Tuesday, 24 May 2022

What's in our Spring / Summer grab & go bag { Includes Giveaway }


Since I had my first child life has been based around getting everything we needed ready to leave our house in enough time to get anywhere we needed to go. With my first child, I struggled with the timing of everything right up until after he was one and didn't need nearly as much to go outside, with my second the juggling act began and when we had our third two years later the need to be organised became very real. It was around this time that we started to make use of a Grab & Go bag. 

What is a grab and go bag?

It's exactly what it sounds like, this is a bag that you keep pretty much always stocked up with everything you might to grab in a hurry on the way out the door. Many people use Grab & Go bags for different reasons, you can use them with children, hobbies and many other things. I will be focusing on our bag based around our 3 children's needs, they are 9, 4 and 3 years old. 

What is in our Grab and Go bag? 

Our Grab & Go bag has been packed in the mind set that if we plan a short notice day out somewhere I can simply grab the bag along with our usual items like coats, shoes, my hand bag and any food items we need that day. The idea is that by having this bag always ready we can leave without me needing to go around collecting up these bits and cut our preparing to leave time in half! This means our Grab & Go bag won't contain changes of clothes or wipes etc since these are needed every time we go out. You of course could have these in your bag if you needed them. 

Items inside our Grab & Go bag:

  • Kind bag (or any reusable folding bag)
  • Metal Straws
  • Bamboo cutlery 
  • Cheeky Panda bamboo anti-bac wipes
  • Bamboo biodegradable Plasters
  • Bug Spray
  • Sun cream 
  • Pen
  • Colouring pages and pencils
  • Games in canvas bags 
  • First aid items like sting relief and anti-septic wipes
All the items above are what I class as year round essentials. All of these things can have a use throughout the year and have come in handy for the last 2 years when we have needed our bag. These items will not be all that is in our bag.

How do I make the Grab & Go bag change with the seasons?

While everything I've mentioned will work all year, there are items we need during the colder months that would be irrelevant in summer and vice versa. To combat this I make a diary note for sometime in march and again in September to go through the Grab & Go bag to swap out the seasonal items. I tend to either do it that day or I will note down another day if it's not yet time, weather wise. I have found this works best for us in our climate and I will use this opportunity to give everything in the bag a check over too.

What are the seasonal items we use in our Grab & Go bag?

Spring/ Summer:

  • Sunglasses
  • Thin rain coats - fold away ones for each child and 2 plastic ones for me and Simon (we reuse these)
  • Cooling Mist Spray 
  • Sun screen chap stick
  • 2x foldable water bottles

Autumn/ Winter:

  • An extra hat (1 child and  1 adult size)
  • Gloves (1 child and 1 adult size)
  • Hand cream 
  • Lip balm
  • Emergency umbrella
  • Thin hoodies 
  • Tissues

You will have noticed that I included thin rain coats during spring/ summer and hoodies during autumn/ winter. We do take these items with us but I am sure you can see only the small plastic ones for adults would fit in our bag, instead we keep these items in a small waterproof swim bag under our pram. This means we never forget them as all our longer trips require the pram. A slightly bigger bag would accommodate these items. 

What bag do we use and why?

Our Grab & Go bag is actually one of the PacaPods from our big PacaPod changing bag. We use the insulated black feeder pod as our Grab & Go bag. We chose this for a multitude of reason, the bag is small and is actually designed to be use on it's own or inside the main backpack, so it has a strap with a clip for attaching to your pram or even to a bike if needed. 

The fact the bag is insulated also means the items we put inside are slightly protected from the elements, nothing inside gets too warm or too cold, great for stopping your lip balms melting in summer or everything drying up in winter. Another reason we went with this bag is that it is small, everything we need will fit inside (with the exception of hoodies/ raincoats) and storing it near our door in a convenient place to grab is easy. The small size is also handy when your headed on long days out because we tend to bring lots of other items, sometimes including 3 scooters! So a small bag that we can just add onto our pram without too much room and weight is ideal for us. Finally being able to add the pod back into the back pack has been really handy in the past, especially when I travel alone anywhere with the three children as I can quickly collapse the pram and add the pod into the bag or hang it from one of the many carbineer hook ports on the PacaPod Backpack. 

Do you have a Grab & Go Bag?

I'd love to know if you have other items inside your Grab & Go bag that I haven't thought of, let me know below. 

The Giveaway

Some of the most used items in our Grab & Go bag are our colouring pages pack with pencils and our games in canvas bags. These are items I found in a card shop over summer and they seem to be stock that is regularly brought back so this year I bought another set for one of our readers. 

These little items are the perfect addition to any grab & go bag as they add entertainment for children. We have used ours at restaurants while waiting for food, entertaining in the shade after a picnic, doing on the train or bus and even at an event when we needed to sit down for a while, they'd be great for everything from weddings, birthdays and christenings to long traveling in cars or on planes. You can see our games all opened to show you what is included with each in the image above. 

You can enter to win a brand new set which includes a Space themed colouring pack which has some coloured pencils inside too, a fidget popper toy, Snakes and ladders travel game, X's and O's travel game and a matching travel game.

Now for the entering! You can enter the giveaway by simply filling in your details on the Gleam entry form below. Please read the terms and conditions before entering, these are also listed below. 

Terms and conditions:
  • Entrants must be aged 18 years or over.
  • Competition is open to UK residents only.
  • The giveaway is open from 24/05/2022 and will run to 24/06/2022 at 11.59pm GMT.
  • Entry into this competition confirms your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.
  • The winners will be selected at random from all the correct entries received before the closing date and time.
  • All prizes must be accepted as offered. There can be no alternative awards, cash or otherwise. 
  • There will be one winner.
  • The winner will have 30 days to respond to claim the prize. Failure to claim will result in a redraw.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

A letter to my youngest son, turning three!

 Dear Avery, 

                        You have just turned three! It's amazing just how much has changed in the last year. You've grown taller, become so independent and self assured. A great trait to have in life. 

Another trait that has shown up is your defiance, which is great because we want you to question everything in the world, although it is a little frustrating in daily life with you at three years old!

The last several years my letters have been all about the long list of things that change in an entire year, which in a way this one will be too. However at the age of three I find that less and less happens in the milestone side of childhood, the first several years are full of moments parents wait for and rejoice in celebrating. So I am starting off in the was I always do with your big milestones of the year. The biggest milestone you hit this year has been your speech! You have started to talk after so long in silence and using hand gestures to communicate. Now you can say lots of words, you also completely skipped over baby talk and single words. So you speak in short sentences and are quickly becoming clearer. 

