2018, Blog Tour, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: The Picture By Roger Bray

Welcome to Hayley Reviews.

Today I have a blog tour post that should have been up yesterday but it completely slipped my mind. I awoke this morning thinking I swear I should have posted something and then I realised that it was this.

So I’m so sorry Rachel and Roger it was never my intention and here is the content I have been lucky enough to receive…I hope you enjoy it.

Context:  Ben Davis a retired Portland, Oregon police officer, with his lifelong friend, Paul Truscott, another retired police office volunteer in the relief effort to the areas devastated be the 2011 Japanese Tsunami.  This short scene details the kind of work they did and acts as a backdrop for the disastrous experiences suffered by the survivors and one in particular that Ben meets, Emi Sasaki.  It is a picture taken of with Ben and Emi cradling her baby daughter which is the catalyst of the story.

The search team started bringing the victims in early and they were lined up on trestles to be searched then tagged and bagged. The ones who were identified had labels marked with their names and other details fastened around their foot. Details were recorded into a laptop and a photo was taken which was linked up to the known details. For those with no details, the photos and place of discovery were all they could be given, but hopefully it would be enough later to give them their name back as friends and relatives were more able to identify their family and neighbors.

Men, women, and children; searched, photographed, tagged, and finally bagged into a one size fits most body bag which was zipped up and had a slip of card with a number corresponding to their electronic entry put into a clear windowed holder on the outside of the bag. Then with as much reverence as they could give, the bags were lined up on shelves inside the now freezing cold containers.

Until at the end of the day, as the sun set the first crew gave up their search as the light left them and Paul and Ben’s team zipped up the last of their bags and deposited victim number one hundred and thirty-seven, an unknown female, about twenty years of age, and one hundred and thirty-eight, an unknown male, age probably between thirty and forty but with no photograph taken as his skull had been completely crushed, probably in the initial earthquake, so at least he had missed the next horror which had befallen his town.

One hundred and thirty-eight bodies so far recovered, which they were told was less than five percent of the population that had been in town that day.

With the last two placed inside, the container was closed for the night and two armed guards from the JDF left behind as the Japanese and Americans silently boarded a couple of trucks for the short drive outside town to where a camp for the rescue workers had been set up in the sports hall of a local school, half of which had collapsed in the early disaster but not before some quick thinking teachers had got all the children out and it was one of the few places along that piece of coast to have suffered no casualties, high enough up as it was the staff and pupils had suffered as they had watched the tsunami engulf the town and sweep most of it back out to sea, leaving the tangled mess behind.

“Why in God’s name do they need to leave an armed guard?” one of Ben’s team asked no one in particular.

“Continuity,” Ben said as Paul nodded.

“Continuity?” The team member, a semi-retired firefighter from Salem repeated.

“Evidence, or dignity, so that at some point in the future no one can accuse them of not treating the dead with respect, with dignity, if some smart-assed lawyer gets a stupid idea, it can be proved that the remains were secured.”

The man nodded as the truck came to a stop and they all slowly climbed out the back toward food and showers though it would take some scrubbing to get the smell off their skin and out of their clothes.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour and if you looking to read The Picture you can find it Here thanks again to Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on board and my apologies once again.

Read to sleep week, Uncategorized

Read to Sleep week….

Info on #readtosleepweek

This challenge requires each participant to read for 6 minutes or more each night before they go to sleep. It doesn’t have to be a fiction book (or a book date from The Book Matchmaker), it can be a kindle, newspaper, magazine, non fiction book or anything that causes you to sit back, relax and just read, preferably not your phone (unless you turn off notifications).

Not only will this challenge help reduce your stress levels and enable you to sleep better,  but also for some of you it may hopefully bring back a love of reading again.

April is Stress Awareness Month. If you are looking for more information the wonderful charity MIND explains what stress is, what might cause it and how it can affect you. They have articles that include information about other ways you can help yourself and how to get support.

The challenge starts on Sunday the 22nd of April for 1 whole week. If you would like to take part please let us know by using the hashtag #readtosleepweek in your posts. Please also share with others who may like to get involved.

