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The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary Review

Title: The Flatshare Author: Beth O'Leary Publication date: 18th April 2019 Page length: 400 Publisher: Quercus About the ...

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My One Year Blog Anniversary!

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

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Can you believe this little blog of mine has turned one?!

If you've read a couple of my previous posts, you'll know that this blog isn't my first. It's not even my second or third, but in fact, my FOURTH blog, which is crazy! I've blogged on and off for the past six years (phew!) but after a while I fell out of love with each blog because it just wasn't very 'me'. I kept blogging about what I thought other people would be interested in which wasn't necessarily what I was interested in, and so soon enough, I gave up and quit.

Rewind backwards to a year ago, I decided to start blogging again. There was some drama in the blogsphere and I remember seeing everyone talk about changing their blog themes on Twitter and I remember thinking that I really did bloody miss blogging, so I decided to start up a brand new blog and I named it Our Little Plant House, with the intention of blogging predominantly about houseplants with the odd lifestyle post thrown in for good measure, but it was not long after that, that I discovered this whole new community for book lovers and I instantly knew that's what I wanted my blog to be about. An actual, real-life lightbulb moment, if you will.

For the longest time I had no idea there were a whole bunch of people blogging about books. Books are one of the things I'm the most passionate about and I can't really remember a time when I didn't love sitting down and getting lost in a story, but I kept this quiet for the longest time because books and reading weren't 'cool' growing up and you were seen as a bit of a geek (the uncool kind of geek that kids make fun of) so I never really talked about books, which looking back, is actually really sad.

I'm so happy that I've found a place where I can share my thoughts on the books I've read and just generally talk about something that genuinely interests me. I've never thought about giving up on this blog once in the past year and I've been pretty consistent with posting. When I started blogging again, I told myself that I would post when I felt like it and that there was no pressure to get a certain amount of posts up per week, but actually, because I've loved blogging about books so much, I've not lost interest in what I'm blogging about and therefore look forward to publishing a new post! I do like to mix my posts up every now and again with some lifestyle-y type posts and at the end of every month I write up my gratitude lists, which have actually really helped me keep a positive mindset and focus on the good things going on around me!

There has been some fairly big changes over the past year for this blog, the rebrand being one of them, but I've also gone through about 3 or 4 blog themes, but I think I'm pretty happy with the one I've got now. I've taught myself very basic html so that I can change things up and make my blog theme a bit more 'me'. I've also invested in a fairly expensive camera and I'm putting more time into editing my blog photos and I've tried to keep to a 'cosy beige and white' theme, if you will. I've also created my blog's own Instagram account which is really exciting! Initially, I was using my personal Instagram account on my blog links, but I don't post very much on there, and when I do, it's mainly about my dogs or my daughter, so I figured I'd delve right into Bookstagram with my own dedicated page! The book community on Instagram is so, so lovely, and I can't even begin to tell you how many books I've bought from seeing other people rave about them on there!

That's pretty much it for this post. I'm so proud of myself for how far I've come with my blog this year and I can't wait to see what the next year brings!
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March Gratitude List

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

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It's fair to say that March has been quite a tough, uncertain time for a lot of people. Now, I try my hardest not to dwell on the negatives (hence the reason behind these gratitude lists), but there's no getting around the pandemic that is currently at the forefront of the UK, EU and USA. Lives have been lost, jobs have been lost and there is an undoubtedly large amount of financial stress on families and business across the globe, not to mention the pressure on health care professionals and grocery stores trying to keep up with the demand.

People's anxieties are sky high right now. I for one would not consider myself an anxious person and I'm lucky that I have never had to deal with bad anxiety, but these times are trying, exhausting and unpredictable and I feel for every single person out there effected by what's been going on. I'm trying my best to remain positive and look for the little things to keep smiling about and I think that's all we can encourage one another to do. With that being said, here is what I have been grateful for throughout March.

It was my birthday. My husband treat me to a lovely little weekend break to York for my birthday and we got to explore all the bookshops and cute little cake shops! I love York but don't visit very often despite only being an hour and half down the road. It's filled with cute little cobbled streets, quirky building and beautiful architecture. There's always something new to do in York, whether it be a new restaurant, a new building to explore or a new little shop to pop into!

