Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I know, I know, everyone else read this YEARS ago, I am totally behind the times! Just like the series ‘Breaking Bad’ (which I am still resisting) loads of people have raved about ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and I’ve just never quite got round to it. But with the Hollywood interpretation of it due out next month, I thought I should really get my act together and read it before I see the film. I hate seeing films before reading the books (although often don’t like the film once I’ve read the book, so perhaps I shouldn’t read so much!) Although with 4 children, popping to the cinema is a thing of the past –  like a full night’s sleep and size 12 jeans!

Gone Girl

So I finally started ‘Gone Girl’ last week and I’ve really enjoyed it. The story is widely publicised at the moment, I’ve kept hearing it on the radio in the trailers (which has been a bit weird) – but basically, on Nick and Amy’s 5th wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing and Nick is the prime suspect. It is written from both of their perspectives and has brilliant twists and turns – a real thriller and consequently kept me engaged.  I can’t really say much more about the plot without giving away major spoilers (just in case you’re the only person left in the world who hasn’t read it yet!)

A number of people had told me the ending was rubbish – and perhaps it was because that gave me really low expectations, I didn’t find it as bad as I expected!!  Whilst it’s a good, fast paced, thriller – it isn’t exactly literary genius – but it was very enjoyable.

It will be really interesting to see how the film turns out (but make sure you read the book first!)

Charity begins at my home….

Last Friday lots of people around the country were taking part in the Macmillan Cancer Support’s Big Coffee Morning – and I decided to jump on the bandwagon.  Macmillan were really helpful to my husband’s Mum when she was suffering with cancer – and to lots of friends who’ve had their own personal battles too.  I decided it could be a dual fundraiser, as some close family friends have a 10 year old who is fundraising for Birmingham Children’s Hospital who are currently supporting him through treatment for a brain tumour.

My fabulous parents arrived armed with an urn and some extra mugs, the most wonderful ‘Very Smart Cookie Company‘ were providing the cakes and I could waft about in my new clothes purchased this week with a personal shopping experience at John Lewis (there’s another blog post in there soon – bet you can’t wait?!)

Lots of my very lovely friends came and ate cake, drank hot drinks (decaf tea, normal tea, peppermint tea, coffee, decaf coffee, red milk, green milk, blue milk, sugar, sweetener – we were practically a branch of Starbucks!!)  and were suitably generous – raising a whopping £210 to share between the charities.

But aside from the fundraising – it was just a really lovely morning – I know I’m biased, but I have some very nice friends.

A big thank you to VSCC for not only the wonderful cakes – but also these fab photos!

Very Smart Cookie Company Cakes
Chocolate and coconut brownies, scones and carrot cake!
Competition to win CAKE!
Competition to win CAKE! (And fab cards in the background)
Lovely friends
Lovely friends

P.S.  If you’d like to donate to Fin’s fundraising for the children’s cancer unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital – then you can click here. xx

New York – the city that never sleeps……..

Next month the husband and I are off to NYC – sans children, for 4 whole nights.  Husband wanted to go for his 40th birthday – but as I was 37 weeks pregnant with our 4th child, Centerparcs with a load of friends happened instead! (It was a great time – and lots of memories were made, before anyone takes offence!!)  But 3 years later – off we go to the city that never sleeps……


We’ve got enough BA Miles to fly for just the cost of  taxes and charges in First Class with British Airways – which I am beyond excited about – and in my head it’s going to be totally Sex and The City for 4 days – but having just read Brummymummyof2‘s post – I’m now thinking maybe not…….

So whilst my heart is thinking cocktails / shopping / trendy clubs / amazing restaurants / strolls around Central Park – maybe we’ll actually just relish some time together to catch up on some sleep without a small child (or 4) coming and getting in to bed with us in the middle of the night?!? Kind of ironic in the city that never sleeps!!

First class flying should be an amazing experience – but what’s the betting after a couple of glasses (bottles!) in the lounge beforehand, we’ll be snoring before take off and miss the in flight entertainment / vintage champagne / Michelin starred cuisine?!

I am determined that jet lag will be our friend – and we’ll be up early each morning to explore all there is to see in this amazing city, and with 3 bags at 23kg each – that’s a lot of shopping we can bring back!  We have tickets booked for a show on Broadway, and restaurant reservations made.

