Tag: review

The Crow Girl || Book Review

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“It starts with just one body – the hands bound, the skin covered in marks.

Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg is determined to find out who is responsible, despite opposition from her superiors. When two more bodies are found, it becomes clear that she is hunting a serial killer.

With her career on the line, she turns to psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund. Together, they uncover a chain of shocking events that began decades ago – but will it lead them to the murderer before someone else dies?”

This is the initial blurb on the back cover of the book I received for Christmas, my first initial thought was, it sounds very generic. But before I go any further I can tell you 100% that that synopsis does NOT give the book any justice at all.

AT ALL.

Judging by the fact you are reading this post I am guessing you’ve had enough of me going on about how much I loved this book on Instagram and just wanted to finally know what all the fuss was about. And you’ll already know that this is one of THE BEST books I have read in a long, long time. I hate starting a book and not being able to finish it, however prior to picking up The Crow Girl I had done just that, I got halfway through the previous book (U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton) and had just had enough, id given it a few hundred pages and it just wasn’t flowing right for me, I found it boring and trying to get through it became more of a chore, so I was apprehensive when I started The Crow Girl in case I felt the same. But I can safely say that was not the case, by the second page I knew this book, despite its healthy length was going to be one I couldn’t put down.

I’m first going to give you a little more of a relevant synopsis of the book (I have based this synopsis from a review written by the guardian, if you want to read the guardian review then click here, but it goes into slightly more depth and could involve spoilers) to give a more detailed account of what the book entails and then I’ll go into the disclaimers I think you should note before you chose to invest yourself in this book.

“First is the discovery of an unidentified young boy’s body , showing signs of having suffered sexual torture after the administration of an unusual sedative and then, after death, a bizarre process of mummification. This murder is investigated by Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg, a headstrong character who is constantly undermined for being a woman, and continuously challenges the female societal persona at the time. Her viewpoint alternates with that of Sofia Zetterlund, a psychotherapist whose patients include a child pornographer, a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder and a former child soldier in Sierra Leone.

Between scenes of Jeanette and Sofia at work, there are present-day sections taking place in a house where a psychopath has created a prison for a child. There are also flashbacks to the distressing childhood of someone who identifies herself as “Crow Girl” as well as other characters going about their lives, all carrying their own past secrets that intertwine storylines into a one huge thrilling journey.”

The first thing you’ll notice is the length of the book, it is over 700 pages long and the storylines get fairly complex, so if you aren’t one to delve into a more lengthy, hard thinking novel, then this isn’t for you. It most definitely is not a ‘light read.’

Secondly, you’ll notice the bizarre names and locations, this is because the book has beencrow girl 3 translated into English from its original format, which was actually written as a trilogy in Swedish. The book was originally three individual novels but as it has been translated and republished to be a worldwide phenomenon, they put the three books into one large book, separated into three parts.

Now for a disclaimer (of sorts), this book comes under the genres; thriller, mystery and crime. And most definitely it is aimed at readers who enjoy those genres, however it is not for the faint hearted, it’s not a simple mystery or just a rivetingly fun thriller, it is a fairly complex, dark novel. I have been going through a few reviews to get a variety of opinions and the majority of the low scoring reviews are due to the fact the violence (mainly sexual) is pretty graphic and readers have felt unable to get through the scenes. Likewise they have also found the psychological aspect of the book tricky to keep up with as it is very fast paced and I feel if you have no knowledge of psychological theories, trauma and the human mind, you may struggle to understand parts of the novel as it doesn’t necessarily explain, it is assumed you understand the basic concepts.

I myself study forensic psychology at university and am an avid documentary watcher of all things psychology related (the darker and deeper, the better) so I didn’t find the concepts particularly hard to understand, instead I found the use of the social sciences a positive and enjoyable part of the book. I find the concept of the human mind and the complexity of cause and effect very fascinating and so this only drew me in further. Without explaining the concept, it does cover the general idea of nature verses nurture, aswell as concentrating on the human psyche and how that is affected by certain events and can shape a future.

Because of studying the subject I study, mixed with my obvious choice of films/documentaries/books/etc, I am not effected greatly by particularly horrible acts. I am a bit of a psychopath when it comes to horrific things, they don’t affect me in the slightest, I can watch the most horrendously violent and sickening scene and still sleep very soundly at night. For this reason I didn’t find the graphic content of the book disturbing, I think the severity of the descriptions was essential in building the story and how you are supposed to feel in regards to the characters and the events. But, if you are easily effected by graphic accounts and explicit imagery, (mainly on the topics of rape, child abuse, murder and torture) then you probably won’t enjoy this book.