Along with your speech has come a huge part of your personality that we've all missed out on until now. Your are so funny and you know it! Your also full of energy & love to join in and play. Now that you can talk you tend to join in with Dylan and Scarlet to play their games alongside them and your working on your sharing skills. You have so many favourite things that you enjoy playing and copying too which is definitely helping with your speech and your vocabulary. 

Another set of new skills you are particularly working on is being more adventurous, You've always been very cautious about trying new things, especially climbing! Now your giving almost everything a good go. Your becoming quite fearless, we recently went to a soft play with vertical drop slides where you went down once unknowingly and then decided to just go again despite terrifying yourself. You also love to explore and find things in nature, be it low down or even high up in the trees, you just get us to help you up. I'm looking forward to seeing your skills grow even more in the next year. 

Every year we find that your favourites list will grow and change, I think this year has seen the biggest changes and lots of growth too. 

Your current favourite things are:

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Cookies
  • Green and red
  • Small world toys
  • Toy shopping trolleys
  • Dogs
  • Climbing 
  • Colouring in
  • Cuddly toys
  • Paw Patrol 
  • Spidey and his amazing friends
Finally, last week we found out you got into nursery! So come September you'll be headed off to nursery in the morning with Dylan and Scarlet, which your very excited about. We know you hate being left at home, now you'll make a whole bunch of new friends, how cool!

                                                                                                                   Love from

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

What I read in February and March 2022 {Monthly Reading Round Up}

{This post contains a book proof I was gifted access to on Net Galley. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.It is marked with a *.}

The last few months have been more like a roller coaster when it comes to reading for me. The spring months are always crazy busy with all three children's birthdays falling within 3-4 months of each other and Easter is somewhere in between. It usually means I don't read nearly as much as I do during the rest of the year. Which is proving true this year as well as last, I managed 3 books during February and only one throughout March! 


There is a little bit of a theme to the books I read in February, they are all written by the same author. They aren't a series but I honestly loved the first one so much I had to read the other two! I even pre-ordered the paperback release of the last one. I think it's safe to say I have a new favourite author to add to my list. 

The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary  - ★★★★★

Would you ever share a flat with someone you'd never met? 
What about a bed?

This is the situation both Tiffy and Leon find themselves in. Tiffy is in desperate need of a cheap flat, while Leon is in need of the money & he works the night shift. The perfect solution to Leon's problem also happens to be the solution for Tiffy's, a flat share arrangement.  They will both share Leon's one bedroom apartment, Leon will use the flat during the day when Tiffy is at work and Tiffy will reside there while Leon works at night. 

The question is, can sharing one bed and one flat with a stranger work out? 
It's a situation where the rule book needs to e torn up and completely rewritten, so how do you share a flat with someone you've never met?

I have to say I loved this book, the concept had me hooked right from the beginning. There are so many thing happening at all times. The story is told from the two perspectives of Leon and Tiffy, we get to see how each lives and works as well as both sides to the flat sharing logistics. It's an easy to follow to and fro while follows along in an immediate timeline. This really makes the book feel seamless and it's easy to enjoy the story without having to think too much about which perspective we are currently in and where it fits with the last.

The whole book is full of charm, it's funny, it's sad, it's enraging in some ways and it's got the perfect list of characters with the best mix of character traits. It's a fantastic rom-com read and a true look at the brilliant writing of Beth O'Leary. I know this is going to be a book I read many, many times in my life. 

The Switch by Beth O'Leary - ★★★★★

Leena is a 20 something Londoner who's having a hard time with her confidence and mental health following the death of a family member. When she messes up a huge presentation at work she is forced to take a two month sabbatical. The problem is Leena is a workaholic and hasn't taken time off in years. In search of a peaceful place to escape to during her time off work, she heads to her Grandmothers house up north in Yorkshire .

Eileen is about to turn 80 and is newly single after the breakdown of her marriage. She's feeling ready to start putting herself back out there. The problem is, she lives in a little village that is seriously lacking in the eligible men department!

Leena comes up with the perfect solution, they'll swap homes for 2 months. Eileen will head to the big city of London where there are plenty of fish in the sea. Meanwhile Leena will keep things running along in Eileen's little village and do all the jobs her grandmother usually does. However the reality of swapping lives turns out to be very different than either of them ever imagined. It's a range of things from dating in your 70's to facing the complicated family dynamics you've been hiding away from, or maybe it's the handsome teacher who keep squashing your attempts to impress the locals. Either way, both Leena and Eileen may have taken on a whole lot more than they bargained for. 

I can honestly say that the dating life of single 70 something woman has never been on my mind, so when Beth O'Leary throws you right into the up's and down of online dating from the perspective of Eileen in a big new city I was rooting for the woman to find love! I was completely enthralled by Eileen and the impact the big city would have on her, as well as the one she would have on it. I was convinced the story would concentrate more on Leena and the life she was living up north, however I couldn't have been happier to be wrong. Both characters follow their own little storyline which all somehow intertwine perfectly throughout the book.

This second book from Beth O'Leary has the same style as The Flat Share with both perspectives running in the right timeline and including so much more than you first imagine the book will. Who knew live would be so exciting both in your 20's and your 70's? This book was very different from the other as well, the storylines are very separated since one happens in Yorkshire and the other in London. You can however feel the connection between Grandmother and Grand-daughter from the beginning which makes this story so unique. I loved this book just as much as I loved the last one!

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary - ★★★★★

If you had the choice, would you spend a long road trip with your ex after they crashed into you? 
I know I wouldn't but that is the crazy reality Addie finds herself in when her road trip with her sister is rudely interrupted by a crash before it even really began.

Addie hasn't seen her ex since their traumatic break-up 2 years ago, can she really spend so much time confined to a mini with her sister, her ex, his best friend and a total stranger to boot? They are all headed to a wedding in rural Scotland, it was supposed to just be Addie and her sister but they agreed to give another guest a lift, it's quickly turning into the most awkward road trip of all time. 

So just how are the next 400 miles going to go and can thy simply avoid their messy past for the entire journey?

While this book stays close to Beth O'leary's style of telling the story from two people's perspectives, it's also less the story of just two characters and more the story of all five passengers on the journey. I liked this added element that we find out more about all the characters as the story goes on, each ones personality and their pasts. The main characters of course are Addie and her ex, this is who's perspectives we follow and see the whole trip through each of their eyes. 

