Monday, 31 July 2017

The Month That Was July 2017

July has been a busy old month round these parts. So much has been going on I almost don't know where to start!

We've been counting down to July for what feels like ages now, because the little fella was signed up for a couple of events to raise funds for the two hospital units that saved his life. You can read about those here and here. We have now raised over £800, which is more than £400 for each of the two amazing charities and we are so pleased and proud, and thankful to everyone who has supported us. It means the world to us to be able to give something back.

We had a wedding to attend - a rare occurance these days, as pretty much all our friends are now married. I do love a good wedding! I failed miserably at taking any photos, but we did have a lovely time.

My mum was away in Wales last week, so the husband and I took the week off together to have ourselves a little staycation with the boy. We had a couple of days out, including to the beach and to a castle, and it was so nice to spend a good amount of time together as a family, having fun. We also went to the village library, and the small boy and I joined - I'm quite excited at the prospect of taking him regularly (it's only 5 mins from our house) and encouraging his love of books.

Somewhat less fun was a visit to see my father in law in his care home. It will probably be the last time I, and the small boy, see him - he is very very ill now and doesn't have long left. It makes me so sad that our son will grow up knowing neither of his grandads. But that's life, I guess. We will make sure he knows all about who they were and how much they would have loved him.

Also, in the back of my mind for the last couple of weeks (and by that, I mean it's been on my mind constantly, playing over and over - especially at 3am when there are no distractions) has been work related issues that I think I need to tackle. And by tackle, I mean find a way out. I love the industry I work in, but it becoming clearer and clearer every day that the team I am in and the line manager I have are just not for me. I am not listened to, I am not respected, and I have just about had enough. So, please keep your fingers crossed that I find something else soon before I flip my lid!!

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Life Lately

Remember when I used to blog more than once in a blue moon? What on earth did I find to talk about, and how did I find the time to do it???

There's been ever such a lot going on with us, I don't even know where to start. Little dude turned 2 last month (almost 8 weeks ago now - how??) and he definitely got the memo about the Terrible Twos...! Mostly he's lovely, and he makes us laugh every single day... But he is definitely testing boundaries at the moment.

So far this summer, we're actually managing to enjoy some lovely family days out, which is new to us. Previously we've had to be cautious about going to busy places due to the risk of infection, but he's doing so much better these days that we actually can.

We have a few busy weekends in store - in fact, all of July is busy! - because we've got a couple of fundraising events to participate in. At least, the little fella is participating officially and we're along for the ride. This Sunday, he has a one mile walk to do, and the following Sunday is a 70m dash in a very famous athletics stadium that has had world records set within it and world famous athletes have competed there. We are raising money for the two hospital units that saved his life, so as you can imagine it means a great deal to us.

So, what's new with you? What have I missed??

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Monday, 5 June 2017

My new 101 in 1001 list

After the shocking realisation that time was up on my last list, I have been putting together a new set of challenges for the next 1001 days. And, as ever, I am really late posting this! This list started on 1st May 2017, and ends on 27th January 2020.

