If you are lucky enough to be in a situation where you can even consider owning another home, then you must acknowledge the realities of doing so. It can be one of the most difficult things in the world if you’re not already a estate agent mogul who can afford to hire others to get the job done for you. And it’s likely you just want to buy out another place as a summer home, office or somewhere to rent out occasionally. You want to be able to bulk out your lifestyle and live the way you want to, with the four walls around you you’ve always dreamed of. You want to invest your money and open up a portfolio, and find success in the way you spend and the returns you make. All in all, you just want to be healthier and happier, and having an advantage with real estate is one sure fire way to do that. It’s going to be a hard thing to take on, and hard to pay for, but it’s not an impossible idea to tackle. If you’ve got your eyes already set on a place you think would be a good fit for your family, career, and life goals, let’s think about just how practical your plans are. After all, you can do what you want with your money, but you should always want to do the smart thing with it!
Firstly, Would it Be Worth it? When you think about it, there’s a lot of benefits to owning a second home. You’ve got a place to take a holiday every now and then, at little to no extra cost to yourself. You’ve got a place you can rent out and make money off of for every month you have a tenant living in it. And ultimately, you’ve got a lot of assets to your name; you’ve got two homes, an income strong enough to take them both on, and that can grant you a lot of power in the economic climate. But before we get too far into dreaming about owning more than just the place you currently live in, it’s time to stop and think for a moment: would it actually be worth the time, money, and energy to invest in another house? Do you have the income to buy, renovate, pay for the upkeep, or to sell on again? Do you have the time to take trips out to it every so often, just to check on the second property to your name? Can you even get another mortgage? That last question alone is going to be very bulky to try and answer; mortgages are the best way to afford a home, and when you’re already paying for one (and will be for another 5 to 10 years at least), it can be hard to face another one. The bank themselves are going to point this out to you, and depending on your payment history with the loan they’ve already handed over to you, they’re going to say yes or no. And if you’re looking to get a holiday home that’s abroad, you’re still going to need to look into your loan options. For example, using something such as a housing loan calculator singapore, you can try to ascertain the average interest rates for Asian countries. Thankfully, your options open up a little here, and you might be able to use a foreign lender to secure the right funds. But once again, would it be worth it to owe two different credit lines to two different institutions in two different countries? Secondly, How Far Away Are You? Your regular availability, and how flexible it can be, is also going to determine just how well you’ll be able to look after more than one home. Homes need cleaning out, bedding down, and repairing from time to time, and you’ve got to be there to make sure these tasks are carried out. So if you’re looking to invest in a second home that’s miles and miles away from you, even separated by an ocean or two, how often will you be able to get there? Sure, if you invest somewhere that’s far away, you can get the tenants you take on to do the bulk of the work. But if you’re not interested in renting the place out, and you can’t afford a plane or boat or train trips on a monthly basis, the state of this second property is going to drop. The value might even go down, and if you’re thinking of reselling at some point, this isn’t the best way to start out in your house flipping side hustle! You could use a local housing or homeowners association to help you out here, of course, but you’ve got to be able to pinpoint where the best associations are. The real estate market can be a very fickle place, and you might have to wait years for a property to become available with a nearby HOA. And the comes the fee to be a part of one of these, which can be astronomical when you’re investing within a city; thousands can be spent each year, and even tens of thousands for anyone with a property in a capital city. They’ll take very good care of the home you can’t afford to visit on a regular basis, and they’ll uphold the integrity and value of the property for the future, but it’s definitely going to cost you. So, can you look after more than one home? Depending on your personal circumstances, such as the responsibilities already in your life and the amount of money you currently make each year, it might be more hassle than it’s worth. It’s not something you want to jump into, especially if you’ve got a family to take care of, so make sure you give it a lot of thought.
