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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Book Reviews: July 2014

July Book Reviews
Another sorry state of books to review this month since I seem to be stuck in a rut of books that I get "stuck" on (like last month) - I can report that I only really enjoyed reading one out of these three which was very disappointing, especially as the two I couldn't get into seemed to have very interesting storylines and good reviews - must just be me!
In real life, I've been pretty busy recently and my spare time has either been spent on my new sewing hobby, which takes longer than expected due to cats who like to eat fabric. I'm pleased to report that the dress I talked about in that post is finally finished as of last weekend! Only....4 months later! I sort of put it off because of the bad memory of Belle ingesting my lining, made a few more skirts and half a playsuit (this is becoming a theme...) in the meantime, then thought I should probably just get on with it and finish it. I stocked up on about a thousand zips since Jaycotts had a sale on them, plus a few bits and pieces such as seam rippers that were necessary (and another pattern, which was not...), so I had a zip ready to go for it, and finished the dress within the day. Although that seam ripper certainly did come in handy when I attached the skirt inside out to start with, but we won't talk about that right now.
Work life is also busy in that my role has changed slightly, meaning a very busy start of the month for me, and so home time has generally meant down time not spent in front of a computer screen. I promise, I am still wearing clothes though (obviously...just not photographing them!), and I'm also reading, although getting "stuck" on certain ones, as we are about to find out...

One of Us by Tawni O'Dell - 5/10 (Kindle version)
As with many of the books I read and review, this one came from NetGalley where I was promised it was a "masterfully told thriller in the vein of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl". As you know, anything described that way is usually a winner for me (I reviewed it here), and have chosen other books in the past due to their parallels to it (such as Dear Daughter which I reviewed and loved here). This, however, did not live up to the claims at all for me. Sheridan "Danny" Doyle, a famous forensic psychologist, returns to his hometown, a mining town, where many years ago a band of rebellious Irish miners, the Nellies, were executed, as his grandfather is ill. He arrives to the scene of a murder at the infamous gallows where the Nellies were killed, and is drawn into solving the mystery. I did almost understand where the parallel was being drawn to Gone Girl, with the back end of nowhere town feel and some twisted creepy characters, but to me it wasn't the same. I occasionally felt a bit like scenes and details were unnecessary to the overall plot, and I'd figured everything out by the time I reached the end which was annoying as I like a surprise. It was the type of book I ended up having to push through to reach the end of, sort of enjoyed the ending, then promptly forgot about. The mystery itself might have been good had there not been too much unnecessary stuff going on (more than just red herrings). Not a bad storyline, and there was some well executed writing in it, but not for me in the end.

A Song For Ella Grey by David Almond - 9/10 (available 2nd October)
From the moment I read that this was a story based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, I knew I was going to like this book (if you don't remember, Classicist over here!). It's a tale I know well, with my dissertation based around Persephone, Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries, so I'm well versed in everything Persephone. Then I realised it was set in the North East, and I was sold. The story follows Claire and her best friend Ella Grey in their final years of school in Newcastle. Their friendship group heads to the sands of Northumberland to camp for a few nights where they meet Orpheus, a strange boy who seems to wander the countryside with his music. They are all enthralled, but none so deeply as Ella, who, unable to be there, hears his voice over the phone, and falls in love. Yes, a cheesy love story of teenagers, but told so beautifully. We know from the start, not just from the well known tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, that something tragic will happen, so all the reader needs to do is wait until Ella is taken away from him, and he makes the treacherous journey to the Underworld to find her.
While this is sold as a book for children, I would definitely go more towards YA and would definitely recommend it to adults too. I've read criticisms of the writing, but I feel like it fitted perfectly with the dreamy quality the story had and was reminiscent of the writing style of my familiar Greek myths. Of course, I loved reading about familiar places of the North East, even names of places a couple of minutes walk from where I lived in Newcastle, and the group camping on the sands below Bamburgh Castle. The descriptions were fitting and beautiful; one especially that stuck with me was "the transfigured North" as they wish the North to become the Greece of their dreams. The book flits the line between real and mythical, which is a combination I'm never going to say no to. Basically, I really enjoyed this book - the writing, the story, the setting all came together perfectly to give me what I'm looking for in a book.

