Book Chat with Lindsay: New York Times Bestseller

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It’s that time of the month again, and we are closing in on the end of our book challenge!

This month we’re discussing New York Timers bestsellers.  It just so happened that my penpal Aimee sent me The Girls by Emma Cline and it fitted in with this challenge perfectly.

amazon.co.uk

amazon.co.uk

I feel like I was the last person on Earth to read this book.  It tells the story of Evie, a fourteen year old who becomes entranced by an older girl called Suzanne.  Evie’s parents have divorced and she is struggling to get on with her mother so she goes to live in the commune where the girls all revere a man called Russell, the leader of the commune and a struggling musician.

The girls scavenge and steal food, drug use and underage sex is rife and children are unkempt and malnourished.  Russell introduces Mitch to the girls, but when their relationship sours, the novel catapults into a violent end.

The story is inspired by the Charles Manson ‘family’ commune and the murders committed by them.  We meet Evie not just as a 14 year old, but as a woman in her 60s whose life is still sadly haunted by what she did, or didn’t do, as a teenager.  It’s an intriguing novel that I raced to finish – but it failed to give me the closure and resolution which I needed.  So many questions remain!  Have you read it, what did you think?

Check out what Lindsay read!  Next month we are discussing a book from Rory Gilmore’s list.2016-Book-Challenge

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A thriller, a Tudor novel and a heartstring puller!

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I’ve read a variety of books recently, let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

This is the follow up to You, a novel about a stalker and murderer called Joe who is in a relationship with a girl called Beck.  Hidden Bodies begins with Joe’s new relationship with a girl called Amy, and I expected the novel to follow in a similar vein to its predecessor.  However, we soon discover that Amy is in fact out to con Joe, and Joe sets about tracking her down.  He gets distracted by falling in love again, but can he outrun his past?

The clever thing about this book is that you get sucked into Joe’s warped mind as it’s written in the first person.  I was gripped from page 1 right until the last sentence!

Watch The Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle

Elizabeth Fremantle is my favourite historical fiction writer, I just adore every book of hers.  If you want to immerse yourself in the intrigue of the Tudor court, this is the book for you.  It is outstanding from start to finish and I never wanted it to end.

Lady Penelope Rich is playing a dangerous game.  Queen Elizabeth I may be elderly but it’s treason to discuss who her successor may be, and Penelope has written letters of friendship to a contender for the English throne, James of Scotland.  Those letters could sign her death warrant.  However, she is used to sailing close to the wind, having conducted an adulterous relationship for years.  Her brother Essex is the queen’s favourite and nothing can topple him from favour, or can it?

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

I received this book as part of the Book Buddy Box subscription service, and it’s not the type of thing that I would usually pick up, so I was intrigued to read it.  It’s about the momentous effect that an 11 year old boy has on a 104 year old lady who he visits every Saturday as part of his scout duties.

However, the boy has died, and we meet him in flashbacks of his visits to the lady, and then the relationship the old lady builds with the boy’s father.  It’s a poignant book; the death of an 11 year old in contrast to the long life of his friend, the breakup of his parents, the tender new friendship between the lady and the boy’s dad.  But I didn’t enjoy the ending and that spoiled it for me.

What have you been reading recently?

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August Bank Holiday Weekend: Porthcawl

It feels like a long time ago now but over the bank holiday weekend, we were lucky enough to spend a few nights’ staying in Oliver’s parents’ caravan in Porthcawl.  We arrived on Friday evening and munched on fish and chips on the beach, while we enjoyed these sea views.
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On Saturday we walked along the beach and went for a paddle in the sea.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so we also walked into town and then around the fair.

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During the evening we enjoyed a drink on the seafront, stunning views as ever.  It was very relaxing!

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On Sunday, we played adventure golf!  Oliver was sure he’d win but I managed to beat him on most holes!

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Overall we had an amazing weekend!  It was so peaceful and I can’t wait to go back next year.

