2018, Fitness, personal, Uncategorized, update

A brand new journey – Exercise to Music

Today I’m embarking on a brand new journey and I’m scared and excited.

Since I was a kid I’ve always loved Sporty Spice aka Melanie C. I adored everything she stood for, a kick ass female who proudly sported a football shirt in a society where girls are expected not to understand the beautiful game.

Ever since taking GCSE PE I always thought I would do more with it. I’d lived and breathed Netball, running and trampolining to name a few of my favourite sports. I don’t know what changed I guess I became overlooked and then my love of writing and of all things media overtook and as I got older I started going out and my exercise regime slowly diminished.

Earlier this year I learnt more about myself and how I treat my body. Not only have I started eating foods I would never have imagined and lessened foods that I’d ate in excess I also discovered fitness sessions that I adore and for me that’s what has changed. I’ve been doing Zumba on and off for years and I’m not saying I don’t love it but for me it wasn’t enough and now that my food is a lot better alongside that a stupid amount of walking and Fight Klub I now feel like I get proper decent workouts. I’ve also just recently started Piyo which I also love – it’s bloody hard work and takes it out of me but it’s so good for the strengthening of my body.

I’m now on my lunch break and I’ve learnt so much already.

Find what you love and run with it.

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2018, Author Love, Blog Tour

Guest Post: Finding Jess Blog Tour By Julia Ibbotson

Today I’m pleased to share with you a truly gorgeous guest post by Julia Ibbotson….so without further ado…..

Location Ghana, West Africa

My latest novel, published this summer, Finding Jess, http://mybook.to/FindingJess the third of the Drumbeats trilogy, is set in Ghana (West Africa) and starts with: “Outside, the sun is beating down pitilessly, that sweet-sour stink of rotten meat and putrefying vegetables in the open drains at the side of the road. Yes, she knows that intense heat, that smell, the sound of the kpanlogo djembe and the donde, those kente-clad mammies, from all those years before …”

Jess is haunted by her experiences in Ghana when she was an 18 year old on a gap year, the basis of the first of the trilogy, Drumbeats, http://myBook.to/Drumbeatstrilogy where she is fascinated as a girl in 1965, by the whole idea of Africa: she looks around her in wonderment: “The streets were incredibly noisy, smelly, and bustling with people calling out to each other across the streets, jostling Jess. Swarms of little boys were again surrounding her, pushing at her for attention. The hot thick air stank of rotting vegetables, spices, melting tarmac. Jess pressed herself against the safety of the wall as plump women swathed in bright Ghanaian cloth swept haughtily past her. Their babies swaddled on their backs blinked passively at her with glassy eyes and long black eyelashes. Shallow platters piled high with tomatoes and mangoes were balanced on turban-bound heads, as the women made their way gracefully up and down the dusty streets, taking no notice of the foul open drains and the begging children around their feet.”

Ever since I spent time working in Ghana, I’ve been driven by the desire to write about this fascinating country. As a writer, I like to create stories set in a particular time and location, as those are the books I love to read myself, such as Dinah Jefferies’s far eastern novels and Kate Mosse’s Languedoc series. Wonderfully evocative!

I try to use all the senses to make the reader feel as though they are actually there, to make it as vivid as possible. I was therefore thrilled to have reviews that said: “beautifully written, conjuring up the colour and culture of the country”, and “feel the searing heat of Ghana burning off the pages.” How lovely! Then I had: “It’s a brilliantly crafted book where sights, sounds and even smells of the Ghanaian way of life are conjured up quite vividly… details … woven so well into the fabric of the story it becomes an essential part of the read” and even “Julia Ibbotson’s descriptions of Ghana instantly transport the reader there… It is very clear that the author has spent some time in Ghana as her knowledge of the country and its political strife is extensive. I love the symbolism of the drums throughout the book, making it so atmospheric.”

Many thanks to those readers, whoever they are! If my readers can feel the location too, I’ve done my job OK.

Drumbeats: http://myBook.to/Drumbeatstrilogy

Walking in the Rain: http://myBook.to/WalkingintheRainDrumbeatstrilogy

Finding Jess: http://mybook.to/FindingJess

All my books are available on Amazon, in ebook and paperback editions:

http://Author.to/JuliaIbbotsonauthor

But do check out my other sites:

Author website: https://juliaibbotsonauthor.com/

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/JuliaIbbotsonauthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JuliaIbbotson

Pinterest page: includes boards with pics and images that inspired each book

http://pinterest.com/juliai1/

Goodreads author page:  https://www.goodreads.com/juliaibbotson

Thank you Kelly, what a gorgeous guest post that I’ve been able to read alongside my Beanies coffee.