I realise I’ve now portrayed myself as the most cold hearted psychopath, which I can assure you isn’t the case, i’m just a naturally unaffected individual when it comes to horrible things. I mean, I will cry and have a fit if I drop my pizza on the floor, or when left alone at night will turn into a terrified child who anticipates a burglar breaking in and killing me every time, but on the whole, I can watch a horror without blinking or being frightened and can read some horrific accounts and not be emotionally effected.

My overall opinion on the novel, as you already know, is that it is one of the most thrilling, gripping and fully immersive books I have read. The characters (once you’ve figured out how to pronounce most their names) were all unique and engaging, giving the reader different feelings on each one and captivating you to follow each of their journeys. I often found myself at the end of every character’s narrative, being frustrated that it ended where it ended because I wanted to know more, and yet did the exact same on the next narrative. A major plot twist is revealed fairly early on in the book which I at first thought was unusual and wondered where further plot twists could go, but there is literally plot twist after plot twist. And they are all just as gasp-worthy as the last.

Although the general motives of the plot/characters may seem widely generic to some, I found the book uniquely interesting and portrayed the entire plotline far better than any previous crime thriller I have read, Anyone who even remotely enjoys a dark crime novel, I would suggest reading this before you read anything else, because this one is significantly more enjoyable, interesting, dark, complex and gripping than any previous psychological thrillers I have read. The negative point to that being, I doubt in the near future ill find a book I will enjoy as much as this one and will forever be comparing them to The Crow Girl.

John doesn’t read( I used to wonder, despite his high intelligence whether he could in fact, actually read) , he is a get into bed and put the horror channel on, then fall asleep snoring 10 seconds later kind of guy, but I have forced him to give The Crow Girl a go and so far so good, (it’s only been one night so I will keep you updated and let you know his opinions on the book aswell).

If The Crow Girl sounds like something you’d like to give a go you can purchase the book from Amazon by clicking:

Here for Paperback.

Here for Hardback.

Here for Kindle.

crow girl

 

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Introducing…Mind A Moment

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I feel weird introducing myself as the creator of Mind A Moment because, although I am, it feels much too formal and like there isn’t really much to introduce.

My blog was born amongst the chaos of dropping out of university after my first year. I had always loved writing and had shown a real passion for it ever since childhood but had never had anything to write about. Ironically, being so lost in life gave me some much needed direction in my writing. My first ever post  did really well, being shared by hundreds of young people who also felt confused about their future. This gave me the confidence to make my blog a regular thing.

I had wanted to start a blog since I was about 13 before blogging was ‘cool’ so all the positive feedback I was getting helped me to forget about the few people who might be laughing at me. I had written about something that nobody else seemed to be talking about and I had messages from so many people praising me for how relatable my post had been. Riding the wave, I scribbled down more things that I wanted to write about and began regularly posting about another taboo: mental health.

I think I always knew I wanted to discuss mental health on my blog because when coming up with a name for it, I wanted something that related to slowing down and taking a moment out of our busy lives. To me, Mind A Moment means mindfulness, a technique that really helped me during some of my darkest moments.

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Fast forward to now, my content has developed with me. I still talk about mental health but in a much broader context. I discuss my (un)luckiness in love, friendship and spiritual healing in a way that I feel hasn’t really been approached before. And through my journey of recovery and self love, my blog has been a creative outlet for me that I am sharing with the internet. My goal has always been to inspire people, to open their eyes and to let them know that they aren’t alone and I hope that I will always continue to do this.

If you like the sound of any of this or want to know more then head over to Mind A Moment or follow me on Instagram

Maddies Blog, Mind a Moment:

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Maddie’s Instagram:

 

To read the previous Introducing… article featuring Our Beautiful Chaos, Click here

 

[Written by Mind a Moment | Edited & Published by Dawson.xo | Photos by Mind a Moment, Maddie Jennings | Subject to copyright]

My SHEIN Spring Wishlist

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[Click on image to shop this look]

 

Seen as the feedback from my mothers day guide was all positive and the majority of you liked my gift guide i’ve decided to every so often share my fashion wish lists for the upcoming seasons.

The first one i’m doing is a major bargain spring collection.

At first i was very dubious about American fashion sites, wondering whether it was all a con and the quality of the clothes wasn’t as good, if there was a reason everything was so cheap, etc. But i took the plunge and bought a couple of items from SHEIN with low expectations, however they were great, they were just as good quality as Topshop and other high street fashion outlets. Now every time im online shopping i ALWAYS visit SHEIN, purely because it is literally an absolute bargain for some really cute finds.

The only issue, being a really weirdly shaped girl (as with any online shopping) is the sizes, i recommend using the size guides as they can vary drastically from other online shops. I’ve found that T-Shirts fit perfectly for me in the one size category, i like to have them a little baggy, otherwise a S/M fits me perfectly.