You don't have to live in a mansion to have a gallery in your home these days. In fact, a gallery wall is a very popular way of showing off your favourite artworks, photos, and images. Sadly, putting up a gallery wall can be a challenging experience, and I don't mean just getting all the frames to sit straight (although that does help!). You don't need to panic though, as you can find out all about the challenges you will face when hanging a gallery wall, and how to solve them in our step by step guide below. Read on to find out more.
your guide to creating a gallery wall
Choosing a wall to use The first thing that you need to get right when creating a gallery wall is the actual wall that you will use. This is because not every surface in your home will be a suitable home to show off your artwork and pictures. In fact, if you already have things like floating shelves and wall mounted light fittings on a wall, it could be quickly overwhelmed if you add a whole bunch of framed pictures as well. It's best, therefore, to pick a clean wall where there isn't much going on. Additionally, if you are planning in hanging your pictures on a wall that your furniture leans against, you will need to be careful. This is because you will need to leave space between the item, such as the top of your sofa and the start of your gallery. About 6-7 inches should do the trick.
Picking the images Once you have decided on a space to hang your gallery wall, it's time to pick out the images that you will use. Sadly, as many people have found out collecting a whole bunch of photos and artwork they like isn't quite enough to make a gallery wall work in a room. Instead, the images all need to be tied together by a particular theme. One that is especially popular is colour. This is where the images are all monochrome, pastels, or even infused with bright and bold hues. Alternatively, you may pick subject as the theme that brings everything together, popular ones being places you have travelled to, family pictures and portraits, and landscapes, and even retro or kitsch.
Finding the right frames
Once you have a group of images that work well together, it's time to find frames that will show them off. If you are looking for calmer feel, or you have bright images to display it is often a smart move to go for frames of all the same style and colour, just in different sizes. Alternatively, if you have a very cohesive theme, or you are looking to create texture, or an eclectic or vintage look mixing up many different styles of frames such as the one you can find at like Best4Frames is a smart idea. You can even get frames custom made for images that aren't a regular size, something that means you won't have to face the frustration of leaving out any of your favourite images when creating your gallery wall.
Make a plan Next, and this really is the key to the whole project, it's time to plan out how you will hang each individual image and how they will look when arranged together. Happily, instead of spending hours holding pictures up on the wall, and still not being able to see them properly there is a better way, and it to use wrapping paper that has the faint squares printed on the back.
Avoid the higgly-piggly look by planning your wall first.
In fact, all you need to do is roll out the paper on the floor, and the arrange the picture on it until you find a visage you like. Then trace around the picture frame using the squares and add whereabouts the hanger will go.
Putting them up Don’t worry if DIY isn't your strong suit either, as this next step will make thing so much easier too. It's sticking the paper on the wall and then hanging the pictures over the top to get them in the perfect position. Of course, it's always wise to use a spirit level to check how straight they are as you go.
Finally, once all of the pictures are hung, you remove them from the wall and take down the paper guide. Then you put the pictures back up, and they should all be in the right position and look fantastic! In fact, making your gallery wall this way will not only ensure it looks great first time around but that the hassle you experience when putting up is significantly reduced as well.
REVIEW Claire Allan is fast becoming one of my top thriller writers. Forget Me Not is Claire's third book and I was just as hooked with this one as her first two. As with all Claire's thrillers, this one also starts off with a bang and the pace never lets up. Elizabeth doesn't like to venture out much, but it's not fair on her dog to not go out at least once a day. That particular day, Elizabeth wishes she had gone with her gut and stayed indoors. She finds a woman in a horrific state, barely alive and her last words 'Warn them'. This is only the beginning of the sinister goings on, but the question is, who is doing this and why. Claire does dual narrative well - she has used this storytelling in all three of her books now and it works so well every time. As with her other books, you know the two characters are linked, but she keeps you guessing right up to the end as to how. With the tension continuing to mount as you read and your mind desperately trying to figure out who it could be, you are in for a fast paced, hooking read and then another brilliant twist! I hope Claire continues to keep writing these fantastic thrillers of hers and I just want more and more. Gripping from start to finish, a thriller writer you should have on your TBR pile.
