Sunday, 3 November 2013

#BEDN : Light (also known as Goodbye Blog!)

Today, I'm writing about light in the sense of a lightness of spirit.

Early this morning, something very little and quite inconsequential happened but in that moment, I realised that it's time to stop writing this blog. And a weight lifted.

I'm not intending to stop writing completely. I'm actually in the process of setting up a new blog, which will primarily focus on the books I review, as well as (potentially) some other random stuff. I'm actually really looking forwards to shining a light on the things I enjoy rather than on my inner self. Focusing on things I do rather than dwelling on how I feel is, I think, what I need to be doing right now.

So thank you blog! For the opportunities you gave me and the people I was able to meet through you. But most of all, thank you to YOU; for reading my blog and supporting me when times got tough.

You can still find me on twitter (by clicking here) and  I'll post the details of my new blog once it's up in case you want to take a look.

Until then, goodbye everyone!


Saturday, 2 November 2013

#BEDN : Something I Made


Today I've made a start on putting aside the belief system that I've built most of my adult life around.

I'm not attractive enough...
I've put on too much weight...
I can't change my eating habits...
I make bad decisions...
I'm stuck in my job...
I'll never be a success...
I'll never achieve my dreams...
I'm too tired to make any changes...
I'm too scared to make any changes...

Because I'm not good enough.

These are the things I tell myself but I realised today that NO-ONE ELSE THINKS THEM! I am the ONLY PERSON that thinks these things about myself. So if I'm not good enough, then for whom? whose standards do I think I'm not living up to? Because, quite obviously, they're NOT REAL!


So from today, I am making a concerted effort to ignore any negative thoughts and to think twice about what I say in case I inadvertently slip into auto-pilot and say stuff that feeds into my old beliefs.



 I'm under no illusion that it'll be easy and I'll admit that I'm scared about doing this. After all, if I actively step out of the role that I've cast myself in then where will that leave me? who will I be then?

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through-ough-ough
                                                                       -Katy Perry, "Firework"

I'll try to remember that, Katy.

Friday, 1 November 2013

#BEDN : Introductions

Evening all! Although I haven't blogged much lately, I've been thinking about my blog a lot and whether I want to carry on with it, or even blog at all anymore.

And then I came across Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) over at Rosalilium and I thought I'd sign up and use it as an opportunity to properly focus on exploring how I'm feeling and where I want to go next.

So to everyone who comes across this post as part of #BEDN: hello! *waves*.

I started blogging 2 years ago when my youngest was about 4 months old. I was starting to struggle with 2 under 2 and slipping into postnatal depression (although I didn't realise it at the time). The idea was that I'd use my blog to channel my transformation into "A Hell Of A Woman".

That hasn't happened though and what I've recently realised is that I'm not really any further along in that journey. I may have beaten PND but there's still a long list of things that I'm unhappy with. Do I really want to put them "out there" for all to read? And why do I find myself questioning that now when I've written personal posts in the past? what's changed?

One thing that's obvious is that I've lost my blogging "joie de vivre" and I suspect that #BEDN will either be the making or the breaking of this blog.

God, how miserable do I sound?! Readers, please sort me out!


PS: I really love Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Review: Runners by Sharon Sant and a Giveaway

 
RUNNERS  by Sharon Sant

Paperback, 284 pages

Published: 8 June 2013 by Immanion Press

ISBN: 1907737529 (ISBN13: 9781907737527) 

Available to buy from Amazon UK / The Book Depository and more

Elijah is nothing special. He's just a skinny kid doing his best to stay one step ahead of starvation and the people who would have him locked away in a labour camp - just another Runner. But what he stumbles upon in a forest in Hampshire shows him that the harsh world he knows will become an even more sinister place, unless he can stop it.

As past and present and parallel dimensions collide, freedom becomes the last thing on his mind as he is suddenly faced with a battle to save his world from extinction. But before Elijah can find the courage to be the hero the world needs, he must banish his own demons and learn to trust his friends. And all the while, the sinister figure of Maxwell Braithwaite looms, his path inextricably bound to Elijah's by a long dead physicist, and hell bent on stopping Elijah, whatever the cost.

MY THOUGHTS:

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I was looking forwards to reading it, as I haven't read many dystopian novels and with it falling under the Young Adult banner, I thought it would be a good and not to complex introduction to the genre.

As a more mature *ahem* reader, and with the main cast of characters being around the 14 years old mark, I found it hard to connect with the story as much as I would have liked to. I'm not used to reading books written from a third person point of view and I do think this contributed to me feeling quite detached from Elijah, the main character, and the other 'runners'. However, readers of a similar age to the characters will, I think, really enjoy this book and will "get" the characters and their motivations much more than I did.

The future that Sant describes is realistic, rather than fantastical, and the sci-fi elements that she introduces are subtle and don't overpower the story. It really doesn't seem that far-fetched to think that in the future we'll be running low on energy sources, global warming will have taken its toll on food supplies and unless you're rich, life will be a struggle.

But at its heart, this book is really about how a group of people can become a family, which is something I feel most teens will identify with and which is a really positive message for it to hold. After all, how many of us "grown ups" can remember thinking "my friends are my family" at some point when we were teenagers?

If you like your books fast-moving then Runners probably isn't for you. It's a slow build with some of the big revelations saved until quite late in the story. There certainly seems to be scope for Sant to continue the story and her website indicates there's a series of prequels to follow, which is a refreshing change to all the trilogies that are currently out there!

GIVEAWAY:

Sharon is kindly giving away 3 paperback copies of Runners. To be in with a chance of winning one, click this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

AUTHOR LINKS:
Website: www.sharonsant.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sharonjsant?ref=hl
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888220.Sharon_Sant

Monday, 19 August 2013

I know what you put in Room 101 last summer

Stickers, Stars and Smiles

I've been tagged by Charlotte, the Distressed Housewife, to think of three things that I would put into my own personal Room 101, as part of a meme started over at Stickers, Stars and Smiles.

If you want to join in, the rules are:
  • Pick three things/people/whatever that you would shove in a room never to see the light of day again (Room 101)
  • Explain why should they go in there
  • Tag three bloggers to carry the meme forward (if you want to).
  • Display the Room 101 badge (at the bottom of this post) so your readers can find all of the other posts in the meme.
Now there's no way my post is going to be half as funny as Charlotte's so instead, I've decided to base my Room 101 around horror films; hence the cunning title of this post!

