Prosecco woes

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My Sunday night revealed my not so scientific experiment that prosecco and a fancy HP slice desktop don’t combine to make a palatable cocktail.  In fact – the prosecco destroys the computer within SECONDS, even if it’s less than an inch of spillage out of the top of your flute much like the photo (although it was my hand rather than a second glass it was chinking against!)

Anyway – the WONDERFUL IT support company we used managed to rescue the hard drive (the fizz had completely screwed the mother board but not got as far as the data) and transferred it all on to a new machine for me.  Admittedly it isn’t now the fancy pants one you can charge your phone just by leaving it on the top of – but given my phone doesn’t have that functionality anyway, it doesn’t matter all that much.  And most importantly, they sorted it out by close of play on Tuesday – which is excellent service.

** This is not a paid plug for Infuse Technology, but just credit where credit is due.**

So I think everything is sorted, ok, the printer isn’t working yet, and I can’t access the work server, and I’ve lost half of my calendar appointments – but at least I can post on Facebook and Twitter and do the internet shopping.

However now comes the major stress – trying to remember all of the passwords to the websites that were just saved on my previous computer.  There are various combinations of different people and places – and my husband helpfully asks why I don’t just have the same one for everything – but there are the ones you have to change regularly, the ones that specify certain numbers of upper case / lower case / special symbols, the ones that have to be a certain length, the ones that can’t be anything you use for anything else – it just goes on and on.  I’m trying to ruin just the one evening by sorting as many as possible in one go and logging on to every website I ever use.

I will be the person rocking in the corner, nursing a drink, but keeping it well away from the computer….

 

 

 

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Book Review: How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne

Last year – I gave ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ as a gift to a number of friends because I loved it so much and just wanted to share the love.  Thankfully they all agreed it was a great book (could I have remained friends with them if they hadn’t?!?)  One of these friends reciprocated recently, sending me an Amazon gift card with the explicit instructions that I had to buy this book!  She’d been gifted it too – so was passing on the book love (a trend I very much plan to perpetuate):

How do you like me now

 

Here’s the blurb:

“‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs.  The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.
Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?
There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. She’s inspired millions of women to stick two fingers up at convention with her bestselling memoir, and she has the perfect relationship to boot.
But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.
Everyone around her is getting married and having babies, but her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about getting engaged. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind.
When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.
It’s time for Tori to practise what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?
The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.”

I liked this book IMMEDIATELY – although within the first 2 chapters both my profession as an accountant and the football team I support had been dissed

“Why can’t he support a better football team? One that actually wins? If you’re going to chain your emotional well-being to the outcome of a football team, why pick Aston Villa?”

but I didn’t take it personally!!

The very clever observational writing – initially of wedding etiquette in recent times is cringeworthingly good.  And I am going to make a suggestion to one of my friends who is quite senior in the West Midlands police about getting copies of thumb print trees from weddings to keep as evidence for future crimes!!

Social media is an integral part of the storyline – and it’s interesting to see it played out so much.  I am guilty of being a massive oversharer – but I like to think I overshare the good and the bad – so you might get a post about an amazing holiday in Abu Dhabi – but you’ll also know all about my piles (my husband is concerned he can’t go to buy a loaf of bread in our village shop without someone asking about my arse and its problems!!)  However I know an awful lot of people who filter (metaphorically and photographically) what they post – giving a massively different view of their lives to what is actually happening. I always find it crazy when people filter the f*ck out of a picture – when half of their ‘friends’ see them on the school run and know they don’t look like that!

Anyway – enough of me ranting about two faced / filtered posters – and back to the book!

The social media ‘branding’ is vital for Tori – it’s what her book sold, and what her public expect.  She can’t post that she’s doubting whether her chap really is ‘The One’ because that would bugger up brand Tori (similarities to Brand Beckham anyone?!). However her friends are settling down and popping out kids – and she’s not sure where she and ‘rock man’ are going to – and where either of then want to be.

It’s been said it’s a Bridget Jones for millenials – and I can see that it definitely has Bridget connotations – but Tori is very different.  Interestingly it’s whether she should escape a long term relationship rather than trying to find a man that is the crux of the storyline.

It is a really quick read – and you canter through it – wanting to find out what’s going to happen to Tori next.  A couple of times I wanted to give her a shake – or maybe a cuddle – and tell her that it will all be ok whatever happens.  It definitely made me appreciate yet again doing all of the school / university / first marriage / accountancy training contract (honestly, I wasn’t like a regular accountant #injoke)  / second marriage / first couple of kids – before social media was a thing. The additional pressure that must put on ‘the youth of today’ is horrific #oldfart.