I think out of all 3 books I read this month The Road Trip is my second favourite after The Flat Share, it was funny, exiting, shocking and everything in between. I loved getting lost in the pages and felt an urgency to find out just what happened to Addie and her ex that made their break-up so traumatic for them. I honestly didn't see some of the things that happened in the book coming, which in my opinion just makes it all the better for it! 

I am very excited to get around to reading the next Beth O'Leary release which is already out in hardback edition. 


As I mentioned in March I did only manage to read one book, which isn't so much a reflection on the book as it is a reflection on the free time I have this time of year. While I only read the one book, it was a fantastic one to have read. 

* The Lobotomist's Wife by Samantha Greene Woodruff - ★★★★☆

Since losing her brother to suicide after he served in World War Two, Ruth Emeraldine has only had one goal in life, to help people suffering from mental illnesses. This is how Ruth is in a position so high up in her families mental health hospital. 

When she meets Robert Apter, a new doctor at the hospital, she falls in love with him. Robert finds out about a new radical treatment in the mental illness field and is sure it's the answer they've been searching for to cure the mentally ill. Ruth whole heartedly believes in Robert and his miracle cure of lobotomy. She even champions her husband, especially in the beginning.

 Over time Ruth starts to worry as her husband spirals into a deluded megalomania. She can no longer ignore the evidence of her suspicions that Robert is recklessly treating his patients white devistating results. His next victim is poised to be 'cured'. A young mother suffering from the baby blues so badly she can hardly get out of bed in the morning. At this point she is willing to do anything to feel like her old self again. Can Ruth save her from Robert before it's too late? 

More importantly can one woman go from championing her husband and his radical work to condemning the whole thing? 

I loved this book, it's a story of an empowered woman standing up to a man gone completely mad with power and megalomania. 

The most incredible part of this book is that while fictional, it is steeped in truth from one of the darkest points in mental health care history. The character of Robert Apter is based on the real man who brought Lobotomy to America, Walter J. Freeman. The character of Robert also follows some of Walter's actions over the years that followed. It's the perfect mix of fact and fiction to bring this story to life.  Which is why I was astonished to find out the this is a debut novel from Samantha Greene Woodruff! What an incredible first publication this is for the writer, a perfect combination of fact and fiction neatly intertwined in a compelling story of a woman empowered to protect her patients. 

While I absolutely loved this book, it's the kind of read that will stay with you forever. Which means I'll be unlikely to read it again, it just wouldn't have the same effect in knowing what comes next. This is why I have given it the 4 star rating. However if you are a lover of history and of fiction books then this is an absolute must read! 

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Exploring Through Play with the new playmobil City Recycling Truck Promo-Pack { AD - Review}

 *The product featured in the post was gifted to us in return for an honest review.*

*All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own*

Learning about the world around them is a huge part of any child's development, their natural curiosity and imagination create a perfect balance for learning through play. It's this combination that makes small world play so much fun while also providing so many educational opportunities. Through their play children learn about the world around them but they also have the opportunity to believe in whatever they want, create whole worlds of mystical beings and just enjoy the imagination. One thing that will stay consistent is that children will mimic the lives they experience in their play time. It is this which makes playmobil such a great selection of toys and the newest Promo-Packs offer a peak into the various world's which playmobil have in their set collections. 

What are playmobil Promo-Packs?

The new Promo-Packs are additions to the many playmobil worlds which are already available. The Promo-packs come in a variety of options with one or two packs from the different ranges including playmobil Space, City Life, Mermaids, Country, Stunt Show, Magic, City Action and Family Fun. Each of the sets provides a good example of the kinds of play sets available within these various themes of playmobil. You should be able to get an idea of how your child would enjoy the theme and how it will spark their imagination. Each Promo-Pack can stand as sets which can be played with individually and don't need the other sets in the theme to be well loved or provide enjoyable play.

We received the playmobil City Recycling Truck from the City Life theme, As you can see Avery was so excited about this set. He just loves to watch the recycling people do their job in our area on recycling days along with Scarlet. As a big part of society, it is a job which children don't often explore outside of imaginary play too. 

What is in the playmobil City Recycling Truck set?

Upon opening the box you will find there is a small bit of assembly required, however the set will only need built once and most of the assembly was for the recycling truck itself. You need to add the wheels, exhaust pipes, light module and stickers to the recycling truck as well as add wheels and stickers to the recycling bins. The whole assembly took me less than 10 minutes, most of which was placing the stickers on the recycling truck. The playmobil instructions are really helpful and offer great photo diagrams labelled with matching numbers for each sticker on the sheet. 

Once built up this set consists of two recycling people with hats, three different recycling bins  (including an industrial bin not in the photo above), one recycling truck and a selection of recyclable material which are widely recycled around the world. 

What are the features of the  playmobil City Recycling Truck?

The best part of this playmobil set is the Recycling Truck which has a whole host of features which really add to the play opportunities for children. I am going to start at the front of the Recycling Truck which is the cab, this area has a detachable roof which lifts off to let you put the people into the seats, one of which is the drivers seat that sits behind a steering wheel you can really turn.

 A feature that I absolutely love and think was a smart add for playmobil is the fire extinguisher which is removable and has a place to attach in between the driver and passenger seats of the cab. This small addition adds a whole new possibility for play scenarios with the set. The whole cab will also pull forward from the undercarriage frame, underneath you can see the engine shapes and even fit the figures into this area, again this detail adds a whole new realm of play from a mechanics perspective.

The final feature on the cab section of the playmobil City Recycling Truck is on the top of the roof, the set includes flashing orange lights, just like the real recycling trucks do. The lights flash to a rhythm and pushing the button on this means they flash for around a minute. Both Scarlet and Avery loved this feature, it prompted Scarlet to make the beeping sound big vehicles make when they start reversing!

Moving to the back section of the truck, the hopper, you can access this through two different ways, there is a large opening with a lid at the top of the recycling truck. You can also access the hopper using the functioning bin lift at the back of the truck. This is really easy to use, the bin is attached by pushing the connection on one side into the clip which is positioned at the exact right height for the bin to reach when on a flat surface. to operate the bin lift there is a small leaver on the left side of the truck to lift up, this will lift the bin and empty the recycling right into the flap that opens to the hopper. 

The last feature of the hopper is that the entire thing is easy to empty out, just like the real bin and recycling trucks, the entire hopper door opens out from the top and the hopper itself can be tilted of the undercarriage frame to ensure the recycling tumbles out! So once Scarlet and Avery had collected up all the recycling they found in the bins they could drive to the recycling centre and empty out the collection. 