In no particular order, here are my three:

One
Turn the lights on! Okay, this isn't exclusive to horror films but it drives me up the wall. If you're going to look around someone's house because you can't get in touch with them and/or think they've been killed, turn the bloody lights on! There's NO NEED for you to stumble around in the dark, trying to make sense of the shadows and guessing about the source of any strange noises. Seriously, it will be much easier to find out what's going on (and spot if there's anyone hiding behind a door/under the bed/in a wardrobe) if you just TURN THE LIGHTS ON!! 

Two
Don't split up! If you and your friends are being picked off one by one by a madman, why oh why would you even consider splitting up at any point? It won't be quicker to find your missing friend/put the lights back on/obtain weapons or help if you take a task each and split up to do it, you'll just be DEAD!


Three
If the lights unexpectedly go out, don't investigate to find out why! This applies even more when your torch is on the blink and/or you're wearing  unsuitable footwear. I refer you back to point 2 above; you know that you and your friends are being picked off by a psycho so why would you even contemplate going to find out why your house/office/other building was suddenly plunged into darkness? The rule of thumb in this situation is ALWAYS run away fast!


To carry on this meme, I am tagging Liz at Margot & Barbara, Avon (who incidentally wrote this fabulous guest post for me) and Mummy Plum. In fact, I'm going to break the rules and tag my sister Laura at Chez Mummy as well because I think she'll enjoy joining in with this.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Feature Friday: The quiet, everyday successes

Hi everyone! This is the last in my Feature Friday series of guestposts and whilst on one hand I feel quite sad that I won't have anymore to share with you, on the other, I really couldn't ask for a better post with which to bring this series to close. 

Tonight's post is courtesy of Avon, who blogs at Spider's Filthy Assistant. Out of all the guestposts, it's the one that's resonated with me the most; probably because if, when the idea for this series first came to me, you had asked me about the women that personally inspire me, I would have named Sarah Michelle Gellar and Milla Jovovich. However, as the series has progressed, what I've realised, and feel very strongly about, is that inspirational women are all around us. And that includes me and you. 

You probably have no idea of the impact you have on the lives of those around you but you do, so don't be afraid to embrace who you are. Be true to yourself and live your life with integrity.

Now over to Avon ...


When I first offered/asked to write this guest post I thought it would be so easy to think of some strong, fabulous, notable women who like totally inspire me, but that wasn't actually the case.

If you'd asked me about ten years ago I'd probably have said Frida Kahlo and Vivienne Westwood. Kahlo spent her life in considerable physical and emotional pain (thanks to a serious bus accident and a seriously messy love life) but produced such beautiful, powerful work and was so sure in her self. So confident. One of my mum's friends gave me her biography when I was about 16 and I devoured it. Vivienne Westwood was just so damn cool, you know. So creative and, again, so self-assured.

But I'm aware now that I wanted to be these women, not be like them. It was aspirational not inspirational. And it generally still is when I admire or envy someone in the public eye.

One of my favourite Grand Designs episodes is the one where the young interior designer builds a gorgeous Scandi style house in Cornwall. But it actually makes me feel worse about my life because what have I done? She's got a boyfriend who loves her and she's super talented and successful and then she builds this house that I would love to live in and does it under budget. No one is ever under budget on Grand Designs! In comparison, what have I done? Nothing much.

The women who truly inspire me are the women I know. My Mum who brought up two kids on her own. My aunt who has travelled extensively and who still works all over the world. My Grandma who was a city councillor in her retirement and only stopped last year, at the age of 85, because her body rebelled. My friend who is completely winning in her fight against agoraphobia and for whom every trip out of the house is a victory. Every single one of my peers who works a couple of shitty jobs to simply survive in this cruel economic climate.

It's so easy to get caught in hero worship and a little bit of lifestyle envy. Sure, Caitlin Moran is great and Lauren Laverne seems to have a perfect life and Angelina Jolie is powerfully self-assured. But the women you should truly be inspired by are the ones with the quiet, everyday successes. The woman who lives on your street in a shitty bedsit because she's finally had the courage to leave her abusive husband. The girl you see at the gym who works two jobs to pay for her degree. Your best friend who has sat through every single breakup you've had without complaint but always with wine. These are the women who should be inspiring you. Because, to me, the quiet, everyday successes are the truly inspirational ones.
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"I'm Avon, I'm 27 and I live in glorious Edinburgh. I have a cat called Selina, too many books, black & white hair and a (probably unhealthy) obsession with post-it notes and the colour grey. I can normally be found tweeting a lot of nonsense at @avonwy".
 

Monday, 12 August 2013

How to make a swing for a child's cuddly toy

Just lately, I've found myself having to spontaneously make things for the boys and one that I impressed myself with, and thought I'd share with you, is a simple swing for a child's cuddly toy.

Each of my boys has a special toy, which they take pretty much everywhere with them and they loved being able to pretend play that their toys were going to the park and having fun on the swings!


Here are the basic supplies that you'll need:

* A cardboard cereal box; the bigger the toy the bigger the box!
* Some wool
* Scissors

Here's how you make it:

1. Cut about 2/3rds off the front of your cereal box
2. Cut two evenly spaced holes in the remaining 1/3rd of the front of your cereal box; your cuddly toy's legs will poke through these.
3. Sit the cuddly toy in the cereal box. If there is a lot of space between the top of the cuddly toy and the top of the cereal box, cut some of this away.
4. Use your scissors to pierce 4 holes in the cereal box - one on the left, one on the right and one in each corner of the back of the box.
5. Take your wool and cut two long pieces. Thread each end of each piece of wool through one of the holes, tying a knot in it so that it doesn't come free. To make it more secure, you can always put a bit of sellotape over each end.
6.  Gather the wool in the middle and hook it over something so that the swing has room to swing. I made sure that the pieces of wool I used were quite long so that when I gathered the wool in the middle and pegged our swing to the washing line, it hung low enough that my eldest could reach to push it.

Although we didn't spend any time decorating our swing, there's no reason why you couldn't get the paint out, cover it in glitter or stickers, or anything else that takes your child's fancy. This activity really can be as quick or as focused as the situation demands.

If you do make your own swing and you post any photos, let me know in the comments so I can come take a look!

