**Book Review**Cherringham – A cosy crime series

Cherringham – Book 1 – 3

by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards

On my quest to balance my love for books and reading with work/kids/life, I once again turned to Audible. I am absolutely loving my audible monthly credit, where I can choose one book to listen to.

So this week was Cherringham – A cosy crime series compilation. The first three books in a cosy crime drama series: Murder on Thames, Mystery at the Manor and Murder by Moonlight.

"Jack's a retired ex-cop from New York, seeking the simple life in 
Cherringham. Sarah's a Web designer who's moved back to the village 
to find herself. But their lives are anything but quiet as the two 
team up to solve Cherringham's criminal mysteries."

The two main characters although from two very different backgrounds form an unlikely alliance to dig through murder mysteries in the very “Midsomer” village of Cherringham.  It’s a very stereotypical view of an English village and the character portrayal are also somewhat stereotypical, Jack is a hardened retired ex New York policeman whose wife has died and he has retired to the English Village for some peace. Sarah has returned to her home village after a messy divorce where her husband cheated on her, and she has to return to her hometown to mend her broken heart with two kids in tow.

However, this does not distract from the storyline, I really enjoyed the Midsomer vibe, the mysteries were not too easy that I could guess straight away and neither were they so far out of the ordinary genre of murder mystery that I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

The writing style is somewhat peculiar as it is written by dual authors, an Englishman and an American, so the language can sometimes swap and change depending on the author I guess, but as there is an English and American character, I rather enjoyed this reflection of the characters in the writing. I think it gives it a quirky feel o the story and really helps you bond with the characters and the story.

All three stories, are independent. You don’t need to read them in order, as each mystery is a stand alone murder mystery our crime solving duo have to work on. However, the personal life of the characters is somewhat fluid throughout the series. SO if like me you love to find about characters and fall in love with them, then reading in order is probably for the best.

I have only heard the first three in this series, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be carrying on with the series. It was a quick and entertaining read, a good length for a cosy crime thriller. I could curl up and listen in the evenings and still have time to make tea and fit in some work if I needed. I didn’t get bored and I couldn’t wait to start the next one. All of these things for me are signs of a good book.

The first in the series is possibly the least enjoyable if I had to pick one, but I feel its because it has to fit quite a lot in a short story. The authors had to introduce us to the characters and Cherringham, and the murder plot and tie it all up in a neat bow, which meant the first book maybe wasn’t as exciting or as enjoyable as the others. I still really liked it and I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the books in this first edition.

My one and only question I have from this whole series: Whilst Jack and Sarah are out finding all this evidence and solving the crimes? What are the police doing to miss some huge plot points in the murders? Obviously, we need the police to miss somethings to give Jack and Sarah something to do, but seriously, sometimes makes me wonder. lol!

Overall, I really enjoyed the first three books and I cannot wait to listen to the rest. The narrator audible chose also is a pleasure to listen to which makes the experience even better. I would post certainly recommend it too.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable especially if you like your cosy English crime dramas as I do.

If you want to have a read, why not check it out for yourself over on Amazon.

****This blog post has a affiliated link in it, if you click through on it and make any purchases, I may receive a small fee.**

 

**Book Review** Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair

Sleigh rides and silver bells at the Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain

I am on a roll with books and the minute. I have this book in real life and on audible so it was a mix of reading and listening for this one, which was a journey I tell you.

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?

I love a Christmas story, you know I do! I especially love one when I am feeling a little down or sad as I remember to carry Christmas spirit with me always, and to funnel my energy into making people smile, positive energy and being kind and considerate to others. I remember these things and it reminds me how lucky I am and I start feeling a little better. So a Christmas story will always be welcome on my books shelf.

Heidi Swain is one of my favourite authors, I have read her other books and I have truly enjoyed them. This book was no exception, I liked reading about Wynthorpe Hall and all the excitement of Christmas. I didn’t fall in love with the main characters Anna and Jamie like I usually would. I am not sure why, I guess I didn’t connect them. I think maybe I didn’t fully engage with their stories or history. Jamies character felt somewhat flat, without any spoilers there is a section of the story where I really didn’t like him very much at all. Which is unusual for me with a male lead. I am usually very forgiving. I didn’t really fall for the love story either, it seemed a little forced and somewhat pretentious. The relationships between the main characters and the secondary characters were much more interesting and exciting than the romance story. However, the secondary characters made this book oh so worth it. I loved all the characters from Angus’ larger than life, loveable father figure to the local villages Anna meets on her travels around the village.