I would suggest at mid 40s I’m slightly older than target market – but I really enjoyed the book (phew, I can still be friends with the donator!).  Unsurprisingly, given the blurb, the language is quite strong, and there’s an occasional (and that’s the point, only occasional) sex scene which is a bit eurgh – but it’s a vital part of the storyline.

Now I’ve lined this up for a category in my 2018 Reading Challenge, but due to an incident with a glass of prosecco and my computer, I can’t remember what it is – but it will be added once I’m operational again.

This would make a perfect, swift, holiday read – so I’d definitely recommend downloading / buying / borrowing from the library this summer.   I will also be looking at other books by Holly Bourne – and recommending the YA stuff to my 15 year old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Betrayals by Fiona Neill

I have to confess that I was given an advanced review copy of this by NetGalley – but it sat on my Kindle unread for months and months.  Not because I didn’t want to read it – but other stuff took priority.  However this has worked out for the best as it ended up a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2017 – and so it can knock off the ‘celebrity book club’ category on my 2018 Reading Challenge!

The Betrayals

Here’s the blurb:

“None of them would forget that week on the wild Norfolk coast.
Best friends Rosie and Lisa’s families had always been inseparable.

But that summer, Lisa had an affair with Rosie’s husband Nick.
And now, after years of silence, she sends Rosie a letter begging for help. A letter that exposes dark secrets.
Daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel.
Teenage son Max blames himself for everything that happened that long hot summer.
And Nick must confront his own version of events.
There are four sides to this story.
Who will you believe?”

So the book is told by each of the family members in turn – the parents, Rosie and Nick, and their children Daisy and Max.  Some of it is present day – and some of it is 8 years ago when their lives imploded.

It is VERY clever – and the way it weaves in Rosie and Nick’s careers is well thought through and plotted.

I can totally see why it makes a good book club choice as it’s so intricate – and you’re rooting for different people at different times, so there would be lots to discuss.

The term OCD is thrown about just because someone is a bit anal about you not wearing shoes in their house, or if people like their light switches all facing the same way (both of these could possible be referencing myself!) – but this shows just how debilitating proper OCD can be – with rituals, phrases and other behaviour patterns that can destroy a normal life.

There were a number of times when I shouted at my Kindle, as the characters just needed to discuss matters together and be honest with each other – but clearly that would have made for a less interesting book!

The betrayals are varied – the standard husband / wife betrayal, but also between best friends, siblings and family friends – it’s all riddled with it!

Overall I enjoyed the book – and am glad I have FINALLY got round to reading it.

 

 

I bless the rains down in Africa

Everybody loves the 80s Toto classic – and the people of Cape Town are particularly loving any rains due to a drought!

The Price family are off on an African adventure later in the summer.  And we’re all really excited.

This blog was supposed to be remembering family life – as well as book reviews (which are keeping me in free books, so we can’t complain, even if my family members CBA to read any book reviews unless they are specifically tagged!) but my documentation of real family life has fallen by the wayside a bit.  Real life gets in the way of blogging about real life –  and the hum drum of everyday life is probably a bit dull.

Anyway – we’re escaping hum drum to a bespoke trip to Africa – all planned by our amazing Travel Counsellor Michelle.

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We’re starting with a few nights in Cape Town – the 6 year old is well excited about visiting Robben Island. Then we’re up to the Victoria Falls area for a few nights at a safari lodge (the closest I get to camping!!) and then an Elephant Camp (although the soon to be 15 year old is traumatised by the thought of a helicopter trip over the falls).  And we’re finishing off with a week in the Seychelles to chillax, ready for the direct flight home to the UK (it only started in the Spring – but we’re very glad it did!)

With our wide age range of kids, there aren’t that many years that the youngest 2 are old enough to appreciate such adventures, and the older 2 still want to come on holiday with us (although as friends have pointed out, if we’re doing holidays like that – they’ll probably want to come with us forever!!)

The husband is so excited he’s bought special aftershave and retrieved his leopard print thong from the back of his pants drawer #luckyAfrica

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We will keep you posted of our exploits – I am nothing but honest with my reviews on here and social media – but for now, altogether now:

“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(I bless the rain)
I bless the rains down in Africa
(I bless the rain)
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(Ah, gonna take the time)
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had”

 

 

Book Review: Confessions of a First-Time Mum by Poppy Dolan

I received a email from the marketing team behind this book asking if I wanted an advanced copy in exchange for a review.  Obviously I said yes (and was quite excited someone had approached me rather than me begging on NetGalley!)

Here’s the blurb:

“Stevie’s life has changed beyond recognition since having her first baby. She loves being a mum, but between the isolation and being vomited on five times a day, she really wishes she had someone to talk to.

With husband Ted working hard to keep the family afloat, Stevie really doesn’t want to burden him with her feelings. Turning to the internet, Stevie starts the anonymous First-Time Mum blog and blasts the rose-tinted glasses of parenthood right off her readers.