Have fun!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Feature Friday: My Gran is a Hell of a Woman

Welcome to my third Feature Friday.

Charlotte, who blogs at the Distressed Housewife, has written today's guest post and I'm really pleased she agreed to do so. I first got to know her through twitter, as she had a knack for appearing with words of wisdom and comfort whenever I was in a bad place, and from there, I discovered her blog and realised she has a way of writing, full of honesty and humour, that I can really connect with.

I think Charlotte's post, like Jodie's (Happy Birthday Mum), reinforces that being an inspiration isn't reserved for those who have big dreams, grand adventures and lots of money. You can inspire someone simply by spending time together, doing "simple" "everyday" things and building memories. I really think that's an important message for us all to remember.

Now over to Charlotte ...


My Gran Is a Hell of a Woman   

My ninety-one year old Gran is a hell of a woman and I love her to bits. When I was
Younger, she taught me how to bake and delicious smells always wafted from her kitchen.  
Gran's was the place to go for amazing home-cooked food, the spinning armchair and a  
Roaring fire...whatever the time of year. When we stayed overnight, my brother, cousin and I  
All slept in the same room as my Gran and Grandad, my cousin and I top-to-toeing in our cosy camp-bed.
Never one to complain, my Gran would work tirelessly, cooking and cleaning the house until  
It was spotless. She saved me word searches from the newspaper and came to every 
Sports Day, cheering us on from the side-lines. I could chat to Gran about anything and she was,  
And still is, brutally honest but very fair. I used to go down town with her every week and  
Help her with her shopping; she introduced me to all her friends as her 'little helper' and  
Everyone knew and liked her. We would walk round shops and markets, my Gran willing her arthritic  
Legs to go faster but always staying cheerful and positive. They took the three of us on holiday to  
Little family-run B&Bs in Blackpool and Morecambe and we'd walk along the promenade or take a ride  
On a tram, always with a tasty treat in our hands. My Gran and Grandad took us on picnics,  
For paddles in the river, for country walks. We've sat playing Dominoes, she taught me how to knit, she was
Always there for me. I've sat crying with laughter with my Gran, like the time she patched my uncle's old jeans...  
With a patch accidentally cut from his new ones. My Gran has a wicked sense of humour and a surprisingly
Open mind for someone of her generation. My Dad tells the tale of when she used to work in a  
Munitions factory and resigned when they started making parts for guns because it went against her principles. She's  
A hell of a woman, my Gran. She's weaker now; she's lost her lust for life and wants to die. When she does, I know I'll  
Never forget her. My husband says I'm like her. I hope so. If I'm even half the woman she is, I'll count myself lucky. 
__________________________________________________________________________________



It's a cliché but being a mum is the best thing I ever did and my greatest achievement.  My children make me laugh, drive me to distraction and melt my heart into a puddle of goo every day.

Charlotte, aka the Distressed Housewife, is an ex-English teacher, freelance writer, blogger, wife, mum of three boys (8, 4 and 2), lover of exercise, wine, films, reading and music (not necessarily in that order). She has a sarcastic, quite wicked sense of humour which is (hopefully) conveyed through her blog.  She loves to laugh and socialise, walk the dog (preferably on her own) and go out for lovely meals (preferably without the children) ;)

To find out more about Charlotte, you can:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Review: Only Lycans Need Apply by Michele Bardsley

ONLY LYCANS NEED APPLY (Broken Heart Series)
By Michele Bardsley

PUBLISHER: Signet

PUBLISHED: 8 August 2013

GENRE: Fiction / Paranormal Romance

When I found the ancient tomb of the two most powerful vampires in history, I knew I was in for a lot of trouble ...

But archaeologists like me, Moira Jameson, are ready for trouble. Okay, maybe not human-species-threatening trouble. Or the kind of trouble that arrives in the form of a sexy werewolf named Drake. Yeah. Werewolf. And I thought ancient curses and walking corpses were a joke. Um ... not so much.

'Cause a walking corpse named Karn wants to reveal vampires, and all of parakind, to the humans. And everyone else thinks that's a bad idea. Then a pyramid mysteriously appears in Broken Heart, Oklahoma, and I'm appointed to get inside, survive booby traps, and awaken two very old, very hungry vampires. Luckily, Drake has my back (and my front). Unfortunately, archaeology sometimes reveals some very nasty surprises. And I'll have to decide between saving myself ... and saving the world.

MY THOUGHTS:

After a run of  "serious" fantasy /paranormal romance books, it was so much FUN to read Only Lycans Need Apply. A lighthearted and entertaining read, I raced through it in a day and enjoyed every moment!

The main characters, Moira and her assistant Dove, are sarcastic, feisty and full of attitude and amusing conversational exchanges.

I gasped, and Dove followed my line of sight, and gasped, too.
"Is that real?" asked Dove in a reverent voice. "Because that's the biggest dick I've ever seen."
"He can hear you," I whispered harshly. Then in a lower voice, I added "Don't you even think about taking dibs, you bitch."
"Riiiight," she whispered back. "You want me to call ahead to the hospital, tell them to expect you and your injured vagina?"

Extra points to the author for her use of vagina!

Then there's Moira's love interest, Drake - sexy and a werewolf ... no other credentials required! I loved the way they flirted with each other; they seemed like a natural fit.

When he reached the stone door, he hesitated.
"Did you miss your Hieroglyphs 101 class?" I asked sweetly.
"I was too busy taking Advanced Kick Your Ass courses," he replied. He spent useless seconds staring at the images he could not possibly interpret, and then sighed. He stepped aside and gestured eloquently. "My lady."

There's a host of other characters as well; like Patsy, the Vampire Queen, Ax, survivor of the covert experiments carried out by the Ethics and Technology Assessment Commission, Doriana, the middle-aged Academic and secret Mermaid, and Karn, the bad guy!, to name but a few. They're all full of life and colour and really add to the book's energy.

Lighthearted it may be, but it's also part of a rich and well thought out paranormal history and mythology that the author first introduced in I'm the Vampire, That's Why (Book 1 of the Broken Heart series). I love that the World she's created has a believable history but that the books don't get bogged down in this.

I think Michele Bardsley has just pinched the top spot in my not-serious-but-cracking-great-fun genre from Mary Janice Davidson! But if you could keep that last bit between us, I'd appreciate it!