Heidis description of Wynthorpe did make me fall in love with the fictional hall and village and it made me long for our family visits to National Trusts. The warmth and love she described was adorable and I absolutely would recommend this to anyone who needs a little festive cheer up.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️★ 4/5 stars I would definitely recommend.

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**Book Review** Murder at the Smithsonian

Murder at the Smithsonian by Margaret Truman

Hi Everyone!

So I managed to find time to read an actual real life book. It made me so happy to hold a book in my hand and smell its pages. I am loving audible and the freedom it is giving me to hear a story and continue with other stuff, but there isn’t anything quite like holding a real life book and immersing yourself on a reading adventure. However, my excitement may have peaked with just holding this book as I can’t say it will become one of my favourites.

Murder at the Smithsonian isn’t a bad book, it just didn’t keep my interest all the way through. I feel like a book needs to have dips, twists and turns and a healthy dose of “normal” descriptive writing to keep the story going, and I feel like this book maybe fell a little short.

Dr. Lewis Tunney, a brilliant historian who had stumbled onto an international art scandal, was brutally murdered in front of two hundred guests at an elegant party at the Smithsonian. When his fiancee, Heather McBea, flies in from Scotland to learn more, Mac Hanrahan, the captain in charge of the case, takes a heated interest in her. And when two more murders are committed, Hanrahan has reason to worry about Heather’s sleuthing. But Heather is stubborn and insists on going her own way–right into the arms of a killer….

From this blurb, the story itself sounds like it was going to be right up my street, an engaging tale of murder, mystery and intrigue. What I got was a soft version of a hard-boiled egg tale of murder and not a lot of mystery!

I feel like maybe I am being too harsh, the story itself could have been amazing, it had so much potential. But I feel like the story dragged when it should have galloped and came to a screeching halt just as it started to get good. If a story is like a heart monitor, you want the dips and mountains to come evenly and throughout the book to keep your interest, not peak at the beginning, then nothing for a while with the odd potential for a good plot point to come to nothing, and then everything happen all at once at the end which made the rest of the book a little bit pointless.

I guessed early on who the culprits were, and I even pretty much had how and why down too, which in my opinion isn’t necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes you want the reader to have some ideas, but then with red herrings and the rest of the story developing, you still want them to question their own minds. In this case, I did not. I had pretty much guessed and confirmed a few chapters in.

It was a good book to pass an afternoon, it wasn’t great but I am glad I read it, I just think it had so much potential to be a great book. The characters were easily the second best part of this book for me. The leading characters didn’t draw me in as much as a book usually would, but the secondary characters were incredible. It was still fairly predictable guessing every ones motives and storylines, but they were at least enjoyable to read about.

My favourite part of the story was the scenery and exploring the varying museums. I have yet to travel to America, so for me discovering places in books is my favourite part of reading. I love hearing about the different museums and parts of Washington.

Overall, it was a good afternoon read and was enjoyable to a point. My mum read it after me, and she enjoyed it much more than I did. So, it just goes to show every book is a special journey but different for all of us. I would recommend it and I am going to find another of Margaret Trumans books to try.

⭐️⭐️★★★ 2/5 stars

*Book Review** The Gift of Happiness

The Gift of Happiness by Holly Martin.

Welcome to my stop on The Gift of Happiness book blog tour. I could not wait to post it… I had to really hold off on putting my review out sooner as I think you should get a glimpse into the village of happiness and honestly I think you should all read this and it’s prequel.

I am a massive, massive fan of Holly Martin and she mad kindly offered me a chance to read a few of her books before publication date in return for an honest review, a few things, 1) you all know I love reading so I was never going to turn that offer down, 2) I adore Holly’s work so I almost bit her hand off and finally, 3) I write my blog because I love to write and share, but it is a huge dream of mine to write things people find interesting and may help them, so overall, I love Holly’s work and she has given me a chance to fulfil a dream so I really do.

Anyway, I’m rambling again onto my review:

A sparkling, thoughtful romantic tale which gave me tingles and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Christmas stories are my favourite kind of stories.

For me, it’s always about the characters. If I fall in love with one or all the characters, then it’s going to be a yes from me. The Gift of Happiness is no different, I love the characters – but then again, in a Holly Martin story, I always do! Like with people in real life, there are characters you will grow to love and some that you instantly fall in love with. Willow in the first book was an instant for me, Ruby was a bit of a grower, but I think she was written that way. You have to follow her journey, understand and learn why she is the way she is. I accepted her character early on as we should with people, she is the way she is, and she doesn’t want to change for anyone and I like that but I didn’t love her, not right away anyway, but when you start to learn her story and see her interactions with Willow, the villagers and Jacob and it soon wasn’t long before I’d fallen for her characters charm too, just as Jacob did.