In bottoms i always go for the smalls as they can come quite big and i have sparrow legs, i like jeans and leggings to be skinny fit. Obviously this is far more difficult now i’m pregnant and have the waist of a baboon but the legs of a twig!

Always double check the size guide, but refunds and returns are widely accepted if you change your mind or they don’t fit!

Click on the title of each item to buy!

All items are converted to GBP from USD

(Please note, this post contains affiliate links.)

 

My SHEIN Spring Wishlist:

 

spring dress yellow

 

Ditsy Print Open Back Wrap Hem Cami Dress

£14.41

 

 

sunflower dress

 

 

Sunflower Print Random Single Breasted Cut Out Dress

£10.81

 

love tee

 

 

 

Letter Print Dolphin Hem Tee

£5.76

stripe tee

 

 

 

Contrast Striped Tee

£6.49

 

 

wild tee

 

SHEIN Letter Print Crop T-shirt

£5.76

 

 

 

stripe p.e skirt

 

Striped Tape Side Skirt

£7.21

 

 

jeans light blue

 

 

 

Extreme Distressed Roll Hem Jeans

£12.97

 

 

 

blue tie jumper

SHEIN Contrast Panel Sleeve Lace Up Hoodie

£12.25

 

 

 

floral blouse

 

 

Floral Print Bell Sleeve Top

£7.93

 

 

 

lace flower jumper

 

Lace Panel Beaded Sweatshirt

£12.25

 

 

 

tie neck blouse

 

 

SHEIN Tie Neck Ruffle Trim Floral Top

£9.37

 

 

 

just peach

 

 

SHEIN Fruit Print Lettuce Edge Tee And Shorts PJ Set

£10.09

 

 

6 sweater

 

 

Contrast Sleeve Varsity Print Sweatshirt

£11.53

 

 

 

grey and white dress

 

Abstract Print Cami Dress

£9.37

 

 

 

pink pinafore

 

 

Pocket Front Pinafore Dress

£8.65

 

 

usa jumper

 

USA Flag Print Crop Raglan Pullover

£10.09

 

 

spotty dress

 

 

Polka Dot Wrap Self Tie Waist Frill Cami Dress

£12.25

 

 

 

floral jumper

SHEIN Flower Embroidered Dip Hem Jumper

£18.74

 

 

flower shoes

 

 

Calico Embroidered Lace Up Sneakers

£25.22

 

 

knit pink

SHEIN Crisscross Back Eyelet Detail Jumper

£18.02

 

 

 

grey coat

 

 

Grey Lapel Long Sleeve Loose Sweater Coat

£20.18

 

 

 

pink knit

Knotted Detail Jersey Jumper

£14.41

 

 

1980 tee

 

 

 

SHEIN Letter And Number Print Ringer Tee

£7.93

 

pink boot

 

Lace Up Back Block Heeled Ankle Boots

£25.22

 

best buds tee

 

 

 

SHEIN Letter And Flower Print Tee

£6.49

 

leopard sunnies

 

Leopard Frame Flat Lens Sunglasses

£4.32

 

 

tie knee high boots

 

Lace Up Over The Knee Boots

£26.66

 

 

choker tee

 

 

SHEIN Choker Neck Solid Tee

£6.49

 

 

 

black sliders

 

 

Faux Fur Overlay Flat Slippers

£11.53

 

 

nap queen jumper

 

Letter Print Sweatshirt

£9.22

 

 

femme bag

 

 

Wrap Scarf Satchel Bag With Pom

£11.53

 

 

silk pj

 

Contrast Binding Satin Pyjama Set With Eye Mask

£11.53

 

 

 

 

For more spring bargains Click the banner below:

spring sale

 

 

 

[Individual images owned by SHEIN | Featured image owned by Dawson.xo | Subject to Copyright]

The problem with Big Bloggers

I always find starting a blog post is the hardest part of actually keeping up a blog, finding a theme, setting up your social links and adding pictures is the fun bit. But actually sitting down and thinking of something to say is a completely different thing.2018-03-19 10.38.19 1

I have quite a few people who say to me they’d love to start a blog but they just don’t know what to blog about, truth is, neither do i.

Blogging is half about having a passion and talent for writing and half about building up the confidence to actually share yourself online. You could write a fantastic blog piece about ‘All the reasons kale is good for you’ or ‘How to become a ‘girl boss’ in ten days,’ the typical kind of blog post you’re likely to see get thousands of hits but is it personal? Unless that person is a kale farmer or really is making thousands in a few days, then no it isn’t.