Review: Haunted Moon by Yasmine Galenorn

HAUNTED MOON (The Otherworld Series)
By Yasmine Galenorn

PUBLISHER: Jove 

PUBLISHED: 16 May 2013 

GENRE: Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy, half-human, half-Fae ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Delilah is a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. My sister Menolly is a vampire married to a werepuma. And me? I'm Camille, a wicked-good witch with three sexy husbands. I'm a priestess of the Moon Mother, and I'm training under the Queen of Shadow and Night. Unfortunately, playing in the dark means that sometimes you stumble over secrets better left buried ...

There's a new Fae sorcerer in town - Bran, the son of Raven Mother and the Black Unicorn - and I'm the unwilling liaison between him and our new Earthside OIA. With cemeteries being ransacked and spirits being harvested by a sinister, otherworldly force, Aeval sends us to rescue the missing wife of a prominent member of the Fae nobility. Our search leads us to the mysterious Aleksais Psychic Network and, ultimately, to face the Lord of Ghosts. There, Morio and I must undergo a ritual that will plunge us directly into the realm of the dead.

MY THOUGHTS:

This is my second venture into Galenorn's Otherworld series; I read the previous book in the series, Shadow Rising, earlier this year (my review is here) and I was excited to jump back into the World and find out what was going to happen with the characters next.

Told from Camille's point of view, I realised I much prefer her over Menolly (although I'm looking forwards to reading Delilah's point of view most) and I love her relationship with each of her husbands. I'd been a bit sceptical about the whole 3 husbands thing when I read the last book and thought it was a bit far-fetched, but in Haunted Moon, I gained a much better understanding and appreciation of the dynamics between them all. Plus the sex scenes are ridiculously hot!

I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone but like last time, a lot happens! I thought the storyline was really strong and the events flowed together much better and more naturally than they did in Shadow Rising. The book may end on a high but there are still lots of loose ends, as well as the main bad guy, that need dealing with so there's PLENTY of story left in this series. I will definitely be reading the next book, Autumn Whispers, when it comes out later this year.

Call me a bit of a troublemaker but what I'd like to see next is some disruption and tension between the sisters and their significant others. I want to see Trillian becoming resentful of Morio now that he has an Alpha role in relation to Camille's magic. Maybe even a pregnancy for Camille - now that would really throw the cat amongst the otherworldy pidgeons - and a falling out with Roman and Blood Wyne. Ha! Anyone would think they don't have enough to deal with already!!

Overall, this was another solid entry in the Otherworld series; great story, great characters and it will leave you wanting to read more!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Three Good Things (Week 4) including How to Make an Egg Box Monster


When I started writing today's Three Good Things post, I was sceptical about whether I'd be able to write it in the spirit in which it's intended. You see, I'm still poorly and with it, VERY grumpy (as you probably realised from my previous rant!). However, it only took a few minutes of editing my photos ready for this post and the better side of my mood started to emerge. It just goes to show that little things really can make a difference to our everyday lives.

One

I recently happened across a series of blog posts about everyday make up essentials, which really struck a chord with me. I do find that I feel more confident in myself when my skin tone looks even, my eyes are accentuated and my lips have a little colour; however, for some reason (a lack of taking time just for myself) I very rarely wear make up anymore and actually own very little. I wish I could remember whose blog it was because it inspired me to invest in the following few basics from Superdrug:


Beauty UK Blush & Brush No.4 (Rustic Peach), which is a revelation, as I've never really used blusher before and am amazed at the difference a little makes!

Make Up Academy Intense Glitter Eye Liner in Malt Chocolate, which is quick and easy to apply, and really enhances my green eyes.

Make Up Academy Lipstick Shade 2, which I picked for everyday use, as it enriches my natural lip colour.

Make Up Academy Lipstick Shade 3, which is a fabulous bright pink, perfect for day or night, and really suits my cool skin tone.

And it all added up to the bargain price of £5.99! Bonus!

Two


This week we've made Egg Box Monsters! To make your own you'll need:

* A cardboard egg box
* Some googly eyes
* Glue
* Any other crafting bits and pieces that you have to hand, like paint, glitter, foam, card etc

We painted our egg boxes, glued googly eyes to the front, cut out pointy teeth and glued them to the inside of the box and then covered the top of the boxes with glitter.

When you make yours, you could add a big tongue that sticks out of your egg box, or you could glue wool or pipe cleaners to the top of the box for hair!

Whatever you do, have fun doing it!

Three

I read the most INCREDIBLE book! Okay, I know I've mentioned it a couple of times on here already but it was seriously THAT GOOD!

Nameless : A Tale of Beauty and Madness
By Lili St Crow

Don't be put off by the fact it's a reimagining of Snow White or that it's primarily aimed at the Young Adult market. It's dark, evocative, full of suspense and beautifully written.

You can read my review here but I'd rather you just READ IT!!









Now you've read my Three Good Things, do pop over to Margot and Barbara and read Liz's post. And if you join in, don't forget to let me know in the comments so I can visit and read all about yours.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

What I hate about being poorly

Image Credit: Alamy





I am ill. It's nothing serious; just a virus that has wiped me out for the last couple of days.

But what I hate the most about it is not that my nose is constantly running, the sneezing, the body aches and the fact my temperature has ratcheted up a few notches. Nope.

Nor is it having to keep on top of being "the mum" and managing the house even though my head is full of fog and my body doesn't feel like my own. Nope not that either.

What I hate the most is having to tell my manager that I'm ill and I need to leave work. It honestly feels like facing the inquisition and only if you can prove that you're genuinely ill and not just making it up because you can't be bothered to do your job, can you go home.

I'm already aware that I'm not as valued as full-time employees and while I'm sure there are some people out there that do abuse their employer's sickness policy, I'm not one of them so the very rare times when I do feel I need to go home to focus on getting better, and my reasons are immediately treated with suspicion, it makes me feel really resentful. It just doesn't make for a good working relationship.

I've spent the last 14 years working for the same Company - it was my first "proper" job - but I can't help but feel that this chapter of my working life needs to come to an end, that it's time to move on. That's a scary thought and I'm not sure I'm ready to face it yet.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 (two) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title and author so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can decide whether to add your book to their TBR list. 
I've got 2 very different teasers to share with you today. The first is from Haunted Moon by Yasmine Galenorn and the second is from Only Lycans Need Apply by Michele Bardsley:




Shade hollered as he tried to pull her back. Yanking, he tumbled back, and she came with him, but the moment we saw what had happened to her, I wished he'd let her go. I stared at her in horror.
