Forget Me Not is out now Part of the Forget Me Not Blog Tour
Alice's debut Sometimes I Lie still remains one of my all time favourite thrillers, so I was excited but a little bit nervous to read her next book as I was desperate for it to be just as good, if not better - I needn't have worried - I Know Who You Are was just as dark, twisted and exceedingly brilliant Sometimes I Lie. Aimee is about to catch her big break in acting but then her husband goes missing, leaving his keys, phone and wallet behind. The police become instantly suspicious of Aimee, especially as she is so obviously hiding something from them. As the investigation goes on, more and more evidence is being planted on her even though she is adamant she had nothing to do with the disappearance of husband. As we get further into the story and the plot begins to thicken we realise that people are really not who they seem. Alice really does like to go dark with her thrillers! Just like with Sometimes I Lie there will be a few scenes to make you wince. No punches are pulled, but that's part of the reason I liked this so much. With constant curveballs and twists that will 100% throw you off the finale, this was another fantastic thriller from Alice Feeney. Terrifying, page turning goodness. I am now even more excited for what she has in store for us next.
Today I am one of three bloggers kicking off the blog tour for Kingsbane by Claire Legrand, who I keep wanting to call Claire Legend and how striking do the covers look? As part of my stop on the tour, Claire is sharing with us how she (re) built the world in the Empirium Trilogy.
(Re)Building the World of the Empirium Trilogy
by Claire Legrand
The world of the Empirium Trilogy wasn’t always what it is now. Originally, the story took place not in the fictional world of Avitas, but rather in our own world. Rielle Dardenne—one of the story’s protagonists—existed in a forgotten past, her era concealed from historical record by various dark forces. Empirium’s other protagonist, Eliana Ferracora, lived in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic version of the southern United States and grew up in the city of New Orleans.
As the years went on, while my original vision for the story remained essentially the same, the world in which it took place evolved. Several years into working on the trilogy, and three versions into the book that would become Furyborn, I followed the sound advice of my agent at the time and decided the trilogy should be a second-world fantasy—that is, a fantasy story that takes place in a world that’s not our own. (Think Middle-earth, rather than the wizarding society of the Harry Potter universe.)
Suddenly, the work I’d done to build the world of the Empirium Trilogy needed to be thrown out and re-engineered. Certain elements remained the same—the nature of the empirium itself, for example—but now I had to construct an entirely new world for Eliana’s side of the story in particular. Gone were the streets of the French Quarter, the mansions outside Charleston, South Carolina, and the dusty paths of Providence Canyon near Eufaula, Georgia (where a pivotal scene from the book that would become Kingsbane took place).
Instead, New Orleans became Orline. The Charlestonian mansions became the glittering coastal city of Festival, in the kingdom of Meridian (a location readers will first see in Kingsbane). And Providence Canyon became a wooded field outside the fictional city of Karlaine, also in a country called Meridian. New Orleans’s Garden District became Orline’s Garden Quarter. A cult of fanatics in the nuclear wastelands of Missisippi, led by a tyrannical woman named Mama Goody, became the fanatical angel-loving cult called Fidelia.
Spooky, right? The story felt so different back then, even though the actual plot points were largely the same, simply because the world was so different.
Something that helped me refocus my vision for the trilogy was spending a lot of time on Tumblr and, later, on Pinterest, searching for illustrations and fantasy art that struck a creative chord with me. When I found an image I liked, I jotted down notes about why I liked it and to what part of this slowly forming new world it might belong. I’m slowly revealing some of these images on my Empirium Trilogy Pinterest board, if you’re interested in following along.
Another thing that was hugely important as I began the mammoth task of rethinking my story world was allowing myself plenty of time to play and explore. Beginning this process almost felt like being dropped down in the middle of a faraway, unfamiliar land, and having to stumble through the painstaking process of mapping it. I made pages upon pages of notes that ended up
getting scrapped, which was okay (though occasionally frustrating at the time), because every scrapped page brought me one step closer to realizing how I wanted this world to look and feel.