1 Write a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days! 
2 Make a list of 100 books I would like to read 
3 Read 100 books 
4 Read a book set during Christmas 
5 Read the best 25 children's books for 0-5s with my son 
6 Identify 100 things that make me happy 
7 See 10 classic movies I've never seen 
8 Watch a movie from every year I've been alive 
9 Make a list of my 50 favourite movies 
10 Write on 20 journaling prompts 
11 Write a list of 101 things I’ve already achieved in this lifetime 
12 Write a list of 20 places I want to visit and why
13 List 50 favourite fictional characters 
14 List 101 things I don't ever want to do again 
15 List 10 places I have been, and 10 favourite things about each place 
16 Complete the A-Z travel challenge 
17 Go on a picnic 
18 Spend a day at the beach 
19 Go to the zoo 
20 Visit 2 new holiday parks 
21 Go to 5 different museums 
22 Go to the beach in the winter 
23 Visit 3 different heritage railways 
24 Visit 4 new parks 
25 Visit the National Railway Museum, York (England) 
26 Go for a walk in a forest 
27 Visit Alnwick Castle (England) 
28 Visit Devon (England) 
29 Visit Disneyland Paris (Paris) 
30 Visit Wales 
31 Visit Scotland 
32 Go on a boat ride 
33 Visit the safari park, Longleat (England) 
34 Visit Bolton Abbey (England) 
35 Visit a waterfall 
36 Visit a National Trust site 
37 Visit an English Heritage site 
38 Go to a sporting event 
39 Play crazy golf 
40 Go to a food festival 
41 Start saving to go to Florida 
42 Go up in a hot air balloon  
43 Visit a farm 
44 Jump in puddles 
45 Ride on a carousel 
46 Go to an air show 
47 Build a snowman 
48 Build a sandcastle 
49 Visit a butterfly garden 
50 Decorate our son's bedroom 
51 Landscape the backyard 
52 Declutter my house 
53 Complete a 365 day photo challenge 
54 Get professional family photos taken 
55 Organize photo collection 
56 Take a photo of the view from a tall building 
57 Take a family photo at least 4 times a year 
58 Make a Year in Pictures album 
59 Try 10 new places to eat 
60 Find 20 quick and easy recipes to try 
61 Try a new flavour of ice cream 
62 Bake a cake 
63 Do a sponsored run / walk for charity 
64 Raise money for a charity 
65 Donate to charity 
66 Volunteer for a charity 
67 Send a gift to someone just because 
68 Register as an organ donor 
69 Complete 7 goals in a week 
70 Learn to locate all 50 US states on a map 
71 Create a scrapbook 
72 Quit Facebook for a week 
73 Start a new tradition 
74 Finish my Christmas shopping before December 
75 Go a month without buying anything that isn't a necessity 
76 Try a basic meditation technique 
77 Do a Couch to 5k running plan 
78 Run a 5K 
79 Lose weight 
80 Don't eat chocolate for a week 
81 Learn a new language 
82 Drink more water 
83 Stay in a hotel for a night alone 
84 Get back to pre-baby weight 
85 Update my blog at least once a month 
86 Make 5 playlists on my phone 
87 Make my own Christmas cards  
88 Meet a celebrity 
89 Have a board game night  
90 Design a t-shirt 
91 Go to a wedding 
92 Complete a colouring book 
93 Try a new flavour of coffee 
94 Pick 3 things to start and finish on 
95 Do the Clean Sweep test ( and try to improve my score 
96 Meet an online friend in person 
97 Take my son for a day out with no other adults
98 Make an advent calendar
99 Convert LPs to MP3
100 Do something I wouldn't normally do
101 Finish writing another 101 things list by the end of 1001 days 

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

101 in 1001 - update

It's been such a long time since I looked at this that I hadn't realised my time is up. Oops! And I haven't done very well at all... Oh well! I'm in the process of making a new list, hopefully more achievable as I won't find myself in the midst of a very difficult pregnancy followed by a very difficult birth and infancy of that child. At the time of making this list I really didn't believe we were ever going to succeed at having a baby, so there's a lot of travel on there that, once things changed, had zero chance of happening!

The Challenge:

Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.


The Criteria:

Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).


Why 1001 Days?

Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple challenges such as New Year's resolutions or a 'Bucket List'. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.


Start date: May 26, 2014
End date: Feb 20, 2017

Completed: 31/101

1 Write a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days! 

5 See a movie in IMAX or 3D 9 August 2014
6 Watch 50 films I've never seen before
10 Read a book in a day

18 Write a hand written letter to someone

23 Explore Paris by night

25 Visit one new state

31 Visit a castle

33 Visit a National Park
35 Travel on a steam train
36 Go to the zoo
37 Go to 5 different museums
38 Visit the Palace of Versailles
39 Spend New Year's Eve in another country

43 Go to New York at Christmas time
44 Visit an art museum

49 Visit a theme park I've never been to
50 Go on a road trip without a pre-set destination

54 Start a new blog

61 Send flowers to someone
62 See a musical
63 Gamble in a casino

67 Have a baby
68 Meet an online friend in person
69 Make a Year in Pictures album

74 Make soup
76 Vote in a general election

86 Buy a new guest bed

96 Don't eat chocolate for a week
97 Create a meal planner
98 Sort out my wardrobe and donate any old clothes

Started: (28/101)

The problem here is that I had a very sudden and unexpected arrival of a baby – and the files I used to keep track of these goals were saved on my work PC, which I left one day and then didn’t see again for a year, by which time we’d had a system upgrade and a lot of my documents were vanished. So I have vague memories of doing some of these (for example, making the lists) but I have nothing to show for it.