"It only let two of us inside," he said. "Why?"
"Well, I'm the chosen," I said with mock haughtiness. "So you're probably screwed."









What did I say, they're very different! Look out for my review of each book, coming soon.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Feature Friday is on a break


Okay, I confess, I totally forgot to prep this week's guest post ready for today. So rather than doing a rush job, I'm postponing this week's Feature Friday until next week.

See you then!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Review: Nameless: A Tale of Beauty and Madness by Lili St Crow

NAMELESS: A Tale of Beauty and Madness
By Lili St Crow

Publisher: Razorbill

Published: 8 August 2013

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Young Adult Fantasy

A battered child is found alone in the snow by the godfather of the Seven - the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Pap Vultusino adopts the girl, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now sixteen, Camille keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform. She opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellis, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino princess, she knows that she is not really Family. She is merely mortal, with a buried, uneasy past. And it's not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth - and of the mysterious white-robed woman who calls from beneath New Haven's twisted streets ...

MY THOUGHTS:

I absolutely jumped for joy when I received this book to review. I am a MASSIVE fan of Lilith Saintcrow and I couldn't wait to devour every page! And devour it I did - in a couple of sittings! It's INCREDIBLE!

Nameless is totally upfront about the fact that it's a reimagining of Snow White but you'd never guess that from the opening:

Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Papa Vultosino's long black limousine.

The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all. There was the alley, close and dark and foul. The reason that I ran, I know, was a rat with a loathsome plated tail and beady little eyes. For years I remembered nothing before the rat, which was probably a mercy.

It's dark, atmospheric and subtle and not once is the name "Snow White" mentioned. All the clues are there though.

I didn't have any grumbles about the characters. I loved them all, especially Camille's relationships with Papa Vultusino and Nico. I also can't believe how slow on the uptake I was about which fairytale character Ellie is based on!

I thought the story was well-paced. Saintcrow doesn't rush to reveal Camille's past. She takes her time weaving the story and then creating tension so that you find yourself asking the same questions that Cami does. The reveals are spread out and you can feel everything building but have no idea how it's going to end.

"Little girl," someone rasped.

It was the man with the tan trench coat and the stained red baseball cap. He was gaunt, unshaven, and his dark hair was matted into grizzled dreadlocks. A pair of feverish dark gleams for eyes and a scar-stubbled jaw; his hand bit her upper arm, fingers clamping with surprising, scary strength. Cami flinched.

"I know you, little girl." He slurred as if his tongue was too big for his mouth. He inhaled sharply, his breath whistling.

She had time to be surprised that he didn't smell bad - he reeked, in fact, only of fresh lumber, sap and sawdust - before he leaned close to her face and yelled, the whiskey on his breath burning her nose. "I know you! You were dead!".


Saintcrow has a knack for creating rich, vivid alternative Worlds, which you're dropped straight into without explanations. You piece together the information you're given about Ellie, Ruby, New Haven, the Families, Jacks, the Twists and much more, and because it hasn't been spoonfed to you by the author, it all feels much more personal in your head, if that makes any sense at all!

Don't be put off by the Young Adult tag - I'm *ahem* a bit older than the target age range and I seriously recommend this book! I don't do that often!

Without doubt, I'll be reading the next book in the Tales of Beauty and Madness series, Wayfarer and honestly, you should DO THE SAME!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Three Good Things : Week 3

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It's Week 3 of Three Good Things (for more details about this series, read this post) and I can't believe it's come around so quickly! Why does time seem to fly, especially when things are going well?

One

We had a big tidy up in our conservatory last week and as a result, we now have an actual organised space that we can use for our craft projects. Hurray! I've been lusting after some proper storage, rather than the heaps of stuff that cluttered the table, and the purchase of a few plastic containers combined with the two empty shelves in one of the bookcases now means that all our paper, card, glue, paint, crayons, and other bits and pieces has a home. I can't tell you how happy that's made me! I now enjoy spending time in our conservatory!

Two

Like last week's post, my next good thing relates to how I'm making use of my time with the boys. They both love "sticking" projects and are really enthusiastic whenever I tell them we're getting the glitter and glue out. That focus, even though it may only last for half an hour, seems to have a big impact on their behaviour the rest of the day. They play much more nicely together and listen really well.

Inspired by the weather, we made stormy pictures. What do you think?


Three

And another one that follows on from last week: Health-wise, I've noticed a real difference since I started trying to get my eating habits under control. I'm not as bloated by the end of the day and I feel a lot brighter.

I've realised that I make much better choices when I'm at home than when I'm at work (where I seem to eat chocolate and crisps at frequent intervals throughout the day) and my husband thinks it's down to boredom. I think it's more likely to be caused by disinterest rather than boredom, as I have plenty to do, just not the inclination to do it!

Anyway, my next steps have to be tackling that and I also need to start exercising, especially if I want to fit more easily into my jeans! The good thing is that I feel both things are really achievable so watch this space!

Okay, so those are my Three Good Things. What are yours? Why don't you join in and share them?

Review: Black City by Christina Henry

BLACK CITY
By Christina Henry

PUBLISHER: Ace US

PUBLISHED: 6 June 2013

GENRE: Fiction / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

Former Agent of Death Madeline Black may have been stripped of her wings - but she hasn't lost her purpose ...

When Maddy finally killed her father, Azazel, she thought his depraved experiment died with him. But now Chicago has been infested with vampires immune to the effects of the sun, and the bloodbath is worse than she could have ever imagined. While the Agency refuses to interfere with other supernatural courts, Maddy is determined to do everything within her power to save her city - wings or no wings.

But when the leader of the vampires requests that she turn herself in or risk more deaths, Maddy becomes a target for the very people she's trying to save. Left with no other choice, she turns to Lucifer, the one creature who has the power to help her. But her grandfather's aid has always come at a price ...

MY THOUGHTS:                       ***CONTAINS SPOILERS***

Following on immediately from the events in Black Lament (review here), this is another action-packed, adrenaline-fueled installment in Henry's Black Wings series with a whole host of creatures for Maddy and her friends to contend with.