I love how the characters were established a little in the first book and then grow in this one. I adore Hollys books where we are given a story and characters in one book but still get to hear from them in other stories. I love immersing myself in the Little Village of Happiness. Who wouldn’t want to live in this lovely, beautiful and unique place? I’m actually very jealous of all the characters.

I do find it hard to believe that both brothers could be so beautiful in real life but in a book I am a sucker for it. I read to escape and travel to new places and meet exciting new people. I am happy to suspend reality for a few hours and fall in love with two beautiful and amazing brothers.

I am not usually one for spoilers as I’d rather just give my open and honest opinion and hope this is enough for you to decide to go pick it up, on your own but on this occasion. I do want to give a little insight into the book and I will have a spoiler below, so if you don’t want to know please skip this next section.

The opening of the book sees Ruby, who we met in the previous book moving into Happiness. She had a few days of amazing sex with Jacob when she visited Willow in the summer but she is a lady who does not wish to settle down and is happy with no strings fun, or is she? As with all romance stories, this is just the start of Ruby’s journey. It’s Christmas time in Happiness, and the village is alive with all things festive and as always the gossips are out in full force as Ruby comes to town. Can she live in the village for the next year without falling into Jacobs arms, bed or heart?

***Spoiler alert***

The main theme throughout this story is dealing with loss, our fears and overcoming them. Although, we won’t all have the exact same experiences as Ruby, her story still resonates with me, as we all do often let our past, our fears etc dictate our futures. The loss of Ruby’s partner had me choked up and I cried whilst reading this chapter. A]if a character in a book can make me cry just by a few simple words, you know you are reading a good story. But more than the sadness of the tale, it was the understanding from Jacobs character which was incredible and got to me most. I love and hate reading, as real life men don’t always live up to literary ones.

**Spoiler over**

Deaf awareness and understanding in this story and it’s prequel is truly beautiful! Add to this, the inclusion of a Paralympic and the way he is living his life too, is remarkable. What an inspiring read! I would love to believe that if people were more like the characters in stories like this, the world would be a nicer place. Having health/mental/ physical differences doesn’t make the characters less of a person or ever come across as a negative. I love how it’s part of the characters but it’s not the defining feature. I especially like Ruby’s reasoning for learning to sign, “she knew it was partly to expand her skills and learn a new language and to be able to help understand people who might struggle to be understood.” People who learn languages so when they travel they can try to speak to the natives of that area is wonderful, I am one of those. I like to think that although my skills might not be great I am trying. Learning to sign to communicate with people who might struggle is, in my eyes even more wonderful. Imagine if we all did this, imagine if we all tried harder to communicate with everyone. Beautiful.

I love Christmas – the idea of carrying Christmas spirit/ magic all year round is something me and my mum have always done and I like to hope I’m passing that onto my kids! I always say we are Spirit of Christmas ambassadors. I love a Christmas story but a Christmas story about a lady I can relate to well that was perfection in a book. It’s not a secret that Holly is one of my favourite authors, it’s not often I pick her up her books and don’t instantly fall in love with everything about it. I love how she helps you connect with the characters and the story, but also with the places. Each time I discover a new place in Holly’s books, I want to go to and explore and find some of these treasures for myself. Happiness is almost a character itself. Overall, a book by Holly is probably going to be a hit in my house, a book by Holly about Christmas, well Christmas has arrived early in my house, and a little warning to my friends and family, you may all be receiving this book as a gift this year.

As a final note, I’d like to say a massive massive thank you to Holly for choosing British Heart Foundation as the charity her character chooses to support and for choosing to write about heart conditions and opening up discussions about BHF and what they do. I lost my dad quite young and he suffered with heart conditions. The work and research they do is so important and they don’t get government funding so all the help they get from donations etc is really appreciated. I would have loved this book anyway as Holly is one of my favourite authors, but when you add all the positives, the connection to the British Heart Foundation and everything about Christmas, it might actually be one of my all time favourites.

Overall, I love this book and if you want a festive, feel good read which will leave you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but also might make you jealous of all the beautiful, friendly and romantic feels – this is the book for you!

***Book Review*** The Little Village of Happiness

The Little Village of Happiness

By Holly Martin

I don’t know how it happened but it was an absolutely wonderful day when I was asked by one of my favourite authors to write a review of her latest book. As a book reviewer, it is wonderful when you get approached to review a book. I don’t do blog as a business or for a fee, I just do it for my love of books and reading, and to be asked to do a review is, just, well it’s wonderful. So to be asked again, is a dream come true!