2018, Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Blood White and Blue By James Silvester

I’m so sorry I had two content slots and a review that should have been posted up yesterday and this one was sadly forgotten so without further ado here is the extract that I’m hosting. Though she had only intended to be out for an hour, several more had passed before she had put the key in her lock and begun the unfairly tortuous climb up the stairs to her flat. She had left Della still in top form, throwing back shots and chatting up waiters and waitresses alike, but while her new friend appeared able to weather the storms of excessive alcohol consumption, Lucie knew her body well enough to know she needed at least some sleep if she were to make it to the airport with the clear head she always needed to travel.

She awoke with the entirely expected but always unwelcome dry mouth and unsettled stomach, thanking The Lord in her morning prayers for at least sparing her the chore of packing, having not yet emptied her bag from her unexpected move. Eschewing her typical shower and barely rubbing her toothbrush against her teeth, lest it trigger another round of the pounding in her head which had failed to endear itself to her moments before, Lucie settled for a quick basin wash and a good dose of deodorant. Likewise, she reasoned that a change of underwear was not yet essential and certainly not worth the nausea inducing neuralgia it would provoke. Keeping her neck as immobile as possible she dressed herself in jeans and patterned shirt, texted for a cab and made her way slowly downstairs.

After having directed the cabbie through the drive thru window of the nearest fast food venue and having swiftly consumed something vaguely egg flavoured atop something else the talking box into which she had placed her order insisted to be sausage, Lucie began to re-join humanity. The cab driver was friendly enough and sufficiently worldly-wise to understand Lucie’s delicate state and so kept his cheery banter to a minimum, rightly expecting that the size of his tip would correlate significantly with the brevity of his conversation.

The car eventually swept into Heathrow and after suitably rewarding the driver for his understanding, she made her way into the terminal and through to the Departure lounge. Lucie took her time, still not wanting to aggravate the debilitating ache across her eyes with excessive movement, all too reluctant this morning to bear the punishment of a body whose warnings she had ignored the night before.

Walking too slowly to politely avoid the grim faced and despondent newspaper vendor, she took the proffered free copy and slipped it into her bag while she searched the terminal for the increased rarity of a coffee large and strong enough to satiate her, but which would not require a mortgage application and three forms of ID to procure. Finally locating something on the more modest side of overpriced, Lucie squeezed between the bickering couples and drunken groups to perch herself on a wooden stool beside the border rail, from where she could view the departure boards and observe the multitudes as they dashed from here to

there, desperate to embark on what, depending what provision the far from secure ‘Brexit Deal’ made for airspace agreements, could be their last foreign trips for some time. Taking a sip from the scalding coffee, she pulled out the freebie paper and grimaced, immediately regretting her decision.

There they were, lined up between the pages, pontificating on the economic downturn that was beginning to bite and leaving readers in no doubt which people – or groups of people – were to blame. Quotes were fired like inflammatory bullets, as though those speaking them were engaged in some hateful competition, the winner of which would be crowned undisputed champion and defender of the ‘Will of the People’, whatever that was interpreted to be that month, with all who defied them forever condemned as traitors and enemies to be vilified and loathed.

Lucie scanned their comments, which variously within the same article condemned immigrants for laziness and benefit dependency, while taking jobs away from the indigenous population and pressurising emergency services, despite the NHS relying on them to function. One particularly fatuous remark sought to blame certain communities for wasting police time by insisting on reporting hate crimes against them. The ignorance did little to ease Lucie’s hangover and she was about to toss the paper to one side when she turned the page and her eyes were drawn to a picture of the man she was flying to meet, Sir Geoffrey Hartnell MP.

The picture took up a good portion of the page’s top half and was accompanied by a ‘humorous’ feature line reading ‘A Grave Affair’ and a few reams of text, short on minutiae but knowledgeable enough to sketch an outline of the bizarre scenario. The infamous Alexander Huxley – a man thought to be dead – had threatened Hartnell’s life and with the popular MP about to fly to Prague on a personal mission of goodwill, was the government right to be treating this lightly?

Thank you Kelly for this slot and I’m so sorry for the delay…

2018, Author Love, Blog Tour, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland By Heidi Swain

Better late than never I’ve been sooo excited by this gorgeous book and my oh my it did not disappoint. So without further ado.

Blurb: After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .

Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.

As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.

Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself? ~*~

Review: Long before I’d read a single word of any of Heidi’s books I was a fan of the lady herself. Heidi is a people person who instantly puts you at ease in her presence. Not only does she put you at ease she makes you feel like you’ve known her forever. So when her festive feel good treat came up I jumped at the chance of being on the tour. I had hoped to have read this with many a Cinnamon swirl but that didn’t happen. Just like her previous novel I ended up listening to it even though I have a paperback too which looks truly gorgeous on my shelf. It’s the second time I’ve listened to Karen Cass and I must admit I really am a fan of hers also, if you’ve read my blog before I have listened to some really good and really bad audiobooks but this sure was a hit. When a woman can have a variation of voices well that’s a win in my book.

So Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland takes readers back to Wynbridge I had hoped to have devoured last years festive treat before diving into this but in Hayley style that didn’t happen.

I am looking forward to going back to it as I was pretty taken with my namesake – Hayley is a loveable character who I was rooting for from the off. Without spoiling any finer details her life changes quite quickly and dramatically early on into this novel. I just loved how she picked herself up and realised a lot more about herself. Which is something I’ve done in my life this year also.

What I truly love about Heidi Swain’s writing is how she creates a community you wish you were a part of. The characters from Wynthorpe Hall are an eclectic mix who feel like family.

In this gorgeous Christmas tale she has also touched on loss – the festivities often have us thinking of our loved ones who are no longer with us, and Gabes story really hit home for me. It’s hard to carry on and to smile when you’re grief stricken for a loved one and I totally understand that not in the same way he did though.

A sparkling tale that will leave you reminiscing of times gone by, looking forward to the future and reaching for a pastry. Heidi Swain has it all drama, blossoming romance, villains, you name it she’s got it.

This is the second story that I’ve read of late with a Hayley she’s also not really like me but she did make me smile from head to toe. If you’re looking for a book to get lost in this Christmas look no further.

2018, Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Picking Up the Pieces By Jo Worgan

I have a number of posts that will come up today. Please bare with me but first up is Picking up the Pieces. I’m lucky to share with you an extract from Picking up the Pieces.

The book on Kate’s lap remained unread, a Nordic noir thriller that no longer held her interest. She was restless. Shadows flickered on the walls from the glare cast by the small round lamp that was nestled among the yellowing paperbacks on the bookshelf. She should really be writing up her articles, but she couldn’t concentrate. All she could think about was the phone call, and if she was being truly honest, those piercing blue eyes belonging to the new next-door neighbour.

The phone call had unnerved her, shaken her. It had taken her back to all those years ago, when she had been a different person, a completely different person to the woman she was now. She did not want to be that woman again. She had checked her phone, once Sam was safely tucked up in bed, to see if there was a number logged, but it had been blocked. That’s what really bothered her. The fact that whoever it was didn’t want her to know their identity. It had to be Jake; she couldn’t think of anyone else who it could be. But how did he get hold of her number?

Kate pulled the crocheted blanket, a mess of woollen blues, yellows and reds, that scratched her skin, further around her shoulders. She was far too tired to think straight but although exhausted, she knew that sleep would not come.

Jake, her ex-partner, the man who had made her life a living hell. It could very well be him. She thought that she had got away with it. How stupid was she? Nothing was ever that simple. After six years, she had grown complacent. She was less careful; she should never have let her guard down. Paranoia was beginning to set in. Kate had made sure that all of the windows were locked when she came home with Sam; she had checked twice. Now, she could feel the fear overcoming her once more, and she could not let it, not again. He would never again have that power over her.

No, it wasn’t Jake. It wasn’t him. Kate kept repeating this mantra to herself, in the hope that she would believe it.

It was nearly 11:00 p.m., but Kate decided to make herself a cup of tea to take up to bed with her. Tea always had the power to soothe. She was not sure why that was so. Perhaps it was the ritual of making it? Or the fact that she could drink it from a sturdy brown mug, with two teaspoons of sugar. She switched the kettle on and hunted out the teapot. Staring out of the kitchen window, she saw the trampoline bathed in shadow; it looked so forlorn in the darkness. She shook her head; she would need to fix the fence tomorrow, meaning that she would have to go to the large industrial park at the edge of town and pick up some large wood screws, or whatever they were called. It was her responsibility, the fence; it was on her side of the garden. Perhaps she could ask Matt to help? But no, Kate thought, that wouldn’t be fair. If she asked him then he would probably feel obliged to do the work, so no, she would fix it herself.

Kate heard Sam shuffling about above her in his room – he’d not yet settled. She had left him to settle himself. She would check on him in a little bit. Sometimes she found him asleep in his sensory den, lying on all the soft cushions, toys draped over his sleeping body. It was always a military operation trying to gently lift him back into bed without waking him.

