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It is less than a month until the paperback publication of Her Mother's Secret comes out and last week I had the absolute pleasure of attending an afternoon tea with Rosanna Ley at the Covent Garden hotel in London. It wasn't an opportunity I wanted missed, so I booked the day off work and heading into the busy streets of London for the day.




The last delightful book I read of Rosanna's was The Last Dance in Havanna and she whisked me away to the electric delights of Cuba. It was such a beautiful and evocative read, I was of course delighted to get to meet Rosanna in person and she was so so lovely and down to earth for such a successful author, I was a little starstruck but she made us all feel at ease which was so lovely. I am yet to read Her Mother's Secret but the cover alone has enticed me enough to bump it up the ever growing to-be-read pile. We also got to hear about her next book, which I won't spoil just yet but it has an excellent title already and one which her husband chose.




With the Royal wedding coming up, we of course had to choose the Royal Afternoon Tea option and what delights ensued. It consisted of traditional english treats like victoria sponge and scones and of course some American favourites like salt beef and gherkin bagel. We also were treated to a glass of bubbly.












I had a truly wonderful few hours with Rosanna, Olivia Mead from Quercus books, Isabelle Broom from Heat magazine, My Weekly‘s Commissioning Fiction Editor Karen Byrom and fellow bloggers Linda from Linda's Book Bag and Heidi from Heidi Howlett.

A huge thank you to Quercus books for the invite and for the chance to meet Rosanna Ley. Her Mother's Secret is out in hardback now and paperback on June 12th.



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If you're an avid Disney fan like me, I'm sure you are aware of every Disney collaboration going, whether that's Cath Kidston, Pandora, Kate Spade and of course Coach, the list goes on! After the success of Coach's Mickey Mouse range, they are back today with their Dark Fairy Tale range and thanks to my sister we got to preview some of the new collection at their Bluewater store.
This collection is Disney but dark. As is with every Disney tale that is a dark side to each story and that is what this collection encapsulates. With the focus on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and a little bit of Sleeping Beauty thrown in, these are the darkest of the Princess fairytales so the collection works perfectly.






This was just a snapshot of the collection, there are some other beautiful pieces available to buy today. Every piece is limited and available in store only so be quick and head to your nearest one.






As a thank you for coming we were each given a personalised gift bag with some truly lovely gifts. The personalised tag really made the event feel special and I was delighted to get the opportunity to come.

I also left with one of the pieces from the collection that I had quickly fallen in love with and that was the Dark Disney Happy cross body bag. Definitely one of the less 'dark' pieces from the collection, but I just had to have it. You can have one of each of the seven dwarfs on a different designed cross body bag and they are my favourite pieces from the collaboration and they also have the Disney x Coach Fairytale on the inside which was an extra special touch.