I couldn’t wait to start my new book, and Holly has wrote a beautiful, funny and lively story. Once again, I started and I couldn’t put it down.

As you are all aware by now, the plot of a book can be similar to others but I will still fall in love with it, if I can fall in love with the characters. Personality, character development and chemistry are all huge priorities for me. Holly ticks all these boxes and always delivers a wonderful storyline too, so I have no need to worry.

Willow has taken a leap of faith and moved to a little village called Happiness to start afresh after her long term relationship ended in a disastrous failed engagement. To avoid the stares, the gossips and the humiliation, not that she was too bothered but the break up, but gossip can take a while to disappear. She has taken a chance to move rent free to Happiness for a year to help the village grow. She has no idea what to expect and is slightly shocked to see the state of the village, however she is soon distracted by the presence of the very attractive and kind estate manager Andrew.

When I started The Little Village of Happiness I wasn’t sure about Willow, but it only took until the second chapter to fall deeply in love with her. Willow’s positive outlook in life, combined with her ability to not just see the beauty in the world, but also see the negatives and sadness and turn it into a positive experience is wonderful. She is a bubbly, flirty bundle of energy, I can relate to on a personal level.

Andrew might be the perfect literary man! I have never been instantly attracted by a character as much as am I to him. He is absolute perfection, he obviously makes a few mistakes but he owns them straight away and there is nothing more attractive than that. Between the two main characters, Willow has my heart. To move to some where new, taking a leap of faith and trying out new experiences, is incredible. I was in awe of her quirky, happy go lucky attitude throughout the whole book.

I love this style of book so I knew I was going to enjoy it before I even started to read it. But every author brings something new to the table when it comes to chick lit and Holly does it like no other. The Little Village of Happiness sounds so beautiful, I want to discover it for myself and pack up my bags and head there. I am not sure I would be able to add anything productive in a business sense to the village, but I think I would really fit in with the villagers. Throughout the story, I adore how it isn’t just the romance blossoming between our two protagonists that make this story shine. The idea of bringing happiness back to Happiness, and encouraging community spirit within the village is absolutely beautiful.

All the little tiny details in this story are what make it special, it is also these wonderful additions that will make me pick it up to read it again and again, and recommend it to other people. I love how Holly’s characters always add something new and different to the book. Willow is a small business owner, she makes candles. How cute and adorable is this, but also such a good business for a crafty person, but not something you might read about. There is an artist within the village, landlord and lady of the local pub, and the post lady controls the post office with a record book and a friendly face. How unusual but so quaint. Romance blossoms for a senior couple, and Willows friend Ruby might even find love in the village. Every little thing that happens, comes together to make this a really cute but wonderful story.

My final comment is about Andrews character being deaf, obviously this a huge part of his character and something that drives the story. Personally I have no experience with deaf people similar to Holly, (she mentions in her comment that she doesn’t either) and she was worried about writing this character. But I think it is awesome she still has chosen to write Andrew and with such confidence. I don’t know any deaf people but I have friends who have been labelled for other reasons, and I think Holly’s approach in this story is spot on; seeing deafness as something that is just part of a person, not a negative, not something to be ashamed of, but something we should empathise with and help/encourage if we can, not judge someone or alter our behaviour because of it. This is absolutely the best part of this book for me. Willows speech to a Ruby regarding Poppy is a truly inspiration and outstanding message and I think more people need to hear it.

“And stop with the ‘poor girl’ crap, Deaf people don’t need or want our pity, they don’t want to be labelled as an abnormality or different. They just want understanding, to have the same opportunities as us, to have access to the same stuff that we do. And sometimes that can be difficult for the, but they want empathy not sympathy.” Its a beautifully written speech, and shows Willows, and through her Hollys view of the world and it really impressed me. The whole book has left a lasting impression of kindness, understanding and empathy with me, and I think everyone should read it.

I adore Holly Martin and I love this book and I cannot wait for the next instalment to see what happens between Ruby and Jacob. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all the residents of Happiness. I especially liked the idea of secret gifts; what a wonderful idea to spread community spirit and joy. My favourite is Roger asking for a Chris Hemsworth half naked calendar, I can fully appreciate that gift.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5 stars. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a cute, romantic easy read. Would be ideal to take on a summer holiday.

Celebrating Literature

Good Evening!

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So for the past few weeks, I have been caught up in a competition I was running to win a copy of my favourite book. My thinking behind this was to share something about myself, share my love for books and literature and give someone a small piece of enjoyment from a free book, it did come with the added bonus of opening up my audience somewhat, which is always nice, but my main motivation is my plan to spend this year celebrating literature.

