Photo an Hour #45 ~ April 2017

This was a busy weekend, according to Instagram. I was apparently slightly hungover on this particular Photo an Hour day, though I can’t for the life of me remember where I had been the night before. I rarely drink anything, never mind enough to feel hungover, so it should be much easier to remember! The day itself saw me meeting up with my best friends for dinner, and then the following day I saw my great-niece for her first birthday. Weekends like that are nice, but I’m sure I needed some sort of lay down on Sunday evening to get over all the socialising.

07 08

7am | Up early, despite this apparent night out the previous evening. I still can’t work out where I could possibly have been.

8am | McDonalds for breakfast, because Hannah, who I live with, is the nicest person in the world and went out to get it.

09 10

9am | Back to bed, for some reading.

10am | Sometimes I’m just in the mood for some show tunes. More specifically, sometimes I am just in the mood to sing Defying Gravity as loudly as I possibly can and pretend that I sound just like Idina Menzel.

11 12

11am | We parked next to this HILARIOUS van.

12pm | To the shops, and in an attempt to ensure that I didn’t spend any money, I stuck mainly to shops I couldn’t afford, rather than those I can afford. I would never be tempted to spend the likes of £26 on a top, as nice as that white and blue stripey one is.

13 14

1pm | A quick stop at M&S, and I took the chance to pick up a bottle of Sparkling Florida Orange, because it’s delicious.

2pm | Back to bed, with chocolate and a book.

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4pm | Shockingly, having laid down on my bed, with my book, nursing a bit of a hangover, I fell asleep and missed the 3pm photo. By 4pm I was awake and about to paint my nails.

5pm | Attempting to tame my hair with the best tools I have. (Actually, that comb has seen better days.)

18 19

6pm | Off out, with Jen and Hannah, to meet with the rest of the gang for food.

7pm | Trying to decide on said food.

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8pm | I so rarely have dessert in restaurants. This might be hard to believe – I do not look like the sort of person who turns down food – but it’s true. I don’t know why; probably because I so often over-indulge on a main course.

9pm | But I went for one this time, and was treated this. I don’t remember for certain, but I’m sure I felt sick after this.

22

10pm | Yeah, I’m the loser who nearly always forgets to count their photos and make sure they end up with an even number so this doesn’t happen. It’s not even a good photo…

As you can see, your day doesn’t have to be scintillating for you to join in with Photo an Hour. Sometimes it’s the more mundane days that make for the more interesting photos (not sure this is the case this time, however…)

Our date for this month is Saturday 26th August (Bank Holiday weekend!), and if you sign up for a reminder email (in the sidebar on the right of this page), I’ll do my best to remember to send it. More details about Photo an Hour can be found here, and all my previous Photo an Hour posts can be found here.

 

Book Blog Tour ~ The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

9780751566208Serendipity is a property seeker. So much more than an estate agent, she, along with her assistant Kiki, travel the world hunting for perfect homes for their clients. One summer finds her on the west coast of Ireland, searching for a property in Ballykiltara, an idyllic town with a close-knit community and their fair share of folklore.

Ren (as she prefers to be known) finds the perfect house almost immediately, but there’s a problem; nobody seems to own the house. It’s known locally as the Welcome House; its doors are always open for anyone who might need it. Whether that’s hikers looking for shelter, or women seeking refuge, there’s always room at the Welcome House.

Ren tries to find out who owns it so they can negotiate a sale, all the while falling in love with the little Irish town, while trying to avoid the distractions of the hotel manager, Finn.

This is the first of Ali McNamara’s books that I have read; I know that she is very popular in the chick-lit circles, but I haven’t ever picked up one of her previous novels. I was pleasantly surprised by the story here, mostly because I wasn’t expecting anything quite so historical or mystical. It’s no fantasy book, of course, but there’s a fair sprinkling of mythology in the story, and the eventual mystery surrounding the house is not something that I was expecting.

Of course, this is a chick-lit novel, so there’s also a fair sprinkling of romance. Ren is ready to fall in love again after a traumatic relationship in the past, and Finn, the hotel manager, is the perfect man – mysterious, handsome and kind.

If I have one complaint about The Summer of Serendipity, it’s that there’s far too many cultural references. It’s one of my biggest bugbears when it comes to modern fiction; if you pepper your story with references to Ed Sheeran and Stephen Tomlinson (?) your story has a shelf-life of about five minutes. I also took some issue with the way that Kiki was characterised; she was described as being quirky and kooky as soon as we met her,  but somehow we were meant to believe that underneath all that, she was whip sharp. She wasn’t, she was ditzy and frequently got things wrong, and I found her really annoying!

Overall, however, this is a fun story, and one that will be an easy read if you’re heading off on your summer holidays. It has made me want to visit the west coast of Ireland as well!

The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara
Publication Date: 13th July 2017
Sphere
Provided by publisher

Album of the Week 013 ~ Evolve by Imagine Dragons

Imagine-Dragons

Album: Evolve by Imagine Dragons

Release Date: June 2017

My Favourite Tracks: Believer, Thunder, Walking The Wire, Yesterday

Album Notes: My Album of the Week posts haven’t been a raging success, as I started the series 33 weeks ago, and this number 13. I guess that’s a failure for that particular 35 Before 35 item! But despite the failure, I’m continuing with them and hoping to make them a little more regular, as I really like finding a new album to listen to every week!

The only prior experience I have of Imagine Dragons is their song On Top of the World – I think it’s been used on various adverts, and sports montages in the last few years. I haven’t listened to anything else they’ve done, but when I saw that they had a new album out, I thought it was a perfect contender for Album of the Week.

And I’m so glad that I listened to it, because I really like it. It’s been on repeat for a while now; it accompanied a full two days of proof-reading at work last week, and was the perfect soundtrack. I understand that it hasn’t had the best reviews, but who cares about reviews – when you like something, you like it.