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Have you ever been caravanning at the seaside?

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Etsy Shop Review: Hearts by Emma

Recently I placed an order with Hearts By Emma, a cute Etsy shop that I found on Facebook. I love the idea of mystery bags and when I saw that she had a panda one available, I quickly placed my order.  I paid £10 for the mystery bag and £1.95 for postage.  I adore pandas so I was very excited to receive my goodies.

As soon as I opened the parcel, I fell in love with this pencil case.  Isn’t she the cutest?  20160910_172950

Then I had a look through the other bits and bobs.  Clockwise from top left of the photo: a laminated panda girl, a rainbow pencil, a pen with cat head, a panda peg, a cow rubber, panda stickers and bear page markers.20160910_173055

Everything is so lovely!  I can’t wait to use the stickers in particular.  I was expecting every item to be a panda item, but as you can see, they aren’t.  That may be my error in not reading the product description properly though.  All in all I am really happy with the products and the service from this shop.

Tell me about your recent Etsy buys?

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A W7 Beauty Haul

W7 is a brand I’ve wanted to try for a few months, having first come across it not long ago.  It’s a cruelty free brand which has super cute packaging and affordable prices.  They create dupes for high end products and I couldn’t wait to try some.

First of all, nail polish.  There was a huge array to choose from but I choose pink because HOT PINK alert, and a white because it’s a good base for nail art.  20160903_194405

Next up I got these two mascaras!  I love both of the wands and the packaging is gorgeous.20160903_194427 20160903_194457

Then the palettes!  These are dupes for Naked palettes, you can probably tell.  I’ve not tried them yet but they’re beautiful and the colours are soooo pretty.20160903_194558 20160903_194631 20160903_194653

I haven’t put prices because I bought these in an outlet store and now I can only find the full prices online.  However I did buy everything, this is not a sponsored post.

Tell me about your recent beauty buys?

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My new favourite place: Laugharne

Dylan Thomas may have called it “the strangest town in Wales” but it’s easy to see how he fell in love with it and made it his home.  We recently spent the weekend there and having not visited it for several years, it has now carved a special place in my heart.

On arrival we parked by the castle and made our way into the village for lunch at The Owl and the Pussycat, which was such a lovely, quaint tearoom.  Afterwards we decide to stroll along the estuary, slowly making our way to the Boathouse.  IMG-20160814-WA0003[1]

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The Boathouse is where the famous Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, set up home with his family.  His story and his work are interlaced into the very fabric of Laugharne.  You can imagine him staggering home from the pub along the pathway now called Dylan’s Walk.  You can peer into the writing shed where he wrote his most famous piece, Under Milk Wood, it feels as though he will walk back through the door at any moment.  You can picture Dylan’s wife shouting upstairs and the children running about the house itself.  Dylan died in New York aged only 39 in 1953 after many years of heavy drinking, but he is buried in Laugharne.

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After visiting the boathouse and enjoying tea and scones on the patio, we continued our walk around the castle.  It’s an imposing fortress which emphasises the village’s history beyond Dylan Thomas.  From Norman castle to Tudor mansion to muse of the poets, it has all happened here!

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We stayed in an absolutely delightful bed and breakfast, with stunning views across to the sea.  This is the balcony and view outside our bedroom!

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All in all we had a fabulous time in Laugharne and I would go back in a heartbeat. Have you ever been to Laugharne, or read any of Dylan Thomas’ poetry?

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Papery Peep: A Stationery Haul

I thought it would be fun to share with you my recent stationery buys as part of Papery Peep with The Reading Residence.

First of all, I popped into Paperchase and only bought some stickers!  Talk about self control.  I love the Purrmaids collection but don’t feel drawn to buy anything from it, if that makes sense!  If there was a writing set then I think I would get that.  So I chose this Purrmaids sticker sheet and I also saw this mermaids one.  The seahorses were too cute to resist too.  Definitely an under the sea theme going on!