This is just what I need right now….I just wanted to check in and post this awesome challenge which I’m going to start shortly. I’m hoping it means I get more reading in. I’m going to delve into Paige Toon’s Five Years From Now I read the sampler and was dying for more…here’s my sampler Review let me know if you’re getting involved in this awesome challenging and here’s to lots of books and tons of sleep.

2018, Blog Tour, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Body & Soul By John Harvey

On this gorgeously sunny Thursday I’m pleased to share with you a chapter of John Harvey’s Body & Soul. I seem to be on a right role at the moment and I’m owing Catriona for that. So thank you lovely I seem to have my mojo back.

The house was at the edge of the village, the last in a row of stubby stone-built cottages backing onto elds which led down to the sea. Elder pulled the front door rmly closed, edged his coat collar up against the wind and, with a last look at his watch, set out on the path that would take him across open country to the headland. Up ahead, the sky was slowly darken- ing, scudded with cloud. The ground became increasingly stony and uneven underfoot, the elds giving way to granite cli s. Rabbits ran, startled, helter skelter as he passed. A little way out, a small shing boat wavered on the tide. Gulls wheeled overhead.

At the headland, he stopped and turned, looking back. Above the village, the road on which she would come curved steeply between the high moor and the elds beneath, a scrim- mage of rock and stone, rough bushes of heather and gorse. The lights of cars, soft, as in a mist.

How long since he’d seen her? Katherine. His daughter. A degree ceremony that had turned sour when, misjudging the moment, he’d been unable to nd the right words. Since then there’d been phone calls, his mostly, and mostly lled with protracted silences, terse answers, laboured sighs. His occa- sional emails went largely unacknowledged, as did his even more occasional texts. What did he expect? Twenty-three, ris- ing twenty-four, she had a life of her own.

Then, out of the blue: ‘I thought I might come down for a bit. If it’s okay. Just – you know – a few days. A bit of a break, that’s all.’

‘Yes, yes, of course, but . . .’

‘And no questions, Dad, okay? Interrogation. Or I’m on the rst train back home.’

He’d realised, after she’d rung o , he no longer knew for certain where her home was.

When he’d said he’d drive in and meet her at the station, she’d said there was no need, she’d catch the bus. Lengthening his stride, he was in time to see its headlights as it rounded the hill; time to see her step down and walk towards him – ankle boots, padded jacket, jeans, rucksack on her back – uncertainty ickering in her eyes even as she summoned up a smile.

‘Kate . . . It’s good to see you.’

When she reached out her hands towards his, he struggled not to stare at the bandages on her wrists.

At the cottage he pulled open the door and stepped aside and, ducking her head, she walked in past him, shrugging o her rucksack and jacket almost in one.

‘Just dump stu anywhere for now. You can take it upstairs later.’

Katherine stooped to unlace her boots and handed them over for him to set alongside his own, beneath the barometer in the hall.

Tea? Coffee? There’s juice if you’d rather. Orange or . . .’ ‘Tea’s ne. But rst I need to pee.’

He pointed her through the kitchen to the bathroom, filled the kettle at the tap and set it to boil. Did she look any di er- ent? Her face, certainly; thinner, cheekbones more prominent, almost gaunt. And she’d lost weight. At least, so he thought. It wasn’t easy to tell. Tall like her mother, she’d always been slender, long-limbed and slim. Distance, that’s what you should be concentrating on, the coach at her athletic club used to say. The five thousand, maybe even the ten. You’ve got the build for it, not this four-hundred lark.

She hadn’t listened to him either.

‘I thought we’d get something out tonight,’ Elder said. ‘’Stead of eating here. If that’s all right.’

The living room was small: a single easy chair, co ee table, TV, two-seater settee. Katherine held her mug in both hands, dark lines around her eyes. Outside it was all but black, the evening closing steadily in.

‘That’s fine. Just let me crash for an hour first. It’s been a long day.’

‘As long as you’re sure.’

‘Dad, I said it’s ne, okay?’

Fine. Not so many years ago it would have been accompanied by a rolling of the eyes.

The pub was further along the coast, sprawling, low-ceilinged, the car park all but full. Elder found them a table in a side room, hunched up against the wall.

