2020, Review, Uncategorized

Book Review: Pretending By Holly Bourne

Blurb: April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal – yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry.

If only April could be more like Gretel. 

Gretel is exactly what men want – she’s a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems. 

The problem is, Gretel isn’t real. And April is now claiming to be her. 

As soon as April starts ‘being’ Gretel, dating becomes much more fun – especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua.

Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?

Review: Pretending is by far the most important book I’ve read so far this year. In seeing this advertised almost instantly my interest was piqued. I’ve had Holly’s other adult novel for a while and after devouring this in a few sittings it’s definitely been pushed up my list.

This book is the book all women need to read whether you’re in your teens and just starting to think about boys or whether you’re in your 30s contemplating where your life’s taking you. Holly has literally listened to all of us young and old. All our thoughts, feelings and insecurities are mentioned. It’s such a raw and incredibly real book, even though April is a work of fiction she could be any one of us. There are parts of her story that will resonate with many women.

April could be any of every single one of us. Her worries and thoughts are just like us. I found myself thinking about my life and thinking of the lives my young nieces will lead and its definitely proved to me just how important of a message this book is. I don’t want to state too much but April’s thoughts take her on a rollercoaster ride and when she changes her thought process her life changes.

Holly takes on a number of beyond awful themes like rape and domestic violence just to name a few and she does it with such grace. I loved hearing about April’s job I worked for a charity although in a total different aspect.

This is a book I won’t forget and there are so many aspects that will come back to haunt me in the greatest of aspects. An important and chilling read and my fave gets a mention. Anyone that brings Ronan Keating in makes me smile.

2020, A thought? A question, Film, Uncategorized

Film Review: Bombshell

Synopsis: When Gretchen Carlson slaps Fox News founder Roger Ailes with a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, not a soul could predict what would happen next. Her decision leads to Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly coming forward with her own story, as well as multiple other women, inciting a movement that reverberates around the world.

My Thoughts: Wow! Firstly I was always going to publish a film review today but initially this was not the post I had in mind for today. Today I had hoped to share with you my thoughts on Lady Bird but seeing Bombshell made me desperate to share my thoughts on such a hard film.

I must admit when I first saw the trailer for Bombshell I was like this looks like trash, until I realised what it was about and then I was intrigued. If you’ve seen the trailer that’s not even the half of what you will experience.

Bombshell is an incredibly important story with such a hard hitting message for women. What saddens me is I don’t feel like it’s been marketed that well and it’s leaving a number of cinemas a lot sooner than I expected which is why I had to watch it this evening.

This film will should you the real importance of the me too movement and what those women went through.

Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron are all outstanding.

Over the years I’ve had a love hate relationship with Nicole Kidman come on I’m a massive Tom Cruise fan but I can say when I’ve seen a fantastic performance and she is incredibly fierce in her role as Gretchen she puts her career well and truly on the line for the sake of womankind and she holds no punches. There were a number of aspects to her story that I wasn’t expecting but truly empowering to say the least.

It’s an important message in showing the right and wrong in any aspect not just in the work place. There were a number of truly heart wrenching scenes where I was left overwhelmed and incredibly angry. There’s a particular scene with Margot Robbie where I was literally aching for her, you’re winded and truly heartbroken that someone so talented, beautiful and driven is broken down.

Charlize Theron is outstanding she’s fierce but also she knows her place. I loved seeing how her character unfolded.

Bombshell is a film I believe women should watch to be empowered and men should watch to know that that sort of behaviour is not ok and is not acceptable. I left that screening angry yet with a huge amount of gusto and girl power. It’s definitely a must see although I’m not sure it’s the sort of film I would watch again and again as it’s rather intense.

2019, Blog Tour, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: So Lucky By Dawn O’Porter

Blurb: Fearless, frank and for anyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.

Ruby lives life by her own rules.

And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

 Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.

Ruby feels like she’s failing.

Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

The bold and brilliant new novel from Dawn O’Porter, the bestselling author of The Cows.

Review: Firstly, I’m sorry that this has come so late in the day. What I must say is I love that blog tours take me out of my comfort zone and hand me books I would have missed. Until now I haven’t read anything by Dawn but I will definitely look into more from her.

So Lucky is a frank and very real book about three separate women and many others who feature alongside them. Showing that each of us have our own worries and strains in everyday life. Re-enforcing the quote you don’t know what others are battling as we are all on our own personal journeys. I loved that Lauren seems completely happy on the outset but even she is facing her own issues.

I’m a 35 year old woman who has just this month moved to a job where most of my colleagues are younger than me, but I’ve never felt happier. That’s not saying that my life is perfect and where I want it to be, because it’s not. I have many hang ups that are still getting me down but slowly but surely I’m battling them and this book has given me food for thought and something to smile at. We are all a work in progress and we all need to give ourselves a break with a bit of self love.

I am wholeheartedly trying to embrace a fully more positive mindset and so far so good.

Be sure to check out the book and the rest of the tour.

2018, Me, Off Topic, Uncategorized, update

My Fitness Journey….

Hey welcome to Hayley Reviews, today I am going away from bookishness and talking about me.

In my younger years I was one of those girls who people said could eat anything and wouldn’t put on weight that soon changed. I’ve never minded fruit but I can honestly say I rarely smashed my five a day. As for vegetables – as a child I had a best mate whose mum would serve up all sorts of veg and expect you to eat it whether you liked it or not. To this day I blame her for Brussel Sprouts – I did try them again quite recently and I can honestly say I can live without them.

If at the beginning of this year you had said to me that I would one be trying to actually cook rather than throwing something in the oven and two that I would willingly want broccoli, spinach and cauliflower with my dinner I would have laughed in your face. Now I’m upset if I run out of spinach or Broccoli or if Sainsbury’s don’t have Butternut Squaffles in stock.

They do say your taste buds change every seven years and they really do. I have such a sweet tooth yet it’s been curbed quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong I still love a hot choc and I’m still impartial to chocolates just not to the excess I would have before. I have also learnt that a lot of the time it was merely through boredom or because it was there. In working in such a busy environment where there are often lots of people around it was often easier to just snack on crap. Fast forward to August 2018 and the thought of some of the things I would have gauged on makes me feel physically sick.

On 16th April 2018 I joined Slimming World – a number of people asked me why and a number of people also said I shouldn’t have. Having seen a number of friends do well from Slimming World I thought what the hell. What do I have to lose. In joining I took one look at the plan and was instantly thinking what am I going to eat. Natasha my consultant was super helpful- she told me not to focus on what I wouldn’t eat and to look at what I would. My first week was a little strange and I somehow managed to put together some odd meals. In that week I managed to lose 3lb but I hadn’t had much speed food.

What is speed food? I hear you say. These are fruit and vegetables that help speed up your metabolism – quite quickly I found a flow that I could enjoy. With my breakfast I often have Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries and Blueberries which are all speedy fruits and with meals it’s often Mushrooms, Carrots, Spinach, Butternut Squash and Broccoli to name a few. Before Slimming World I ate Carrots and Mushrooms but the other vegetables I hadn’t tried in a long time.

On 13th August 2018 I hit my target weight – this was a very good Monday for me, I had said to myself as I got closer that I wanted to be at target before my family holiday to the seaside and I made it. As you know I’m away as we speak and I’ve had a sketchy food week but I have had some fruit and Weetabix on a few mornings and some semi Slimming World friendly stuff. In town I found a gorgeous Mushroom Risotto which if possible I would love to sample again before we leave – it hasn’t happened so far.

I know there are Slimming World recipes for this so this will be happening when I return home.