The set comes with three different types of recycling bins, a green bin, a brown bin and an industrial yellow bin. While these don't match the home recycling bins here in NI they do match the rest of UK. They are very similar to the black bins with moving wheels and recycling symbols on each bin. The industrial bin is huge, has a lid which is similar to the real industrial yellow bins and has four wheels on the bottom to move in the same way too. Scarlet enjoyed using this bin as a fire emergency with one of the figures and the fire extinguisher from the cab, I think this was inspired by a recent recycling centre fire which was in the news for several days last month.

Our overall thoughts 

I was really impressed by just how much detail there is in this playmobil set. The City Recycling Truck itself in amazingly detailed, with so many working functions that it makes the pretend play just as exciting as seeing the real recycling workers out collecting the recycling in our city.

The attention to detail even carries over into what the recycling worker figures are wearing, the set includes two removable hats which are both different. Both figure are different too, one is wearing glasses, both figures have different shaped bright orange vest on and their tops are also slightly different with one having black arrow sections. Again Scarlet really liked being able to tell the difference and remember which person she had given which job. 

Although the playmobil City Life range is aimed at children 4 and above, Avery really enjoyed the ability to mimic the actions of the real life recycling workers just as much as Scarlet did. They both benefited from playing with the set in different ways, although you could clearly see where the additional attention to detail in the cab lifting to reveal the engine and the fire extinguisher really added to Scarlet's play where Avery didn't notice these details at all and focused on the ability to recycle with the truck and the bins.

Another big benefit I see is that this is a recycling truck, not a bin truck but it offers the same kind of play. All while also inviting the active speech around recycling and it's importance to the planet. As a household we are always working on being more eco-friendly, which I have shared a lot about on the blog. This play set lets all three children play small world games with the addition of eco-friendly choices, it actively creates good habits in how they recycle. We can add small food, tins and other items from all kinds of sets and talk about if they would be recyclable in the game, why or how they would be recycled and so much more. 

This set is great for individual play however I do think that as a whole it would have much more play value mixed in with bigger sets. We did this by using Avery's playmobil 123 playschool set along with other small world toy sets and the way they played changed immediately, there was conversations with residents of these small homes and someone even forgot to leave the recycling out. Luckily they had nice recycling workers who knocked to ask if it needed emptied! 

The playmobil worlds offer so much play value and I think the new Promo-Packs offer a unique ability to play with one of the many themes without needing extras. I think these packs will be the perfect gifts for children, if they already enjoy playmobil they will have a new additional set, if they are new to playmobil they will have a great starter set. The versatility makes them perfect and I was pleased to see that the range of sets come in a variety of price bands starting at £19.99 through to £39.99 so they can be a great gift for many budgets. I've already seen two of the other sets that I think would be a huge hit in our house, the Mars Expedition and Unicorn Carriage with Pegasus sets. You can see the whole Playmobil Promo-Pack range on their website .

The playmobil City Recycling Truck set is available at most toy stores and on the Playmobil website for £24.99.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

What I read in January 2022 { Monthly Reading Round-up }

Another January has past, last year I started reading again after years of not even picking up a book. Now I have a full bookcase and new goal of 40 books in the year! I didn't manage a huge dent in my to be read pile during January but I got through 4 books. Which is a good start since that would keep me on target before the end of the year. 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig - ★★★★★

My first book of the year was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, it was one I had on my wish list for a lot of last year. So when it was a Christmas present I knew it had to be the next read. I was not disappointed!

Do you have regrets? I don't think there is anyone who can honestly say they have never thought 'what if I had done something different' about a time n their lives. Wondered how different their life would be with the changing of one decision. They may range from small regrets, to large ones or even the all consuming kind that we deeply regret. 

Nora is very familiar with regrets, she is living a life that seems to be full of them. She is completely weighed down by the weight of all the regrets she has about her life and the decisions she has made. Nora thought she had reached rock bottom, until her life gets even worse and soon it was her last day on earth. 

At midnight on her last day she finds herself transported to a library. A very strange library full of green books lining the shelves that Nora can't seem to see the end off. Inside the books lay all the lives that Nora could have ever lived. These lives are running in parallel with each other, following the same time line as her original life. Inside each it is midnight of the same night. 

Nora is given a very unique opportunity,  she can chose to undo any regret and jump into a life where she had chosen a different path. She can see what lives she would be living in that very moment if she'd changed just one decision in her life. The question is can Nora find her best lifetime in which to live her life?

This book was incredible! Although I did guess the end from the beginning the path through the book was so wildly unpredictable that I kept second guessing it. That is the beauty of having infinite possibilities to choose from, you can't begin to guess where those choices would lead. Not only was it a roller coaster of wild changes, it's a pretty hefty emotional one too. I cried before I got 10 pages in! I desperately wanted to be Nora's friend, to give her a hug and help her navigate through The Midnight Library. By the time I reached the middle of the book I have felt every other emotion under the sun and felt more like I was Nora Seed jumping through lives to find the perfect one. 

The Midnight Library has you questioning the very way you think about your regrets, your decisions and how even the smallest of decisions could completely change the path of your life. 

While I don't know if there is a real midnight library awaiting us, I do know that the story hidden in the pages of Matt Haig's book is profound and the even the idea of a Midnight Library could be a much needed light in dark times. 

Good As Dead by Susan Walter -  ★★★☆☆

I then went back to a book I'd started in 2021. I had started this book and then got busy with life, Christmas and everything else in between.

Holly lost her husband. She witnessed the whole event and spent some time recovering from her own injuries in a coma. The hit and run is  set to change her family forever. Someone's lawyer has shown up with an offer that holly and her teenage daughter Savannah just can't refuse, given their current situation. 

The offer is everything they'll ever need, a luxurious house, money, a new neighbourhood and a whole new life to boot. The thing is, simply shoing up in a whole new class of neighbourhood without any history isn't as easy as it seems. The neighbours are interested in the new family on the block but they have a whole host of things they are hiding too. 

While I thought this was an okay book, I struggled with a few issues, the story itself was very very slow. I don't think we needed as much detail in the beginning. The initial struggles of the characters after the accident are important to the story but I think they could have been condensed down a bit with the actual exciting bits and current time events having a longer run I was incredibly disappointed with the end and particularly the time jump. I feel the book would have been better had the time jump not happened and this period was instead a part of the story. 