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Most of you who know me well, will know I always have 101 things on my to do list, and I flit between hobby to craft and back again, but within this I want to celebrate my one constant – my love for books. So kicked off my competition and today I chose a winner, I cannot wait to hear from them and share my book with them.

How else will i be celebrating? Well as a family of book lovers, encouraging the children to read and find books they love is always top of my agenda, I will be doing blog spotlights on authors and books I love, I hope to get more involvement from my online book club and I have a few other special ideas I will share with you as the year goes by.

There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book. —Frank Serafini

First off, I will be re-reading my favourite Pride and Prejudice and I have asked my bookclub to join in, please feel free to join me as well and when I publish my book review I hope you will enjoy and comment with your opinions.

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Keep an eye out for some of my favourite adaptions of Jane Austen classics later in the week.

Following from this, the kids and I will be celebrating storytelling week by making up some stories, and I hope to share some of their best with you. National Story telling week runs from 26th January to the 2nd of February, which sits nicely as my birthday is the 1st of February and I love nothing more than a good bit of storytelling.

The rest of the year is pretty exciting too, as we have Harry Potter book night, new books try and review, lots of exploring to do (I have a book with walks from literature to try), and lots of more exciting authors and books to hear about over the coming months.

Books are a uniquely portable magic. —Stephen King

I don’t think I can think of anything better than snuggling down with a good book and a cup of tea, and immersing myself in a completely different world, meeting new friends and falling in love all over again, and again and again. My absolute second favourite thing is snuggling down and reading to my children. We have to take time to do this, we don’t always have time and life can sometimes get crazy busy, as I imagine it does for all of you. But we do stop and make time to read, as its something we all enjoy, I love to read to them and they love to listen. It is one of my favourites part of being a mother, telling them stories I’ve loved since being little, discovering new books with them, sharing my passion and hearing their exciting opinions on everything. I think I would find it hard if I had children who didn’t like to read, but thankfully I have two children who love a good book. Monkey is even a fan of writing, so hopefully he will be sharing his stories with me too!

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Richard Steele

If only reading could help me shed a few of those christmas pounds!

 

Sharing is caring

Happy New Year Everybody! If you follow me on social media, I hope you have enjoyed my celebration of literature so far, along with my usual random sharing of family life!

I started this blog because I wanted to take some time for myself, and I’ve always loved to write and it felt nice having an outlet for some of my creativity. At first, I wasn’t really fussed if people even noticed or read my blog, I simply enjoyed the time I took reflecting on the cool things I have done with my family and sharing my love for books through my reviews. As I have continued, I have realised it is so amazing when I get likes or comments, and I do appreciate followers and feeling like someone is reading and might even be interested in what I have to say.

However, I am still a mum first and towards the end of last year, I took a small break just to spend the Christmas period with my family creating some wonderful memories, but I did my miss writing, I missed sharing moments with you all and especially I missed sharing my book reviews. My biggest passion is reading and sharing this passion with the world and hopefully, maybe inspiring others is so important to me.

So today is all about sharing – I love to share my family, adventures and random ramblings with you all. I hope you enjoy those posts, but today is all about my love of literature, books and my favourite authors. Nothing is more relaxing than snuggling down on a Sunday afternoon with a good book.

How much I love a good cup of tea? You cannot have a good book without a good cup of Tea?

As always, my first objective for the year is to set my Goodreads Reading Challenge target, last year I didn’t do so well, so I have really got to put some effort in this year. I have set 50 books this year, which isn’t quite 1 book a week.

Whilst I was thinking about all the books I couldn’t wait to read from my TBR (To be read) pile,or considering which of my already read favourite books I might read again, it hit me that as much as I love discovering books and losing myself in a good book, I enjoy sharing my experience with others just as much as the act of reading itself.

There are so many good books and authors out there, ready and waiting for you all to discover them, so within this I have decided that as much as I possibly can, not only will I be reading and sharing my reviews as normal, but I think we should be celebrating literature and reading. I am lucky that I have children who have taken an interest in my passion for reading and also enjoy a good book, I love getting to read to them and with them. I love to inspire them, encourage them and watch them fall in love with characters and words as I have done.

‘Books are a uniquely portable magic’ ~ Stephen King

Over the coming months, I want to share some of my favourite authors, books and poems with you, have spotlights on classics, literary hero’s and villains, open up discussions about why we love books and why it is so important to pass this love and share these incredible works with others. I love to inspire others to read, or re-ignite a long forgotten spark for a love of reading. To even inspire one person so read a book would be fulfilling and amazing to hear.