Daily walks with my two dogs. This sounds a bit like an odd thing to be grateful for, but given the current circumstances, our whole office is now working from home. On my lunch break, I've been walking my two dogs daily near the river that I live right next too, and it's done me a world of good just to get out of the house for half an hour. We employ a dog walker for when both myself and my husband are at work, but she's currently temporarily stepped down her hours whilst everything is going on. It's been great to get some fresh air on my lunch and have a little break from staring at a screen!

Spending more time at home with my daughter. Whilst I'm still working (from home, now), my husband has been furloughed for a few months, which means we don't have to send her off to my parent's house for baby sitting duties during the day. Seeing her throughout the day has been a massive help in terms of my headspace - that small human really does do an amazing job at putting a smile on my face!

More time reading. Because I finish work and am right at home (which still feels bizarre), I don't have to account for the time it takes to get home from work, which can be anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. Instead, I can use this time to read more and just have that hour or so to myself to settle down with a book, which really helps me switch off from work mode!

What have you been grateful for this month?
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March Book Haul

Monday, 30 March 2020

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March has almost gone, and what a cracking month it’s been for books. My birthday was at the beginning of March and any excuse to buy a tonne of books is always a welcome one in my eyes. 

I first picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Carke. This is a beloved novel by many and I’ve debated picking it up for a long time now and I was SO close to giving in on a recent Waterstones trip, but then luck seemed to be on my side because I saw this in a charity shop for 49p and at that price it was pretty much impossible to resist! This is a hefty book though and is over 1,000 pages long, but I’ve heard it’s amazing!

I also picked up The Doll Factory by Elizabeth McNeal on my lunchbreak at work too. This was 100% a panic buy and the cover was what swayed me - I mean, just look at it! Although the cover is very pretty, I've since read some reviews on this book and apparently it's a bit creepy in places and if you know me, you know that I DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR scary books. So, this one was a bit of a fail on my end but who knows, one day I might be brave enough to pick it up!

For my birthday, my Dad very kindly bought me two books I’d been after for a long time, and they are The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I’ve already read The Unhoneymooners and I’m hoping to pick up Red, White & Royal Blue soon!

My best friend got me A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher for my birthday too!

For my birthday, my husband treated me to a night away in York and whilst there, I was very much in a TREATT YO SELF mood because I bought three books all by Fredrik Backman. I read A Man Called Ove by Backman a couple of months ago and it’s one of the best books I have read in a very long time and I just knew I had to pick more of his books up. I picked up Britt-Marie Was Here, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Us Against You which is the sequel to Beartown (which I already own). I think I now own all of his full-length novels which I’m pretty excited about and will no doubt pick up one of his books sooner rather than later!

What books have you picked up this month?
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26 Things I've Learned in 26 Years

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

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It was my birthday at the beginning of this month and I've done one of these posts every year for the past 5 (maybe even 6?!) years, and they've kind of become a bit of a tradition and this year is no different, so here I am rambling on about 26 things I've learned in 26 years; some serious, some lighthearted, and some that won't be applicable to everyone.

1. Being an introvert isn't a bad thing.

2. A happy child outweighs a messy house. Sometimes you've just got to say sod it to how tidy the house is and let your kid have fun!

3. The whole world can go to shit pretty quickly.

4. It's okay to admit that you don't want anymore kids. It doesn't mean I love my daughter any less and it doesn't make me less of a mother.