‘Music night,’ he explained, nodding in the direction of the doors leading to the lounge bar. ‘Gets busy. We could go in later, have a listen.’

‘What kind of music?’ ‘Jazz, I think.’

‘You don’t even like jazz.’

Elder shrugged and opened the menu. Hake; corn-fed chicken breast; goat’s cheese tart; scampi; rump of beef.

‘You still veggie?’

Katherine answered him by ordering the beef. Wearing the same skinny jeans she’d travelled in, she’d changed into a red turtleneck top with long sleeves, the bandages only showing when she moved her hands towards her plate. He still hadn’t asked.

‘So where exactly are you living now?’


Elder nodded. East London. He had been stationed near

there for a while in his early days in the Met. Stoke Newing- ton, Borough of Hackney. He imagined it had changed a great deal.

‘So, what? You’re in a at?’

‘Flat share, yes. Ex-council. Nice. Not one of those tower blocks.’

‘You should let me have your address.’

‘Don’t suppose I’ll be there that long.’

Whenever the doors to the main bar opened, music drifted

out. Trumpet and saxophone. Applause. A woman’s voice. ‘Still working in the same place?’ Elder asked.

‘Sports centre?’


Katherine shook her head. ‘Got laid o . Ages ago now.’ ‘I didn’t know.’

She shrugged, looked down at her plate.

‘You’re managing okay, though? Rent and that?’ ‘S’okay. Mum helps out occasionally.’

‘She does?’

‘She didn’t tell you?’ ‘No.’

If she’d asked him, he couldn’t have told her the last time he and Joanne had spoken. Around the time of Katherine’s birth- day most probably, but that was months ago and since then . . . He had his life, such as it was, and she had hers.

Main courses nished, they were contemplating desserts when a woman on her way through from the lounge bar stopped at their table, a hand on Elder’s shoulder. Black dress, pumps, serious hair.

‘Frank. Didn’t know you were in tonight.’

Elder turned, half rose, some small embarrassment on his face. ‘Vicki, hi. This is my daughter, Katherine. Katherine – Vicki. Vicki sings with the band.’

Katherine squeezed out a smile.

‘Kate’s staying with me for a few days.’

‘That’s nice.’ Vicki took a step away. ‘You’ll pop in? Second

set’s just starting.’

‘Wouldn’t miss it.’

When he sat back down, there was no mistaking the grin on

Katherine’s face. ‘What?’

Katherine laughed.

The band were playing ‘Bag’s Groove’, the trumpeter soloing, eyes tightly closed, while the alto player stood listening intently, bell of his saxophone cupped in both hands. Piano, bass and drums. Elder led Katherine to a couple of empty seats down near the side of the makeshift stage.

When the number nished and the applause faded, the trumpeter leaned towards the microphone. ‘Ladies and gentle- men, the pride of the Penwith Peninsula, Vicki Parsons.’

Her voice was deep and full, smoky round the edges. She moved her body as she sang, feet planted rmly, one hand fast around the mike stand, the other hanging free. ‘Honeysuckle

Rose’ was slow and lazy, hips swaying; ‘Route 66’ swung hard. ‘Can’t We be Friends’ was knowing and, with a quick glance in Elder’s direction, playful. For an encore there was a rolling, bluesy ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do’.

‘Well,’ Katherine said when it was over. ‘Hands full there, I dare say.’

Clouds crossed the moon where it hung low over Zennor Hill. A bird shifted in the trees at the end of the lane and something scuttled past them in the dark.

Katherine shuddered. ‘At least in Dalston if someone’s out to mug you, you can see them coming.’

‘I think you’re safe here.’



He reached out a hand but she was already turning away. No

need to read the expression in her eyes. One thing she’d learned the hard way, he knew, there was no such thing as safety. Anywhere.

The interior of the cottage struck cold. ‘You want anything before you go up?’ ‘I’m good, thanks.’

‘Sleep well, then.’

‘You, too.’ Partway up the stairs, she paused. ‘If I hadn’t been here, would she have come back?’


‘Unless you’ve got someone else.’

‘Maybe. Not necessarily, no.’