Paperchase stickers tend to be between £1 – £2 per sheet.

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Next up my friend got me this stationery set for my new desk at my new job!  She knows me so well haha.  This is part of the Velvet Ghost range at Primark, isn’t it cute?

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The next items are from Homesense.  This postcard set was £3 and the cards will be making their way into my penpal letters for sure!  Also these envelopes were £2.99 and they are absolutely beautiful, don’t you agree?

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Finally I picked up this gorgeous writing set for £3, it’s letters and envelopes in one and there are so many cute owl designs! A complete bargain.

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What stationery have you bought recently?

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Welsh Wednesday: Books and Wales

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Today we are back with Welsh Wednesday with a discussion about books set in Wales, with Welsh connections or that are written in Welsh!  Tayler and I share a passion for books so it seemed about time that we brought that into our monthly series.

A book I want to mention is called Cysgod Y Cryman, by Islwyn Ffowc Elis. The title means Shadow of the Sickle in English and it was voted Book of the Century here in Wales.  It’s the story of Harri Vaughan, the son of a wealthy landowner who becomes a communist and a conscientious objector whilst at university.  These beliefs put him at odds with his father and his whole way of life in rural Wales shortly after the Second World War.  The importance of this book in Welsh culture can’t be overstated; it touched a chord with the very fabric of Welsh society in the 1950s and the young characters meant that it enocuraged young readers to discover Welsh literature.

Next, something a little more lighthearted.  I love a murder mystery and so Never Laugh As A Hearse Goes By by Elizabeth Duncan fits the bill exactly.  How could you resist that title?  It’s part of a series of mysteries set in North Wales and it’s a cute introduction to Welsh town life and Welsh names.  Penny is our amateur sleuth and she is at a conference at a library when a secretary is poisoned at lunch, before another body is found in the library itself…

If you are looking for more Welsh related reading, check out our folklore recommendations and also my review of Owen by Tony Riches.

Now for the vlog!  Today we are discussing animals.

Snake – Neidr

Lion – Llew

Hedgehog – Draenog

Fox – Llwynog

Otter – Dwrgi

Mouse – Llygoden

Horse – Ceffyl

Owl – Tylluan

Bear – Arth

Frog – Broga
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Book chat with Lindsay: Banned books

Today I am back with Lindsay to discuss a book that has been banned!

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My choice for this month had to be Tess of The D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.  This is a book which I read and studied at school, and I fell in love with it.  I read it seven times and managed to get 100% on the exam!

First of all, let’s consider why this book was banned.  When it was published in 1891, it was censored.  It was a novel which shook society to its very core, due to the way it challenged sexual morality in Victorian England.  It’s difficult to imagine anything more controversial that could be published during this time!  I haven’t ever read anything else by Thomas Hardy, however surely this must be his best work.  He was decades ahead of his time in writing it and he is clearly in love with his main character, Tess.

When Tess leaves her family to work at Alec D’Urberville’s estate, she is subjected to his unwelcome sexual advances.  One day, he rapes her while she sleeps.  Tess is forced to return home when she discovers she is pregnant, and as an unmarried woman she is ostracised for having a baby outside wedlock.  Years later she is working as a dairy maid when she meets and falls in love with Angel Clare.  Can their happiness survive the truth about Tess’ past?

This is a heartbreaking novel with a tragic end which still moves me all these years after first reading the book.  If you are interested in women’s issues and double standards in society, then I highly recommend this book.  Or if you want a book to make you cry, with writing that will make you tingle, read this.

The most shocking thing for me about this novel is that it remains a book that causes controversy (arguments abound over whether it is suitable to be on school reading lists) and women are still subjected to the injustices featured within it.  This is 2016 but women can still be blamed for their own rapes and judged by their sexual history in a way that men are not.

Join us next month for a discussion about a current New York Times bestseller!  Can’t believe how we are flying through this challenge…2016-Book-Challenge

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