In the real world, Stevie meets the formidable Nelle and gorgeous Will, along with their own little treasures, and starts to realise that being a ‘perfect mum’ isn’t everything. But when the secret blog goes viral, Stevie must make some tough choices about who she wants to be, and whether she’s ready for the world to know the truth…”

 

Confessions of a first time mum

The press release sent with my copy said it would be perfect for fans of The Unmumsy Mum, Gill Sims and Emma Robinson and my one concern was ‘surely this has been done to death’, and I was worried it would be same old same old baby stuff.  Within the first few pages the word ‘eleventy’ had been used – and I know that one single person doesn’t have ownership of a word – but to me that’s a Gill Sims word – so my hackles were up!!

However, my fears were unfounded – and I really enjoyed the book.

Yes, some of the topics were things that are covered by many current Mum blogs – such as loving your children fiercely – but still finding them annoying, or wanting to step off the treadmill occasionally – but all was done in an honest and, at times, amusing way.

My 4 kids range from almost 15 down to 6, and there was nothing ‘honest’ about how hard motherhood was when my eldest were born.  I was lucky I had sisters / friends who’d had babies before me and were honest about it – as otherwise I really would have thought I was rubbish at being a Mum.  The fact that new Mums now have this support – and social media empathy – must make a massive difference – and that is the whole premise of ‘First-Time Mum’.

At times you wanted to give Stevie a bit of a shake – especially about being upfront with her husband about how she was feeling – but you could see how things easily spiral out of control.  Stevie’s new friends are great – and you can really get the team vibe between them.

I also liked the pub quiz section – who doesn’t love a pub quiz, and the random facts you get to know as a parent (and I LOVED Fantasy Football – and really hope football is coming home this week!!!)

This is a fun and easy, quick read – perfect for night feeds if you have a newborn (or for lying with a 6 year old with a horrid ear infection in my case!)

Thank you Canelo for my advanced review copy – and I’ve been a bit slack with not reading it for 3 weeks – so it’s not advanced now, and you can buy it already!

I’m not sure I can slot this into my 2018 Reading Challenge anywhere – although it would work as a book published in 2018 if I hadn’t already filled that category!

 

 

 

Book Review: Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson

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I saw this on Netgalley and thought it looked interesting and so requested it – and was delighted to receive an advance review copy.  Although I’ve been a bit slack and not read it until after publication – but at least that means you can buy it now, rather than me tempting you and then you having to wait – for which I have form!!

Here’s the blurb that enticed me:

“What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?
All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.
Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.
That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?
A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?”

Now – I don’t like reviews to have spoilers, but sometimes parts of the storyline are so fundamental, and also so difficult for people who’ve been through situations, that I think the blurb needs to be upfront.   So – if you don’t want to know any more then stop now – but I think it needs to be said that this book’s entire premise is based around the death of a young child.  Having watched a friend lose her son (in his instance to an evil b*stard brain tumour) I think it could be really upsetting for someone to pick up this book not knowing that was going to blindside them within the first chapter.

The first half of the book is set in the immediate aftermath of the death of Phoebe in the mid 80s.  It is written just beautifully and is very emotional.  I found it hard going at times – emotionally.  But you wanted to keep reading and know what happened.  Each chapter is at a new date and it specifies the number of days since Phoebe’s death – starting in single digits and increasing.

The book is set in Southampton – where I went to University – and the campus, and the Common both feature – and I always like having such reference points – although geographical knowledge definitely wasn’t fundamental to enjoying the book.

The second half of the book is much closer to now – in fact 9,000+ days from Phoebe’s death.  It’s very interesting picking up with the characters – from the Sadler family and peripheral people – after such a large period of time has passed. This chunk of the book finally explains what actually happened to Phoebe – and how many of the central characters blames themselves for the events of that fateful day. It felt like the whole  book was building to the point where you found out what happened.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, and the way the individuals develop is really interesting.  It ends with potential new beginnings for most of the characters – which is lovely after a read that was harrowing at times.

This is Laura Pearson’s debut novel – but I am sure it won’t be her last, as it is really good, well written, pacy and keeps you wanting to read on. I’m not sure there could be a sequel – although I’d love to know what happens to Esme and Bea in particular.

Now – again – I’m going to try and shoe horn this into a category on my reading challenge 2018 – this time I’m going for ‘A book with song lyrics in the titles’, as Missing Pieces is a song by Jack White.  And yes, I did have to Google that – but it felt quite apt, as my son’s guitar teacher had cancelled his lesson that night as he was off to see Jack White in concert in London. #spooky.  Equally it could fit into ‘A book that involves a bookstore or library’ – let’s see what categories I need to juggle about with come December!