles and joints seize in not fun ways. So, there’s that. Also, the seemingly unending whinge. If anyone fancies taking on a four year old, perhaps as a tool for an abstinence-encouraging part of a sex ed programme in secondary schools, he’s open for bookings. He’s lovely really. There are just a LOT of emotions built up in his tiny frame. And he’s not exactly rocking this whole “extra hour” thing by any means. But who needs sleep?
It’s been a while since I’ve written a proper book post, aside from the odd review. It’s not that I haven’t been reading much – thanks to a holiday and late night not-sleeping-what’s-on-my-kindle the to-read list has been diminishing rapidly. I’m feeling rather proud of the level I’m getting through my yearly challenge to read 30 books. As it stands, with 29 weeks of the year down, I’m at 25 books. Given that I managed 25 in the whole of 2017, I think that’s pretty good going! So, what have I been reading lately, and what did I think my Summer Reads?
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.
If you’re into psychological thrillers, this is definitely one I recommend picking up this Summer. You can pick it up on Poolbeg for €14.99, in Easons for €11.24 or over on Amazon for £7.99 (paperback) or £3.99 (Kindle).
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.
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?
What if your child was stolen? The tagline of Nicola Cassidy’s debut novel draws the reader in and plays on their emotions immediately. Her book, December Girl, is a historical fiction novel, based in the 1800s in Drogheda. I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy to take part in the Blog Tour to launch this wonderful book, and have been devouring it over the past few nights. So, what’s the book about, and is it any good?
Our family holiday wasn’t exactly a lie back on the beach with a good book type of break, but that didn’t stop the reads from accumulating. Long flights will do that for you – the Kindle app on my iPad was definitely kept busy. Here’s a look at my October reads, the books I dove into over the last month, and what I thought of them.
Every year I try to get “Read More” on my New Years Resolutions list. Now, I’ve lost a lot of faith in New Years Resolutions, but this is probably the one I’ve got the best chance of completing. For one, since E now somewhat sleeps (I don’t want to jinx it), I’m now getting more sleep AND more time to read before bed. So when I spotted the Goodreads reading challenge for 2017, I decided to join in.
I am not a fan of bedtime. The child going to bed, yes, perfectly happy with that (what parent isn’t?) but it’s an ordeal at the moment. No matter what kind of routine we try to put in place, it’s a bit of a non-runner. Basically my two year old has skipped childhood and gone straight to the teenage years. Refuses to sleep until late at night, is a GRUMP in the mornings and doesn’t want to listen to a word I say. I’ve not yet gone seeking a refund from the midwives in CUMH just yet but I’ve been close. However, the one bit I do like of the whole farcical routine is curling up with bedtime stories and reading together. It’s a nice time for the two of us and once I’ve got the books that I can’t stand out of the way (I’m talking to you Stickman!), it can be nice and relaxing. So, what have we been reading lately? A mesh of old and new books on the shelves, some I’ve spoken about before, but this is what the two and a half year old is loving right now (and I’m not tearing my hair out reading).
Every year I vow that I will read more as one of my New Years Aspirations. Admittedly, this has become much easier since graduating from third level education; the land where I had so much mandatory reading that there was little time (or enthusiasm) for extra reading for the sheer love of it. Thankfully those days are gone so these days, my bookshelfÂ tends to be split into two categories: Books I read for me and Books I read to the Toddler. You can sense which ones I get more joy from (and no, itâ€™s not that bloody Love You Forever book).
Here is a look at what books we’ve been checking out to start off the New Year 2016.
It’s been a while since I did one of these posts – about a month in fact, so there’s a lot to catch up on! I really do love the format of the Little Loves posts for summing up what’s been going on, as it covers all angles, as well as getting to join in with a fab linky from the (recently rebranded from butwhymummywhy) lovely Coffee, Work, Sleep, Repeat. It’s been quite a hectic month with lots going on, as December tends to be with Christmas coming close and a million things to do! We’re getting all sorted with only a few days to go until the man in red arrives, presents are wrapped, Santa has been visited, Secret Santa presents exchanged and family visited. So without further ado, here is what we’ve been up to, and what we’ve been loving so far in December.
I’m an unashamed bookworm from childhood; I grew up with my nose in a book, I love libraries and get annoyed when life doesn’t work out for my fictional characters. It’s something I would love for E as he grows up, as it’s a love which can stay with you for life, the ability to fall into a million other worlds and lose yourself in their lives. I’m also a firm believer that it’s not Christmas unless there is a book present, so as far as the toddler is concerned, here’s a look through what we’ve got in mind this year!