5. You're never too old for a Disney film. This is just science. 

6. Books will forever be the one thing I will be passionate about. 

7. Celebrations behind closed doors are the way forward. I wish I could relive our secret wedding day all over again!

8. You'll spend months teaching your kid to walk and talk and end up wishing they would sit down and shut up. 

9. Galaxy is better than Dairy Milk. Not even sorry about this one. 

10. Gin won't solve your problems, but it will make them 90% better.

11. You'll spend 3 years growing your hair out to its natural colour and then decided that, actually, you hate it. 

12. You'll come to accept that you're an impulsive buyer. The two dogs can attest to that. 

13. Hoovering will become one of your favourite house chores.

14. But washing pots still remains your number one enemy.

15. Summer is your least favourite season and that's okay. Autumn will forever have my heart. 

16. Lasagne will forever be your go-to comfort food.

17. You've come to realise that you're quite a responsible person. 

18. You still don't understand people's obsession with candles. 

19. Zoflora is overrated. 

20. Water is the most grown up drink there is. Not vodka. 

21. Buying a new-build house was a mistake. Probably the most expensive mistake I'll ever make. 

22. I eventually want to buy a cottage. Ideally with wooden beams on the ceiling. 

23. As soon as you own pugs, all presents and gifts from now on will be pug themed and you have no say in the matter. 

24. Having a kid with curly hair makes parenting 10x harder. Again, science. 

25. Post natal depression needs to be talked about more. And it's also nothing to be embarrassed about. 

26. You'll never take the small things for granted ever again. Like walks in the part and visiting your nanna on a Sunday afternoon. 

So they are the 26 things I've learned in 26 years! I hope you enjoyed reading this - I tried my best to keep it short and sweet but these posts always tend to be a bit lengthy! 
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Book Recommendations That Will Lift Your Mood

Sunday, 22 March 2020

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The world is a bit of a scary, uncertain place at the moment isn't it? With more people being told to stay indoors, I figured I would put together a little list of all the books I've read lately that have made me feel good, in the hope that some of you will also find them uplifting and perhaps even take your mind off what's going on outside for a little while.

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
This is a book that is just so much fun. Tiffy and Leon share a flat in London but they have never met due to their conflicting work schedules, but instead they communicate through post-it notes and it's so, so adorable.

It's such a great read and one that had me laughing out loud on a few occasions. I really did love this slow-burn romance and typically I'm not one for slow-burn romances. O'Leary really does do an amazing job at bringing these characters to life and drawing you in to their situation; it's very hard not to root for these two characters because they are almost "too" perfect, but hey, there's nothing wrong with a bit of mushy-ness in a chicklit novel, right?

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
This is my most recent read and again, it was just so much fun! Olive and Ethan, who do not like each other, end up going on Olive's twin sister's honeymoon when the whole wedding party fall ill, including the bride and groom.

The writing style is so refreshing and it is so incredibly light and easy to read, which is perfect if you're feeling a bit down in the dumps.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This book is based on an ageing Hollywood icon who has decided that now is the time to tell her life story, and she does so by choosing an unknown magazine reporter and we follow both women as Evelyn's life story unfolds.

I really, truely, whole-heartedly LOVED this book to its core. Evelyn is complicated, lovable, loud and at times even awful. She is undoubtedly flawed, but also brave and compelling and ambitious. She clawed her way through grit to get to get where she wanted to be, and she never gave up. She dominated the big screen for more than 4 decades; every woman wanted to be her and every man wanted to be with her.

This is the perfect book to get completely immersed into and just forget about everything else going on. The book is so full of drama that it's hard not to be drawn in and it's one that I would read over and over again.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This book is centred around Ove, who knows what he likes and knows what he doesn't and is a bit of a grumpy sod. On the surface he is miserable and rude and likes to point fingers at people. But behind the cranky exterior there is a true sadness about Ove, and we see this unfold when his two next door neighbours move in with their two young children and accidentally reverse their car into his letterbox. It's a tale about unexpected friendships and a bitter old man who's life is about to be changed forever - whether he likes it or not.

I feel like everyone knows an Ove. A grumpy, witty, to-the-point person who comes across a bit blunt and a bit rude. But you might not *really* them, and that's what this book explores, but it does so in such a beautiful and entertaining way that you never get bored of reading about the grumpy old man. I found that after I had finished a chapter I needed to read another one straight away because I couldn't get enough of Ove's story and everything that led him to where he is and how he is today.

This is such an utterly heartwarming story and one that will certainly have your smiling from ear to ear the whole way through.

What books have you been reading to take your mind off things?
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