An amazing outlet for this, is a book club. I have an online book club, which is really relaxed and very small. But it is a wonderful place to share books, opinions, get ideas for your next book to read, or simply be and know you are in the company of other book lovers. Knowing you share something with others and having that connection is important, especially if like me, you sometimes feel like being a grown up, a mother or new person to an area can leave you feeling like maybe you’ve lost a little of yourself, or lonely or scared. The internet for all its usual little annoyances, has made the world a slightly smaller place, and sometimes seeing that there are other people who share your interests, who feel the same way, can make a huge difference to a persons life.

If books aren’t your thing, don’t worry, you can find groups and clubs for all sorts of everything, and you don’t need to leave your house if you don’t want too. But if you are passionate about something, if you like to share this with people, do it! It’s a wonderful thing, sharing with others.

To kickstart my January of sharing, my love for books and encouraging my community of followers. I am going to hold a book competition/prize draw between my blog and my social media followers. It is going to be to win a copy of one of my all time favourite books, if you have clocked the date and know the literary significance, well done and you will know my favourite book, if not enjoy trying to guess over the next few weeks. Between now and the 28th of January, Aswell as this blog post, I will be sharing a post regarding my prize draw on all my social media accounts and all you have to do is either:

A) signup to follow my blog via WordPress/email etc.

B) like and comment with your favourite book on the Instagram, Twitter or Facebook post.

(If you do it all, you will be put into the prize draw for each outlet, wordpress, Instagram for a maximum of four entries)

On the 28th of January, I will use a random generator to pick a winner, and will be in contact to arrange postage to you. I have never before done a competition, so please be patient with me as I get to grips with it, but As I have many of my own copies of my favourite book, I want to share it with my followers. I am hoping it will encourage the growth of my little community. I want you to feel able to share your favourite things, your passions with me too. Please find their terms and conditions here: https://butterfly-child.blog/terms-and-conditions-for-january-prize-draw/

‘ Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!’ ~ Anne Frank

Last year was exciting, tiring, scary and hard at times – to put yourself out there for the world to see – can be quite a challenge and quite daunting. This year I plan to enjoy it more, mostly because I plan to enjoy life more. Yes I have bad days, I have an illness which is an extra challenge and balance work/ life can be a task but overall, I have an amazing life, a brilliant family, some wonderful friends and I am a very lucky lady. I would say I am already a fairly happy go lucky person, I try to keep smiling and focus on the beauty and wonder of the world. I think that’s why I like my butterfly child/peter pan moniker, I like to hope I will always see the world and experience it, with a sort of childlike view, and never grow up properly and forget to see and appreciate the wonderment of the world.

This year, I want to do more and share more – my highs and my lows, my passions, my hobbies, everything. So my final word for today is this:

Not a promise, as an almost full time working mother, I couldn’t promise to write blog posts every day or even to write more, as I wouldn’t want to let anyone down if I couldn’t fulfil this – and even before being a mum, you all know how hard and fast life can be – I wouldn’t want to promise something here and now, and focus all my energies on that and forget/or lose time to do the other things I enjoy. Having a good balance between doing these wonderful amazing things and sharing them is so important to me.

BUT, I do want to recommit to this blog, I want to share my weird and wonderful family with you, take you all on our adventures, I want to have somewhere I can share my random outbursts of opinions, show with you my arts and crafts and mostly share with you my biggest love in life: reading. I want to commit to learning and growing and building a small community with you all. My blog isn’t a dedicated to one thing kind of blog, I don’t have a plan, and I doubt I ever will. I’m not like that as a person and I want my blog to reflect this, I hope you will continue to enjoy my blog and carry on this journey with me. I cannot guarantee a smooth ride, as I am and will probably always be learning, but I hope that you will see my personality shining through and enjoy it regardless. I cannot wait to share this year with you, and I hope I get to know you all a little better too.

*Book Review* Dark Matter: a ghost story

Dark Matter: a ghost story

By Michelle Paver

Dark Matter was suggested by a dear friend and member of my online book club, as a suggested spooky read for October. At first, I got it as an audible book, but for some reason I couldn’t get into it, some books I just have to read for myself, I could not get into the audible book. But I didn’t give in, I went out to buy the book, and I am so glad I did.

I am a fairly fast reader usually, as long as I have the time, I can read a book within hours. This book took a lot longer and it wasn’t because I didn’t have time. My usual time for reading is late in the evening when my kids have gone to bed, but once I got into this story I couldn’t keep this up, as I found it quite haunting to read. So I had to try to find time during the day to read. I finally managed it on New Years Day, a perfect day to finish a good book and start the new year.