2 See 10 classic movies I've never seen
12 List 50 favourite fictional characters
13 Make a list of 100 reasons I love my husband
14 Make a list of 100 books I would like to read
15 Write a list of 101 things I've already achieved
19 Write on 20 creative writing prompts.
20 Make a list of 101 things that I don't ever want to do again
24 Visit 5 capital cities
27 Write a list of 20 places I want to visit and why
40 List 10 places I have been, and 10 favourite things about each place
42 Complete the A-Z travel challenge
45 Visit 10 local tourist attractions
48 Have a romantic weekend away in a log cabin
55 Photograph 30 different animals
56 Post 10 tutorials on my blog
73 Take a free online class
75 Watch the Super Bowl

80 Make a bucket list for each season
84 Give a handmade gift
85 Eat at 10 new restaurants
87 Learn to locate all 50 US states on a map
91 Learn to identify all the countries on a map
92 Recognize the flags of all EU countries
93 Learn all the elements in the periodic table
94 Learn all 50 US state capitals
95 Learn 50 new things by clicking the random articles button on Wikipedia
99 Start work on the garden
101 Make 10 things I've pinned on Pinterest


Totally failed: (41/101)

As mentioned above, surprise early arrival of baby and subsequent health problems he had meant that time to do things and go places was just non-existent.


3 Go to an outdoor movie

4 Spend an entire day watching films
7 Watch 10 movies chosen by my husband
8 Choose an actor and watch every film he / she has been in
9 Read 10 classics I should have read but have never got around to
11 Read a biography

16 Write a list of 100 things that make me annoyed
17 Write myself a mail via

21 Write a fan letter
22 Make a list of things that I like about myself

26 Visit Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

29 See the Northern Lights
30 Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
32 Visit Ireland
34 Stay in a 5 star hotel

41 Visit The Shard

46 Visit all the locations on a Monopoly board
47 Take a train in mainland Europe
51 Tour a brewery/distillery
52 Climb a mountain
53 Ride the London cable car
57 Document a "day in my life" in photographs
58 Make snow angels
59 Spend a night stargazing
60 Spend a day at the beach
64 Watch a sunset on the beach
65 Watch a meteor shower

66 Say "yes" to something I would not normally do
70 Build a sandcastle
71 Go to a sporting event
72 Have a spa day

77 Take a moonlit walk on the beach
78 Take part in a blog challenge
79 Have a picnic in a forest

81 Win at crazy golf
82 Go up in a hot air balloon
83 Decorate a mug with a sharpie

88 Get my eyes tested
89 Reach my goal weight
90 Complete the 30 Day Shred
100 Grow my own herbs and/or vegetables

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Thursday, 5 January 2017

2017's Plans and Hopes

This is the first year we've started without something big looming on the horizon - be that IVF, the birth of our little handsome boy, or his heart surgery. This year is a completely fresh, clear canvas; ours to do with whatever we choose.

That said, we haven't got much by way of plans for the year. As much as I love making plans and having things to look forward to, it's also quite refreshing having an almost clear slate. Should we decide to be spontaneous, we can.

Our only real plans at the moment are a couple of trips away. We're taking Samson to Thomasland in February, to celebrate the one year anniversary of his heart surgery. He absolutely adores Thomas & Friends (I think it would be fair to say he's actually obsessed!) so hopefully he'll enjoy being in a Thomas theme park. There's a zoo as well, and we've been wanting to take him to a zoo for a while now so we hope he'll enjoy that!

We've also got a midweek break booked at Center Parcs in September. We enjoyed ourselves so much in November that we couldn't wait a whole year to go again!

As for the rest of 2017, I'm hoping that we get to just spend quality time as a family, making special memories, in whatever format it happens to take. It would also be nice if we managed to finally get Samson's bedroom done - he's still in with us at almost 20 months! Which is fine, but it would be good for him to have his own space.

What are your plans for this year?

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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Christmas Tag

I can't remember where I saw this, it's been sitting in my drafts so long. But anyway, who doesn't love a bit of Christmas fun? On with the Christmas tag...

What’s your favourite Christmas Movie?
I can't choose just one, it's not possible. Loved in equal measure are Home Alone, Home Alone 2, and Elf.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Yes. Don't ask me to prove it though!

