Monday, 2 May 2016

Monthly Recap: April




What I've been up to.

Hi guys, sorry for the mini disappearance, I've just been swamped with work, and then just too tired to want to do anything, gym seems to be taking up my entire life right now, and the thing is I actually love going and it doesn't feel like a chore either, I also bought a fitbit watch, so love upping my steps and taking part in challenges, I actually took part in a workweek hustle, which was so good, but super tiring, but that hasn't put me off as I'm taking part in another one starting today! Wish me luck! 

I tried to be super healthy this month too, and even going out to get some recipe books, and whereas some of my recipes turned out amazing, like my almond butter cookies, some didn't. But of course I had to treat myself occasionally when I had been so good with Zizzi's chocolate praline and sea salt torte!




We've also had a few early celebrations in the city with our football team Leicester so close to winning the Premier League, I've loved the vibe in the city, with everyone going all out last Friday and backing the Blues. But one of my favourite places Bru of course went all out with their celebrations!







What I've been watching. 


My sister and cousins have been harping on about this show for ages, and where I thought it's not usually my sort of show I kind of got hooked in the first season and I although I still don't absolutely love it, I'm one of those people that need to know how things are going to end up for this cast. And who knew 50 Cent could act? Although I didn't like him at first, and he still sort of creeps me out in this show, he's kind of grown on me! 



Music I've been listening to.





Sia ft Sean Paul - Cheap Thrills

I've become such a huge fan of Sia's music these last couple of months, and any collaboration with Sean Paul I will be a fan of!






Alessia Cara - Here 

For ages I didn't know who this song was by, I kept hearing it everytime I went to the gym and went out and my sister was finally able to find out who it was by!



Reading

Number of books read:

Best read of last month: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. I finally got around to reading this monster of a book and it was definitely worth it, I'm sort of sad that I have to say goodbye to these characters that I've become so close with.


Three Books I'm looking forward to reading next month. 
(Click on Book for Goodreads link). 


These are three books which I've been highly anticipating all year, and I'm thrilled that they're all released within a few days of each other, I already have my copies of The Rose & the Dagger and The Unexpected Everything and I just can't wait until I have a few spare moments to get stuck in! 


Next month will be full of wonderful things, I'll be going to a chocolate workshop with Allie where we get to make our own chocolates and truffles and learn about the history of chocolate and its also the first time that Allie will be visiting me, so here's hoping we get up to the usual amount of fun and shenanigans we do when I go and visit her. Also May marks the final month of my sister's degree, so we'll be celebrating with massages, food and new haircuts! I can't wait. Also the last week of May will be my cousin's wedding, it will be a weeklong celebration, of partying, dancing and catching up with family! I hope you all have a wonderful month! 


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts #5


Both Jasprit and I are trying to get a little healthier, and more active so we're tracking our progress through #FitReaders down below. It's a check in that helps keep us motivated to keep active. But also we wanted to share what we're reading and a little of what's going on in our lives by participating in Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts hosted by Bookishly Boisterious.  So here we go!

 Rachel:
What I've been reading:
(click on title for Goodreads link)

Happiness for Beginners A Virgin River Christmas (Virgin River, #4)

Worth It All (The McKinney Brothers, #3)

I finished Happiness For Beginners, and while I loved the audio narration, the story, although funny,  was a little frustrating to me.  The romance was lacking as the couple was at odds for most of the book, and there was a third wheel/red herring in the mix. I personally like more couple time in a romance, and any hint at a love triangle gives me hives. So, yeah, not what I was hoping for. I loved A Virgin River Christmas, and I want to see more of Marcie and Ian in the future. I'll be starting Worth It All next week and I'm completely looking forward to it as I LOVED the first two books in the series.

Jasprit:


Once again I've either not had much time to read or not been feeling any books, so the reason I've only read the above two books in the last two weeks! Dream of Gods and Monsters was a mammoth of a book, but it was such a brilliant read, the world that Taylor created was exquisite, I can't wait to read what Taylor comes up with next!


What we've been up to:

Rachel:
I had an eventful weekend and my diet was less than perfect. I kind of ate just about anything I wanted.  On the plus side, I did walk a lot.  Look at the beautiful fish from this weekend! The California Science Center had an amazing aquarium complete with colorful, and then downright bizarre looking fish! Had a great time! 
 


Jasprit:

In trying to keep up with healthy snacking I discovered Pumpkin Tree Toasted Oat crush, its a mix of oats and fruit snacks, perfect for on the go and healthy with no added sugar, the lovely team at Pumpkin Tree were generous enough to send me some samples below, and let me just say they were delicious! I'm trying to make the most of these healthy weeks, as I'll be going to a chocolate making workshop in a few weeks with Allie and I can't wait!





