My 2019 Reading Challenge | Books 21-25

I was sent some of the books via Netgalley for free for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.

It’s time for another reading round up and I am here today with books 21 to 25. You can read my other posts here: Books 1-5, Books 6-10Books 11-15 and Books 16-20.

Cherringham (A Cosy Crime Series): The Secret of Brimley Manor (Book 34) by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards – 4/5

Yep, it is another Cherringham novel! I debated on the rating for this, between 3 and 4, because I just wasn’t enjoying it as much as the rest of the series until the very end. I much prefer the ones with the murders in which this one did not have. You can buy the book on Amazon here {affiliate link}.

How To Make Time For Me by Fiona Perrin – 4/5

I was gifted a copy of this novel via Netgalley for the purpose of review. You can find my full review here but simply put, this was a light and impactful read and I really enjoyed it. You can buy the book on Amazon here {affiliate link}.

The Single Mums Move On by Janet Hoggarth – 4/5

I was gifted a copy via Netgalley for the purpose of review. You can find my full review here but what I do want to say about this is the fact that I loved the characters, they are all fun and well rounded and that is the perfect beachside read. You can buy the book on Amazon here {affiliate link}.

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams – 4/5

I have followed Laura on Instagram for quite some time so I was always going to buy her first novel when it came out. This is a fun read and perfect for summer. You can buy the book on Amazon here {affiliate link}.

The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg – 4/5

I was gifted a copy of this book from Aria Fiction for the purpose of review. A full review will be coming up on the blog in the next couple of weeks but what I can say is that the storyline was definitely unexpected and surprising. A great read if you are heading on holiday soon. You can buy the book on Amazon here {affiliate link}.

What books have you been reading lately?

Top landscaping tips to help improve your garden’s aesthetic

Collaborative Post

Is your garden starting to look more like a jungle than a suburban backyard? This is usually because it is neglected in the winter. Now the summer months are in, it is time to give it a spruce up, especially if you’re the next garden party host. 

While some people are born with a green thumb and enjoy gardening, others couldn’t think of anything worse. If you fall within the latter category, you might struggle to know where to start. To help you transform your garden, you should take a look at these landscaping tips which will allow you to see the woods for the trees and also impress your guests. 

Tidy up your plants

Gardening may seem like a tedious task but if you want to improve the look of your home, your green space needs to be a priority. However, before you dig out your lawnmower, you need to come up with a budget, as this will determine how much you can afford to spend on a garden transformation. If you’re looking to spend a minimum amount, you could afford to rip out your weeds, implement lawn edgings, and perform general maintenance. For a more upscale landscape, you could up your budget to £500 which will allow you to re-turf your garden or purchase various building materials to install new fencing. 

Add furnishings

If you plan on inviting friends over for a barbeque or just simply want to enjoy your own cooking in the sunshine, you definitely need to invest in garden furniture. This could include adding a dining area, which could be placed on wooden decking. This will separate the eating area from your green space and will also make your garden appear larger. This is a common trend in many modern properties, for example, the RW Invest development Sky Gardens uses dark mahogany decking and wicker furniture to create an earthy but sophisticated feel. By adopting this style, you will completely transform your garden while also leaving a lasting impression on your guests. 

Annie Spratt
Choose a focal point

No garden is complete without a focus point. This could be anything from a water feature such as a pond or a fountain which will give your garden a more naturalised feel. Just because it is the main attraction of your garden does not mean it has to be over the top and expensive, in fact, you could easily create a DIY fountain all on your own (or maybe with the help of your partner). Another great focal piece could be an archway, which works perfectly in a large garden to separate different spaces. You could choose an iron design or if you’re feeling creative you could construct your own shrubbery arch. 

Light up your exterior

It is all well and good redesigning your garden, however without light how is anyone going to appreciate it when the sun goes down. Landscape lighting is not only great for highlight pathways but also helps highlight certain aspects of your garden. For example, you could hang lights in your trees and plants, although try to avoid choosing Christmas-style lighting, as your neighbours may think you’re a tad eager in the middle of July. Lanterns are another great light fixtures that help to enhance the aesthetic of your garden, as it will give the landscape just the right flow and ambience to accommodate you and your guests. 

Olivia’s First Term At Sounds Right Phonics

I pay for all of Olivia’s classes with my own money. I have not been asked to write this post.

Something I am passionate about when it comes to my children is education. You can never start their education too early and we are always encouraging our children to learn more. Alongside school, Jack uses educational websites such as Reading Eggs and I was looking for something to help me aid Olivia in her learning.

My prayers were answered when I found out a lady called Hana was starting phonics classes in our village. As part of the Sounds Right franchise, I decided to head along to the trial class to see what it was all about and whether we would want to sign up for the term. Olivia absolutely adored it so we signed up for the term – and have now signed up for the next term after the summer holidays too!

What I love about these classes is that the kids really don’t feel like they’re learning – they do lots of fun activities with Playdoh and music as well as the letters we are doing that week. We usually recap on the previous letters too and it always amazes me just how much Olivia remembers.

Olivia can be a little cheeky and sometimes runs off in the other direction but it is clear that she is still listening as she always remembers the letters and the songs. She has already learned so many letters – S, A, P, C, K, N, R, T, H and I. We even popped to a local pre school fun day where Hana was doing a little class and Olivia learned U too. She is always singing the songs at home and doing the actions and she even gets Jack involved in the actions too!