The kettle beeped. Kate picked it up and poured the boiling water into her bright yellow teapot. It was one of the very first items that she had bought when she moved into the house all those years ago. She loved the colour – it was bright, cheerful, carefree. It was how she wanted to be, how she wanted to feel.

She waited for the tea to steep, the water slowly turning brown.

She thought of Matt. His eyes, his eyes were so blue. She had never seen eyes quite so blue before and they stirred something deep within her, within her soul, something that had long been buried. It would, however, take her a long time to trust another man, and anyway, she had Sam. He was her priority. He was her life now.

She picked up the teapot and sloshed the brewing tea about a bit before pouring the scalding liquid into her favourite brown tea cup. She spooned in two heaped teaspoons of sugar and then taking the cup, went up the creaky stairs to the safety and warmth of her bed. She believed that there was something quite magical about lying in a warm bed, nestled under the covers. Nobody could get you there; the outside world was miles away. Maybe these thoughts stemmed from childhood? Hiding under the bedcovers so that the bogey man couldn’t get you. Many emotions, thoughts and feelings came from those hidden recesses in the mind, locked away from childhood days gone by. Kate knew that they made us who we are.

Her thoughts then drifted to her gran, and of how she would tell Kate bedtime stories about the times when she was a little girl, growing up in the war. Kate smiled at the memory. She missed her gran.

Kate switched on the bedside light and picked up her tea. Everything was now quiet from Sam’s room. She sipped her tea,

enjoying the sweet bitter taste. She briefly closed her eyes and an image of Matt appeared. She hated to admit it, but there was an instant invisible attraction between them. But she had been so flustered, so preoccupied with finding Sam and making sure that he was safe that she knew that she had come across as rude and almost aloof. What must he have thought of her? Did he see a worried mother, or a woman who appeared cold and uncaring? Kate had no idea, she just hoped that he didn’t think that she didn’t trust him. Could he have thought that? Kate held her head in her hands, suddenly weary with it all. She felt awful now; she didn’t even thank him properly. She was just so frazzled, with the phone call and then not seeing Sam. If she hadn’t received that phone call, then things would have played out very differently. He may even have liked her.

Thank you Kelly for including me once again…

2018, A thought? A question, Me, Monday motivation and smiles, Off Topic, personal, update

Ask Away….

Happy Monday all.

It’s the start of a brand new week and I hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re happy and healthy.

A while ago I asked for questions on my Twitter in lieu of writing a blog post answering said questions and it fizzled out. So yesterday I asked again on my Twitter and Facebook account. So far I have two fabulous questions. I’m aiming for 10-20 before I can warrant sharing my answers.

2018, Six for Sunday, Uncategorized

Six for Sunday – Dream Panels/Events

I love me a Six for Sunday but wow how can I only pick six beauties for this one. So having attended two book events of two very empowering and inspirational women both of them have to feature so here it goes.

Cecelia Ahern

Jodi Picoult

Now this lady has to feature as every single one of her books gives me all the feels and there’s only one I haven’t read and I think that needs to change. Over to the queen of sparkly Miranda Dickinson

Omg that’s three down and there are soooo many I could add. I want to take this time to say I wish I could have all my ultimate favourites but there are so god damn many of you.

Ruth Ware

Daphne Du Maurier

Paige Toon

So that wraps up my Six for Sunday and what another treat it has been. Sorry for the delay had a mixed day a bit of coursework and some family time.

2018, Fitness, Me, Off Topic, personal

Change

I had a manager from my O2 at the O2 days who used to say it takes 28 days to form a habit. This speech would regularly come out if there were major changes and especially when he thought we wouldn’t ever be willing to try and get on board. After having a night out with my old pals it got me thinking.

Now I’ve mentioned before and I dare say it will come up again, in April I joined Slimming World and my relationship with food changed. Some of you think I’m not eating properly and that couldn’t be further from the truth if anything I eat more these days it’s just what I’m eating and how I’m making it. That’s the key.

What I’ve noticed threefold is I don’t eat in the same way. I’m more appreciative and my sweet tooth is still there it’s just not as greedy as it once was which is a good thing for my health.

I’ve always been quite an active person but in finding Slimming World I shortly after found Fight Klub and for the first time in a while I felt truly excited. If I can’t make a class I’m grumpy. Recently when I hurt my back I missed two weeks of classes. This week I returned at a lower pace although I don’t think my right shoulder thinks that was the case saying that this morning it’s feeling a lot better but I haven’t reached work yet.