But maybe just a little afternoon nap each day ……………

Book Review: Pop Goes The Weasel by M J Arlidge

Earlier in the year, upon the recommendation of someone I follow on Twitter (and subsequently Richard and Judy) I read ‘Eeny Meeny’ by M J Arlidge. It introduced us to DI Helen Grace (I imagine her as a slightly younger, feistier and even more messed up Jane Tennison / Helen Mirren!) and her crime fighting in Southampton (where I went to University – so I always feel an allegiance to the city / football team) It was a fast moving, graphic, chilling thriller – and I LOVED it! I immediately pre-ordered the sequel ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’ and it magically appeared on my Kindle last week.

Pop goes the weasel

The Amazon blurb says this:

“A man’s body is found in an empty house. His heart has been cut out and delivered to his wife and children.
He is the first victim, and Detective Inspector Helen Grace knows he will not be the last. But why would a happily married man be this far from home in the dead of night?
The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse: a serial killer preying on family men who lead hidden double lives.
Helen can sense the fury behind the murders. But what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is – or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase…”

You don’t have to  have read ‘Eeny Meeny’ to read this – but, this has loads of spoilers in it explaining things that happened in the first book, so you couldn’t go back and read the first one afterwards without knowing lots about how it would conclude.

Again I raced through this, really enjoying the fast pace.  The chapters are often quite short – so  ‘just one more’ happens a lot (and before you know it, it’s 1am and you should have turned the light out hours ago!) I have to say I guessed who the killer was pretty early on this time around – although not all of the twists and turns that went with the story.  It was also quite stressful to find the suburb I lived in 20 years ago, Portswood, being described as the red light district – and that students from my University were being forced into prostitution to pay uni fees!!

Having just read up a bit about the author, he has worked in TV for years – and I think that’s quite apparent from the scene setting and excellent descriptions of the areas and characters (surely someone will buy the TV rights for this?)  This is gory – and you need a strong stomach for some of it – but it’s worth it.

Yet again I’m left wanting to find out what happens to DI Grace and the team next – roll on 12 February 2015 when the final book in the trilogy ‘The Doll’s House’ will hit my Kindle.  Suspect it won’t be the perfect Valentine’s read!!

Wicked Wednesdays – 24 September 2014

For this week’s Wicked Wednesday for Brummy Mummy of 2 I’ve gone retro – and back in time to summer 2010.  I was heavily (very heavily as you can see!) pregnant with child number 3 – and the eldest was having a mahoosive strop because her brother had told her he didn’t like her!

Classic 18th birthday photo material…..

Wicked Wednesday

See other people’s Wicked Wednesdays here:


Family – The Photo Gallery Week 201

This week’s category over on The Photo Gallery on the Sticky Fingers blog is ‘family’ – now this should be really easy for me as loads of my posts concern family.

There’s the photo of me and my cousins here, the family on holiday here, the cross generational photos here and the slightly rubbish holiday selfie (minus one child) here.

So for this topic I decided to go with my original family ‘The Homers’ taken here at my 40th birthday party earlier this year (not sure where Mum’s looking but it’s the best one!)

Homer family

Back at the Grammar school my sisters – and Mum – and I went to, ‘Homer’ meant Greek Iliad and Odyssey jokes – I suspect it would be more ‘doh’ now!  This party was a fabulous night – from the speeches (where amazingly my husband didn’t offend anyone!) through the photobooth (I suspect the photos will feature in future weeks of The Gallery) through to the dance floor (obviously the Homer sisters were first on it!) it was just wonderful.  Having lots of the people you love in one place for a celebration is amazing.

I remember that back at school a lot of my friends were slightly scared of my Mum – and this is one of her many personality traits I try to emulate!  Everyone loves Dad – and his harmonising (particularly of Christmas carols) is legendary in my children’s educational establishments.  My sisters are both wonderful – and my friends as well as my siblings.  I shared a bedroom with my middle sister (I’m the eldest just in case that isn’t obvious – my youngest sister was gutted when someone asked if we were twins – there’s a 6 year age difference!!) and I don’t remember it being problematic at all.  We had to sew coloured threads into our underwear and socks to avoid nicking each others – but other than that pretty plain sailing.

So – whilst I have a wonderful family now – this is the family that made me who I am today.  #weeping

Do pop over to #thegallery to see what other people have posted for the family topic.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Book Review: You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

I have friends in high places who let me have top secret things. This makes me sound like Olivia Pope in Scandal – just without the amazing coats, shoes and sex with the President of the US!! (By the way, if you haven’t watched Scandal – then have a box set gorge – it is brilliant. In fact, it may have to have a blog post all to itself sometime soon!)