Starry Nights over the Chocolate Pot Café by Jessica Redland - ★★★★★

I am starting this one off a little differently than the rest, This book needs a trigger warning for sexual exploitation, abuse and grooming of a minor. It also includes child neglect, mental health issues and suicide.

That said, I loved this book, it was not what I was expecting, especially the issues I highlighted above. However this book is actually a romance novel which also features a very independent, successful woman. I enjoyed every single page and would 100% read it all over again. 

Tara Porter see's Christmas as a reminder that she lost her family, while new year holds the bitter memories of her marriage to Garth Tewkesbury. The biggest mistake of her life. Each year Tara finds refuge in her flat, alone with her giant house bunny for company. 

However she loves the festive period in her professional life, as a Café owner, it's the busiest time of year. The Chocolate Pot Café is always packed. This Christmas is set to be the biggest yet since The Chocolate Pot will host both an engagement party and a wedding. Things start to turn rocky when Tara's former nemesis Jed Ferguson shows up and threatens the future of The Chocolate Pot Café. Tara is prepared for a fight, her café means everything to her and she's not about to let anyone take it away from her. 

Since her ex-husband turned out to be completely different than she thought, she has struggled with letting others in. She thinks that if she doesn't let them in then she can't get hurt. The problem is she may have also misjudge Jed, maybe he's not really the arrogant, deceitful man she bought the café from 14 years earlier.  Is it possible?

This book is written so well! The events run in one constant flow with some reminiscing of the past and the events which led Tara Porter to her current situation. Some of these periods are guided by the characters and others happen when Tara is reminded of the past from her possessions etc. This really helps to keep the flow and doesn't provide jumpy chapter changes like other books can. I much prefer this flow as it feels more natural and plausible. 

I think the idea of this small seaside town with a beautiful café and the community that can only be found in a rural place is a wonder place to set a book. It feels like you could almost live in the place yourself and meet all the friendly characters around you. The twists, turns and revelations from the past are heart breaking but they really add to Tara's character. They show a past which helps her grow and gives you a really good idea of who Tara Porter is and how she came to care so much. 

If you enjoy romance novels then you'd love this, I would say to be mindful of the trigger warnings I included before you pick it up as I can see how it could be a hard read for some people. 

Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel  by Ruth Hogan - ★★★★☆

The final book I read in January was Queenie Malones Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan, It was another lovely book which came with some sadness of child neglect and one area had some child abuse included. 

Tilly has just lost her mother, she is starting the process of going through all her mother's belongings and deciding if she wants to live in her mother's flat. During the organising she finds a chest full of her mother's diaries from her childhood. Tilly's childhood was a little different than most, mainly because she played with ghosts and matches. She was fascinated by fizzy drinks, swear words and the catholic church. 

During her childhood Tilly and her mother moved to a different part of the country to live in Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel. Here Tilly has some of the happiest memories of her life, however her mother shattered her life when she sent her away to boarding school. There had never been an explanation. The cruelty Tilly faced from her mother has had a profound effect on her life. Tilly is now an adult with only her dog Eli as a friend. Can Tilly unravel the mysteries around her childhood through the dairies of her dead mother and with the help of Queenie Malone herself? 

This book was wonderful, full as much excitement as it was sorrow. The story follows more than just the unravelling of her mothers decisions and past. It follows Tilly in the present time and shows how she will change by simply knowing her own past from a new perspective. 

There is so much packed into the pages that I don't really know how to say everything without there being spoilers. So instead I am keeping it vague. The story itself follows along a pattern jumping from present to past quite quickly, although there is always a warning since this is mostly done by Tilly reading the diary entries. There are a few exceptions when Tilly herself remembers her own past. The story runs side by side with the past and present seeming like two separate story lines that will at some point meet. 

I did find myself particularly attached to both Tilly and Eli, these characters are so very loveable and Tilly endures a lot in her lifetime, especially in her early childhood. It is these times when the innocence of a child is most compelling. I highly recommend this book, although it's not one I will likely reach for to reread, simply because I feel the first read through would always be better than knowing what's coming next. 

Final round- up thoughts on January's reads

I managed to read a small but somewhat varied selection in January which was refreshing. I noticed that last year I leaned heavily towards thrillers or swung the complete opposite to romance books. I want to read a good mixture this year. I am pleased that January included some great books and hope that 2022 will hold many more great reads. 

I have also decided that during 2022 I am going to try to choose a favourite book from each month's reads. I think being able to look back and see my favourites would be quite nice. 
My favourite book of the month has to be Starry Skies over the Chocolate Pot Cafe by Jessica Redland. 

What did you read during January and do you have a favourite?

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Our Top Ten Eco Swaps from 2021 that will continue into 2022

*This post contains some products that have been previously gifted to us.* 

*Their inclusion is entirely my decision and not a paid for promotion. Items are marked with a (*). *

 In the beginning of a New Year a lot of people take a look at what they want to change this year. While many people use this time to create personal goals, I think it's important to also make Eco goals. You don't need to make huge eco goals but just changing one small thing can actually help you be a lot more eco friendly.

Last January I set myself an eco challenge to make at least one eco-swap every month. It's been a whole year and I can happily say that we actually made quite a few more, some have been a huge hit while others have been a complete failure. Today I am rounding up our top 10 swaps that I love, use regularly and that we will continue using during 2022. 

1. Biodegradable bin bags*

When I first began the challenge last year I had never come across Biodegradable bin bags. They aren't sold in shops and actually they aren't really talked about. However I wanted to stop putting all our rubbish inside plastic to dispose of it! If you really think about it, we're using new plastic to ditch our old stuff, it's utter nonsense. So I knew finding an alternative was something I needed to do. 

Which is just what I did, I found some biodegradable bags on SaveMoneyCutCarbon from Waste Not, they are very similar to the familiar biodegradable bags for the local composting boxes used in the UK. I loved that we could ditch black plastic bags and use a much more eco-friendly option. Using them over the month we found they can hold the same amount of rubbish as the bags we normally used and so they fit all our bins well too. However we found that they are much easier to tear with normal rubbish, especially any with sharp edges so they haven't been as strong as we are used to. Which is not a big problem but one which we knew wouldn't work for our family life. 

The next month we received another set of Biodegradable bin bags from a new brand at SaveMoneyCutCarbon, which is Eco Zone. These bags are actually very different to the Waste Not bags, they are a white colour and made of a thicker material so I find they are less likely to rip. I also like that the Eco Zone biodegradable bin bags have a drawstring tie, which is the style of bag we used before too. So we will be sticking with the Eco Zone biodegradable bin bags during 2022 but if we cannot get hold of them at any time I know we can fall back on the Waste Not bags too. 