But even though there's a LOT of action (which did seem a bit obviously contrived), that's not really what this book is about. It's about Maddy coming into more of her powers, Nathaniel learning about his true heritage and his own powers, Maddy trying to do her best in difficult situations only, by the end of the book, to be abandoned by her friends and surrounded by the Agency's Retrievers.

Poor Maddy! The harder she tries to keep everyone safe, the greater the hold that darkness seems to have over her heart.  I really felt that even if she'd made different choices, Lucifer's net would still be closing in around her. The book created a real sense of inevitability about that.

But I can't help but compare the ending to "Becoming" the two-part finale of Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Angelus: No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what's left?
Buffy: Me.

And because of that, I still have hope that Maddy can see this through and find a way to thwart Lucifer. I just hope the price of doing that isn't too great.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dexter: Final Season: Episode 4: Scar Tissue



** WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERS **





 




Oh my god! So many questions! 

Why is Vogel so determined to get involved in Dexter and Deb's relationship?

If Vogel had never become involved with Dexter, would he still have become a serial killer? It's like he's been conditioned and although she says serial killers don't have feelings, Dexter does (well he certainly has a lot more now than when the show first started!) so I have to question whether his whole life have been different?

And the big one:

Did Harry really commit suicide? Or was he killed so that he couldn't put a stop to Vogel's work with Dexter?

In the words of Debra Morgan, Fuck me in both ears! This season keeps getting better and better!



Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 (two) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title and author so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can decide whether to add your book to their TBR list. 
My teaser is from Nameless : A Tale of Beauty and Madness by Lili St Crow:




The Kiss took its own time, and it was burning away his mortality. When it finished he'd be one of the immortal Unbreathing, an Elder instead of a daywalker, and his only son would take his place as the living Vultusino of the Seven.



Enjoy! I can't wait to bring you my full review of this book! I was so excited to receive it for review. Watch this space ...

Friday, 26 July 2013

Feature Friday: Happy Birthday Mum

Welcome to my second Feature Friday in which I have the pleasure of reblogging this post which originally appeared on A Quirky Kook last year. Jodie, who writes that blog, asked me if I felt it would fit in with the theme of my new series and after reading it, I jumped at the chance to include it.

When you become a mum, I think it's so easy to get a bit lost in the daily grind of life, in trying not to be "just a mum", and in trying to do the best possible job you can. What this post reminds me is that actually it's the simple things that I do with my children, in the moment and with sincerity, that they will build their memories on. And that knowledge helps me to relax and to just enjoy being with them.

Now over to Jodie ...


Being a mother is a thankless task and I know that because I have a mother and I've never really said thank you to her at all.

I've said thank you for the little things of course, for daily interactions and presents and the unexpected good things that mothers do for you when you least expect it. Of course I have because, well, she brought me up to. Obviously.

But what I haven't thanked her for is making me the person I am. And even though she might roll her eyes and wonder where she went wrong, I think she did a damn fine job to be honest. My mum gave and taught me many things, and not all of them were intentional.


26.12.1963 - Mum and Dad's wedding day
She gave me my love of music. When I was young the little black discs of Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard that she had collected as a teenager were little gems of happiness and to be allowed to play them on the Dansette record player was an honour and a treat. Dancing? She gave me an appreciation and joy for that too. And it wasn't taking me to Janice Reagan's ballet class for the under fours oh no, but the family parties where my mum and dad would do the jive. They used to clear the dance floor, but only because everyone wanted to watch.

It was my mum who gave me my appreciation of writing and my love of books. She taught me to read before I went to school and later had the foresight to work in a library thereby opened up a whole world where every single book I might ever want to read was obtainable and reachable and, shh, you never had to pay a fine.

And she gave me her suede mini-skirt. A genuine sixties patchwork suede mini-skirt that I wore when I was a student in the early eighties and for that, for reasons manifold and best not explained, I owe her and for my love of vintage fashion and *waits for Mother to roll her eyes again* mini-skirts.

She gave me my appreciation of the family that made me and the history we share. She taught me about loyalty and strength. She taught me, probably without noticing, everything there is to know about love. 

She even taught me that it doesn't matter how many times you've been seen swaying down the street singing after a dinner dance OR fallen over in improbable platforms in a Devon car-park after some Scrumpy OR worn a mini-skirt that is LITTLE MORE THAN A BELT, you can still claim the moral high-ground when your own children do similar. 

*Raises eyebrows at Mother*

Anyway, for ALL of that, I thank her. Deeply and very much.

Happy 70th birthday Mum x
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jodie Hawkins has been blogging at A Quirky Kook for the past two years. She's a work at home mum (freelance journalist and copywriter) and has four children, twin girls aged 17, an 11-year-old girl and a seven-year old boy. Jodie is married to a musician and they all live in chaos, as well as in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Her specialist subject is drinking wine, and lots of it. She blogs about life, family and family life. Jodie can be found on Twitter @jodiekins22

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Redemption by Erica Hayes

REDEMPTION (A Novel of the Seven Signs #2)
by Erica Hayes

PUBLISHED: Berkley US

PUBLISHED: 6 June 2013

GENRE: Fiction / Paranormal Romance

Japheth the Tainted is on the hunt for a mysterious demon vampire. But meeting her face-to-face might disarm his warrior spirit - and spark an unquenchable passion with apocalyptic consequences.

As a fallen angel, Japheth is determined to make his way back to heaven by staying pure and slaying hellspawn. With a new scourge of vampires, unleashed by a blood-drinking demon, the Prince of Thirst, there's plenty to be done. But Japeth is after one vampire in particular - the one they call the Angel Slayer.

Rose Harley never wanted to be a vampire, but the Prince of Thirst can turn even the kindest soul into a soldier of hell. Feeling abandoned by God, she stalks the West Village taking revenge on his angels - until she meets her match.

When Japheth and Rose encounter each other, the battle is fierce and charged with desire. But when they discover a common enemy - the Prince of Thirst himself - they form a dangerous alliance that could either cost them their eternal lives, or spark a love more powerful than heaven or hell.

My Thoughts:                    ***WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERS***

You might remember me mentioning this book in my Teaser Tuesday post.  Well, it's the second in Erica Hayes' Seven Signs series and it follows on from the events in the first book, Revelation, which I reviewed here.  I was nervous starting it because I wasn't sold on the character of Japheth at all. The fact we learned in Revelation that he'd had a relationship with Michael - who's as full of sin as they come - made me think he had seriously flawed judgment and questionable morals. Well, how wrong was I??!!