#FitReaders is hosted by Jen @That's What I'm Talking About and Felicia @TheGeekyBlogger.

Here's our progress for the last week:

Rachel:
Kris invited Jasprit and I into a Workweek Challenge along with several other Fitbit users and I've been busting my butt to keep up! It's great because I really splurged and ate whatever I wanted this last weekend so the challenge has made me work off all those extra calories!

Thursday: 14,570  steps
Friday:   11,443 steps
Saturday:  13,206 steps
Sunday:  10,051 steps
Monday:  18,624 steps 
Tuesday:  21,745 steps 
Wednesday: 17,539 steps 
Total steps:   107,178 steps

Jasprit:

I took part in my first workweek hustle this week and let me just say it was a killer! It was great in pushing myself to hit my step goal (every day so far), but with going to the gym too, I've been dead on my feet by the evening, plus these ladies in the challenge are killing it with the steps! I also decided to buy some more gym related things, so that I could do more at home, I bought some weights, resistance bands, a slam ball and a foam roller, the foam roller has been great to use so far. Who would have thought that I would get so excited gym goodies!


Thursday: 7,866 steps
Friday: 9,807 steps
Saturday: 7,432 steps 
Sunday: 6,702 steps
Monday: 11,813 steps (when the weekday hustle kicked off!)
Tuesday: 12,609 steps
Wednesday: 18,289  steps
Total steps: 74,518 steps

Monday, 25 April 2016

Review & Excerpt: 'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick
Publisher: Berkely
Publication date: April 19th 2016
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Audible

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her
The author of the New York Times bestseller Garden of Lies returns to Victorian London in an all-new novel of deadly obsession.

Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.

Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.

But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker...
 


My Thoughts:
Calista Langley is quite the modern woman in the Victorian era earning a living, because circumstances have made it a necessity.  Losing her parents and her grandmother she’s had to find a way to make ends meet.  Running an introduction service for respectable gentlemen and women has done quite well for her and her brother Andrew.  Unfortunately, Calista has become a target of some pretty creepy gifts; gifts of morning, usually meant for someone who has already died, a memento to be buried with.  What’s even more disturbing is that Calista’s initials have been inscribed on these morbid gifts.  Could it be that she’s attracted the attention of a madman, or is this just some disgruntled rejected client?  Calista finds herself turning to Trent Hastings, a successful mystery writer for help and advice.

At first Trent is very suspicious of Calista’s business enterprise since his younger sister, Eudora, has sought out Calista’s services.  He’s worried that Calista is just a fraud looking to make money off lonely spinsters. Meeting Calista changes his views and he is immediately drawn to her spunk and tenacity.  Trent is more than willing to help when he learns about Calista’s stalker, and it’s a good thing because the situation is far more dangerous than they suspected. 

I’ve always been drawn to mysteries, with a little romance, of course, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part sucked me right in.  It was action packed, full of danger, well paced, and had a very creepy vibe, reminiscent of film noir.  I think it’s best to say as little as possible with a mystery so as not to give anything away, but it definitely held my attention.  


 

 
Excerpt:


She belonged to him.
    He was locked inside a cage the size and shape of a coffin. A dark thrill heated his blood like a powerful, intoxicating drug.
    When the time came he would purify the woman and cleanse himself with her blood. But tonight was not the time. The ritual had to be followed correctly. The woman must be made to comprehend and acknowledge the great wrong that she had done. There was no finer instructor than fear.
     He huddled inside the concealed lift, listening to the sounds of someone moving about in the bedroom on the other side of the wall. There was a narrow crack in the paneling. Excitement sparked through him when he caught a glimpse of the woman. She was at her dressing table, adjusting the pins in her dark brown hair. It was as if she knew he was watching and was deliberately taunting him.
     She was passable in appearance, but he had seen her on the street and had not been particularly impressed with her looks. She was overly tall for a woman and her forceful character was etched on her face. She was dangerous. It was all there in her unnerving eyes.
     The woman rose from the dressing table chair and moved out of sight. A moment later he heard the muffled sound of the bedroom door opening and closing.
     Silence.
     He slid the cage door aside and opened the wooden panel. The wall sconce had been turned down low but he could make out the bed, the dressing table, and the wardrobe.
     He moved out of the lift. The heady exhilaration he always experienced at such moments roared through him. With every step of the ritual he came closer to achieving his own purification.
     For a precious few seconds he debated where to leave his gift. The bed or the dressing table?
     The bed, he decided. So much more intimate.
     He made his way out through the tradesmen’s entrance and slipped, unseen, into the gardens. The gate was still unlocked, just as he had left it.
     A few minutes later he was lost in the fog. The weight of the knife in its sheath beneath his greatcoat was reassuring.
     The ritual was almost complete.
     The woman with the unnerving eyes would soon understand that she belonged to him. It was her destiny to be the one to cleanse him. He was certain of it. The connection between them was a bond that could be shattered only by death.