The Eco Zone biodegradable bin bags are just £6.95 for 20 bags, while the Waste Not biodegradable bin bags are £2.85 for 10 bags, both are available at SaveMoneyCutCarbon.

2. Stasher Bags*

Having never heard of Stasher Bags before this year I can safely say they became a fast favourite! The bags are so versatile that they actually helped us to ditch a few products. The biggest being cling film, since the bags do well in freezing temperatures we can even use them to store things in the freezer. The added perk is that we can also use them to defrost food in, then you can cook the food inside too! They are literally perfect for meal prepping or left overs since it's all in one bag so you don't need several dishes, plastic food bags or even Tupperware. Just a Stasher Bag from start to finish. 

The Stasher bags have also helped us to ditch most of our tin foil usage, since the bags can be popped into the oven and used to cook foods inside we find that we don't need tin foil nearly as much. They also come in handy for days out to contain the foods we take with us, everything from sandwiches to pasta dishes and even kids snacks like nut mix or cereal for on the go have been enjoyed from our Stasher Bags this year. 

They also come in a large range of sizes from snack sizes to large family meal sized Stasher Bags. All the Stasher Bag sizes are available from SaveMoneyCutCarbon from £9.60.

3. OceanSaver Eco Drop *

These little drops had been our first swap of 2021, I included them in our original post for the eco swap challenge. It is also one of most used swaps since I have used the OceanSaver cleaning products more than once every day this year! I have loved them, being able to ditch the plastic bottles as well as the carbon footprint from the shipping of water has been great. I am happy with how well they all clean. 

The only downside I have noticed with OceanSaver Eco Drops is that because these products are plant based, they do go bad, eventually. We probably wouldn't have run into this issue if we bought only the specific products we use regularly. However I initially bought a set to try the different products out and the window cleaner sat in our cupboard for over 7 months. Not because we don't clean the windows, I use a cloth and wiper system which works best with normal dish soap and water in a container to dip the device into. The cleaner is handy for TV's etc but unless you use it regularly it will start to mould.

Other than being mindful of the products you will use and the longevity of the bottle of products you do need I highly recommend making the switch to OceanSaver Eco Drops. You find out a lot more about these in my Eco-friendly swaps challenge post from last year.

You can purchase OceanSaver Eco Drops from Amazon, SaveMoneyCutCarbon, Tesco and more

4. Glass Cleaning Spray Bottles

While I made the switch of our cleaning products I had decided I may as well swap our bottles out and eliminate the plastic all together. So I picked up these bottles from Poundland during their new year event where lots of bamboo and glass products seem to be on our shelves. I have not seen these again this year and actually have found they don't hold the amount I need for the eco drops, I have found some amber glass spray bottles online which hold 1 litre so this year we will be moving over to those sometime soon. We will either keep our current bottles shown above or we will give them to a friend/ family member who can use them. 

You can purchase the amber glass 1 litre bottle from Ampulla from £3.35 per bottle.

5. Patch Biodegradable Plasters *

For years I have thought that using fabric plasters was enough to help combat the plastic that most plasters include, so when I found out that actually even the fabric kind are made of plastic I was astonished. I had Patch Biodegradable Plasters on my to swap list ever since then. They are completely plastic free, hypoallergenic and made of Bamboo. They also last so much longer than regular plasters do when they are used. We put them to the ultimate test of a beach day over the summer and they lasted an entire beach day and the only time we managed to defeat the durability was after an entire day spent in our pool. 

I shared a lot more information about these in our post about the 7 Eco bathroom products you never knew you needed back in September. 

The Patch Biodegradable Plasters are another product available from SaveMoneyCutCarbon for £6.75.

6. Soda Stream Spirit machine 

I was really lucky to have won our Soda Stream Spirit Machine this year and it has been put to good use in our house. The machine means we can ditch plastic bottles from fizzy drinks and water without having to give up the fizzy drinks we love. You simply fill up the bottle to the water line on each bottle and you put it on the machine. Once attached you can press the button on top to release the gas into the water and make it fizzy, then you can add in your drink syrup if you wish. 

We have found we use this quite regularly, maybe not daily but at least twice a week It is great for ditching plastic bottles on the go when you prefer a fizzy drink over still drinks/ water. It also reduces the carbon footprint of your drinks since your not trying to ship water around the world for each bottle. 

The one downfall is that of course there is still waste, especially if your using the syrup. However the gas canisters are recycled and filled up again when you exchange them for a part payment on the new canister so your not wasting those. Plus the plastic bottles the syrup comes in are recyclable and reduce your plastic waste considerably when each bottle contains enough to make up to 9 litres of drink when added to your water. A considerable reduction in plastic waste if you bought the regular bottled drinks.

The Soda Stream Spirit machine is available from most retailers including Argos, Amazon, John-Lewis, SaveMoneyCutCarbon and of course SodaStream from £49.99.

7. Period Pants/ reusable pads

Okay so this one I am not as confident with but it is one I plan to really work on more this year. Ditching plastic in your period. is actually really easy, well it is when you have a normal period cycle. There are plenty of options available from reusable pads to period cups that replace tampons. I am not a tampon user so I tried out some period pants and reusable pads. I had planned to try them over the whole year. However I have had hell with my period in the last year. My cycle lasted almost the entire year and I used period products for every day of that. 

Unfortunately it wasn't always the reusable kind of products, however there was actually an advantage to this. Which starts with the realisation that I hate disposable period products! They feel uncomfortable, stick to your body and there was always more blood when I have to use the disposable kind, not to mention the increase in cramps. So I am very sure that this year I will completely ditch the plastic for the reusable options available. 

My everlasting period also gave me the insight into how long some products will last, even being reusable. I was able to see the length of the usage I can get from each, particularly my ModiBodi period pants which are now in a state of needing replaced. I pushed a few past their limits and I know my own flow better than I ever have. I also know that both period pants and pads give you different benefits so I will probably be sticking to both. I shared more information on the ModiBodi Period pants back in 2020 

I also plan to share more about the move to a plastic free period this year. 

You can purchase ModiBodi Period Pants from £14.50

8. Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

Another big change this year has been that we are starting to swap out our shampoo and conditioner to use bars instead of bottles. For the most part, we actually had to pause this swap after I found 4 bottles hidden in the back of our cupboard. 