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
Usually at home.

What is your favourite Christmas song?
I love a bit of Shaky at Christmas. And "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No, but we do have a Night Before Christmas box. We only started it last year once we had a child to start new traditions with.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. And Rudolph of course!

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
I'm looking forward to all of it. It feels like a real family Christmas for the first time, and it's going to be amazing!

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Fake. I've never had a real tree.

What is your all time favourite holiday treat/food/sweet?
Mince pies, and all the chocolate. Chocolate oranges and after eights particularly.

Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better?
Probably giving, but it stresses me out a bit trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone!

What is the best Christmas present you ever received?
Is it awful that nothing is coming to mind? I really can't think of one particular awesome thing.

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
I would always always always say New York, but we were lucky enough to visit the Big Apple at the end of December 2014 and stay for New Years Eve. I'd do it again though, definitely!

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I am a present wrapping extraordinaire!

Most memorable Christmas moment?
Erm... trying to sieve blended turkey last year for Samson, so he could have some of our Christmas dinner. And then he didn't even want it haha!

What made you realise the truth about Santa?
I genuinely don't remember. Maybe it was so traumatic I blocked it out?!

What makes the holidays special for you?
I just love Christmas. I love time with family, especially now that we have our own child. I can't wait to see his face on Christmas morning, and to make lots of memories over Christmases to come.

If you want to join the fun and do the Christmas tag, please leave the link in the comments below so I can come and read your answers!

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Winter Wonderland at Center Parcs

Christmas last year wasn't, if I'm honest, the amazing first Christmas as a family that we've dreamed of for so many years. Samson was unwell for a lot of December, we went to at least one hospital per week every week for over 2 months - not all planned trips, we had a couple of overnighters in A&E - and when we weren't at hospitals or doctors surgeries we were basically housebound to try to protect him from infection and the cold weather. Which meant no looking at Christmas lights and decorations, and no visits to Santa.

This year is so different. Incredibly, wonderfully different. Samson is less vulnerable, stronger, and the hospital trips are less frequent. Christmas really is going to be a wonderful celebration this year, and in order to make the most of it we decided to kick things off early and book a Winter Wonderland trip to Center Parcs for late November.

We've never been to Center Parcs before, as it always seemed a bit extravagant and pricey for just the two of us - but perceptions change somewhat when you have children! Yes it's not cheap, but we figured we'd had a pretty harrowing first year of parenthood and we deserved a treat, so we even upgraded accommodation. We took my mum along with us as well by way of a small thank you for everything she has done and continues to do for us - without her, I wouldn't have been able to go to work and we'd struggle to get anything done at home. A third pair of hands makes a huge difference to us every day!

The Center Parcs at Whinfell Forest is only an hour and a half away from us, which was a big factor in us choosing to go there as we're all about the short journeys! We left home around 12.30pm and arrived shortly after 2pm. Checking in at the arrivals lodge impressed us - they knew who we were and how many of there should be before the car had even come to a stop! We couldn't access our lodge until 3.30pm, so we parked the car in the car park and headed to the village centre for a look around and a bite to eat to pass the time.

When the time came to go to our lodge, the four of us wandered along and we were so impressed with it. It was beautiful. We left my mum and Samson there while we went to go get the car so that we could unload, and we were again impressed with the village and how well signposted it is. You'd do well to get lost when driving to your lodge!

There were so many activities to choose from during the course of our stay, and many I was extremely tempted by for Samson, but in the end the only thing we did at extra cost was the visit to Santa. Not only was it Samson's first time meeting Santa, it was also my first time, so I was pretty excited and not only on his behalf! Santa's Workshop was decorated beautifully, and we'd chosen the 4.15pm slot thinking that it would be dark so we'd get the full effect of the lights, but less busy than the more popular early evening slots. It worked a treat; there was no queue at all when we arrived and we were straight inside to see the elves. Then we were called in to see the man himself - exciting! Samson was a bit hesitant at first to say the least, although the offer of a chocolate coin did persuade him to approach Santa. Only for long enough to grab the coin! We had a lovely photo taken, and then Santa gave Samson a little gift and we were on our way.

