Thursday, 11 February 2021

What I read in January 2021 {Monthly Book Round-up}

At the start of the year I shared that one of my hopes was to read more books. I set myself the challenge of reading 30 books in 2021. Now that doesn't really sound like an awful lot does it? Well to me it is, I haven't had time to finish a book since having m  y third baby almost two years ago. I was very worried about setting a goal that was so unachievable to me in my head. So I started out small with just two and a half books a month to be read through the whole year, just to see what was really achievable for my life right now. I plan to share all of my books and ratings  / brief reviews in a monthly round-up post all through the year.

 I'm just going to say it now, as it will quickly become apparent as we go along these monthly round-ups this year, I have a very, eclectic taste in books. I like almost all genres and usually those I don't like are simply ones I have never read before. I also tend to bounce to and from genres whenever I feel like it, I enjoy everything from young adult, rom-coms, full on romance, erotica, biography's, diary's, thriller books, fantasy and basically everything in between. So I have no doubt that throughout this year I will cover many genres, titles and styles of writing which really excites me! 



I really surprised myself by reading 4, yes four whole books in January, well I finished one at 2am on February 1st so I am counting it! I have really loved getting back into the world of books, I love the world created by authors and captured in the pages of a book. 

The four books I read in January 2021 were:  

Lockdown Parenting Fails by Nathan Joyce. 

★★★★★

I had never read a book composed entirely of tweets without any story to it, I quite liked that shortened ability to stop mid page or grab a few page while the children had been busy. It is a collection of tweets from during the first lockdown back in March 2020, the book is sorted into categories with tweets falling under those categories in each section. I particularly enjoyed the Home Schooling tweets. Nathan Joyce really sets down just how crazy this current world we are living in has been for parents in a hilarious and relatable way. 


A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson 

★★★★☆



Eve is a young woman who has suffered a hard childhood and the loss of her greatest love. As a result of her heartbreaking past she hates Christmas, I can't really blame her after all her mother put Eve through with her drug filled lifestyle. Eve was still surrounded by loving family members, aunts and cousins who lived normal lives and cared deeply for their children which showed, especially around Christmas. Eve's great aunt dies, she had been popping by almost every week for years now and expects to be left a locket in her will. She is going to discover that she's actually been left an entire Christmas theme park, a secret fortune her aunt never told anyone about and she is to finish the whole project with the help of Jacques Glace, a stranger who she has never even heard of before. Why would her great aunt leave him half her fortune?

I really enjoyed this read, it was easy to get through. The story was engaging and I was desperate to know exactly who Jacques Glace is. I felt sorry for Eve through most of the story although she seemed a tad selfish and broken compared to the whole host of other characters in the story. The story is told through the view of 3 different people and it regularly jumps between them although it is very easy to follow and keep track of. It would make a good Valentine's read.


The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland 

★★★★★


Tessa, a grief stricken mother who lost one her twins at birth and the other just a few years later has been living in an all consuming state of grief for over a year. It caused her marriage to break down and her job to be lost. However her life is turned upside down one Sunday night after visiting her children's graves. Tessa returns to her big empty house to find Harry, a 5 year old boy sat in her kitchen with no real explanation of how he got there. He asks "Are you my mummy?" And tells her that an angel brought him to her and they travelled by bus. The trouble really begins when Tessa phones the police to help her return Harry to his parents. Everyone around her starts to question if Tessa really took the small boy over her grief at losing her own son. There are even points when Tessa herself doubts her sanity and questions if she could have taken Harry.
Will she have the strength to confront her own past, along with the present lives of the people in her life including her Scott, her husband and find out the truth about who is lying and why?

I loved this book, I simply couldn't put it down, I finished the book in around 9 hours although I have no doubt it would have been faster had I not had 3 children at home all day too. I was entirely enthralled after the first several pages. I can honestly say I felt every emotion you can imagine through this book despite Tessa's truly harrowing story, there was happy moments, sadness, betrayal and ever other emotion we can go through. 
The whole book is written in a way that feels so real, very raw and openly emotional at ever turn. Even I had to question if I thought Tessa had stolen Harry or not.  Shalini Boland is an exceptional writer that really brings everything to life in a way that seems so real and as if your caught up in this story yourself. The story is told through the view of Tessa and we see her inner struggle with her grief, her reality and sometimes with her own mind.
 I will say that I had guessed the ending by around half way through but it honestly didn't put me off reading at all, I still wanted to find out every twist and turn on the way! 

I highly recommend as it is definitely worth a read. 


This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay  

★★★★☆

A real recounting of life as Junior Doctor in the NHS, this is a non- fiction book that is really the diary of Adam Kay in his first and only years as a Doctor. We all count on the NHS day in and day out, it keeps us alive and helps to look after us when we need them most. However Adam Kay opens our eyes to the reality of life behind the front line of the NHS when it comes to the doctors we trust with our life. 
I enjoyed the book, it's set like a dairy and I imagine quite similar to the actual diaries which Adam kept during this time. IT shares the good, the bad and very ugly stories and realities that many of us don't even think about. IT really is an eye opening book and worth the read. I think I had this one particularly hyped up in my mind because it got glowing reviews of an absolute must read last year and it just didn't live up to my expectation which is why I gave it 4 stars. 