Dead Men's Bones by James Oswald - 4.5/10 (Kindle version)
I was promised great things again with this book, and thought it would be a good quick read, as I tend to get through detective and mystery thrillers quite quickly, but I found this to be fairly disappointing in the end. This is part of the Inspector McLean series (#4 to be precise), but reading reviews, I was ensured I wouldn't feel lost by not having read the others. I didn't exactly feel lost, but I felt I would have had a bit of a deeper connection with the characters had I read the other novels first.
Inspector Tony McLean, returning to work after an injury, is put onto two cases - that of a prominent MSP (Scottish MP - took me a while to figure that one out!) who has murdered his wife and two little girls before turning the gun on himself, and that of the naked body of a man, covered head to toe in recently done tattoos. The pressure on him to reveal the truth behind both cases becomes heavier as the book goes on, but unfortunately I found there were an excess of unnecessary things going on, conversations, for example, that just made me forget what exactly was happening before they started talking. It took me ages to get to a part of the book that started to interest me, but still, there was a lot of back and forth going on. In the end, I never even got the answers I really wanted, and felt a disappointed that not everything was properly explained - there were a lot of factors that could have been explored in a lot more depth rather than focusing on trivial things.
This book had excellent reviews on Goodreads, and I definitely feel in the minority that it didn't speak to me. The storyline had promise, but didn't resolve well enough for my liking or for the style of the book which was along the lines of one which usually gives a good explanation at the end. There were some good characters, but I have to say, the most interesting bit of the mysteries going on in the book that I wanted to find out about was the mystery illness that had struck McLean's colleague. I probably wouldn't recommend this on, but I would be interested in trying another James Oswald book in future to see why the reviews were so positive.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Date Night Much?