Alongside my food and my walking I started attending a number of fitness classes. I have been doing Zumba on/off for years and I still really enjoy it. I managed to get a few free passes to some Boxfit classes. I did Boxfit on Blackheath common and then I found Fight Klub. That’s another thing I wouldn’t have thought a boxing based fitness class would be my thing but I love it and when I miss it, I’m seriously annoyed. Last week I managed to fit in two sessions which I was also meant to do the week before but due to trainer sickness that didn’t happen.

What has surprised me….I’m now a target member- I’ve missed a weigh in week as I’m away but I’m intrigued to see how I fair. As I have relaxed a little this week I have been shocked at the changes. Back in April/May time I purchased this…

On the Friday night before we left home I decided my working week was done and my me time had started so I would sample this. I had two quite small glasses and found it super super sweet. I also realised that I can’t drink normal coke – I asked for a vodka and Diet Coke and was given a normal coke and yet again it was too sweet. I’m pleased to report my love of an Irish coffee and of fudge still stands but once again my body will tell me when I have had too much. I’m also noticing a difference to how I feel when I’ve eaten fatty foods.

The picture on the left was taken at a book event with friends on 30th April so two weeks into my SW journey and the pic on the right was taken in July around the World Cup. I’ve also had a number of non scale victories in the fact I need pretty much a new wardrobe and the stuff that used to be tight now fits.

Thank you to those who took part in my poll yesterday, meaning I actually finished writing this piece.

What would you like to see tomorrow? Book Review, Author Guest Post, or something different. You guys get first refusal on what tomorrow holds.

2018, audible, Author Love, Review, Uncategorized

Audio Review: Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square By Heidi Swain

Blurb: Kate is on the run from her almost-divorced husband who is determined to have her back, and she has found the perfect place to hide…a little cottage on Nightingale Square in Norwich, far away from her old life in London. But the residents of Nightingale Square don’t take no for an answer, and Kate soon finds herself pulled into a friendship with Lisa, her bossy buy lovely new neighbour.

Within a matter of days Kate is landed with the job of campaigning the council to turn the green into a community garden, meanwhile all the residents of Nightingale Square are horrified to discover that the Victorian mansion house on the other side of the square has been bought by developers. But when all hope is lost, the arrival of a handsome stranger is sure to turn things around.

Review: Right first off I have to mention I first met Heidi Swain last June and I am ashamed to say this is the first of her books that I have devoured. Although I did start Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market, and then Christmas came and went so I sadly stopped.

I decided to download the audio version and I got some listening in on publication day. I had truly adored the first few chapters that Heidi had shared on her blog and I loved rehearing that before delving into the heart of the story in the gorgeously sounding Nightingale Square. From the off I warmed to Kate, her husband had betrayed her in the worst possible way but the way she handled changing her life was awe-inspiring.

So the setting sounded beautiful and it makes you long for a close knit community like Nightingale Square. Lisa was a hit for me from the off. First setting eyes on her as a nosey neighbour but there’s so much more to her. I don’t want to say too much as I want anyone who hasn’t inhaled this beauty to find out more about Lisa and her passions in the OMG that’s so beautiful kind of way that I did. I want to say more on this but if I do that will also ruin the surprise. I also have to mention Heather as the three musketeers bond was truly enlightening to see as it blossomed.

The characters all have their quirks just like real life communities and work places and I truly loved the eclectic bunch that Heidi created. I have to mention Mr Luke Lonsdale in his own right. Now I have fell in love with many bookish guys but Luke has that mix of sophistication and just damn right down to earth and I love that.

Like any story there are a number of bumps along the way that will have you reeling for the characters especially that of Kate. I’m glad the heroine I liked from the very starts life changed dramatically for the better. As mentioned earlier I haven’t read Heidi’s other books but I have them and in reading this you also hear about a few of the residents from Wynbridge and I honestly cannot wait to delve into The Cherry Tree Cafe – I know it would be a regular haunt for me.