That evening was also the fireworks display, so we made our way up to the lake to watch. This was another first for Samson as he'd never seen fireworks before, and his reaction was mixed - he loved the sparkles and lights but wasn't so keen on the bangs. I don't blame him for that.

The rest of our stay was very enjoyable, if reasonably unremarkable. We had a few walks around the forest, ate in some nice restaurants, and finally (finally!!) managed to get Samson to see that swimming is fun and not the devil. We had a couple of really enjoyable afternoons in the subtropical swimming paradise - and, you know what, it's appropriately named! There's so much in there to explore and you could easily spend an entire day there.

Friday came around far too quickly, and we had to go home. Center Parcs has absolutely won us over though, and we will definitely return!

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

National Fertility Awareness Week #NFAWUK

This week is National Fertility Awareness Week here in the UK; a week to raise awareness about fertility problems and challenge the myths surrounding them.

In the UK, 1 in 6 couples face fertility problems. We were that 1 in 6. You probably know if you've been around for some time, that we had to have two attempts at IVF to have our precious baby. It took us 3 and a half years of trying to conceive - at the time, that felt like 3 and a half decades. Time moves very differently when you're stuck on a rollercoaster that you just don't want to be on. Still, our journey was relatively short compared to others, and we are incredibly grateful that we were able to receive the treatment we did and that it was successful.

There are no two ways about it; infertility sucks. That period of my life - our lives - sucked. It did, however, lead me to meet an amazing group of women (one of them is on the poster above!) who, thanks to the power of the internet and the shared miserable experiences we had, have become a wonderful group of friends. Infertility can be extremely isolating and lonely, but there is support out there and other people going through the same thing, and that helps you through the darkest moments enormously.

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Friday, 14 October 2016

Baby Loss Awareness Week

I was unsure whether to write this post, but I think I needed to. These feelings have eaten away at me inside for a long time; barely acknowledged for fear of sounding like I don't appreciate what we have. Which of course, I absolutely do.

It's baby loss awareness week. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I haven't suffered it in the traditional way - that is, finding out I'm pregnant, and then miscarrying and having nothing but emptiness. My loss of babies has been somewhat different, but a loss I've felt deeply nonetheless.

Those of you who've been around for some time know that we had an IVF cycle in March-April 2014, which ended in failure. That embryo didn't stick around long enough to turn into a positive pregnancy test, but to me that embryo was a very real hope of a baby. It embodied our dreams and our wishes for the future; to lose it was devastating for me. It was right up there with the loss of my dad as one of the very worst times of my life.

The second time around at IVF, we transferred two embryos. Both of those stuck initially, but then we lost one at 6 weeks. That was such a confusing time emotionally - I was so indescribably relieved to be pregnant and to see a little jelly bean with a heartbeat at 7 weeks, but there was a tinge of sadness at the loss of the other. I had dreamed of what it would be like to be a twin mum, wondered whether we'd have two girls, two boys, or one of each.

With hindsight, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some relief that we just had the one baby - his arrival was so dramatic, his first few months so stressful, and his health problems will be lifelong. I can't imagine how we would have coped with two. But that doesn't mean I don't think about the one we lost; I do. All the time. Every day.

I wonder whether it was a boy or a girl. Would they have looked like Samson? Would they have been as full of character and spirit as he is? Would they have been healthy? These questions will never be answered - they'll also probably never be asked aloud. They're just ponderings in my mind.

Tomorrow night I'll be lighting a candle for our lost babies, for all the lost babies that parents never got to meet, and for the angel babies that were taken away too soon. You can join the wave of light by lighting a candle too, on 15th October at 7pm.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Recent Reads

Since I've been back at work after maternity leave, I've started reading again - the commute is the perfect time to lose myself in a book!

The last time I did a Recent Reads post was 2 years ago (!) so there's a few to catch up on now. So, without any further ado..
The Maze Runner - James Dashner
What Goodreads Says: If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.
What I Say: It's a looong time since I read this, but I did enjoy it.
I rated it 4/5