Posted by arrangement with Berkley Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Jayne Ann Krentz, 2016.




Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as historical and futuristic romance novels under the pseudonyms Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, respectively. Learn more at jayneannkrentz.com and connect with her on facebook.com/JayneAnnKrentz.  


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Review: What We Find by Robyn Carr

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr
Publisher: Mira
Publication date: April 5th 2016
My rating: 4.5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Audible


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her
Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman’s journey to finding the happiness she’s long been missing

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship.

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.


My Thoughts:
Maggie Sullivan is a successful and driven neurosurgeon, but several crises have come down on her all at once.  A fraud scandal in her practice, a wrongful death suit, but the miscarriage of a baby she desperately wanted sends her reeling into grief.  Worse is the fact that instead of offering support and understanding, Maggie’s longtime boyfriend is relieved over the miscarriage and feels she should snap out of her depression (jerk!). Realizing that her life isn’t what she wanted sends Maggie running for the safety of her father in Sullivan’s Crossing.  Sully, Maggie’s father, is cantankerous and bristly, but Maggie loves him. 

Before Maggie’s on the road to peace, though, Sully suffers a heart attack and Maggie’s occupied with helping her father recuperate.  No easy task with the stubborn man!  Fortunately, friends and neighbors pitch in to help.  Cal Jones, the good looking and mysterious camper staying at Sullivan’s Crossing, steps up and helps their family with the store.  He’s enticing and confusing, and Maggie is completely drawn to him.

Sullivan’s Crossing is a campground, general store, and post office out where the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail intersect making it a perfect stop point to refuel for “thru hikers” tackling one of the long hikes, or perfect for campers wanting to escape for shorter trips.  There’s always people staying or hiking through, and the locals who work or frequent the place make for an interesting mix of people Carr had to write about.  There was always something exciting going on from a rebellious bull stopping through to a naked hiker there were some fun times! There was also a bit of danger!

Robyn Carr brings so many of her characters to life that I loved them and hated a few!  Andrew, Maggie’s ex-boyfriend was a self-centered prick! Maggie’s mother was another self-centered person. I have very little respect for a parent who puts their own happiness before their child’s and this is exactly what Phoebe did, and continued to do.

Tom’s ex-wife, Becky was another piece of work! Leaving your husband and four children (the youngest being four years old!!) because of malcontent, and then going back when it pleases you to visit and string your kids and ex along?  That’s seriously crappy, IMO.  Unfortunately, Tom is very soft-hearted towards her.  What’s revealed about Becky and the way she handled herself with Cal ticked me off! I wish Cal would’ve given her more of a set down.   I’m hoping Tom gets his own romance and book in the future. I couldn’t help but adore this man! Tom lived and worked for his children, minding his busy schedule so he was there for them every day, whether with homework or busing them around to their various commitments.  

The attraction between Cal and Maggie was immediate, but their romance was a gradual process where they fell a little harder with every passing day.  They revealed and shared their past wounds slowly, the reasons each were taking down time at Sullivan’s Crossing, but taking comfort from each other along the way. 

Maggie had to sort through some issues with all of her parents, Sully, Phoebe, and Walter, her patient and loving stepfather.  She also needed to find out exactly what she wanted from life and decide whether she could stay in neurosurgery, as the recent events burned her out. 

I was riveted by all the stories contained in What We Find.  Robyn Carr has a way of making small town life so appealing with a wonderful mix of kind, loving, but quirky characters.  Sullivan’s Crossing felt like an actual place with Ms. Carr’s vivid and beautiful descriptions of the scenery and life pulsing through there.  I’m a backpacker and sometimes camper, so Sullivan’s Crossing is exactly the kind of place I’d love to visit! 

I met Ms. Carr at the 2014 ALA and at that time I hadn’t read any of her books.  I wished I knew her awesomeness back then so I could’ve appropriately fangirled at the time! Lol!  I’m anxious to find out the release date and focus of the second book in this new series!  Until then I’ll keep on going with Ms. Carr’s Virgin River series.  I can’t get enough of it!!







Connect with Robyn Carr

 


Robyn Carr at 2014 ALA


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