I totally fell in love with Japheth and his quest for redemption. He is one seriously hot character and yes, I know he's fictional but I would be happy to redeem him over and over! Rose is another fabulous character, tormented by her own demons and conflicted between wanting to believe that she can be saved but knowing that in her hour of need, God didn't care. I loved the relationship between them, how it developed and the sizzle, my goodness!

I thought I'd guessed how the plot would play out but the author caught me out several times, which was nice. I thought we'd find out that Rose hadn't killed her 6 year old niece, Bridie, but that the Prince of Thirst had and he'd let her believe that she was responsible. I didn't anticipate that he would actually have turned her into a tiny child vampire.  I also couldn't believe it when Jadzia was killed! I was gutted, as I'd been so looking forwards to reading more about her. Fortunately, we find out she's been resurrected by her demon lover but then we're hit with the HUGE revelation of who he actually is! How did I not see that coming? How?

I'm still not a fan of the swearing and could really do without all the "hellshit" and "heavenshit" references but that's my only gripe. This series is shaping up nicely and I cannot wait to read the next book!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Review: Nightbred by Lynn Viehl

NIGHTBRED (Lords of the Darkyn)

By Lynn Viehl

Publisher: Signet

Published: 7 March 2013

Genre: Fiction / Paranormal Romance

Jamys Durand has survived being made an immortal Darkyn, horrific torture, and years of grueling warrior training. But he has no future to offer Chris, the mortal woman he loves. When he learns of a lost Templar treasure, Jamys vows to possess it and win his lady's heart.

No one knows Chris Lang wants to be a tresora so she can live with Jamys, her secret love. Her superiors offer to make her dream come true, but only if she finds the lost treasure before Jamys can. Working together, Chris and Jamys track the jewels through a shadowy maze of priceless artifacts, decadent secrets, and a ruthless opponent who can possess and immortal's mind ... and will stop at nothing to have Chris.

My Thoughts:

This was a quick, straightforward and solid read. 

On the whole, I liked the characters - although I found it impossible to imagine being attracted to Jamys (he was turned at 17 and even though he's now hundreds of years old, he still looks like a 17 year old so the thought of doing rude things to him was just icky). Also, the author should have just called Lucan's tresora Alfred rather than Burke, as he seemed to have been styled on Bruce Wayne's butler and confidante.

Even though there were a few over the top elements - like the Pirate Captain, Dutch, and the lap dance at Stryker's private orgy party - they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I just hope that the next Lords of the Darkyn book features a slightly older in body Darkyn!

Three Good Things : Week 2

Lovely Liz at Margot and Barbara is back with Week 2 of the Three Good Things feature that she introduced last week and because it's such a simple but feel-good idea, I'm joining in again.

One

I make no secret of the fact that I struggled having 2 children under 2 and it wasn't until around March this year that I started to feel like I was making it out of the fog of postnatal depression and was ready to stop taking the anti-depressants.

And if ever a day was proof of that then today it was because I have just had the best day at home with them both! It's been relaxing, creative, tantrum-free and we've all enjoyed each others company. I was even organised enough to plan a craft activity for this morning!

I printed out some free colouring pages of Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks, stuck them to some card and then the boys stuck lots of different shapes and sizes of pasta to them. Once the glue had dried, they painted them and for the first time, rather than painting every last inch of the paper, M deliberately tried to paint only Alvin's jumper. I was very impressed.



Two

After writing about my health on Saturday, I made the decision to take control of my eating habits the very next day and I now have 4 days of exercising healthier eating choices under my belt! I've still got a lot to learn and more improvements to make but I'm feeling very empowered by my decision, which can only be a good thing. I've also discovered a newish blog called Being Pretty Strong which I'm finding a fantastic resource, as it's easy to understand and very personable. If you're interested in improving your health, you should pop over and take a look at it.


Three



Right, I know you're probably going to shout at me for this but my third good thing was the weather cooling down a bit! I can function much better when there's a breeze to take the edge of the heat and I'm definitely sleeping much better than I was!





Okay, so those are my Three Good Things. What are yours? Why don't you join in and share them?


PS: if you want to read through all of last week's Three Good Things posts then you can find links to them all in Liz's post here.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Dexter : The Final Season


WARNING - DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T STARTED WATCHING SEASON 8 OF DEXTER YET



Hands up who's watching the final season of Dexter? I'm three episodes in (just caught up with What's Eating Dexter Morgan? last night) and am absolutely loving it! Debra Morgan is one of my all-time favourite characters and Jennifer Carpenter is consistently nailing the part. She's really making the show for me.

The big question though is how is this season going to play out? I have a few ideas of things I think are going to happen but really, it's anyone's guess and the uncertainty is very exciting. So, here's what I think:

  • In previous seasons, we've seen famous actors take on the role of key villain so I see us finding out that Sean Patrick Flanery as Deb's new boss is not the good ol' guy that he makes himself out to be. And while we're at it, lets stick a big question mark over Charlotte Rampling's Dr Evelyn Vogel.
  • Again, in previous seasons, Deb has consistently been drawn to men who, on the surface, appear to be good guys but actually turn out to be serial killers. Another reason to keep our eyes on Sean Patrick Flanery.
  •  Is it a coincidence that Deb's boss mixes up a rehydration drink for her before she goes to check out that storage container only to pass out and find out, when she's come to, that she's supposedly shot and killed El Sapo? And he mixes up another such drink for her right on the day she ends up stumbling into the Police Department, supposedly drunk, and confesses to killing LaGuerta. But what's his motivation?
  •  And Dr Vogel: does anyone else get the feeling that she still sees Dexter as some kind of "experiment"? She certainly seems very keen to "help" Deb but I'm not convinced it's out of the goodness of her heart.
  • I'm guessing that Quinn will eventually put it all together and figure out the truth about Dexter. But, is he going to end up doing something drastic to try and keep Deb safe? or is he going to be another casualty of the show?
  •  Are we going to see the show coming full circle with Dexter dead and Harrison witnessing it? It leaves wiggle room for a spin-off.
I can't wait until the next episode! What do you think is going to happen this season? and will Dexter survive it? Let me know your thoughts.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Improving my health : Making a start and a Summer Porridge recipe

Thank you everybody that commented on my post about rebalancing my hormones.