However for the biggest part of the year we had made the switch over to both shampoo and conditioner bars. I choose to swap to The Little Goat Soap Company Goats Milk and Neem Oil Shampoo Bar and the Alter Native Natural Patchouli and Sandalwood conditioner bar. We went with both of these as I have very sensitive skin on my scalp and suffer from Psoriasis. These bars seemed to have the best reviews from other sufferers. 

Everyone else in our house is also trying out one of the Grum shampoo bars, they seem to be finding it very good too. I haven't tried it yet due to my Psoriasis but I plan to soon. I think we have the anti-dandruff bar but they offer bars for all hair types. 

We have all loved these two products and they smell amazing too! Our hair has been very healthy, the conditioner bar has helped give our hair much more nutrients. Our hair all seems to be stronger and in better condition. I have noticed a big improvement in my Psoriasis too so these will both be something that comes back once we have made it through the shampoo and conditioner we have stocked up. 

You can purchase The Little Goat Soap Company Shampoo for £5.43 and the Alter Native Conditioner bar for £5.45 or the Grum Shampoo Bar from £8

9. Bamboo Make Up remover pads *

I've made more than one personal change this year but another of my favourites has certainly been ditching cotton pads to remove my make-up and use skincare products. I did speak a little bit about the benefits in our post about the bathroom swaps you never knew you needed last year you fancy finding out more about these nifty little pads.

The basic jist is that we can ditch the disposable cotton pads by simply swapping them for a washable version which is much more planet friendly! I now have two sets because it's a swap I made near the start of the year with a small business purchase and one which was a product gifted to us by SaveMoneyCutCarbon in a Planet Positive box. I am glad I have two sets as it means I always have a clean set, I usually forget to wash them until I have run out of new pads in the pot I use to store them (usually a weeks supply). So knowing I still have a clean set is always handy for me. 

The other set I have is similar to the Bambaw ones with the same softer pads and rougher pads for better scrubbing of stubborn make up etc. They also have their own net wash bag which I actually hang from out pull out mirror, above the sink in the bathroom for easy access while washing my face. If you do a regular skincare routine or wear make-up regularly then this is a great swap for you to make. The bamboo is super absorbent too.

You can purchase both of the sets I own, one is the Bambaw reusable make-up pads from SaveMoneyCutCarbon for £11.30 and the other is Full Mellow Make Up Remover Pads, I cannot find these available online to customers that aren't retail but I will check back and update when the UK site is relaunched. 

10. ecoegg Dryer Egg *

The final swap included in my top ten swaps of 2021 is the ecoegg Dryer Egg. These two egg shaped devices have changed how we use our tumble dryer. They work by helping dry your clothes faster while also filling the job of a tumble dryer sheet with their little sticks that pop inside the egg with various scents. I have shared a lot more about these in my How to cut down your waste by changing your washing routine.

I love how simple but effective these dryer eggs are, you can just put them in your dryer with every wash and save with your electric use. Plus your washing smells great while being dried faster. What is not to love about that? 

The ecoegg Dryer Egg £9.99 and the Refills £5.95 are available from SaveMoneyCutCarbon.  

Have you made any Eco-friendly swaps in the last year? 

Which have been your favourite? 

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

What I read in the last half of 2021 and my reading goals of 2022

 I never quite got around to sharing all the books I read at the end of 2021. I got as far as May which was the best month for me when it comes to reading. I thought I should get this year finished up and aim for a better upkeep on my What I read posts for 2022 because I hope to stay more on top of things this year. 

So in from June through to November I managed to read a total of 15 books which is pretty reasonable. I did enjoy most of these reads although there was one or two I didn't enjoy so much.

The Spark by Jules Wake - ★★★★☆

Jess and Sam are falling for each other, fast. The problem is Sam left his girlfriend but she just won't leave him. Jess is left feeling like she is the other woman in her relationship, despite Sam being single. Between Sam's Ex and the curve balls being thrown at them from everywhere else, the question is can love at first sight stand the test of life?

I enjoyed this read, it was fast paced, kept me intrigued and had me engaged with every emotion the character as going through. I did find the story a little predictable and was able to guess the end but with rom-coms we all know it'll be a happy one. I did get surprised by one or two of the plot twists so it still felt exciting. 

I laughed, cried, shouted in joy and was angry for Jess when everything happened to her and Sam. It felt like I was living the whole thing with her. Which I think proves that Jules Wake is a wonderful writer, being able to immerse yourself into the story effortlessly is not always guaranteed when you open a book. 

That Night by Gillian McAllister - ★★★★★

If you only decide to read one book this year and you love a good psychological thriller, this is the one you should read. 

One terrible phone call, on one normal family holiday to Croatia could change the lives of an entire family. Cathy's sister Frannie has killed a man with her car, it was an accident and she didn't really mean to. However Frannie has a son and is desperate to not end up in a foreign jail away from him. So Frannie is asking the ultimate question of her sister, will Cathy help her to cover it up?  Things start to get entirely more complicated when the police start asking questions, their lies begin to grow and the doubt starts setting in between the sisters. How will this secret affect their sisterly bond?

I know this book was really popular right as it launched but it took me months to get around to reading it. I kept doubting the hype and I had never read any of Gillian McAllister books so I didn't know what to expect. However the opening line of ' "Help me, please help me" I say into the phone. ' had me hooked. I come from a big family and the entire idea of a family hiding a murder for a sister is something I could see being an automatic reaction. Especially in a family as close as this. However the story really lies in the aftermath, the guilt and the dishonesty which slowly changes the very people these characters are. The death of one person creates a whole list of dominoes which will mean life must keep moving if a secret is ever to stay hidden. 

 I absolutely loved it, every word on every page. 

I was unable to put it down, I read cover to cover without even a break because I simply had to know what came next. I found the entire book to be totally unpredictable and it was this which really kept me entranced because anything could have came in the next chapter. I am officially a huge fan of Gillian McAllister and will always be on the lookout for the next books, as well as going back to read all her previous releases. 

Truth and Lies, The Secret Child, Left for Dead and Flesh and Blood by Caroline Mitchell - ★★★★★

I absolutely loved this series of books by Caroline Mitchell, each book connects to the next so I am going to give a brief outline on the entire series without giving away any spoilers.

Truth and Lies:

DI Amy Winter aspires to follow in her father's footsteps to be a well respected police officer. However one letter is about to tear her whole life apart with the revelations it hides inside. 