Dark Matter is a chilling tale set in the cold, harsh, haunting wilderness of the Artic. A wonderful suspenseful, psychological tale which will leave you questioning everything.

Jack, our main character, has a chance to join an expedition to the Artic, and as his life has not taken the road he expected, he jumps at the chance to escape the monotony of his existence. It is his experience and diary that keeps the story moving. The trip suffers some bad luck from the beginning, and even without the ominous letter at the start, you can already sense, this isn’t going to be the end of bad luck and misfortune. The story evolves from a “boys adventure” to something much more sinister and spooky.

Pavers description of Spitsbergen, Gruhuken (although completely made up) and the Artic winter are so impressive, I could imagine everything as I read it, the bear post specifically was so clear in my mind that when the story starts to really take its turn for the hauntingly scary, I was right there with Jack.

Gruhuken, the completely made up but equally realistic setting for the tale, holds a horrific or “dismal past” as Jack puts it, that no one wants to talk about and one that should probably stay quiet, but the benevolent spirit that haunts the Island has other ideas. But the most terrifying notion in this whole ordeal is the emotional not knowing. Are the visions, the sounds, the awful things Jack experiences all real, or are they his mind playing tricks on him as he endures the loneliness, the quiet and stillness of the Artic?

Either way the story is a true masterpiece of ghost story fiction. It is more than a haunted house ghost story, the setting, the ordeal and the realistic feeling of the despair and loneliness, through to the menacing feeling of evil, all sets this apart as a truly remarkable read.

As a final thought, if a ghost story is not necessarily your cup of tea, it is worth checking this story out for the beautiful character that is Isaac the Husky. A true, loyal companion to our -at first reluctant dog person – Jack. Isaac is a flicker of happiness in the moments of fear, isolation and darkness. This tale would not be the same, the beautiful Husky brings some warmth to an otherwise chilling tale.

It’s not often I am lost for words, but in this case, I don’t want to over review and spoil it for others, I won’t go on about what happens at Gruhuken and I won’t put any spoilers in as I think, as a reader, if you think you may enjoy it, give it a go, you won’t be disappointed. It does have a slow start but bear with it. It’s worth it.

Overall, I am glad my friend suggested it, as I had never heard of it and I might not ever have picked it up in a book shop, and this would have been a shame as I really enjoyed it. Yes it took a while to finish it, but for me that just added to my experience. A book is really something, if it powerful enough to make me not want to read it during the cold nights of winter, as I may not sleep after I have put it down.

I would definitely recommend this book and give it:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 stars.

*Book Review* Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (review by monkey)

By J K Rowling

I know Harry Potter has been out for a long time, and if you are a fan like me you have probably read it a few times over the years.

But for my son, who is 7 and has just finished Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone for the first time, it must be incredible. Experiencing a world of magic and experiencing a book for the first time is incredible and I thought it would be nice to share his view of his first reading so we can all remember what reading about the magic is like for the first time.

So, over to my son, whom we all affectionately call Little Monkey.

***Keep an eye out for the BEST PART OF THE REVIEW at 2 minutes 53 seconds!***

So, have you actually finished the whole first book?

Monkey: No, because I’ve lost it. (Mummy interrupts “No, you havent quite finished it because of the last chapter.”) Oh, yes!

And why is that? 

Monkey: Because it is scary, Voldemort might kill Harry Potter.

What do you think about the first book?

Monkey: It was good except the last chapter (Mummy: “which we haven’t read yet!”)

Was it exciting/scary/funny?

Monkey: It was scary for the last chapter and the first ones it was … (Poppet in the background “funny”), UNUSUAL. (Mummy “unusual…compared to other books, like books you read from school.) Yep. 

Recap of the book: 

Who is your favourite character?

(Poppet and mummy in the background “Harry Potter”, “Oh Harry Potter, Poppet! “Dobby”, “Dobby is in the second one”.

Monkey: Harry, Hermione and Ron, ( Mummy: Oh so you like the trio!) yes but Ron is the funniest.

Would you recommend this book? 

Monkey: Yes!

Who would you recommend it to? 

Monkey: Anybody who likes magic!

Any thoughts about Harry Potter in general? 

Monkey: I want to own Harry Potter!!

Would you like to try Harry Potter or know someone who would love it?