‘I’m sorry if I’m getting in the way of your love life.’ ‘You’re not.’

He made tea, sat and watched the news on TV, sound turned low. It had started suddenly, as these things were wont to, an after-hours party, a lock-in at the pub; too much alcohol and, in Vicki’s case, a little weed; when she brushed up against him the third time in thirty minutes he read it for what it was. They progressed awkwardly from the side wall of the pub to the front seat of her car and from there to the king-sized bed in her at in Marazion, a view out through the window next morning across the tideline to St Michael’s Mount. That had been – what? – six months or so ago, and Elder was beginning to wonder if the spark, the sense of anticipation that had passed between them, was already in danger of fading.

Can’t we be friends, indeed.

He woke up on the settee with a start. A little after half past two. Switched o the TV. Turned the key in the front door.

Quietly climbing the stairs, he hesitated outside the second bedroom; after a few moments, eased open the door. The cur- tains had been left undrawn. Katherine lay on her side, ngers of one hand clutching a length of her hair, holding it close towards one corner of her mouth. A gesture from childhood. The other hand was wrapped around an end of the sheet where she had gathered it fast. Her breathing was even, her shoulder bare. Elder stood watching her for a while longer, then went to his room, climbed into bed and fell, immediately, fast asleep.

If that chapter has you wanting more then you can purchase it via https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B074BTTDJ8/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524149372&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=body+and+soul+harvey also make sure you check out the rest of the blog tour thank you Anne once again for hosting a fab tour.

2018, Author Love, novella, Quick Reads, Short Story

Book Review: Part Two Random Acts Of Kindness – Making Friends By Victoria Walters

Blurb: Escape to the beautiful town of Littlewood with Part 2 in an exciting new serial from Victoria Walters! Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Holly Hepburn and Jo Thomas.

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. Abbie’s ex-boyfriend and colleague, Jack, has arrived back on the scene… Will she be lured back to London or has her heart taken root at Huntley Manor? Louise has promised to be kinder to herself, but after suffering one heartbreak too many, she isn’t keen to try her luck again…. Can the handsome local vet convince her otherwise? Eszter, who is over from Hungary with her daughter for the summer, has been met with nothing but kindness since she arrived in Littlewood, and now she and her daughter Zoe are all set to return the favour as Eszter’s mother-in-law Anne finds herself with nowhere to stay… Eszter is determined to help Anne get back involved in the community after being alone for so long, but do they belong in Littlewood or will the three of them remain outsiders?

Review: Firstly, I have to have a little rant at myself. I pre-ordered this and it pinged through to my Kindle which I have on my phone and my tablet and it’s taken me so long to get around to it. I won’t mention my other post where this rant was heavily documented. Victoria Walters 110% has a way with words that hooks me in and has me up until the small hours. In reading part one I wholeheartedly believe that if you’re needing a boost, a release or just to escape these instalments of this book about random acts of kindness is exactly what you need.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it on here but I know I tweeted Victoria about it. After the Books and the City spring blogger evening (still haven’t documented – post will happen) on my way home after meeting Victoria and hearing her read an extract from the book, I was awaiting a train and ended up befriending a lady who was trying to get rid of unwanted attention from a man on the platform. As you do looking out for another woman – we were chitchatting and then an older woman who had got on shortly after I believe was crying on the phone we then took her under our wing. None of us had ever met and the lady I originally spoke to was nearer the older lady in terms of stops and she vowed to make sure she got to her granddaughter safely. That experience made me feel all warm inside and instantly took me back to Littlewood. Not enough kindness happens in London and I would love to see more of it. (Maybe another blog post on this)

Anyway back to Littlewood part one left me wanting more and part two sure was a rollercoaster of emotions. I want Louise to take more control of her life and to feel the fear and do it anyway. (In that closed off respect she reminds me of me a little) I loved how Abbie engineered the meet for Louise and Alex although I felt like I was silently screaming at them both a lot in this part. Victoria does something that also Holly Hepburn does too she writes a male love interest or partner that you should fall for but you’re like no you’re a creep. I have loved having Abbie and Louise together and I’m kind of scared to start part three because I’m like no no no.