I would like to thank the team at Coach Bluewater for a brilliant event. They were incredibly welcoming and the breakfast spread provided went down a treat especially with my nieces. Don't forget to shop the collection today.
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Anxiety is something I never knew I had until a few years ago and even though it was a self diagnosis, please let me reiterate it wasn't a case of oh I'm so worried all the time, it explained why I couldn't handle or deal with situations as someone without it should. I was struggling but coping, that was until last year where my mental health took a turn for the worse.
Anxiety is crippling and I discovered just how crippling it could be last year. My year started out ok, brilliant in fact as my boyfriend and I put an offer down on a place and it got accepted, but that's when the true worries began. On exactly the same day, my Grandad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and things seemed to spiral down from there. When we put an offer on the house, we said that we needed to be able to move in by a certain date as that was when our tenancy agreement ended and finding somewhere else to live between moves would have be a nightmare. Our landlady hadn't shown herself to be the nicest and it got to a point where we didn't feel like we could complain about anything as she treated it as a major hassle. I really didn't think after all the problems we had had with the house that she was going to let us stay a bit longer if we needed to, so as the months ticked by and we still were no nearer to an exchange date, plus a break in the chain, the more anxious I became. My Auntie's health also began to deteriorate and I felt like the world was closing in around me and there was nothing I could do to escape. 
Looking back now I know I was severely depressed. I was highly irritable and didn't take pleasure or enjoyment in things. I lost all motivation for my blog and reading which are my mains joys in life and just thought what was the point in anything. I was highly lacking in any form of energy and it was severely affecting my relationship with my other half. I even got to a stage where I contemplated ending it- as I write this it cuts me deep, I can't believe I got to a point in my life where I even thought about leaving my boyfriend, family and friends behind. I don't know who that person was. I went from getting excited and happy about the smallest thing to literally not wanting to be a part of this world anymore. When you're in that frame of mind you just can't see a way out. I thought I would never be happy again. My anxiety was continuing to worsen and it was starting to prevent me from sleeping- I have never been a great sleeper but I would go for weeks of getting about 4 hours sleep a night, even on weekends. It was becoming so bad, I ended up going to the doctor about it and they prescribed me some pills to help me deal with my anxiety and pointed me in the direction of Time to Talk- a counselling service. I will be honest, at first I completely dismissed this as I thought I was being pathetic- I do not think anyone else that has counselling is this at all, this is just how I felt about myself and I also thought that there are people out there with much bigger problems than me so what was I worrying about. This was after the first visit to the doctors and although the pills helped initially with my sleep, my stress and worries were becoming so overwhelming, that I ended up going back and asking for stronger pills. This is where the doctor reiterated to me that I couldn't rely on these pills for ever and asked if I had got in contact with time to talk. I told him I thought I was being silly and over the top about my worries and he told me never to feel like that and that I was the third person he had spoken to that day with similar feelings to me. That was what prompted me to finally get in touch with Time to Talk.
I finally got in touch with Time to Talk via their website that very same day after going to the doctors. It wasn't long before I had a phone call from them. A super lovely lady called Helen spoke to me and basically asked me what my situation was in my life at the moment and what it was that was causing me stress and anxiety. From there they were able to determine what type of therapy would help me best and that was counselling and guided cognitive behavioral therapy. There was a bit of a waiting list but to help you through this, I had three weekly sessions for the interim, these were so helpful and during this time, my situation improved before I had even moved onto my counselling. I was set tasks each week to help me process ways to cope and deal with my anxiety levels and it just helped me to process everything a bit better. I ended up having 6 weeks of weekly counselling talks and it was one the best decisions I ever made getting in contact with Time to Talk. It really really helps having someone to talk to and never be afraid to.
What I have learnt massively from this is that it helps to talk. I shared how I was feeling with a couple of my friends and found out that one of them was at the same stage that I was with her anxiety and another friend who had been through it after an accident and I was so sad that I hadn't been there for her at the time. If you are feeling like you can't cope, please do talk to someone, I wish I had spoken to someone sooner, so I wouldn't have got to the horrendous stage I did get to.Although things are better in my life at the moment, I know that my anxiety will always be there but if I do go through another major stressful time in my life, I am now in a place where I can deal with it a lot better.
If you are feeling low or like you can't cope, please speak to someone. No one will judge you and there are far more people in your situation or similar than you think. I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn't finally opened up.
Below are some other places you can go to for help.
On Line Self Help Resources
Other Support Resources

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I began writing this post at the beginning of April as it was something I mentioned in my 5 reading resolutions for 2018 post back in January, which you can read here and I wanted to go into more detail about in a blog post. We are always encouraging people to read more, but there is this stigma that once you start a book, you have got to finish it, regardless of whether you are enjoying it or not. This is actually crazy as if we are supposed to be encouraging people to read, this would completely suck all of the enjoyment out of what reading is supposed to do!  

World Book Night came around again on the 23rd April and I was surprised and happy to see that their campaign for this year was to #quitlit. At first I thought (and only for a couple of seconds) that they wanted us to read less! But of course my silly brain jumped to conclusions far to quickly. This campaign is for those of us who just don't seem to want to quit reading a book even if it isn't for us. Their research found that more than half of us bookworms spend up to three months reading a book before and if we decide to give it up! Three whole months! That is a crazy amount of time to technically force yourself to read a book.
Now I've never struggled through a book for that amount of time, but I have forced myself to finish every book I have ever read. That was until last year, where I had a bit of an odd year and my priorities massively changes. Reading wasn't giving me the same joy as it usually did and this was partly to do with putting pressure on myself to finish all the books and make sure I made my Goodreads count for the month. It was sucking the joy out of what reading is supposed to be about, so at the beginning of this year, I told myself that if I wasn't getting into or enjoying a book all that much, I would put it down and start a new one.

Why you shouldn't feel guilty to give up on a book:
1. Life is too short and there are far too many other books crying out to be read
2. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable, don't suck the fun out of it
3. Not everyone is going to like the same book, so don't worry if you don't like the latest bestseller
4. You won't offend anyone- but of course don't tell the author!
5. Your Goodreads target is just a guide you don't have to stick to it


Bring the joy back into reading again, it has really helped me already.


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I have an addiction, I am obsessed with all things stationary and accessory. I have so many pins and notebooks, I have lost count, but I just can't help myself! I am like a magpie, I can't resist pretty or shiny things, and The Old English Company are feeding my habit. If you love stationary, accessories, homeware and more, you are really going to want to check out their website!