So should you make a blog that’s personal and bare all to the world or should you stick to the generic ‘popular’ posts? I realise I am being very hypocritical here because I, like many others, find myself slipping into the cliché stereotypical blogging category a lot of the time (and probably with this post). But blogging should be a passion, it should be something you are proud of and can happily say ‘I wrote this’ or ‘I made this’ ‘I took this photo’ and people to look at it and know that that is truly you.1521202204118

Trouble is, in the past few months blogging has become a phenomenally large, saturated, hobby,  with hundreds of thousands of people competing for a space on the popular page. Because of this competitiveness the lesser known blogs are pushed under the carpet and just like everything else in society, the blogger behind the page begins to try to conform just to get noticed.

Do we not teach people to be themselves and be honest no matter what other people think? Do we not teach people that looks don’t matter? That we should be individuals?

So why is their post not good enough to get the attention?

Whether you are working on an old school hot pink flip Motorola (always wanted that phone) or a brand new Olympic pen. Or if you walk around with a rucksack of different lenses and a camera that weighs more than your entire body, every single individual puts time and effort into the content they create.

It’s not a secret that I know nothing about photography, but the photos I take I try just as hard to make them look aesthetically pleasing as a professional would do. Sometimes I am lucky enough to get to pick the brains of Hayley and learn a bit more about taking high quality images but a lot of the time my content is mediocre.

It’s also no secret that I have the academic level of a goldfish and sometimes can’t seem to even get my words in the right order before a large cup of tea in the morning, but when I sit and write a post I put myself into it, grammatical errors and all.

IMG_20180317_095610_343The problem is however, in the last few months I put all this effort in and I don’t get anything out of it. Instead I see more and more beautifully taken photos by hired photographers in luxurious backgrounds surrounded by the biggest fruit spread dominating the popular page leading to a blog post on……. ‘How to gain 100k followers by just being you.’ But you read the post, you see the photo and it is completely hypocritical. You’re telling people to hire a photographer, is that being you? You’re saying to travel to these locations [Insert some amazingly expensive holiday you wouldn’t be able to afford to go on even if you sold your soul], is that being you? You’re saying photoshop yourself to show your curves and attract attention, is that being you? You’re advising to remove any necessities that everyone has in everyday life out of the image and only have high end, pretty looking objects in view, is that you? And most of all, is the entire blog post YOU? Because im sure we haven’t slipped into some Charlie brooker fantasy where everyone lives their life in a conformed list of instructions just yet.

It is disheartening when you put your real self out there and yet someone with 500k followers talking some utter shit about something they aren’t passionate about blocks out all your content altogether. Because that’s exactly what happens.

If your image doesn’t get a certain rate of engagement within the first 2 minutes, Instagram then blocks your photo from being discovered by people who haven’t engaged with you either; ever, or within the last 24 hours. That means around 60% of even your1521455157978 followers probably don’t see your posts, let alone finding any new followers. And if like me, you are shadowbanned (Instagram claim this is a glitch on their software) then no hashtags ever work on your photos and no exposure outside of your engaging followers is given. At all.

So ‘what’s the point in doing it?’ People say to me. I’ve heard so many people say ‘ I used to blog but I stopped because no one was reading my posts’ and honestly, I feel ya.

Sometimes I sit here trying to think of witty posts or come up with an idea that covers a topic that’s really popular at the minute in order to gain traffic to my blog or my Instagram, but then I read back and think, this isn’t me, this isn’t personal.

I want to look back in a few years and laugh like, ‘oh remember when we first got luna and she shat on my laptop because I took my favourite bra that she was chewing off her’ or cry because I remember the pain of losing my two babies. I want to look back and go ‘aww look how small they are here, remember when she just started sitting up?’ or ‘Gosh look at me complaining about being tired here when im legit dying of tiredness right now, I didn’t have a clue back then.’ I want to look back and remember my writing fondly, I don’t want to look back and read ‘5 self help books that cured me of depression’ because truth is in the future no one is going to care, I’m the only one who is going to care and im going to regret getting a few thousand views on that verses a funny update that reminds me of a great time or a feeling.

IMG_20180319_212906_025I’m not dissing ‘big’ bloggers, they work hard and they are great at it, they deserve the exposure they get but what i’m trying to say is don’t change yourself or your blog to conform with them just because they are popular.

You wanna write a blog on how your dog’s poo progresses through life? You do it. You want to write a diary entry documenting your mental illness in the most personal way possible? You do it. You want to share you latest tinder date in every gory detail? You do it. You write about what you want to write about, write what you enjoy and what you know that ten years into the future you can look back on and say ‘I’m so glad I wrote that, Id completely forgotten about it!’ Don’t write for someone else.