I'm officially in love with reading again, January has shown me that I can enjoy a few chapters here and there without having to plough through entire books in one sitting. I'm really excited to keep reading and seeing what I will read this year.

What did you read in January?


Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Our Favourite Book - A Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies

 We are truly in mid winter, at the beginning of February which as usual marks National Storytelling Week here in the UK. As the seasons cycle through we always make sure to keep at least one seasonal themed book in our bookcase. It's not often that a book focused on a particular season has been the favourite for the month. In fact I am pretty sure this is the first time.

Our favourite book of January was A Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies, it's a follow up book that comes after A Storm Whale in Winter. This is a story about a boy named Noi who lives beside the sea. He spends his days walking along the beach hoping to catch sight of his whale friend, who he saved back in spring after it beached on the sand. The story is set as winter creeps in and the sea begins to freeze. A winter storm rolls in that will bring the two back together for another adventure but who will save the other this time?


I can honestly say that The Storm Whale in Winter is a story we all enjoyed this last month. It is perfect for all ages, it's a good length with just enough words on each page to keep Scarlet interested while not being too short for Dylan. The story itself follows a friendship and bond built on care and kindness but it's not always smooth sailing. However that doesn't stop Noi and the whale from helping each other in tough times.



Benji Davies isn't only the writer for A Storm Whale in Winter but he also Illustrated the entire book. I have found that nobody can illustrate a book quite like the author, there is a very unique quality that brings the book to life just as he saw it while writing. It is a quality that really shows through in the illustrations. The Storm Whale in Winter is full of beautiful images created in a nice soft and muted tone produced by the whiteness of a winter storm but it has also kept such beautiful bright colours too. It mixes with nice softened edges to the work and shows plenty of details in each page. 


I think this is a great book on friendship, a winter storm on the sea, belief in the people around us and creating lasting bonds. As I said the story is one that we have all loved and I can imagine it will be loved for a long time yet. It is a nice story to enjoy particularly at bedtime when we all sit together to look and read. 

You can purchase A Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies at Amazon for £5.34


Monday, 1 February 2021

Growing up too fast {Our Ordinary Moments}

 Life during a pandemic seems like a never ending cycle of doing the same thing every day and expecting different results, they call that the definition of madness right? There are some points where it really feels like madness.

 Another thing you'll stop noticing is the little changes, usually your surrounded by people cooing and ahhing over babies, toddlers and children in general getting comment on just how big they are getting or how they've changed. These comments happen often enough that you see the changes in little stages, although it still feels like they are growing up too fast. With the complete absence of other people around us I haven't noticed many changes this last few months, longer hair, outgrowing clothes and that's about where it stops. 

A toddler boy is sat on a black and blue gamer style high backed deck chair in a lounging position with his right leg raised up, his foot sitting flat on the seat, his left foot is resting on top with his black and blue sock sole visable. He is wearing a light blue soft fabric trouser with a grey top featuring two immitaion braces in blue and black stripes. The top also has a fabric blue bow tie attached near the neckline. He is also wearing a soft grey hat that sits above his eyebrows, covers his ears and bunches around the back of his head in a sloutch style. The boys eyes are closed and his face is looking to the left.

This week however I think we hit a wall when suddenly all my children look an entire year older in just a few days. Their faces have changed, grown, started to look more grown up, their hands are bigger, arms longer, they seem taller and so much more. It feels like it's just jumped out of nowhere and hit me in the face! They are all growing up too fast. The biggest change of course being seen in Avery who seems to truly have advanced from baby to toddler at a speedy rate. I seem to have been in denial about it now for almost an entire year!

A toddler boy is stood holding on to the back of a black and blue gamer style high backed chair . He is wearing a light blue soft fabric trouser with a grey top .  He is also wearing a soft grey hat that sits above his eyebrows, covers his ears and bunches around the back of his head in a slouch style. The boyhas his head turned to look at the camera with a huge happy smile on his face..

During this month he's been walking freely, without any help around our area, in the snow and over uneven ground. He's climbing stairs without need for any help, he's opening up doors by using the handles and he's even sure of what he wants, despite not communicating any of it with us in words. It seems like he's quite suddenly grown up so much and I just missed it despite being here for almost every second of the last year. 

I took the photos featured in this weeks post when Avery was desperately trying to play and join in during our morning school work session at the table. He'd pushed Simon's gaming chair over and was sat with the cool dude hat each child has taken their turn at nicking on Simon through their lives. He sat laughing, chilling and having fun. All while I tried to flail through the work needing completed when it hit me, he's almost two and he looks like he is a proper toddler. No more babies in this house. At which point I snuck to our bathroom and cried.

Have you had any sudden moments when you notice huge changes in the people around you during the last year?

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