The letter has come from the cell of Lillian Grimes. One half of a famous husband and wife serial killer duo. They'd been responsible for some horrible murders, Lillian is a psychopath and it turns out that Amy is her daughter. After all these years Lillian claims she is ready to share the location of the three remaining victims. The only catch is that Amy must play along with the twisted game Lillian wants to play. 

While the search for the three bodies of her mother's missing victims gets underway, Amy must face the reality of her own memories and the past she has buried and forgotten.

The Secret Child:

Ellen, a four year old has been taken in the middle of the night by a stranger. Her mother has received four vials along with a note written in familiar handwriting. She knows that one vial will be poison and to free her daughter she needs to drink one. This will mean the kidnapper will tell the police where Ellen is. The sender is claiming to be the dead man Luka Volkov, he died in a fire which still haunts everyone involved. 

Amy Winter must find the victim and starts a race against time when another victim goes missing. Although she is still reeling from the revelation that she's the daughter of a serial killer, she might have to ask for help from the one person she never wants to. 

Left for Dead: 

A beautiful Valentine's window display has caught DI Amy Winter's eye on a shopping trip. A perfect bride in a diamond encrusted lace dress, sits upon a throne. All is not what it seems when Amy notices blood trickling from the mouth of the mannequin. The post mortem reveals the victim was left to die on the 'throne'. 

Things become ever more urgent when a second victim shows up and they both have a connection to the 'Sugar babes' site, where the women  have been arranging dates with older men. While trying to track down the killer, Amy is faced with her own senses going crazy after the owner of the staging agency gets overly excited about the fact Amy is the daughter of two notorious killers. He is fascinated by the connection and when a third victim goes missing Amy breaks the police procedure, but is she in as much danger as the others without realising? All while battling the fact her mother, Lillian Grimes is trying to appeal her conviction.

Flesh and Blood:

A string of suicides is happening at various seaside resorts when a police officer is named as the latest victim DI Amy Winter suspects there may be more than coincidences going on. However what is it that is causing all these people to throw themselves into the freezing North Sea?

Nobody seems willing to help Amy solve the mystery, however a small group of teenagers may end up being the key she needs to discover what is going on. Why then can't she get them to open up, why are they so afraid to talk? 

What is it that is so terrible it is worth killing off a police officer over and can Amy finally confront her past?

I have to say I loved this whole series, I really struggled to get through the books. Which looking back now would have been a very easy fix had I not been so stubborn. I didn't read the books, I listened to the audio books, which is a first for me. A first which I won't be repeating because I hated the voice of the voice actor and I felt like I wasn't enjoying the books themselves. Well until I realised I couldn't leave them not knowing what happened next in the series and how DI Amy Winter would solve the cases. I was hooked! 

These books are on my list to reread which I plan to do as soon as the next book is about to come out. I think I will love the books even more since I feel they certainly deserve a 5 star rating despite the experience I had with my dislike of the voice actor and their job of portraying the book. I highly recommend the series which is full of plot twists, exciting and equally frustrating crime from a perspective of the police service when your the child of a convicted murderer. It is a very unique perspective which isn't seen often but it absolutely wonderful anyway. 

Finn by Melody Anne - ★★★☆☆

Finn is a military veteran who doesn't want to live the life of ease and luxury even though he has the means to. Although this suddenly gets a whole lot harder when he and his four brothers find out they are long lost relatives of  the famous and extremely wealthy Joseph Anderson. 

Joseph has a new project for the four brothers, one which is very close to their hearts, he wants them to build a veterans centre. Finn doesn't want an easy life and so he's determined not to have one, however he's not expecting to meet Brooke at a self defence class he's teaching. She catches I'm off guard when she literally sweeps him off his feet. 

Finn knows that he wants to be with Brooke and he's not willing to compromise. The problem is Brooke is still heartbroken over the loss of her brother and she doesn't feel she'll ever be ready to love anyone again, never mind letting herself love Finn and risk losing him. 

Can the two get their lives together and deal with their issues before they lose each other?

I was actually enjoying reading this book until I realised I really didn't love it as much as I have loved the other series by Melody Anne about this wonderful Anderson family. While Finn is a great stand alone book I struggled with keeping it separate from the main and then extended Anderson family books. This one in comparison has been knocked down a notch. 

The story is still good, I just wanted it to be better I guess. I attempted to read the next book in this series and spent a month getting through four chapters before I finally declared it my first ever did not finish. It was heart breaking to do it when she is one of my favourite authors.  

The Harry Potter books (all 7) by JK Rowling - ★★★★★

I am not going to be going into great detail about the synopsis of each book since they are famous the world over. 

The series follows the teenage life of Harry Potter, an orphan who lives with his Aunt, Uncle and Cousin who have mistreated him since he was left on their doorstop as baby. As his 11th Birthday comes up, Harry Potter is about to have his life changed forever by the revelation that he is actually a wizard and has been given a place at Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry. We follow Harry as he discovers, not only is he a wizard but he is a famous one. He is the one who defeated The Dark Lord. However Lord Voldemort is not as truly gone as the magical world believe and through the entire series we see Harry and his best friends Ron & Hermione fight off the evil wizards and Lord Voldemort himself. The whole wizarding world could be in jeopardy. 

I am a Potter head but I am ashamed to say this was my first time reading the last two books. In my childhood I adored Harry Potter and read the books as they released until the Half Blood Prince which came out during my teenage years. I am not really sure why I didn't read the last two books but I have watched the films on a yearly basis for all my adult life so I knew what happens. However the books are always better so with the 20th anniversary of The Philosophers Stone Movie release in 2022 I decided it was time to read the whole series. 

I was not disappointed, rereading the books gave me a whole new appreciation of the magical world unlocked by the Harry Potter series. It was truly magical to rediscover the missing elements inside the books which the films left out. It was also a great experience to read these books alongside my own son who is at the age I was when I first read the books. I blew his mind by telling him I was his age when J.K. Rowling was still writing the series! Cool mum points earned from that one haha. 

If by any chance you've never read the Harry Potter series but are a magical book fan then you certainly should add the collection to your to be read pile immediately. 

By the end of 2021 I had read a total of 36 books and smashed my original goal of 20! So for 2022 I want to up the stakes and have doubled my goal to 40, which is just 4 more than I read this year but still feels like it's a good stretch to push myself towards. Maybe I'll even hit it early.

You can keep up with what I am reading by following me on Goodreads.

Or why not stay up to date with more than just my reading over on my Instagram. 

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