If you are also a writer, and find yourself having to rethink the world of the story you’re writing, try not to despair. Take your time to redesign your world with intention and curiosity. Listen to music. Browse images. Revisit beloved books featuring world building you admire (one of these, for me, is Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; another is Libba Bray’s The Diviners).
In real life, the best way to become acquainted with a new place is to explore it at your own pace, while paying attention to the food, the customs, the clothing, the quirks and oddities. It’s the same when you’re getting to know a story world. And for me, allowing myself years to explore and experiment made it possible for the Empirium Trilogy to be reborn as a smarter, sleeker, more purposeful version of itself.
Another day another sleep related book, this time more because the protagonist can't sleep. If you are a C.L.Taylor fan like me, you are going to want to add this one to your ever growing to be read pile! Read on for my full review. Review Don't you just love it when you get a favourite writer and they release a new book every year. C.L Taylor is such a writer for me and I always get really excited when I hear she has a new book coming out. This year brought us Sleep. This is all Anna wants to do but she is crippled with anxiety and insomnia of the night that it all went wrong. To try and escape her guilt, she disappears to a remote Scottish island where she takes up a position in a hotel. When seven guests turn up, each with a secret of their own and little does Anna know that one of them is a murderer and they have their sights set on Anna. Sleep is a book you can quickly get your teeth into. By pure coincidence I was reading this as the same time as a friend on holiday and I thoroughly enjoyed discussing with her which of the seven guests we suspected and trying to figure it out between us. I'm pleased to say that we both guessed wrong and couldn't have been further from the mark. The theme of guilt is a constant throughout this and how we deal with it. I felt like Anna in this respect, wanting to run away and shut myself off from familiar surroundings. With our seven suspects, this reminded me a tiny bit of board game Cluedo as every incident that leads up to the big finale has you doing exactly what the game gets you - it was Mrs White in the billiard room with the spanner - but obviously a lot more serious than that - I just love a mystery. C.L.Taylor has all the perfect elements of a thriller, pacy, keeps you guessing, that need to read on and completely throwing you off the scent. I can't wait for the next book C.L. Taylor has in store for us. Sleep is out now
Happy Monday fellow book lovers. Today I am part of the tour for the incredibly gripping Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans. I could not put this one down! Read on for my full review and for the chance to win a copy for yourself and a personalised pocket mirror. REVIEW I found Beauty Sleep a fascinating read. Laura and her brother are dying and there is no cure for their illness. To try and save them, Laura's Mum's put them into a cryogenic sleep (frozen) until they can be cured. Forty years Laura wakes up, cancer free. But how do you deal with the fallout from that? How do you adjust to a world that has moved on so much, your best friend is now middle aged and your parents no longer there? How do you adjust as the girl from the past? Beauty Sleep is set only 8 years away from the world we are in now, but Laura is a teenager from the 1980's where technology had only just broken the surface and only business men seemed to have brick sized mobile phones. Kathryn really explored this futuristic world from Laura's point of view and even though it was ahead of technology wise, their world didn't feel that far off from what we have now. It was so interesting to see how everything was explained to her and how silly some of it appeared to someone who had never had the need or want for it. This is a story that gripped me incredibly quickly. I love what ifs when it comes to science fiction and the ethics that are involved with every decision whether that's life, beauty or progressing science. As you read on you see Laura begin to question what actually happened while she was asleep all that time. Can she actually trust those who she deems closest to her now and why can't she speak to her friend Stacey? Full of mystery, intrigue and full of tension that keeps you hooked throughout.
Happy May everyone. Excited to share my first read of the month which is Perfect Crime by Helen Fields. This is the fifth book in the DI Callanach series, although as with all these series you can pick them up in any order. Read on for my full review.
Helen Fields is a great crime writer. Everything is highly detailed and thought out which I find isn't always the case for some thriller/crime writers, so I found myself appreciating this much more.
Captivating from the start, Perfect Crime starts off with Steven Berry about to end his life until a counsellor manages to stop him. A week later he is dead. This is where DI Callanach comes in to investigate whether he jumped or was pushed. As they get deeper into the case, more strange suicides begin to happen, but are they really and how are they linked?