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square is so much more than a feel good read. It’s inspiring and full of hope and beauty in a world that is often plagued with sadness. If like me you are new to Heidi Swain then fear not this is a beautiful way to start her collection. I promise you will also be excited to read more about the Wynbridge contingent as soon as you turn the final pages of this novel.

international women’s day, Thursday Thoughts, update

International Women’s Day 2018

Today is international women’s day and I couldn’t let the day pass without mentioning every single beautiful lady out there. We are all beautiful in our individual ways if we were all the same the world would be a very different and in the most part a boring place.

I personally could feel better in myself but today I am aspiring to give myself the cheer of encouragement and motivation that I would to my girlies. I like to think I’m good at telling my friends don’t be stupid – you’re awesome or it will work out and I’ll be there to help in any way I can. It’s time for me to listen more to my awesome girls and to encourage myself.

I can I will. Go watch me…

I saw a comment mentioned by the lovely Isabella May today saying that she wants to see women stop apologising for eating cake – or anything else of a naughty nature for that matter. It’s true we do justify so much that we do. A little of what you like isn’t bad it’s all about moderation – don’t take away the goodness in the naughty by counting calories and instantly working out how many steps you need. It’s good to have a focus but not to the extent where you are upsetting yourself and depriving yourself of everything. Life is to be lived and we need to make it the best possible one we can for all those gorgeous ladies who came saw and conquered before us.

I’m thankful and grateful for all the inspirational women that have been and are still in my life. To speak of you all individually it would take me days but what I will say is each of you have touched my life in some way and I hope you know that.

The one person I will mention is my Nan June – you are forever missed in my life and each trip away I take I think of you. I loved being able to share my dolphin experience with you via DVD. I just wish you were still here even if you tried to fatten me up each week. Films and milk tray were such a beautiful time we shared and the films you showed me were fantastic. Since you have been gone there’s been a number of things I have seen and hope to see that you would have truly loved.

When I started penning this post I wasn’t sure what route I would take I could talk about many inspirational celeb ladies but I decided to look to those close to me.

Each of my friends and the ladies in my family are inspirational for different reasons and I adore each of you for what you bring to my life. Today maybe a national day to celebrate women but we should celebrate each other and our successes everyday.

Thursday Thoughts, Uncategorized

Thursday Thoughts – Sleep and Relaxation 

This week has been tough going physically and mentally. What hasn’t helped my mood is that I’m losing sleep thanks to the streetlight and or my neighbours night light – meaning I’m waking more and more so my sleep is incredibly disturbed which doesn’t help when you already have a busy and full on working week. I am looking at a black out blind to save my sleep. 

At work It’s SU2C (Stand Up To Cancer) and we are in full swing with cash collections tomorrow. 

Relaxation definition – The state of being free from tension and anxiety.

Recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.

I have some amazing friends and family who I should be more grateful for and I am trying to make more time for me. Whether it be listening/reading a good book. Watching TV or a film or just a good bath or a coffee. (Could do with an Irish coffee right now – although very soon I’m hoping to do a review post on something connected to Irish coffee) 

What do you do to unwind? Feel free to share your thoughts with me. 

Review, TBR, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Lemon Tree Café Part One A Cup Of Ambition by Cathy Bramley

lemon tree part one

Blurb: This is Part One in a brand-new serial from bestselling author Cathy Bramley.

Rosie Featherstone loves her high-flying job at a social media firm. So what if she isn’t married and settled like her sister? A relationship would only get in the way of this workaholic’s hectic schedule!