About A Girl - Lindsey Kelk
What Goodreads Says: I’d lost my job. I’d lost the love of my life. My mum wasn’t talking to me. My best friend was epically pissed off. And my flatmate probably had a hit out on me by now. I never meant for things to get so out of hand…
Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when her carefully constructed Plan goes belly up, she’s forced to reconsider.
After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa’s phone, she decides that since being Tess isn’t going so well, why shouldn’t she try out being Vanessa? With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa’s photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right?
But Tess is soon in big trouble – she isn’t a photographer, she isn’t Vanessa, and the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he’d like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster.
Far from home and in someone else’s shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or ‘fess up and run…
What I Say: Lindsey Kelk did not disappoint with this one. I'll be honest and say the only reason I can remember it is that I've read the sequels recently - baby brain still in operation here!
I rated it 4/5

The Single Girl's To-Do List - Lindsey Kelk
What Goodreads Says: A hilarious and romantic standalone novel from the bestselling author of the I Heart series
Rachel Summers loves a to-do list:
• Boyfriend
• Flat
• Great job
NOT on the list:
• Being dumped
Best friends Emelie and Matthew ride to her rescue with an entirely new kind of list – The Single Girl’s To-Do List. Rachel doesn’t know it, but it will take her on all kinds of wild adventures – and get her in some romantic pickles too. And then it won't be a case of what but who she decides to tick off…
• Mr. bendy yoga instructor
• Mr. teenage sweetheart
• Mr. persistent ex
• Mr. deeply unsuitable
The Single Girl’s To-Do List gives Rachel the perfect heartbreak cure – and proves love is out there if you’re willing to take a chance.
What I Say: I don't actually remember this all that well now, but given the rating I gave it I must have really liked it!
I rated it 5/5
For Nick - Taylor Dean
What Goodreads Says: Zachary Drake had love in his life--and tragically lost it. He knows it won't come his way again. Andie Parker would do anything for the love of her life.
Even marry a total stranger.
In spite of the unorthodox manner in which Zach and Andie come together, there is no denying that things are unexpectedly good between them, taking them both by surprise. However, when secrets come between them--and trust does not--Andie soon finds herself vowing to never make the same mistake again. But, she'd do it again in a heartbeat and she knows it. She'd marry a hundred strangers if it helped Nick.
She'd do anything for Nick . . . anything.
What I Say: I've never found a Taylor Dean book I didn't enjoy, and this one is no different.
I rated it 4/5

Winners - Danielle Steel
What Goodreads Says: When a horrific chairlift accident leaves 17-year-old competitive skier Lily Thomas paralyzed, she must come to grips with the fact that she'll not only be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, but will never fulfill her lifelong dream of winning Olympic gold. Meanwhile, her wealthy father, who has doted on Lily since her mother died when she was three, is devastated as he watches his only child lose all she once cherished and suffer through the arduous road to recovery. But just as all hope seems lost, Lily meets Teddy, a young man even more badly injured than she, but as doggedly determined to live an enriching life. Danielle Steel is at her best in this powerful story of a father and daughter triumphing together over unthinkable tragedy, creating new lives for themselves and providing hope for others along the way.
What I Say: I read this when Samson was in hospital recovering from his heart surgery; that's what this book will always remind me of. It's the first Danielle Steel I've read in a while, and although the plot was predictable it was enjoyable escapism nonetheless.
I rated it 4/5

The Bookshop On The Corner - Rebecca Raisin
What Goodreads Says: Who said that only real heroes could be found in fiction?
Sarah Smith had an addiction – she was addicted to romance novels. The meet-cute, the passion, the drama and the gorgeous men! Now this wouldn’t have been such an issue if she hadn’t been the owner of the only bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut.
Ever since her close friend Lil, from The Gingerbread CafĂ©, had become engaged she had been yearning for a little love to turn up in her life. Except Sarah knew a good man was hard to find – especially in a tiny town like Ashford. That was until New York journalist, Ridge Warner stepped into her bookshop…
Love could be just around the corner for Sarah, but will she be able to truly believe that happy-ever-after can happen in real-life too!

What I Say: This was the first book I'd read in a while, and it was a nice way to get back into it. I found the characters charming and relatable.
I rated it 4/5

In A New York Minute - Claudia Carroll
What Goodreads Says: Love isn’t always like it is in the movies … or is it?
Amy has moved to the city that never sleeps, and now she’s looking for love.
But after a string of dating disasters it seems that finding Mr. Right isn’t quite as easy as Amy first thought.
Following in the footsteps of her favourite New York movies Amy is determined to have that romantic Manhattan moment. But like all good romances – love often turns up in the most unexpected of places…
A heart-warming, 23 page short story from best-selling author, Claudia Carroll, this is the perfect read for Valentine’s Day.