Anne, Eszter and Zoe warmed my hearts wholeheartedly in this section. I just love the relationship forming and a bond being made – I don’t want to say too much there are twists and turns that will have you feeling a multitude of emotions.

In finishing part two I want answers – which I can have as part three is sat awaiting me on my Kindle but the other part of me isn’t ready to find out. I love the characters although a number of them are annoying me with there stubborn attitudes.

I want a coffee shop like Brew I’m sure Harry and Joy could give me the additional kicks I need and boost my confidence regularly. Although I’m currently trying to change my eating habits I don’t think Brew would help with that.

If you have read any of the instalments of Random Acts Of Kindness be sure to get in touch with your thoughts I’m torn in whether I carry on or read something else. So tell me what you think I should do and why? I’m intrigued to see what you say…

2018, Author Love, novella, Short Story, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Summer I met You By Victoria Walters

Blurb: It wasn’t love at first sight. It was a summer of love…

When Emma leaves her Cornish hometown of Talting for a summer in Devon, the last thing she dreams of is falling in love.

But sometimes the people who affect us the most come along when we least expect it.

As the summer comes to the end, will it herald the start of something that could last for ever?

Review: Where do I start. I have read the first part of Victoria’s Random Acts Of Kindness and I truly loved it. If you have seen my blogging post here you will see I have given myself a number of things to read not necessarily always what I wanted. So in being online I saw someone mention Victoria’s debut novel – The Second Love Of my Life and then I saw this short story prequel so I decided that would be my treat my reading for me and what a decision. Sometimes short stories leave you feeling like you didn’t know the characters that well or what not but this left me wanting more and truly in awe of Victoria’s gorgeous writing style. The blurb itself states “It wasn’t love at first sight it was a summer of love….” and I truly think that sums up this tasty novella. Although having finished this I saw the blurb for The Second Love Of my Life and I felt a lump in my throat. I can safely say that one will bring on the tears.

Emma is a loveable character from the off and John is so smooth and laid back – when his family expect him to be so much more. I loved the carefree aspect of the two characters falling into sync. It was written in the stars from the moment on the beach but it was so lovely to see their relationship change from friends to more. This story is written in the Then and Now I don’t want to say too much about that as I think you should go and read it yourself but it shows exactly how Emma is feeling throughout.

Victoria Walters is a genius with a feel good story and this has made me long for the sunshine…living in the now and letting go of what we cannot control is definitely something I should be doing more of. If you haven’t read anything from Victoria then why not. Check her out over on Victoria Walters on Amazon I’m hoping to have a another Victoria review for you later. I truly loved part one of Random Acts Of Kindness you can read my thoughts Right here and what I have read of part two has been just as amazing.

2018, Blog Tour, Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: The Weekend Spa Break By Anne John – Ligali

Today here at Hayley Reviews it’s another blog tour – this time it’s a cover reveal. Now this is a continuation of a short that I read last year…without further ado I give you The Weekend Spa Break…

Now how gorgeous is this cover although it screams wedding to me and not spa but it’s truly gorgeous all the same. If that isn’t enough here is the blurb to tempt you…


Friendships Online Series

Part Two

After finally meeting in person at the publishing party of the season, Constance and Estelle are determined not to let their friendship return to mere virtual champagne bottles and uploaded pictures of food.

It’s been a busy year, and Constance feels it’s time to reward herself with the spa break Estelle gave her for Christmas. Naturally, Constance wouldn’t dream of taking anyone other than Estelle, and this will provide the perfect opportunity to bond with her new chum.

As the excited pair spend some quality time together, they realise it’s not just writing books they have in common, but something that goes much deeper. After a few Jacuzzi sessions, facials, pedicures, and a massage by sexy Senior Therapist, Julio, everything seems to be peachy until an unexpected visitor turns Constance’s weekend of bliss … on its head.

A two-day spa break.

Sparkling water on tap.

And the perfect massage.

But who’s rubbing who up the wrong way?