So when she unexpectedly finds herself at a loose end for a month, Rosie keeps busy by helping her Italian nonna serve espressos and biscotti at the Lemon Tree Café, a little slice of Italy nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire.
Worryingly though, the café’s fortunes seem to have taken a turn for the worse since Rosie last went home. But with Nonna blind to the truth and angry at the idea of anyone interfering, the two are soon at loggerheads.
However, just when Rosie decides it’s time to head back to reality, an old acquaintance suddenly reappears, and the prospect of life at the Lemon Tree Café begins to seem more appetizing . . .
The Lemon Tree Cafe is an irresistibly charming novel told in four parts – following the adventures of Rosie Featherstone in friendship, family and second chances. This is the first part.
Read more at https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1114776/the-lemon-tree-cafe-part-one/#sBqyPliq6Fzw8Ipc.99

Review: I remember when Cathy spoke about this four part series earlier in the year and I instantly pre-ordered it. Wickham Hall was the first of Cathy Bramley’s books that I devoured and completely fell in love with. This book has characters from the Plumberry School of Comfort Food so I’m thinking that will have to be my next Cathy read once this series is over. As I’m already intrigued by said characters.

Anyway Rosie is such an easy to read and likeable character and I warmed to her instantly, when she stuck up for her own beliefs in a board meeting. 

Having studied media and worked within those four walls I see how hard women work. I loved that Rosie wasn’t willing to settle so she walked out. Reinforcing the mantra of if you are unhappy with something in your life then change it. Saying that Rosie is lost without her busy schedule although that changes when she ends up working at her Nonnas Lemon Tree Cafe. 

Rosie is a family person at heart and she can’t bear to think of the cafe failing as her Nonna is too proud. Well what can I say part one has many twists and turns lots of little family moments and an interesting handsome stranger in Gabe.

Does Rosie really want the busy schedule or has the whirl of the Lemon Tree Cafe really got under her skin? 

I am looking forward to part two which as you have seen is on this weeks TBR pile. Rosie and her family are such a treat and their dynamic makes me laugh. 

In memory of..., Uncategorized

Remembering Nan June 

For those of you who are new to this blog all you will see is bookish chat.

Originally this blog was called life’s too short blogger and it was aimed at my volunteering for Cancer Research. I volunteered for a year after my Nan was diagnosed with Cancer the first time and I had watched a work colleague lose her mum and saw a friend pass.

I’m glad my Nan was still here when I began my Cancer Research journey, as she loved nothing more than trawling through charity shops. She would often ask me about my experiences and she had me on the hunt for a red scarf. It’s safe to say I never found a red scarf in good condition when she was alive.

But today I am going to purchase a gorgeous red scarf in honour of my beautiful Nan and I will wear it proudly. 

In January 2016 I started a new journey I became Assistant Manager in the Cancer Research store in Lewisham. So this blog was kind of redundant as I was no longer a volunteer. However, I didn’t want to get rid of this page as I was and still am proud of what I achieved here and where it took me.

Today is the anniversary of that horrid day when I didn’t make it to work, where we said goodbye to the strongest and bravest woman I have ever known. I used to love this day in January as it is exactly one month until my birthday now I remember saying goodbye. The only blessing is that me and my siblings, my mum and auntie were there until the very end.

It was a heartbreaking experience that will never leave me but we wouldn’t have let her be on her own. The other blessing is that my Nan was no longer in pain and was reunited with my Grandad.

So apologises for the change in posts but I couldn’t let today pass without saying something. Bookish chat will be resumed tomorrow with a snippet of a book that has left me eager for more.

Love you Nan June.


Author Q&A, Guest Post

Guest Post: Sheila Norton talks to Hayley Reviews.

Today I am delighted to welcome Sheila Norton to Hayley Reviews. As you can see from my previous post I read and loved The Vets at Hope Green part one. Before part two becomes available I decided to ask Sheila some questions. Welcome Sheila and thank you so much for joining me….

1. Sheila as an extremely new fan of your writing tell me a bit about your background and your books? After I have read each part of vets at hope green I hope to read more from you. 