Since writing it, I've downloaded Master your Metabolism by American powerhouse and all-round fitness badass Jillian Michaels as well as Beat Candida by Erica White. I haven't finished both of them yet but already it's clear that, just as I suspected, my sugar intake is WAY too high.

Yesterday and today, I paid much closer attention to what I was eating and today, in particular, I noticed that although for me I was eating "better", it still wasn't great.

The good news, I discovered a quick, easy to make breakfast that I can take to work with me and only takes a few minutes to prepare the night before. I mixed porridge oats into greek yoghurt, added some frozen blueberries, and then left the whole concoction in the fridge overnight to give the oats lots of time to soften  - TA DAH! It's a great alternative to traditional porridge, which I can't imagine taking to work in this weather, and much more filling than yoghurt alone.

Not so much the "bad" news but the things I realised I need some inspiration about are:

1. What can I substitute white rice, pasta and bread with? Today, I took last night's leftovers for lunch (Chicken Fried Rice with onions, green peppers, peas and sweetcorns) but it didn't fill me up for long enough. I wonder whether I would have been better having cous cous instead of rice or maybe something in a pitta bread or wrap? or even whether I should add in an extra lunchtime course, perhaps soup?

2. Certainly at work the snack options are fairly limited and although I was much more prepared than usual and had chopped up an apple to dip into peanut butter (yum!), this wasn't enough for a whole day. Also, I think it would be best to try and cut out fruit sugars (at least initially) and take chopped veggies with hummus. But as an alternative, what about savoury muffins or homemade oat flapjacks?

What sorts of things do you have for lunch and to snack on? I'd love it if you would let me know in the comments.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Rebalancing my hormones - help needed

My body has spent the last 4.5 years either pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding or trying to juggle my life and I'm convinced that it's left my hormones out of balance.

I know that one of the key ways to rebalance myself is through my diet but I'm a bit in denial because it feels like such a BIG THING to have to overhaul and I know it's going to be hard.

At the moment (and really for many years now) I am eating CRAP. High sugar, high fat and minimal fruit and vegetables.

Logic says that my body can't possibly nourish itself properly if I'm not eating nutrient rich food but, and I'm going to be completely honest here, I don't really understand food/the different food groups/and what I should be (not) eating for optimum health. Without that knowledge, my usual eating habits will just creep back in.

There are plenty of faddy diet books out there, but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm not saying I wouldn't be happy to lose a little weight, as I'm most definitely a lot squishier than I was, and my jeans are difficult to fasten, but I know that side of things can be tackled by a good dose of exercise once I've upped my energy levels and given my health a boost. No, what I need is something that will help me to understand the relationship between my body and food, what good nutrition is and what I should be aiming to eat.

Does anyone have any ideas or tips for me so that I can start making changes? So far I have:

  • Start taking a daily multivitamin
  • Replace coffee and fizzy drinks with water and green tea
  • Cut out sugar (how? and what to replace sugary foods/snacks with?)
  • Replace everything I eat with something better (!!)
As you can see, I definitely need a bit of help!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Feature Friday: Shine Brightly and Brilliantly to others


A little late in the day but I am so pleased to kick off my new series, Feature Friday, with this guestpost from a lovely lady, Sarah, that I have had the pleasure of getting to know via the power of twitter. I hope you enjoy this and it helps you to remember you should never underestimate the impact that you have on the lives of those around you.

Over to Sarah ...


Throughout my life I have had a few role models including my mum, friends, artists, authors, sportswomen and bosses. One in particular was an amazing woman, Beryl Markham, who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (east to west). She was raised in Africa and forged an incredible life for herself. Beryl wrote an autobiography about her life called West with the Night. It is a wonderful book and opened my eyes to the world.

Although Beryl is one of my role models, I am not writing about her. It is the person who introduced me to her, my friend, Liana. She lent me this book nearly 20 years ago and it remains on my bookshelf today. We went to high school and college together in Tasmania and then went off to different universities. Thankfully our friendship wasn't one of incessant need and although some years we hardly saw each other, we always picked up right from where we left off.

Liana was a very intelligent woman, who was becoming a very talented research scientist. After university we both lived in Melbourne and shared a house for a time. Her dedication to work was incredible and her achievements were great. However, she had such humility along with a wicked sense of humour. She was a true friend and was always there if she was needed, her loyalty to her friends never wavered. Liana also had a fantastic mother and they were very close. She caught the travel bug after they both toured Vietnam together.

As is the case with some brilliant minds, her thoughts were always busy and daily routines like dusting were never considered - well why should it? Life could offer so many possibilities and she sought them out.

Then Liana was tragically killed in a motorway accident at only 25 years of age.

I will never be able to explain what I went through for the first few months following this. Then one day I broke and after hours of feeling my heart being ripped apart, I realised she would be screaming at me cut it out and get up. To go out to explore life and the world, as she had started doing before she died. I had to carry on where she left off and not waste the opportunities that might be out there for me. Within a couple of months I had packed up and boarded a plane.

I have been backpacking through Asia, seen a bit of Europe and worked in England and Ireland. The biggest moment of my life was meeting my English husband, now affectionately known as The Possum. We may never have met if I had not listened to Liana ticking me off.

Liana is still my guide through life and my moral compass. I have been through some pretty tough times since then but I just remind myself of her. It took a long time to absorb and accept the fact she was no longer with me but when I did, I could finally make her part of me and use her as my inner strength.

Seeing the guidelines of this invitation for a guest blog made me really think about who I could write about. After a few false starts writing about others I realised that a role model doesn't need to be someone who has lived long and experienced everything in life - it is someone who has shone brightly and brilliantly to others, making us want to follow in their footsteps. I just hope that I have made her proud by doing just that.

...................................................................................................................................................................


Sarah is a Tasmanian who, having skipped across the globe and found love in Lancashire, is currently dragging her English husband back to the land of Oz. She's an Event Manager who loves traditional archery, photography and being in the great outdoors whenever possible. Her next ambition is to teach herself knitting and crochet design and to hopefully pass these skills onto the younger generation.

You can find out more about Sarah, and nag her into starting her own blog, by tweeting her ... frequently!

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