What I particularly liked about Perfect Crime was it's originality. Most crime stories are centered around the same plot, but this felt completely different. A completely different type of killer and then not only one central investigation but another one linked to the detectives. It's cleverly done as it keeps you off the scent of both cases, never being able to even pick up a whiff of who and why.
I'm actually quite a squimish, I can't watch certain things, but I can read it and what I liked about Perfect Crime is that Helen doesn't hold back. It made the storyline more believable as she didn't try to hide anything from us like other writers might do. Not for everyone but this is one of the things that made this stand out for me.
Captivating, original and unputdownable, I need to read more in this series!
The world is full of stuff and a heck of a lot of it are things that we really don't need, we just want it. We also find ourselves taking a lot of things for granted, things that are just there that we don't really need to think about like getting food from the shop and using the internet whenever we like. If life could just be all about garden parties and socialising that would be great, but what if you wanted to strip everything back and go back to basics. Don't you think it would give you the time you need to reflect and just slow down? So where do you start? Decluttering Your Home I love a good declutter. I didn't actually realise how many pointless and unused items I had until I moved out. I was moving in a much smaller space with a lot less storage so things had to go. It was actually really satisfying getting rid of all that clutter. I try and do it at least every couple of months to make sure I keep on top of anything that I don't need anymore and create more of that much needed space. Finding Ways To Be Self-Sufficient With the busy lives we lead, this can be the hardest thing to try when trying to live a simpler life. The most obvious place to start is growing your own food. Think about getting a green house and truly becoming self- sufficient. Once you get into a routine of doing this, the amount of money you could save can amount to a lot more than you might think. For knowing where to begin with this it's worth venturing to a website like Greenhouse Stores UK as well as finding the best vegetables and fruits you can grow in your garden space. Although this will initially seem time consuming, it may surprise you what other time it frees up. It's Not All About Completely Getting Rid Of Technology A lot of people associate the simple life with completely cutting out technology. This isn't the case at all, but maybe you don't have to have the latest smart phone or the latest gadget, you could just keep it to a few key things and not have to fork out for a very expensive phone bill. We Are Big Time Wasters Despite our busy lives, we actually waste a huge amount of our time doing things that aren't productive. This is directly in relation to things like social media. Take the time to see how much of your day you spend on pointless things like social media, or just think about the things that you do that aren't really going to benefit you in the long run. This is the key to living a simpler life. It's not necessarily about getting rid of technology or moving into a shoebox house, it's about minimising the distractions in your life and freeing your brain and feeling better in the long run.
Cara's novels never disappoint. She is one of those rare authors who as soon as I hear has another book coming out, I need to get my hands on. The third instalment of DI Adam Fawley was just as twisty and gripping as her last two. A quick note, this is one of those 'series' which you can read in any order, although I obviously recommend you read the first two in the series which are Close to Home and In the Dark, but that's up to you. They are all so addictive so they will definitely make for quick reading. A devastating fire has broken out at a house in Oxford with two children being pulled from the scene, one critical and the other, gone. With no sign of the Mum or Dad and the police can't get hold of either of them. It quickly looks like the fire has been started deliberately, but by who and why? Before Cara's books, I was never the hugest fan of police procedural books, they always seemed a bit cliched with a grumpy detective who had a drink problem. However Cara's characters have more substance, they feel more real. Their personals life stories are hard hitting but believable, as is the whole plot. What I particularly like about these stories are the interview transcripts, emails and the flash backs peppered throughout. There are no chapters in No Way Out, but these break the story up and create that fast paced vibe throughout the book that really does have you reading just one more page. Once again the plot gave nothing away. There are plenty of hoodwinking distractions and goings on to keep you as far from guessing the outcome as possible. All without it becoming too farfetched or over the top. I shall definitely be continuing to stick with the DI Fawley series! I can't wait to see what Cara has in store next!