If your blog isn’t getting great views, that’s okay, it doesn’t mean its shit. It doesn’t mean you should change and fit in to ‘what’s popular.’ So please, please, please, if you want to blog but are scared no one will read it, just do it! Do it for yourself. If you already have a blog and are unmotivated by it and low about it, please keep going because you started it for a reason.  Remember the reason why you considered blogging in the first place? Was it to ‘get rich quick?’ probably not. It was to express yourself, share yourself and have a little place on the internet that’s all yours. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks of it.

YOU DO YOU.

 

xoxo

You-do-you[I do not own this image]

 

As a way for bloggers to gain exposure I have recently started up my ‘Introducing…’ series, so if you are interested in being a guest post on my blog in order to reach a further/different audience please check out my page and show your interest or let know on Instagram.

Thank you to everyone who has already applied to be a part of the series, you guys are what makes it worthwhile!

Introducing Brief

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

For something a little bit different, to try to branch out on more of the ‘Lifestyle’ theme i decided to share with you my ultimate mothers day gift guide. I.e. A list of things i really want for myself with the occasional thing thrown in that my mom might like…

(John you better be looking at this i ain’t making it anymore obvious for you)

It’ll (Kind of) be my first ever mothers day so here’s a guide for all of you if you’re like my sister, who probably still hasn’t realised mothers day is actually this Sunday and you need to rush to get a gift!

Enjoy!

GIFTS

 

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1. Mum, never forget how much you are loved. Jug | £9 | Sainsburys
2. Indigo Floral Velvet Cushion | £24.99 | TK Maxx
3. Oh Yeah! Cream Donut Sweatshirt | £16.99 | TK Maxx
4. Personalised Bear Family Print |£28 | The Drifting Bear Co.
5. Personalised Enamel Planter | £12 | Sophia Victoria Joy
6. Large Scented Candle | £17.99 | H&M
7. Ribbed Eyelet Swimsuit | £29| Topshop
8. Blue Rug and Llama Mug | £5.99 | New Look
9. Multi Coloured Mango Slogan Water Bottle | £5.99 | New Look
10. Listography: One List a Day: A Three-Year Journal | £14.99 | Waterstones
11. BOD Exclusive 20 min Mermaid Bath Prep – With Pink Shimmer | £11.99 | Asos
12. Textured Box |£8.99 | H&M
13. Michael Kors Sexy Ruby 50ml Fragrance Set | £40.78 | Boots
14. Two Tone Striped Tee | £7.40 | SHEIN
15. Vans Old Skool Women’s | £60 | JD Sport
16. White Plant Embroidery T-shirt | £5.99 | SHEIN
17. Gold Metal Edged Glass Star Ornament | £18 | Dunelm
18. Rose Gold Flower Ring With Swarovski® Crystals | £15 | Accessorize

 

FASHION

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mothersday

mothersday 4

 

HOME

mothersday 51. Hand-painted stoneware plate | £6.99 | H&M
2. Harlequin Savannah Cushion, Lemon | £55 | John Lewis
3. Disney Bambi Photo Clip | £1.50 | Primark
4. Shell Pink Pig Mug | £5.99 | New Look
5. Umbra – Steel wire brass plated ‘Hello’ ornament | £17.50 | Debenhams
6. Metal salad servers | £9.99 | H&M
7. Glass Candle Holder | £8 | Primark
8. Home Collection – Gold cosmopolitan globe | £26 | Debenhams
9. Prosecco Print | £4 | Slay My Print
10. Salvage effect metal Lantern | £42 | Next
11. Scandi Pom Pom Throw, Grey | £65 | John Lewis
12. Stoneware Cookie Jar | £17.99 | H&M
13. Boja Set of Four Gold Foil Champagne Flutes | £32 | Oliver Bonas
14. Copper Coloured Metal Shelf | £180 | All Things Chloe Jane
15. Peachy Clean Bath Matt | $39 | Urban Outfitters
16. Set of two Contemporary Canvases |£15 | Next
17. Luxe Bar Table |£295 | Oliver Bonas
18. Liv 3” Footed Planter | $12| Urban Outfitters
19. Dirraw Washed Medallion White/Blue Rug | £54.55 | Rosalind Wheeler
20. Ziggy 49cm Tripod Table Lamp | £44.99 | The Lighting & Interiors Group

 

 

*I realise i didn’t link the websites and to be honest i’m not going back to find each individual thing to link them now cause its 5pm and i want food, you’ll have to search for it yourselves.

xoxo

 

 

 

The Bell “Apparently”

So back when I became the boring adult age of 22, where no birthday is ever worth the rave until you reach 30 (which is a terrifying concept), me and john spent a few nights in Ticehurst at The Bell ‘Apparently’.