Something – or should I say someone – she really does adore is Robot Reg. He is a great mascot for the business and is so much fun! Olivia loved getting her certificate and having a cuddle with him on the last day of her first term!

Overall, Sounds Right Phonics is super fun and very educational and I am very impressed with how much Olivia has already learned in such a short amount of time. I can’t wait to see how she gets on from September and I know she will definitely be missing her class over the summer holidays.

Do you do anything educational (apart from school) with your children?

Songmics Plastic Storage | Review

We were sent this product for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

I’ve mentioned before that we live in a two bedroom property with little to no storage. This means that Olivia is still in our room as Jack’s room isn’t big enough for the two of them but also means we struggle for storage for different things.

One such thing I struggle to store is Olivia’s clothes. We are lucky to have many friends and family with girls a little bit older than Olivia so we always end up with a ton of clothes every time she goes up a size but that does also mean we get a little overwhelmed, especially with nowhere to store it all. I’d been looking at the Songmics brand for a while so when offered the chance to review some of their plastic storage, I said yes – hoping it would be the answer to all our prayers. You can find the modular shelving unit here {affiliate link} for £25.99 – it does say shoe rack in the title but is perfect for a kids bedroom and can be used for clothes, toys or whatever you want. We’re using ours for her clothes.

Now I am not a big DIY-er so was hoping that this storage would be easy to put together. I needn’t have worried about it though as Jack and I put it together with ease. It comes with multiple plastic sheets, ABS plastic connectors and makes three cubes on the left and six on the right. Using the connectors, you snap the sheets into place and there are also some hooks for the right hand side to snap the sheets into place and divide three cubes into six instead.

I did worry that it may not be too sturdy but Songmics even provide you with a rubber mallet to tap on the connectors and ensure they are rigidly in place. I and Jack have both leaned on the storage to check it’s durability too and it seems very sturdy and not likely to buckle under pressure. Something I also appreciate is the fact that Songmics also provide you with the tools needed to attach your storage to the wall – safety first!

I am extremely impressed with the quality of the plastic storage – the price is very affordable so you’d be forgiven for thinking that it may be prone to breakage but this seems very durable indeed. It provides plenty of space for storage and I have been using the left hand side for her everyday dresses and thicker items such as jumpers etc whilst using the right hand side for her t-shirts and leggings, tights and trousers. I will still be using something else for her dresses that are more special as they need to be hung up.

I’m considering getting some other Songmics storage for when we move – perhaps for their toys or even for the hallway for shoes and stuff like that. With prices as good as this, I just can’t say no!

Would you like to own some Songmics storage? Well, fantastic! They’re holding a competition until the 31st of July which you can enter here. There is a chance to win 1 of 15 storage organizers, worth £510! Just fill in the form on the website to enter. Good luck!

Blog Tour & Review | The Single Mums Move On by Janet Hoggarth

I was sent a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

I am very happy to be on the blog tour for The Single Mums Move On today. Do check out the other stops on the tour.

About The Book

Can neighbours become more than good friends…

After her husband left her, Ali and her daughter Grace enjoyed living in what became known as ‘the Single Mums’ Mansion’. However, with her best friends Amanda and Jacqui moving on, it’s time for Ali and Grace to make their own way. Thankfully, a chance conversation leads to them moving into the infamous South London gated community known only as ‘The Mews’.

In ‘The Mews’ everyone lives in each other’s pockets and curtain twitching is an Olympic sport. The neighbours are an eclectic bunch – from Nick the alleged spy, Carl the gorgeous but clearly troubled Idris Elba lookalike, to Debbie who is about to face the hardest fight of her life, and TV agent Samantha who is not as in control as she likes to pretend.

Each day brings another drama, but along with the tears, real friendships grow. And her neighbours’ problems might unlock the key to something Ali has yearned for all along…

Based on a true story – you’ll never be able to look at your neighbours quite the same way again… 

Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, Mhairi McFarlane and Helen Fielding.

My Review

I hadn’t read the previous book The Single Mum’s Mansion so I was a little apprehensive going into this book. I was worried in case I couldn’t gel with the characters or found some of the plot lines confusing but I needn’t have been worried – it was fine. The author did give a semi background of the characters so you could go into the book having not read the previous one but she didn’t go into it too much so that those who had read the previous book didn’t have their experience marred – sign of a good author there, giving just enough information needed.

I liked Ali as a character, she reminds me of many of my female friends, struggling to find themselves after the end of a long term relationship and kissing many frogs along the way. The story started well but when it really came into its own was when she and her daughter Grace moved to the Mews.

The Mews is so well described, I could just imagine it in my mind and all the characters were realistic and vibrant. We were dealt with some surprises about some of the characters along the way and they really helped the storyline along.

There is a love interest (or two) in the book and I did find myself rooting for one rather than the other. It did seem like I wasn’t going to get my wish but all came good in the end.

This was a really great read and perfect for by the beach or pool if you are going away this summer.

About The Author

Janet Hoggarth has worked on a chicken farm, as a bookseller, children’s book editor and DJ with her best friend (under the name of Whitney and Britney). She has published several children’s books, the most recent ones written under the pseudonym of Jess Bright. Her first adult novel The Single Mums’ Mansion, a huge bestseller, was based on her experiences of living communally as a single parent.

You can find Janet on Twitter here and Facebook here.

You can buy the book here: Amazon {affiliate link} | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play