So – back to the top secret things. The aforementioned friend works in the book industry (more about her here) and so let me borrow a copy of a book not released until next month (blog post embargoed until October) and the sampler of a new book by Mhairi McFarlane ‘It’s Not Me It’s You’. It was only the first few chapters but I LOVED IT – this is what Amazon has to say about it so I’m not ruining any surprises:

“Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. Everything was going smoothly. Ok, she had a slightly rubbish job working for the council and she hadn’t seen her best friend Emma in god knows how long, but she’d been working up to proposing to Paul for months. This. Was. It.

But with one annoying little ‘beep beep’, Delia’s life is turned upside down and rather than stick around and commit GBH by punching her cheating scumbag boyfriend (who still wants to be with her) in the chops, she decides the best thing to do would be get some head space and leave for London.

But a new city is never going to be the answer, and with a dodgy new job in media PR, where a suspicious yet devastatingly handsome journalist seems to be sniffing around and endangering her job, Delia can’t run forever. Where did the old Delia go? And can she get her back?”

I literally CAN NOT WAIT until 6 November 2014 when it will wing it’s way to my Kindle.

Anyway – the secret sampler thing totally worked as marketing, as I obvs went and downloaded Mhairi McFarlane’s first book ‘You Had Me At Hello’ immediately – and I loved that too!!

You had me at hello

It is written totally in the style I would love to write if I ever do brave the book writing thing, and as if the narrator (Rachel in this case) is chatting to you, the reader, as her mate.  I guess the fact that I’m a similar age to the author (OK, just the other side of 40 to her!) means lots of similar reference points.  It flicks between the present day and uni days with ease and is a fabulous mixture of romance / humour / good guys v bad guys and some real laugh out loud moments (where you accidentally wake your husband up when you’re reading in bed way too late!)   There was a slightly ‘close to the bone’ moment for me when a character said that Rachel, having not seen her since uni, could be 15 stone and shouting at her 4 children – yep, anyone from the University of Southampton class of 1995 – that’s me now!!

It was a great read – and I’d love to know what happens to all of the characters next – which I think is always the sign of a good book – leave them wanting more (possibly the sign of a good ‘lost love’ too?!)

Oh – and you can be as lucky as me and read the first few chapters of ‘It’s Not Me It’s You’ as they are at the end of the Kindle edition of ‘You Had Me At Hello’!

‘Potty training is really fun’ – said no-one, ever!

This week we have grasped the nettle and decided to potty train our youngest.  Obviously there are no actual nettles involved (well, not yet – but if she’s caught short on the school run later then a wee in a bush may have to occur!!)

All of her siblings are now at full time school – so she can have some undivided attention (for once, poor thing!) People ‘helpfully’ say things like ‘oh, it will be easy 4th time round, you know what you’re doing’ etc etc – but it’s first time round for the bladder in question – and all of the kids are so different. She has shown absolutely no desire to wear pants AT ALL – in fact when we’ve mentioned being a big girl and using the potty, or loo, before she’s just flat out refused and said she wants to keep wearing a nappy!

All of my older 3 have been relatively late – 2 and a half, to 2 and three quarters – but with this one hitting 3 in 6 weeks, the clock was ticking (she’d already been marked down at her 2 and a half year check because of it!!)

Our lovely nanny started the process yesterday – with mixed results! Lots of accidents first thing – a big chunk of the day ok – and then when I got home at 5pm accidents galore again.

So I removed the night time nappy with trepidation this morning!


As she was getting a chocolate button every time she managed to do a wee in the right place, I did wonder if I could have a gin at that point too?!? But it’s a good job I didn’t……..

Apart from one accident on a dining room chair this morning (I won’t reveal which one in case any future visitors are reading this!) she’s been BRILLIANT. We’ve had about a dozen wees on the toilet (it would appear we’re bypassing the lovely pink potty) and the last half dozen of those she’s requested herself, it hasn’t been me going ‘do you need another wee?’ every 5 minutes!!  I think the excitement at bum wiping, flushing and hand washing is also proving a hit……

I am sure we won’t have totally cracked it (haven’t even considered the whole poo thing yet) but I am so proud of my littlest girl.

Maybe I should have a gin every time she has an accident………….

Wicked Wednesdays – 17 September 2014

So – my first #wickedWednesdays post (and I am phobic of the spelling of Wed-nes-day too!) linking over with another more experienced blogging Brummy Mummy @brummymummyof2

Holiday selfie

Now if only Monarch could have parked the plane the other way round on our way back from Faro to BHX, we wouldn’t have all looked so squinty in the family selfie! (Oh, and one of the children is missing too – never good…….)