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We booked two nights in their lodge called ‘between the lines,’ each lodge is completely unique and has a different themed design. Between the lines was centred around literature and classics, the country life of sitting by a log fire playing old board games, (John is going to kill me for not being able to name an old fashioned game he played back in the dark ages when he was a child) and reading a romantic novel. The theme is evident throughout along with a cosy romantic vibe, the place was just immaculately beautiful and I can’t wait to book another trip. If you want to book a night or two at The Bell click here, you can book a room in the main hotel or a private lodge, like the one we stayed in.

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On the first day, after 4 hours of praying that kitty (or Jon snow as I like to call it to piss john off) – the car by the way – don’t ask – didn’t break down (very ironic, but that’s for a different day) we spent the time drinking in their bar and retiring to chill out in the lodge. We started up the log fire and john nipped to the shop to get a bottle of whiskey whilst I ran a bath. Anyone who knows us will know that baths are like the number one on our list of luxuries and one of the reasons we ended up together (besides Craig David – again, don’t ask) and seen as john left his copper, roll top, mother-of-all-luxurious bathtubs in the world behind in Kings Heath this was the best bath experience and we were making the fucking most of it. Like parents who have escaped the children for a night, we enjoyed not having Luna cry every time we kiss, or wipe her dirty arse across the carpet, or sit on our heads whilst trying to watch a movie. I lay in the bath and john sat on the balcony beside it, smoking a cigar (Mostly johns part, sorry mom), drinking whiskey and chatting beside the log fire. (As well as fighting over who’s music to listen to as the lodge had built in speakers all around.) It was perfect.

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When it started to get too chilly we ordered a Chinese to the lodge. I made john do the shame walk into the restaurant to ask for plates and cutlery and turns out beside the fact Ticehurst is the most aesthetically pleasing and beautiful, tiny country village, they also do the BEST chicken in black bean sauce dish I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, (and in 22 years ive had a lot). BUT they didn’t do yuk sung so y’know, point down to the beautiful village we wanted to move to. The village was so ‘British,’ the kind of country village that is portrayed to the rest of the world as what England is actually like, amazing architecture, 70’s cars, farmers delivering eggs fresh in the morning, fish mongers weighing out their fresh fish and a butcher on every corner. Instead of the pouring rain, vomit clogged drains and left over Chicken Balti on the pavement with bottles of bud and empty plastic packets of cocaine that is Birmingham.

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On the second day we took a trip to Hastings, where we took a basket of smoked cheese biscuits and selection of pates intending to eat it on the beach like a 1950’s couple, but instead we found a true crime museum and spent hours sitting in an electric chair, marvelling at preserved evidence from big crime scenes and learning how to make weapons out of plastic spoons. So again another perfect day. (More on Hastings another time).

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That night we ate at The Bells Restaurant and it was like a Michelin star, they really pay attention to detail and the décor of the place is just incredible. Morning, Afternoon and evening they have a centrepiece filled with suitable foods. In the morning is a spread of continental goods, pastries, cereals, fruit, and in the evening is a huge meat joint ready to be carved surrounded with various tapas. The menu’s they offer are ever-changing with the seasons and in pure autumnal country fashion we shared guinea fowl, mushroom arrancini, beetroot soup, braised leg and butter poached breast. It was completely different to what I would usually pick, I’m more of a frutti de mare kinda gal but it was divine and I will definitely be ordering it again. As for breakfast, i’m sure judging by my Instagram it was obvious I was going to have the eggs benedict or royale (I can’t remember which is which – the one with the smoked salmon) as that is my go to brekkie and john being john went with the biggest breakfast he could find…every morning.

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The hotel and lodges themselves are honestly phenomenal and well worth the money, the attention to detail is incredible, every document, tour guide, wine list and lodge guide was addressed personally to me, every day they served homemade cookies in bell jars and loose leaf tea of every single variation possible. The quirkiness of the lodge was so intricate I don’t think we even uncovered all of its magic and I cant wait to book again and try a different lodge out as every one has its own secret. Between the lines had a headboard made from novels and hand drawn images from notebooks. It also had a mezzanine floor with chaise lounges and crates full of records. The artwork throughout the hotel is all one off individual pieces with a story behind them and all the rooms boast their own poetry fitting with the ‘storytelling’ theme they have created. It was like the whole of Alice in Wonderland was compressed into a building.

I can’t really say anymore because i’d be here all day waffling on about how amazing this place is. So with The Bell’s motto “I will always love you, my friend” I bid you farewell.