About the author:

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series.  Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007.Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

Social Media Links –Author blog: http://annejohnligali.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/booksnauthorsuk/Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneJohnLigaliAuthor FB: https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/ Books and Authors UK:  www.booksandauthors.co.ukBooks and Authors UK Twitter: https://twitter.com/BooksNAuthorsUKBooks and Authors UK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Books-and-Authors-UK-674729805905507/

Previously I was on the blog tour to the first of these gorgeous treats for The Big Event and just in case you never saw that here it IS Thank you Rachel for once again including me I loved the first part so can’t wait to see what this ones like.

2018, Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Evanthia’s Gift By Effie Kammenou

Today here at Hayley Reviews I’m excited to be part of the Love Books Group blog tour for Evanthia’s Gift. This is book one in the Gift Saga.

Blurb: This Greek American family saga follows a multigenerational story of love, loyalty, and culture. An emotional novel about family bonds and the difficult pull between home and heritage.

In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets – ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.

The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean,

who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.

EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.

About the Author: Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends. Her debut novel, EVANTHIA’S GIFT, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her recent interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine. As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the book. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University. For updates on the release of Book Two of The Gift Saga follow twitter @EffieKammenou, and http://www.facebook.com/EffieKammenou.

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2018, Author Love, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Anita Cassidy talks Sugar….

I’m super excited to share this guest post from the fabulous Anita Cassidy. I truly loved Appetite and a lot of the messages within this novel hit a nerve for me. Not that I’m as bad as these characters but there certainly are little aspects that I share with them. If you remember back in January I spoke wholeheartedly about David as David’s story in Appetite was one that made me stop and truly think. I was part of the blog tour and I shared this from David Here

Here is my Appetite Review.Sugar and You…

Clear your plate? Don’t be so greedy! This will make you feel better… Enjoy… You deserve it… Don’t get fat… We are all taught how to eat by the messages and actions we see around us. Maybe our mother dieted, or ate a lot of low-fat but high-sugar foods and so we associate those chemical-laden horrors with health? Maybe we were taught to eat up, and so we never learnt to hear our body’s signals of hunger and satiety? Maybe we were rewarded with sweets: pudding is all too often an easy way to show a love that it can be hard to say.

We use sugar to celebrate and commiserate. It’s certainly what I do. Good day: chocolate. Bad day: chocolate. And it is, quite frankly, unhelpful. Especially when the reality is that we just eat and eat, hoping that the food will fulfil the promise we have been sold – that it will make us feel better – and then blame ourselves when we just feel worse…

For me, it was the comfort that the sweets provided, the sense that I had chocolate to hand and that meant I would be okay. The chocolate became a way to soothe feelings that I had not been taught to handle by myself or to sit with. And yet all the sweets ever did was distract me from the hurting for a while. After the binge (how do you stop? Once the third biscuit has been eaten, isn’t the seventh just inevitable?), I was always left feeling guilty and queasy.

The breakthrough came when I was writing Appetite. Through David’s story in particular, I began to unpack the story of my relationship with sugar, how I used food and sugar as a comfort, and the extent to which that was a habit from childhood. I realised that, even at six years old, I was hiding food, storing it away as a secret support for myself.

And now, despite the fact that I see the truth of it, I still find myself picking up ‘treats’ and ‘rewards’ for myself as well as for my young family. And I want to break that connection.

The change cannot come from outside: no sugar tax will effect a real shift. It all begins with thinking about how you interact with food and sugar. It begins with observing. What do you eat and when? What is your family story when it comes to food? What memories or feelings come to mind when you think about your childhood and food? About yourself and food? It is about seeing the stories we tell ourselves about food and time, to see where they have come from, and begin to think about which parts are helpful, and which are narratives we need to let go of.

For me, one practical solution has been to limit sweets and desserts to Friday-to-Sunday, and to only two items a day. This still often feels like too much, but it is the best I can do right now. It is about honestly seeing where you are right now and then making one change at a time: whole-nut peanut butter not jam, brown toast not sugary cereal, water not juice at lunch… Small changes made one at a time (and not making more changes until that one has mostly stuck) do make a difference.

And, to help unpack the emotional associations, it is about pausing when there is upset with the young, and not so young, ones and saying: You feel bad and part of me wants to give you sweets to make you feel better but how about we just sit together and have a cuddle? How about we do a drawing? Read a book? Go for a walk?