It’s the kind of music that I like, I suppose. It has a slight 80s feel to it, which is no bad thing, and I like the voice of the lead singer. It might not be particularly sophisticated rock music, and it’s much more pop rock than it is hard rock, but it has given me an enjoyable few hours listening, and I’m certain I’ll be listening again.

(I feel as though I always have to apologise for my lack of ability to write about music; I have no words to describe what I like, I just know when I do like something! Perfect then, I suppose, for a series about music. Hey ho.)

 

 

Book Blog Tour ~ Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks

9780349415505When Cesca Shakespeare loses her latest low-paying, zero prospects job, she realises that she has hit rock bottom. Since the play that she wrote failed at the box office six years previously, she has ricocheted from job to job, struggling to make ends meet. When she is offered a house-sitting job in Italy for the summer, she decides that now is the time to try and put her failures behind her, and write a new play.

Her idyllic summer in the Lake Como villa is quickly interrupted by the arrival of Sam Carlton, the man Cesca holds solely responsible for the failure of her play; he was her leading actor, and when he walked out on the play and headed to Hollywood, investors pulled out and she was branded a one-hit wonder who didn’t actually have a hit.

This is a summer romance novel, pure and simple. I read it in double quick time, because there’s no denying that I am a bit of a sucker for a romance! Cesca and Sam begin the story in a classic romance way, as enemies. Cesca has held Sam in her head for six years as the reason for, firstly her play’s failure, but latterly as the reason that she hasn’t been able to write since then,and the cause of all her problems. To add insult to injury, when they meet again, Sam doesn’t even remember who she is.

Of course, as time goes on, and because they are thrown together by fate, they begin to soften towards one another, and the remote setting of the beautiful Italian villa allows them both to work through the issues that have been holding them back for the last few years. There really are very few other characters to contend with; the middle section of the book sees them coming into contact with almost nobody else.

With ‘The Shakespeare Sisters’ emblazoned prominently on the front cover, it’s clear that this is the first in a series about the four sisters; Cesca’s siblings get various mentions throughout the story, though for the most part they are distant figures who provide advice when she needs it, but remotely, by Skype or by telephone. It might have been nice to see the four of them interacting a little more; they are bound together by a childhood loss, and I hope future books brings them together a little more, rather than exploring their romantic lives exclusively.

I would happily read the stories of the three other sisters; this author’s writing style is relaxed and easy, and her characters are engaging and likeable.

Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks
Publication Date: 13th July 2017
Piatkus
Provided by publisher

May & June 2017 Books

MAY & JUNE

I didn’t get around to doing a books roundup for May, so I’ve combined two months again. I love having these roundups to look back on; sometimes books aren’t as memorable as you might like them to be!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman *
You can read my full review of this book here; I devoured in just a couple of sittings, having heard all good things about it in advance of its release. Eleanor Oliphant is demonstrably not fine; she’s still feeling the effects of some pretty awful childhood traumas, and as a result has no close relationships. We join her at the point where her life is about to change, and the journey we take with her is a poignant and powerful one.

The Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham
This is a book that has been on my radar for a while, but I’ve never actually got around to reading it. Now that there’s a follow up has been published (The Early Birds), I thought it was about time, and I’m so glad I read it! Stories of friendships that span decades are amongst my absolute favourite; this one follows four women who are thrown together because their husbands serve in the US Air Force together. I laughed and cried my way through this book, and I am really looking forward to reading the new one. 

Spandex and the City by Jenny T. Colgan *
Another one that I have read and reviewed already (you can read my review here) – this is the story of a young woman, Holly, who works for the city as a publicist. She inadvertently crosses paths with Ultimate Man, a superpowered hero, and finds herself thrust into the limelight. In all honesty, this one hasn’t stuck in my memory for very long; I found it a little daft and although it was fun and didn’t take itself too seriously, I won’t be hurrying to recommend it to anyone.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig *
I didn’t realise that I’d read this one quite as far in advance of the release date as I did – I assumed it was already out as I’ve heard so much about it, but it’s due for release on Thursday. Already being developed as a film with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role, it tells the story of Tom, a man who was born with a condition that means he ages slower than the average human. He’s over 400 years old when the story begins, but looks like a man in his late 30s. It’s a story of love and loss, and it’s quite wonderful. You can read my full review here.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld *
It’s probably safe to say that Curtis Sittenfeld is amongst my very favourite authors; she just has a way with characters, with plot, and with language that sings to my soul. When I realised that she had written a up-to-date retelling of Pride and Prejudice, I was instantly sold, and I wasn’t disappointed. Liz Bennet is once more our heroine, drawn back home to Ohio when her father is taken ill, and thrust, along with her sister Jane, into the path and social circle of one Chip Bingley, and his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy. There’s no denying that things get just a little bit silly by the end, with the grand finale being played out during the filming of a reality show, but I adored it. All the characters you know and love are there to be enjoyed, with a few tweaks that bring the story bang up to date.

Living the Dream by Lauren Berry *
Emma Derringer is very much not living the dream; she’s stuck in a job she hates, working for a boss she finds ridiculous, and hoping to get a real writing career off the ground without trying too hard, because if you don’t try too hard, you can’t be disappointed, right? Her best friend Clementine is fresh off the plane from New York, where she was briefly considered the next best thing in screenwriting, wondering how she’s supposed to kickstart her career when she’s living in her mum and stepdad’s spare bedroom and working in a bar. This isn’t that dissimilar to the books I used to read about young women living in the city in the early 00s, but the difference here is that the focus is on their work, and not on the men they are sleeping with. This feels completely up to date and fresh in a way that is a breath of fresh air!

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers.

Books in 2017 – 20

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