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HEIR: Lauren Wood talks Heir, beating writers’ block and her mental struggles

*No Spoilers

I am lucky enough to be able to share with you a private interview I had the pleasure of doing with someone who I not only get to call a friend but someone I am proud to say is an internationally published author and winner of numerous competitions. Lauren Wood is placed high within the world’s top 100k of authors for her debut novel ‘Heir’ described as “A whirlwind of tension and romance.” Since the release of ‘Heir’ Lauren has become an active advocate for inspiring death row inmates to read and use their imagination as an outlet for their anxieties and struggles. She has donated copies to Prisons in America for those who are about to be executed to enjoy and immerse themselves in another world to escape their own and has been rewarded for her compassionate donation in helping those who society does not want to help.

Anybody who knows me knows I am the world’s slowest reader and half the time I’m mid-daydreaming of Tom Hardy not realising I’ve past three pages and still have no clueheir who the characters are, but when I found out that Lauren had written her novel I thought it was the perfect excuse to sneak off to the bath and let John deal with cooking the dinner and trying to get Luna to stop eating my mom’s plants.

I was lucky enough to receive the unpublished script to read through before the final edit was done and all the artwork had been produced and subsequently I had my own special mention in the acknowledgments which I’m genuinely considering framing to show off in the new house.

There’s nothing worse than feeling obliged to do something out of courtesy and so I was a little apprehensive at first thinking, how do I tell her if I don’t like it or break it to her that quite frankly its shite. But as you could’ve guessed by the fact I’m writing this post, i literally had nothing more to say to her other than ‘wow’ and constantly pestering her to tell me what is going to happen before I’d get to read it because I’m an impatient bastard. I am proud to say that someone I call a friend has written this and how honoured I feel to be one of the first to read it, there was no question about it that the book was going to be a huge hit when it got published.

The novel follows an ordinary girl named Fallon as she returns for her final year at college in the tightly knitted town of Kilmore Quay. The Irish town has a tiny population of only 400 people where everyone knows everyone and so when teenage girls begin to disappear one by one the town starts getting suspicious and begins to live in fear. Around the same time that the community are on the hunt for the monster that was taking their local girls, the lights to a long-abandoned castle light up and soon word spreads of new inhabitants in the neighbourhood. When Fallon finds herself dragged into the mystery of the missing girls and caught up by the mysterious owner of the castle her world begins to change. Her ordinary life begins to distort around her and she is faced with the cruel reality of the long kept secrets her friends and the people she’s trusted all her life have been hiding from her. She finds that no one she knew is truly who they said they were and everything around her begins to change, even herself.

I’m not going to be one of those annoying people who ruin the book or tell you what happens so that is all I am going to say on what the book is about. It is full of action and a thrilling page turner with twists and turns that will take you on the journey the characters endure. Full of imagery, the novel is captivating and the world created is truly immersive.

To purchase Lauren Wood’s debut Novel ‘Heir’ and support her through her career click here. 

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Here are a few reviews I have taken from various platforms about ‘Heir’

Jessica S – 3rd May 2017

Kindle Edition.

*****

Lauren Wood is a new author with beautiful ideas. Heir is a story about a girl called Fallon who becomes immersed in a world she knew nothing about. When it turns out her friends have been lying to her, she doesn’t know who to trust. I found the blurb intriguing and loved the story.

 

Eleanor Livett – 15th May 2017

Paperback edition

****

“I was so shocked when the books major theme is revealed. I thought it was a great surprise and I loved the characters.”

 

JamesSStubbsdoesreviews – 16th May 2017

Paperback Edition

****

“Complete page turner. Thrilling till the end”

 

Jenna H – 2nd June 2017

Kindle Edition

*****

“Couldn’t put it down! I can’t wait to read more stuff from this author, her writing and her passion are evident on every page.”

 

Bookloverjane101 – 10th June 2017

Kindle Edition

*****

“Thrilling book. I couldn’t put it down! I hope there is more to come!”

 

StevenUCI – 1st July 2017

Paperback Edition

****

“When I received Heir I was so grateful, having spent a lot of time on my own reading books I was excited to find a book that re-sparked my love for reading and imagination. I didn’t put it down and finished it within 2 days.”

 

Susie – 20th July 2017

Paperback Edition

*****

“ A story that captures the imagination and makes you question the world around you. It pulls the reader into a world where subtle hints can lead down the darkest paths.

 

The following is an exclusive Question and Answer interview with Lauren Wood about Heir, Writers’ Block and her mental struggles.levi

What led you to decide that writing a novel was something you wanted to focus your spare time on?

“For many years I had been doing my own creative writing and a few people had told me that I was good at it so I thought why not. My friend, who is also an author, published her own book so I thought I can do the same. I felt like I had enough practice and to just see the job through and publish a book.”