Hell Bunny Cordelia Poppy Dress
Menswear - Hawes & Curtis shirt
Ben and I aren't the best at doing "Date Nights" - to be honest, we'd probably rather stay in with one of the Finest meal deals from Tesco or cook something ourselves like steak and chips. There's also the fact that Ben doesn't like films, so the cinema is out of the question - he just can't sit still for that long, if we watch a film at home, he'll wander off to clean the kitchen or start brewing some beer or something half way through. Occasionally though, usually when I decide that I no longer want to eat what we've decided to have for tea because I'm fussy like that, we'll go out for a meal. And sometimes, it's your 6 year anniversary and you decide that since you haven't got each other presents, you should probably do something to mark the occasion and go out for a meal.
So a couple of weeks ago, it was our 6 year anniversary, as Facebook so kindly reminded me with a veritable feast of photos of us together in various places, and we decided to go out for tea, and of course, I had to dress up. Strangely enough though, you may notice in these photos that the background looks a bit different in Ben's photos to mine, despite the outfits being what we wore that night - it's like Spot the Difference, have fun! That's actually due to the fact that my outfit was, ahem, reworn but with these heeled sandals about a week later, actually for another night at the same pub (#oops). As you might remember, my last "real time" outfit post (as opposed to one I'd forgotten to post for weeks) explained about my sprained ankles - hence the lack of heels the first time, and the fact that we were running late so we didn't bother to do pictures of my outfit. But anyway, onto the outfits before I go into a little more detail about why I disappeared again for a couple of weeks, and Ben is up first...
Menswear - Hawes & Curtis shirt
Menswear - Hawes & Curtis shirt
Chinos: Clothing at Tesco
Canvas Shoes: Clothing at Tesco
Ben likes nothing better than to make fun of the amount of parcels I receive and turn up from work hauling - sometimes these are things that I've ordered, sometimes they're things I've been sent to review here and there, sometimes they're even for him, but he thinks it's hilarious. But recently, a box shaped parcel arrived and, as usual, I wondered what I'd managed to order and forget about. In fact, this one turned out to be for him! A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Hawes & Curtis who offered me a shirt to review on the blog. At first I scrolled through the women's section, having a look at whatever caught my eye. But then I realised, I don't exactly wear shirts, and I haven't done since the traumatic experience of having to wear button up shirts every day at school and having to deal with either huge gaping gaps in between buttons over the bust or a ginormous shirt draping the rest of my body to keep everything else covered (okay, not quite "traumatic", but it wasn't nice). Generally, I don't wear shirts because, well, I have a pretty awkward bra size and body shape (which I think is pretty normal actually, but apparently clothes designers don't!), so squeezing these ever expanding 28Gs into shirts doesn't usually go down well with me. 
Right, enough about my body shape, and onto the rest of the story. So I decided that with the range of fabulous men's shirts Hawes & Curtis stocked, surely I'd be able to find something Ben liked instead, and the lovely people at the company agreed that they'd like to see him in one of their shirts too. So that's how Ben ended up with a very smart shirt for free and was very pleased with himself. 
As I said, it arrived in a fancy box looking very expensive, and Ben thought I was amazing, being able to get him such an awesome shirt. The quality of the shirt is really outstanding too, being a nice soft cotton but at the same time is pretty sturdy. We were also impressed with the little thingies that go in the collar (what are these called?!) to keep it stiff. I picked him a short sleeved one as it was slightly more casual, but it can also be worn with a tie (not that Ben would...) to smarten it up a little. And as it turned out, the shirt wasn't anywhere near as expensive as the quality suggested, only priced at £25 at the moment! He's now deciding which one he should buy next off the site!
Hell Bunny Cordelia Poppy Dress
Hell Bunny Cordelia Poppy Dress
So, onto my outfit! As I said, these were taken on a separate day to Ben's photos but the only difference was the shoes I wore - I'd worn flats the time before because of the sprained ankles. So, a little more on that is below the last set of photos, because I ramble, and you might not be bothered to read it all! 
I'm so pleased with this dress - I saw Modcloth had one of their sales on, so decided to take a look and came across this dress, which I discovered is by Hell Bunny even though it's not clear on the site. In the sale, it was reduced to the same price in $ as you can buy it in £, as in, it was $43.99 but is still £43.99 on all the UK sites (which is nearly $75 for reference), so I decided to go for it! Then I remembered that I had a $50 from last time I'd shopped with Modcloth - they'd had an issue, taken my money, then realised the order hadn't gone through and everything was out of stock. As an apology I'd got the voucher, so I basically got the dress for free, since I had to pay shipping. I'm so pleased because it's gorgeous. I've even gone a bit over the top and worn it to work, and got told by two people, Ben and a guy at work, that I looked Spanish in it - definitely can't be a bad thing!
Oh and final thing, I've changed my hair a bit, can you tell?! I ombred the ends again; last time I was at uni! Last time I had darker and shorter hair - I guess I must have had some dye on it to get it that colour as it's mostly about its natural colour (aside from the ombre) now. I used a L'Oreal Preference Ombre Kit which seemed a lot better. It came with a little brush for spreading the bleach evenly through my hair, and this time I left it on solidly for the maximum recommended time of 45 minutes rather than washing it out to see the colour then reapplying a bazillion times every 20 minutes. You can still tell my hair is impervious to bleach as it hasn't made a huge amount of difference, even though it was on the max recommended time, but I think it looks a lot more natural and I really like it. I'd also curled my hair this evening, but the curls had already dropped out mostly at this point, but it looks nicer than my usual scruffy but straight hair (it's just scruffy but slightly wavy/curled instead!)
Hell Bunny Poppy Dress
Hell Bunny Cordelia Poppy Dress
Onto the ankle story then! As you know, I sprained both my ankles running somehow - one wasn't too bad, the other was pretty bad. Due to the fact that both were injured, I ended up going round in circles a little bit, trying to use one more than the other and hurting it more so swapping to the other. I ended up having to work at home for a while because I simply couldn't use the clutch in the car - the first time I attempted it, I ended up stalling multiple times before I'd even left our lane because my ankle was so sore and weak. Anyway, one got better more quickly than the other, but I've still got a bit of pain and swelling in the left, even a month later. I sat around with my feet elevated, ice packs and tubigrips on for a long time. But finally I'm able to wear my heels again (even if they are only low heels!) as long as I'm not really moving anywhere, which is fine for a meal out! I had a pretty rubbish experience in A&E with my ankles - my doctor told me to get seen in the hospital to make sure there was no serious damage and to have an X ray just in case. I knew they weren't broken as I could move, but there was a certain point of excruciating pain (which according the doctor was the point of the high ankle sprain), but they wanted me to go nevertheless.
So Ben and I went down after he got back from work one evening, and turned up to an empty waiting room. Considering the amount of hours I've spent sat in A&E before (for a variety of sprained ankles, broken bones and stomach pains - hi, Gallbladder!), we were pretty pleased. It took a while for the lady behind the desk to pay any attention to us, while I attempted to balance on my poorly ankles, but she finally signed us in and we sat down. We waited about half an hour before we were taken into the triage room where a rather sour faced nurse asked what I'd done. When I explained that I knew I'd hurt myself while running then my feet had gone numb, she demanded: "But what did you do? Was there an incident?", to which I responded no, but I'd stumbled several times then continued running, clearly not realising there was an injury. She gave a shrug and told me to take my shoes off. She then felt down my leg over the lesser injured ankle, I pointed out where it hurt (pretty badly) when she pressed, then moved to the other leg, the more injured one, where she felt below my knee then touched my toes, asking if that hurt. I tried to explain that, no, it didn't, because it's my ankle that hurts. But she again shrugged and sent me out of the room. I had a quick X ray, oddly enough on the wrong side of both ankles (but then again, I'm not sure whether this is a normal thing), then was called back into the triage nurse's office. I was surprised because in the past I've always been seen by a doctor or actual nurse rather than just the initial one. She literally waited for me to hobble in and sit in the chair before saying, "They're not broken, must be a sprain, you can go now." Ben even noticed that she had this awfully smug look on her face, and since I was so shocked with her manner, he had to ask a few questions for me including, "Can she drive then?" to which we got "No, of course she can't", "So should she put ice on them?", "Yes, that's what you do with a sprain", "Elevate them?", impatiently: "Yes, of course." So we ended up having to draw any relevant information out of her before I was sent out of the room.
There were a few things that really bothered me about this hospital visit. I was only seen by a triage nurse who did nothing more than touch my leg, not even at the site of the injury, or even ask me to rotate the ankle (I've sprained my ankles several times, and have always had to do this for the diagnosis and to tell how bad they are - this time I was in far worse pain in one ankle than I ever had been with previous sprains and had pain in a different area, so wanted to know why). When I was led by her to the X ray room, she disappeared down the corridor, not waiting for me despite the fact I could barely walk. On this hobble, I passed a group of three doctors (nurses maybe? They were male and wearing medical uniforms at least) who turned to watch me walk by in silence - definitely felt very uncomfortable, and possibly felt some leering stares on my chest. Not being seen by a doctor or nurse after the X ray was also very strange, and I wasn't even given any medical advice until we drew it out of her. And finally, not related to me, but the waiting room filled up as we waited, and I observed one poor woman come in sobbing having been bitten by dog, with blood dripping down her leg, who was left to wait while others were seen, not even offered any consolation for the traumatic experience - I think she should have been pushed to the front of the list, I wouldn't have been bothered had she been seen before me as I wasn't an emergency and she was. We also saw a girl waiting at the reception desk for more than 25 minutes to be signed in, literally just stood there in the doorway when the woman was inside, even though she'd rung the bell. It turned out she had hit her head badly and had concussion, but was left standing there all that time.
So, overall, not impressed. The NHS can be fantastic, and we'd actually had a positive experience at that hospital before, but this was a disaster. The woman who dealt with me was pretty rude and extremely smug, and I felt ridiculous for having gone. She did at one point question why I was there, despite the fact I'd been referred by my GP. None of my questions were answered about why this injury was different - I wanted to know about whether it was the way I'd run to do something to my ankles, but all I got was an uncaring woman who didn't explain anything to me or even examine me correctly. I got better answers from my GP over the phone than I did from her, so ended up leaving very upset, and in pain at being rushed out without any consideration for the injuries I had. So, rant over, but sometimes the NHS can be so disappointing.
Hell Bunny Cordelia Poppy Dress