I’m a bookworm at heart, I have been since I was a child. I was that kid who was always, without fail, in the book section if you lost me in a toy shop – while my brothers were instructed to go to the security guard by the door if we lost sight of either parent, there was really no need for such instruction when I would be most likely to be found devouring an Enid Blyton tale of boarding school and ginger ale. My love of reading for pleasure somewhat waned when I hit college – ironically studying literature – because the sheer volume of academic reading intimidated me into ignoring the growing pile of books which I had been eyeing up for fun, as to attempt to get on top of difficult articles in multiple languages that I would be able to quote in assignments or exams. It wasn’t that I had lost my love of a good book, rather I realised that with working part time alongside a heavy college workload and extra curricular activities which were adding value to my CV did not allow much time for relaxing with a Marian Keyes book and a cup of tea. Since graduating three years ago, I have been making a concious effort to get back into reading, and have discovered a love for non-fiction, particularly Irish nonfiction. While it started with economics books (Freakonomics, numerous David McWilliams tomes and rather depressing tales of how the Irish economy had been flushed down the toilet), it quickly spread into biographies and tales of events happening within the last century in Ireland, things that have shaped the society I live in and that I am bringing my child up in.
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts; life has gotten a bit hectic lately with all the moving, the broadband battle and solo parenting while himself was working across the water. Now that things are starting to settle down a bit, I can at least manage to sit and take a minute to figure out what exactly has been keeping me sane this month! Instead of doing a weekly roundup as part of the linky hosted by the fab butwhymummywhy, lets make this one for the whole month, my September Little Loves! Read More
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve gotten to do one of these – life has been rather hectic around here with himself away with work, and our going up and down to Waterford and Wexford. We’ve also had some rather not-summer-like weather which hasn’t inspired much in the way of happy thoughts – it’s as if August took a holiday of its own and left November in charge, rather unfairly! Despite all of that though, there have been some good points, so as a form of a round up of the last few weeks, here’s what my Little Loves looks like this week!
I’ve read my fair share of parenting books. Most of them while pregnant, unsure, terrified and hoping that divine wisdom would help me remove the watermelon I was growing in as painfree a way as possible. Since his birth, theres been a number of books enter my house telling me how to feed, dress, treat my son as he grows up to ensure that he’s the best he can be. Oh precious firstborn, I did my research on you. Most of it is a fat lot of nothing – Annabel Karmel recipes don’t seem to work on him, we’ve gone through numerous sleep books. None of them made me laugh (apart from the ones with seriously unrealistic expectations). None until “I Forgot To Take My Pill – An Honest Diary of a First Time Mum”, by the very funny Sharyn Hayden, which launched this week. Read More
Recently, I’ve had the great pleasure of reading a charming book writtenfor children but with a deeper message that can apply to us all; regardless of age. Edward Mark Fitzgerald’s first children’s book, a tale called “The Adventures of Wilbur Burrows” in his “The Last Fairy Tales” series, is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while and it did not disappoint. Read More
Mid-March is upon us, students are stressed, wallets are stretched after the Bank Holiday weekend and we’re all being told not to look straight at the sun (like that was ever a good idea to start with). Life is hectic, but some things do help to make it not only bearable, but a thing to smile about from time to time… Read More
Each year I make New Years resolutions. Each year I promptly break them at about, oh, 12.02 on New Years Day – at most a few days later, as long as I’ve decided “They start when you wake up” (Clearly, the “give up drinking” can not be enacted at 12 midnight on the night in question). They’re typical, and unrealistic and I wind up beating myself up about failing at them fairly rapidly. Read More
Ah reading, my old friend, the thing I used to do before my spare time was taken up with blogging, and singing “Ali Baba had a big farm” (to myself, sans child, before cursing myself for singing the bloody thing again). I was one of those children who literally devoured books – under the covers with a torch after bedtime, hiding them in school books to finish a chapter, even my go-to place in a toy shop, if lost, was the book section. I saw myself as a bit of a Matilda, minus the dysfunctional family and the magical powers, though I always envied the magic powers. Though life is now taken up more with watching things, and writing things, and saying I’ll get around to reading things, there is no denying that there is no better relaxation than curling up with a hot cup of tea, a duvet and a book you’re looking forward to reading.