Check the books out at Amazon:

I hope you enjoyed Monkey’s first review, he was excited and is very happy with his video. He cannot wait to do the next one, so he’s happily picking his next book! You will have to keep an eye out as Poppet is desperate to be interviewed too! So if you like the random cuteness of Monkey’s video, Poppets cuteness will blow you away!!!!

Let me know what you thought of his first review, and please leave a comment with your first Harry Potter experience, or what it felt like to read one of your favourite books for the first time.

***THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS I RECEIVE A SMALL COMPENSATION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE USING THE LINKS ABOVE***

*Book Review* It Started with a Tweet

It started with a tweet
By Anna Bell

In today’s digital era, with new ways of interacting the digital world being created everyday, this fresh take on a social media obsessed thirty something is an amazing read.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media on a daily basis. I love the idea of it; staying in contact with people all over the world; seeing things I may never get the chance too, through the eyes of someones Instagram; the chance to share my story and my views through this wonderful platform. But, and this is a big BUT, I still want to live my life in the real world, meet real people when I can and I also want to share what I want to share and not become obsessed. It is a real fear that my children will grow up in a world where friendships are created over avatars, and relationships are grown from a tinder account. There is nothing wrong with moving with the times but I hope we don’t ever forget to connect with each other in the real world either.

I think this is why I love this story, I ferociously read it, and completed it within hours. Daisy is your typical Thirty-something career girl working in London, and she lives her life by her phone. Constantly checking her Facebook, posting photos of her food to Instagram, using 140 characters to describe how she is feeling to the entire world on her twitter feed and meeting guys by swiping right on Tinder. Sounds like typical activity for a millennial. Put this together with her slight obsession with all things social media, add in the fact she works in marketing and has complete control of her company’s twitter account, and slide in a complete accidental twitter slip on the wrong account and you have all the ingredients for a catastrophic life change coming her way.

After realising her life is in disarray, she agrees to a digital detox with her sister, whom has her own agenda for escaping life. The obsession with everything digital and social media is the crux of the story, it is what drives everything from beginning to end, and I think it is genius. I think we should make every young person read it, to realise that sometimes if you spend all your time looking at your phone, you sometimes miss out on whats right in front of your face.
The sub plots and side characters are what really make this story pure gold; the village gossips whom still chat and hear the gossip by word of mouth, the cute letters Daisy exchanges with a handsome but quiet man and Daisy not being able to instantly text her friend her news and having to send them hand written letters all make this story a genius account of todays digital world.

The friendships, relationships between sisters and the new men in Daisy’s life are a huge part of the story and it all fits seamlessly into why Daisy needs to take a step back from her digital persona and connect with the real life version of herself. I think this is the biggest draw of this story, finding a happy medium between your digital self and the real world.
My one and only point of criticism for this story, is the relationship between Daisy and Jack, which was blossoming beautifully and I realise with most books you have to have some point of antagonism or heart break or betrayal. But it felt really rushed towards the end, to get Daisy to be where she needed to be mentally and physically and Jacks sub story regarding his career, history with women and the girlfriend story was really short, overly dramatic and I don’t feel really gave much to the story. I think Jacks profession and what he does for women is a remarkable story and should have been given some more page time, but it felt rushed and put in last minute. I think something was needed to make Daisy come to her realisations back in London but I am not quite sure how I feel about all of it.
I think there is a time and place for social media, and we have to move with the times, and I love I can google something in seconds. So, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying lets all give up our Facebook accounts, but I do think a bit of time away from the digital world on occasion would really help, and I think this book is a true representation of living a bit too much on the digital plain and not so much in the real world.

Overall, I loved the story, characters and the whole social media obsession being the overall arc of the story is amazing. I love how at the beginning Daisy talks about her phone as if its real life being with feelings, and I think we can all relate with that. Sometimes when I leave the home without my phone, I feel like I’ve lost an arm but I soon get over it. Daisy is definitely social media obsessed at its highest level, but that is one makes this a funny and entertaining story. I won’t be giving up my blog, or Facebook anytime soon, but I may start having a digital free time in our house, just to make sure I don’t create the next generation of Daisy’s!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️★ 4/5 stars. A brilliant read, a genius and comedic outlook on what our digital obsessed future may look like. A little let down by the rushed ending.

Want to cheer yourself up? Do you want to check you’re not addicted to social media? Check out the book yourself, follow the link to Amazon. .

It Started With A Tweet: ‘The perfect laugh-out-loud love story’ Louise Pentland

***THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS I RECEIVE A SMALL COMPENSATION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE USING THE LINKS ABOVE***

Next Book Review: (Guest Book review from my son (Aged 7) – he has just completed his first Harry Potter)) Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K Rowling.