Hayley, it’s so good to have you as a fan! I’ve been writing my entire life really, but it was just a hobby until I started having short stories published during the 1990s. Then my first novel was published in 2003 – followed by seven more with that first publisher and six that I self-published from scratch. The early novels were all in the ‘chick lit’ genre, but more recently I’ve written two novels set in the 1960s (my teenage era!) and one with grandparents as the heroines. You can probably tell my age from that! However, my newest books are with Ebury Publishing, who commissioned me specially to write ‘animal’ stories. The first two of these are ‘cat’ stories – narrated by the cats! These have been very popular and I loved writing them, but I’ve also really loved writing ‘The Vets at Hope Green’, which has both human and animal interest! I’m now retired from my day job, so writing is my main occupation, but I worked most of my life as a medical secretary in the NHS. I also brought up three daughters, who between them have now blessed my husband and me with six little grandchildren. So I’m used to being busy!
There’s a full list of my books on my website www.sheilanorton.com

2. Cathy Bramley has done extremely well from e-book 4 part stories. Whose decision was it to do The Vets at Hope Green in this way? 

It was my publisher’s decision, partly because of the success of similar series. When my editor first suggested it, I found the idea quite strange, and it was tricky writing the book in four parts, with ‘cliff hangers’ at the end of each part to encourage readers on to the next one – but I soon got into it and enjoyed the process. It’s always good to try something different. And now I’m really excited about the next one, which will be another four part series. Watch this space!

3. Is Hope Green based on a real or fictional place?

It’s fictional. But we spend a lot of time in the west country so I enjoyed setting the story in a Dorset village. I could imagine it quite clearly in my mind! The next one will be set in Devon.

4. Without spoilers tell us a bit more about the characters?

Sam is a Norfolk girl originally, who’s moved to London to work in an upmarket city vet practice, but her real dream is to have more contact with animals, and ideally to live somewhere in the country where she can have dogs and children! Unfortunately her boyfriend Adam doesn’t share her dream at all, but she finds comfort and understanding in Hope Green with her Nana Peggy – a no-nonsense, tough lady who speaks her mind but adores her granddaughter. In Hope Green Sam meets some interesting characters including Joe, the new vet who seems to like animals a lot more than people, and David, who walks local people’s dogs for a living. And of course – there are some lovely animal characters too!

5. What is your ideal writing day? Explain.

Much as I love my family and friends, and prioritise them whenever possible, I also love having a day when I have nothing at all in my diary, no shopping or housework desperately needing to be done, and can write as much as I like! After breakfast I’ll check emails and social media first, responding to anything I need to, then start by reading through the last few pages of what I’ve written in the previous session. If I’m working from a synopsis, which is the case with my new books, I’ll re-read the part I’m working through, and then get stuck in. I’ll break for a cup of tea after an hour or so, and again either to go for a walk or a swim, following which I’ll have a sandwich for lunch. Then check the emails etc again before carrying on with some more work on the book. When I’ve reached a good place to stop – ideally at an exciting part, so I’m going to be fired up to get back to it the next day! – I’ll make a brief note of what I’m planning to put next. Then I’ll cook dinner, if it’s time, or else relax with the paper, a book, or a computer game. I don’t often work during the evening unless I’m running tight for a deadline. I had to do all my writing during the evenings when I was at my day job, so I enjoy having them free now. I’m happy to respond to emails and social media while watching TV though – and enjoy writing things like this!

6. What are your hopes for 2017?

Well, of course I’m hoping ‘The Vets At Hope Green’ will be a success! The most important thing for me is that people enjoy it – I’ve never expected to be a bestseller, not that it wouldn’t be nice if it happened! And
I’ve just had the synopsis for the next four-part series agreed by my editor, and have started writing the first part of it, so I’m obviously looking forward to completing that, too. Other than that, at my age my chief hopes are to be healthy enough to enjoy life, and for all my family to be happy and healthy.

I already adore Sam and I haven’t yet finished part one and I know that’s only the beginning of her story.

Thank you! So pleased you’re enjoying it. And thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your blog.
Thank you so much Sheila it was lovely to have you here. 

As stated The Vets At Hope Green part one: Escape to the country is available now. Kindle link with part two available for pre-order Kindle link part two. I have pre-ordered mine have you???