The Old English Company are a stationery and giftware company based in Stamford. Their products have such beautiful designs, they are simple, but stylish and you will literally want to buy everything on their website! Their products range from planners, greeting cards, enamel pins, coasters, art prints and more, so there is lots to choose from!
Their enamel pins are also stunning and I can easily see myself building up a collection here. There are just so many to choose from! You can choose from cute animals to awesome slogans, you're bound to find something or everything from the collection.
To help you get started and to celebrate the new additions to their enamel pin collection, The Old English Company are giving you the chance to win a set of gorgeous enamel pins! You have until May 30th to get entering! Simply visit here to enter.

*This post is sponsored by The Old English Company and images are from The Old English Company


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All the Rivers Run Free was a story that still has not let me go since the very last sentence. It has been one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Hopefully my following review will do it justice.REVIEWIa is a damaged sole. She is isolated from those around her for being different and spends her days in and around her caravan on the Cornish coast, which she shares with her brute of a husband and cousin. Ravaged by floods, they are cut off from Europe and subject to gangs and military rule. In the thirteen yeas Ia has never been able to have a child of her own, so when she finds a girl on the coast, she rescues her. This girl may be the key to Ia's rescue in return.This story really was unlike anything else I have read before. It has an unusual but distinct writing style where sentences and in turn Ia's thoughts run into each other, but it didn't take long to fall into the book's pattern. It almost felt like a long poem with descriptions that at times took my breath away. I have never really thought about it before but there are books you read and enjoy and then there are books that you feel like you experience first hand and All the Rivers Run free was exactly that. I was completely immersed in this futuristic world which felt so real. Every little detail, every thought, every feeling, I felt it, I experienced it. A book has never touched me so much as this. There was even something strangely magical about it, like when the oranges wash up on the beach, the girl and the compass. There was something there guiding Ia and taking her away from the life she thought she was stuck with.Even though the story has a melancholy tone throughout, I didn't want to leave Ia and her journey across the Cornwall coast. Ia is a character who has been written so that you will route for her the whole way through. Her story is a raw one, but despite her sufferings, Ia is stronger than she thinks. She is also still kind and caring and somehow manages to take everything that comes at her in her stride. A beautiful, atmospheric novel that took me right to this futuristic coast of Cornwall. All Rivers Run Free is out now

This review was part of the All Rivers Run Free Blog tour

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I may not have read many books this year, but the ones I have read have actually been really great reads. What Lies Within is another book I'm adding to my great reads this year. It was so absorbing and the characters were fascinating. Read on for my full review.


REVIEW

What Lies Within really appealed to me as it is set in Morocco and is a place I visited not too long ago. I have never come across a novel set in this exotic landscape before and was keen to see a writer's perspective. Anabelle brings Morocco to life in this literary thriller. I could sense it, hear it, smell it and feel it. It was like I was back in Morocco.

Three friends come back together after living apart since university. Paul and Freya are now married and Hamad makes them an offer they can't refuse, meaning they make the move to Marrakech. It's supposed to be the move of their lives, but very quickly the cracks start to show and the delights of Morocco begin to dim and then terrible crime happens leaving all of them reeling.

This turned out to be a hidden gem of a book, I don't know what I was expecting but the story I got was hugely atmospheric and addictive. Once I started reading I was completely hooked and quickly swept up in this story of mystery, secrets and betrayals. The story moved seamlessly between all the different characters and I was fascinated about all the relationships between them.

This is a slow burn thriller leading up to the events that happen at the beginning of the book, but there was always enough to keep me hooked and it really allows you to get to know each of the characters. The further you read, the more the tension builds, constantly leaving you wondering when it will reach a crescendo.

Addictive, atmospheric and all encompassing, What Lies Within was an unexpected gripping read.



This review is part of the What Lies Within blog tour. Follow along and catch up with posts below.






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I'm thrilled to have Vicky Newham on the blog today telling us more about East London that features predominantly in her book Turn a Blind Eye. Some facts might surprise and shock you. 
guestpost


The East London of Turn a Blind Eye – did you know …? 

Turn a Blind Eye is the first in a new police procedural series, set in East London. People often ask me why I chose this as my setting. The truth is that it chose me. The four years I spent living and working in the area had a deep and lasting effect on me, and provided the inspiration for the characters and plot in the book. The DI Maya Rahman series is set in the Tower Hamlets part of East London, and as the plots stem from its socio-economics, I’m going to share a few key facts.

1. Tower Hamlets is the third most deprived local authority in the UK yet it contains pockets of immense wealth and gentrification.