What I Say: Short, and not memorable.
I rated it 3/5

Lancaster House - Taylor Dean
What Goodreads Says: Zoe Grayson needs a change. So, she moves to another state, purchases an old, dilapidated 1920s Victorian Mansion, and sets out to restore it to its former glory. As she begins the restoration, she finds herself falling in love with the old house . . . not to mention its illustrious builder, Mr. Lancaster. Zoe becomes obsessed with the house as she discovers its secrets; hidden rooms, secret passageways . . . and a mysterious man who seems to think the house is his. Who is he? More importantly, how does he live in her home unseen and unheard?
The unexpected answers leave her reeling—and questioning everything she’s ever known. To her dismay, Zoe’s actions land her in the local psychiatric hospital, scheming for ways to return to Lancaster House . . . and the love of her life.
What I Say: This one was a bit different, being on the supernatural side - but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I rated it 4/5

Sizzling Sixteen - Janet Evanovich
What Goodreads Says: Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a “lucky” bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn’t specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck. . . .
Vinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced. Nobody else will pay to get Vinnie back, leaving it up to Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula to raise the money if they want to save their jobs.
Being in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, Lula, and Connie have an advantage in finding Vinnie. If they can rescue him, it will buy them some time to raise the cash.
Finding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Vinnie’s messing up Mooner’s vibe, running up pay-per-view porn charges in Ranger’s apartment, and making Stephanie question genetics.
Between a bonds office yard sale that has the entire Burg turning out, Mooner’s Hobbit-Con charity event, and Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle, they just might raise enough money to save the business, and Vinnie, from ruin.
Saving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep being a bounty hunter. In Trenton, this involves hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.
The job of bounty hunter comes with perks in the guise of Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous security expert, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky--the only question is . . . with whom?
Sizzling Sixteen . . . so hot, the pages might spontaneously combust!
What I Say: The Stephanie Plum books are all a bit samey now, but easy enough to read without having to concentrate much.
I rated it 4/5

What A Girl Wants - Lindsey Kelk
What Goodreads Says: A summer bestseller from the immensely popular Lindsey Kelk Tess Brookes was the girl with a plan. Now she's the girl with a choice. Should she stay in London and start her own advertising agency with her best friend and potential boyfriend Charlie? Or should she head to exciting Milan to pursue both a new career as a photographer and a new man, the enigmatic and elusive (and highly irritating) Nick? For the first time, Tess has to choose between the life she always dreamed of and a future she never imagined possible. With her heart and her head pulling her in different directions, Tess has to make a life-changing decision about What a Girl Wants.
What I Say: I'm not ashamed to say I kind of love Tess, and I really enjoyed this next instalment of her adventures.
I rated it 4/5

A Girl's Best Friend - Lindsey Kelk
What Goodreads Says: First Tess was a girl with a plan.
Then she was a girl with a dream.
Now she’s a girl who’s come back to earth with a bump.
When the opportunity arises to join her best friend, Amy, in New York for Christmas, Tess jumps at the chance. The only fly in ointment is that Nick, the man who broke her heart, lives there. And Charlie, the man she turned down, has just started talking to her again. And she has just four days to take a photo for a competition that could save her career.
But aside from that, everything is going to be great: it’ll be the best Christmas ever. Won’t it?

What I Say: As above really. With the added bonus of New York as a setting, I love New York!
I rated it 4/5

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner
What Goodreads Says: Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end.
Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.
There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.
The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off.
There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive.
What I Say: I read the first third of this, watched the film, got thoroughly confused as nothing was the same, read the rest, felt even more confused as seriously nothing was the same, and my conclusion is that the book was better. I can't actually remember the film now, and it's only a couple of weeks ago.
I rated it 4/5

The Death Cure - James Dashner
What Goodreads Says: It’s the end of the line.
WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test.
Will anyone survive?
What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say.
The truth will be terrifying.
Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all.
The time for lies is over.
What I Say: My head is a bit battered after this trilogy, I've lost track of all the lies and deceit and basically what was going on. That's not to say I didn't like it; I did. It was definitely action packed and I hope the movie adaptation of this is more true to the book than The Scorch Trials was.
I rated it 4/5

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