Work on my own habits and awareness is very much a work in progress. I am still watching how I interact with food. I see myself hiding a bar of chocolate (or three) in my drawer still – I did it this week… I have to learn to let go and trust that I will change more permanently when I am ready.

This work is the work of learning to soothe ourselves, learning to sit with some discomfort and pain and not instantly trying to push it away, make it disappear. It is a personal journey, and not an easy one. But it is one that we can take together and, by talking and sharing these stories, we can begin to make the changes we need to for ourselves, our families, and each other…

Thank you Anita. I truly am inspired by your words and I am about to embark on my own fitness journey. I haven’t decided how much of that I’m to share here but it could happen. Anita has kindly written another piece for me which I will share with you next week…

2018, A thought? A question, Blog Tour, Book Snippet, Off Topic

Blogging, blog tours and reading what I want…

First off if you follow my Twitter account HayleyTOfficial you would have already seen me talking with a few friends about reading for pleasure and reading for a time frame.

Now I wasn’t going to post this as I didn’t want to just sound like I’m moaning. As many of you who know me will be aware I have had a crazy work life and I haven’t been very well which has limited my reading time. In lieu of that I have left certain books to last minute thinking I would be able to get them read and it’s felt like a chore. I sat up until the small hours finishing a book and making sure the review was up because I absolutely hate letting people down. This week I’ve had a few social days catching up with friends and seeing theatre and on Wednesday when I was lucky enough to meet up with Catriona aka Fabbookfiend I had a headache for most of that day because I had pushed myself. Later that night I knew I should have read something for a tour but Catriona has simply said read for you and it truly did make me smile.

This is not me saying I won’t be doing blog tours as I love finding books and authors that I would never have come across. This is me saying I will do my best to honour my commitments but I want to read more of the books that I’m itching for.

Like right now I want to read Darren O’Sullivan’s Close Your Eyes I have read the prologue and a snippet and yes it’s awesome. I want to read Paige Toon’s Five Years From Now I have read the sampler and it left me wanting more….I have the next instalments of Victoria Walters Random Acts Of Kindness and having heard a snippet of the Sunday Lunch club I’m also desperate for more.

I just want to say I really do appreciate the bloggers who run and organise tours and because you guys are awesome I love to help but as it stands I don’t want my love of reading and blogging to die because I’m reading to demand and not for actual want. To lighten my blog later on there will be a second post featuring Anita Cassidy. Watch this space..

2018, Author Love, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized

Book Review: Part Three Stormy Weather at Castle Court By Holly Hepburn

Blurb: Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Cat is burned out from working long hours as a chef. They decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.

They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in the cocktail bar that overlooks the court.

Review: Now where do I begin….I had pre-ordered this baby knowing it would ping through to my Kindle/tablet/phone whilst I was in sunnier climes. Due to a weird account error/possible fraud it wasn’t that seamless although I did download whilst away. I can’t remember exactly when I started this beauty and I don’t want to moan too much on this post as there will be a separate post for that. Due to blog tours and other circumstances it seemed to take me ages to get to this.

I can now say I have completed part three and what a rollercoaster ride it’s been for Sadie and Cat. I don’t want to spoil the finer details in case you haven’t got to this instalment yet but Cat really goes through the mill once again in this instalment. Not only is she injured she also endures some emotional turmoil making me want to reach into my book and give her a hug. I was surprised by the circumstances but I’m now sitting here writing this thinking are you really surprised you should have seen that coming.

I am still not Daniels biggest fan he’s nicer in this part but I must say I was over the moon to have Adam back and I hope he features heavily in part four. I will be eagerly reading when it pings through I literally cannot wait. For Holly to have ended part three teasingly by stating “I have a really good feeling about what’s coming next.” Left me wanting more more more.

A gorgeous instalment full of biscuits, sweetness, friendship, love, betrayal and storms. Another quote I truly loved and have to mention is “You’ve had some seriously stormy weather lately and you’ve sailed through it brilliantly.” I have really loved these instalments by Holly and I look forward to what she writes next.