2. It sits north of the River Thames, east of the City of London, south of Hackney and west of the River Lea and Newham borough. It includes much of the old docklands. 

3. The borough takes its name from the Tower of London and surrounding hamlets. Because of its location, it’s always been associated with migration, and cultural and religious diversity. Today, the area is one of the most ethnically diverse in the UK. 

4. Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of child poverty in London. Approximately 46% of children live in poverty. The percentage of children entitled to free school meals is the highest in England and Wales. 

5. Many global businesses (notably, banks, lawyers and accountants) have their headquarters at Canary Wharf, an ambitious and sprawling development project on the site of the old West India Docks. Many of the UK’s tallest buildings are here.

6. The borough has London’s highest rates of long-term illness, premature death and infant mortality, and the second highest rates of unemployment in the capital.

7. Over-crowding and housing have been issues for the area since the 19th century. This was exacerbated when the slums were demolished after World War II. With population increases, over-crowding is still one of the area’s biggest challenges. However, the council has built more social housing than any London borough except Greenwich.

8. Transport includes: the waterways (canals, docks and the river); extremely busy roads (the A11 and the A13) and two tunnels (Rotherhithe and Blackwall); rail (mainline and underground, the Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail, which is due to open this year).  

9. There are lots of places of interest: Brick Lane; Tower of London; Ragged School Museum at Mile End; Spitalfields market; Stepney City Farm and Mudchute Farm; Poplar Baths; Tower Bridge; Whitechapel Gallery; Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers.



This post is part of the Turn and Blind Eye Blog tour. Follow along below.





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More Than We Can tell caught my eye when I saw my fellow blogger friend Zarina from PagetoStageReviews was raving about it over on her blog. We have very similar tastes so I knew I just had to read it and wasn't she right!


REVIEW

Wow this was a rare, special read that blew me away. What an emotional, poignant read. This is my first read of Brigid Kemmerer's more famously know for Letters to the Lost- which I must read! And it was nothing short of amazing. 

Relating back to Letters of the Lost, comes a new story with two new characters, Rev and Emma. Both are very different people, Emma is a gamer and not just any gamer she coded her own game! She idolises her Dad and wants to be exactly like him, a game designer, but her Mum thinks she's wasting her time and should go to med school. Emma is also in a male dominated industry where abuse is rife if you're a girl.

Rev is an outsider. People at school call him the grim reaper as he always wears hoodies even in the height of summer and doesn't talk to anyone except his best friend Declan. Rev was adopted when he was seven years old when he managed to escape his abusive, religious Father. Now eighteen, his Father has got in touch and Rev doesn't know what to do. A chance meeting brings these two together to form an unlikely friendship but such an important one.

I don't think I was prepared for the emotions this read would evoke from me. There was one scene, which I won't spoil that surprisingly to me brought tears to my eyes. Brigid is a writer that knows how to supercharge a scene so that you completely 'get' just what that character is feeling.

This was such an easy read but it really packs a punch. It really gets across the issues that teenagers of today have to go through like cyber bullying and parents expectations. Emma and Rev are such well developed characters and you really feel like to get to 'know' them. 

The best quote from all of this was 'We have to ask questions to hear the silent people'. It is actually quite rare for a quote from a book to really resonate with me. It is so important to ask the quiet ones what is really going on and to listen as they are the ones that are usually too afraid to ask for help.

In places this is shocking, upsetting and hard to read, but this didn't deter me and it definitely shouldn't others as I think this is one of the most important YA reads I have read to date.


Part of the Spring Reads blog tour




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I've said it before but I will say it again, C.L. Taylor is one of my favourite thriller writers. Her second book The Lie remains one of my all time favourite thrillers. Every year I get so excited when a new book is out and this year was no exception with her latest offering The Fear.
When Lou was 14, she ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, but the romantic getaway she thought she was getting was anything but and now at 32 Lou struggles to piece her life back together. When she sees Mike is involved with another teenager, she will not let it happen again, but will she fall prey again?
C.L. Taylor doesn't hide anything from us, so be prepared for a huge mix of emotions ranging from anger to disgust. There are sections of this that make for some uncomfortable reading, but it gets across just how bad grooming is and just how much Lou doesn't want it to happen to anyone else.
Some crazy things happen in this, but they are still very believable. It's easy to see how things can spiral so completely out of control. Without fail, I had no idea where C.L. Taylor was taking us with this story. There are constant elements of suspense and surprise to keep you on your toes the whole way.
Once again a fantastic thriller from C.L. Taylor. It's tense, it's gripping, shocking and it's fast paced and make sure you don't start this one late at night otherwise you will be reading into the early hours.




The Fear is published by HarperCollins and is out now

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