What influenced you when writing ‘Heir’ ? “In the Spring of 2016 I had visited Kilmore Quay to visit family. I had heard many stories of Kilmore Quay and I was so excited to go. When I got there I truly felt free. The air was so fresh and it just burst with inspiration and imagination. When I got home I had major holiday blues so I decided to write Heir and set it in Kilmore Quay. All of the places in the book are real and I’ve been to every one. Words don’t do it justice. I recommend to any reader to visit Kilmore Quay, especially if you’re looking for an escape”

At what point in your life were you at that helped you to grow ‘Heir’?

“I was going through a mentally hard time. I was battling a bad case of anxiety and depression especially towards the end of 2016. I put my heart and soul into Heir. I felt like that was my escape and I felt control of what was happening. It was my book and I could do anything I wanted with it. It felt good to put my emotion into my characters and reach out to people that were struggling too.”

Would you say ‘Heir’ reflects your personality and emotions? “Definitely. I don’t think it reflects me 100% but it certainly has some of my qualities in there. Whilst battling my anxiety, I wanted to create characters who I wish I could be. Those that lived without fear of minor things.”

What draws you to the fantasy genre? “Fantasy can be whatever you want it to be. You have the ability to write some really crazy stuff and people can’t call it unrealistic. There will always be Debbie downers who say ‘that’s not possible’ but with Fantasy it doesn’t matter. I felt like to really spill my emotions out, I should write a book where I am free without constraints of humanity”

What/where inspired the character of Fallon and the Setting of Kilmore Quay “Whilst I was down in Ireland I saw many beautiful girls with lots of striking features. Flaming red hair, tight curls, square jaws, you name it. Although Fallon isn’t Irish I wanted to her to have striking features too. Kilmore Quay just captured my heart from day one. I saw it as the perfect place to write a novel.”

What was the hardest thing you faced during ‘Heir’

“Towards the end of 2016, I was going through editing my third draft and I just lost all motivation. Nobody had read my book apart from my editor and I felt like scrapping it all. My anxiety and depression was spiralling and I lost love for writing. In truth, I lost interest for even reading books. It just angered me because I felt as if I couldn’t do it and that it wasn’t good enough. That’s when I became a pen pal and they were telling me about their love for books and it really gave me a kick up the arse that I needed. By the end of the year it was all polished off and I was so happy.”

Do you have any tips how to get through writers’ block that you used during the process of creating ‘Heir’? “Writers block is the devil. Honestly, I’m currently experiencing it now. There is and will be a light at the end of the tunnel. I wouldn’t recommend putting it off and ‘waiting for inspiration’ because you’ll only stress about it more and it’ll never come. I’d recommend leaving it for a night and come back to it at a time that you know you’re more productive at. For me, I prefer to write late at night around 9pm when it’s dark outside with both earphones in. Make sure to have breaks away and don’t force it if it’s not flowing properly.”

Are you working on anything at the minute?

“I certainly am. I’m writing a Crime/Thriller novel at the minute which is different to my usual genres. I’m not sure when I’ll be publishing it as it’s been such a slow process”

What was the moment you realised that you’ve actually written a published novel that people enjoyed reading?

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in. I think that I just got so comfortable with my plot, knowing the ins and outs that I couldn’t see how others would find it interesting. I think one moment were I realised people were enjoying it was when I was in work and colleagues would say they read a chapter and really enjoyed it and spoke to me about what was going on in the book to where they’d read up to. I think the biggest moment for me was when I got a letter from my pen pal after waiting two nervous weeks for them to read it. He is such a picky reader and very particular with everything. He began by saying ‘When I read the first three chapters I thought I wasn’t going to like it’ and my heart sunk because he was the one person I really really wanted to love the book but then he went on and said ‘but I stuck at it and I was hooked!’. Bingo.”

What is your main influence/inspiration throughout your life?

“I’ve not had the best nor happiest upbringing and childhood but regardless I see my inspiration as my Mom. She’s always encouraged me to follow what I’m passionate about and she was emotional that I included her in the acknowledgements. Everything I do is for her.”

Can we expect a sequel to ‘Heir?’

“Lots of people have begged me for a sequel and I am currently in talks about a sequel plot!”

Where can we grab a copy of ‘Heir’ ?

“You can grab Heir on Amazon. It’s available on Kindle or Paperback. If you do read, I would really appreciate a review as positive reviews give me a lot of confidence! I have also attached the link to my ‘Heir’ playlist, it features the tracks that I was listening to as I wrote and what inspired me throughout different scenes. Heir Playlist

Lauren’s Social Media:

Blog

Instagram

Twitter