Now I’m a target member I’m not trying to loose any more weight. I’m now trying to find the right balance. I’m still enjoying trying new things and there’s still a number of things I’d love to make. I’m line with that on 12th November I’m embarking on an ETM Exercise To Music course and for the first time in ages I’m truly excited to study once again. I did GCSE PE and I honestly thought i’d have done more with it and now I’m on a whole new journey. This year has been remarkable for me and when opportunity knocks say yes what’s the worst that can happen. There are a few other potentials which I haven’t ruled out either.

I have recently become a Just Strong ambassador, I’m extremely new to this but I’m very much on board for inspiring and empowering women. I have just received my package but as I was out having a cheeky night off I haven’t opened it as yet. I dare say there will be an update on this as I cannot wait to try on my new gear. www.juststrong.com as a thank you to you beauties I am able to share with you my 10% discount code HAYLTHO10 I will be reviewing the top and jogging bottoms that I have purchased. If you have any questions or would like me to try something also get in touch. I’ve seen a few girls modelling the hoodies and I maybe swayed on that as these days are getting colder.

2018, First Impression Friday, Uncategorized

First Impression Friday #1

So I’d seen this meme last week I believe and thought oooh now that could be fun if you want to know more about it do follow the next link to see Joe from Storeys of Stories explanation post First impression Friday.

So what is involved in First Impression Friday?

Based on your current read, give a few impressions
and predict what you’ll think by the end.

• Did you think you’d love and ended up hating it? Or did you think you’d hate it and wound up loving it? Or were you exactly right?

Then link back to Storeys of Stories.

So this week I was approved on Netgalley Sleep by C L Taylor. Having been at an event back in April hearing her speak briefly about this I was extremely excited and knew I want want to devour it. When she posted that it was up on Netgalley off I went and thankfully I was approved. I have almost finished chapter 8 and there are so many jaw dropping moments where I feel like I barely breathe. Cally Taylor has the knack of describing scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat and awake at night.

I really like Anna I’m empathetic to her and hoping she turns a corner.

I haven’t been disappointed by Cally before and I know I haven’t read everything she’s written but what I have had been amazing. I honestly cannot recommend her enough. I will be purchasing Sleep for my colleague as soon as it’s available as I know she will devour it promptly.

I’m pretty certain I’m going to love this book and seeing as it’s not out until next year.

2018, Author Love, event, Uncategorized

Facebook Live – Cecelia Ahern Roar event pre publication

I had hoped to have this post up yesterday but my working day just took over and I didn’t want this rushed. Today is also publication day for Roar so happy publication day Cecelia I hope there are more bubbles.

So Blogtober may have bombed but on the positive side I have had more content on my site period. In doing this it has also made me more positive and organised to come up with more content and actually get it up as soon as it’s hit my train of thought rather than it sitting in drafts until the end of time.

My last post was a fabulous event write up about the awesome Jodi Picoult and now I’m here to share another truly inspirational write up about Cecelia Ahern.

Now firstly, I have been a fan of Cecelia’s from the very beginning- I must admit the last few books I have but I haven’t read them (I know that’s awful- it’s what happens when there are so many fantastic books and authors around).

When Roar was announced I was intrigued I’ve read short stories from Cecelia before and I’ve enjoyed them, the messages from Roar just scream EMPOWERING. I was having a so so day when the notification popped up on Facebook to say I had won the competition to a live interview screening with Cecelia. I was over the moon. I’d managed to pick up a sampler from Waterstones and in doing so before the event I had read 5 of the 7 in the sampler and each story left me with a different feeling. That is what I truly love about her writing and in finally meeting the lady herself again – the last time I had the pleasure was at the Selfridges signing for The Gift. We have both changed a lot since then.

So the Facebook live event took place in the library of the Soho Hotel which was amazing on its own. It was a very intimate setting where we were given bubbles and nibbles shortly after arriving. It was homely and just a truly lovely atmosphere, to be amongst some of Cecelia’s biggest fans with people travelling from as far away as Cardiff. I believe I was the Londoner who had the shortest journey.

We weren’t allowed to take pics during the interview which was fine as for me it meant I was just focused on taking in what was said. I love how passionate Cecelia is after all her success and as I’ve said I’ve really enjoyed the stories that I’ve already read from the collection, and I can’t wait to continue devouring them. I’m really looking forward to the namesake of the book. This collection has been five years in the making and what a treat it’s been so far.

I could say lots about the stories I’ve already read but I will leave that for when I review the full collection. What I will say is if you’re looking for a book to empower you then look no further the underlying messages in Roar are outstanding for any and every woman.

Thank you again to Harper Collins for the fabulous competition and to Cecelia herself for being outstanding once again. Let’s not leave it so long next time. I may have also mentioned Westlife. On that note I will stop typing. Go buy Roar…Roar link