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Strawberry Dress: Harrogate Vintage Fair

vintage dress outfit
vintage 50s dress with straw hat outfit
Straw Hat: Old
Strawberry Print Dress: Miss Maude Makes (formerly From Vintage to Vogue)
Bag: F&F
Flats: Primark (old)
The other weekend, Ben and I made the short trip over to Harrogate to go to the Vintage Fair that was taking place at the Old Swan Hotel where my work Christmas party had taken place, so we were less likely to get lost, yay! Since I was going to a vintage fair, I decided that of course I needed to wear something vintage. In general I love vintage styled clothes, but don't own a lot of actual vintage clothes themselves - they're fairly difficult to work with my body shape (aside from 50s dress which are practically designed for me, but are usually very expensive!). So I decided to go with the strawberry print dress that I'd actually bought at a vintage fair in York last summer (and wore here), and I'm glad I did! It was a much warmer day than we were expecting and I got endless compliments on the dress.
The stall I'd bought it from was at the time called From Vintage to Vogue because the lady who ran it makes dresses from vintage patterns but with modern materials. It's now called Miss Maude Makes and seems to be just as popular as it was when I saw it last year. It actually had a lot of people fooled because they said they were sure it was vintage and couldn't believe how well it fitted me - they thought I'd had a vintage dress altered to fit my proportions, but weirdly it's not vintage or altered! I'm not so great with accessories, as I always forget to wear them aside from my usual necklace and rings, one plain silver one from Ben, one silver Disney one with the quote "And at last I see the light" from Disney's Tangled from my friends. I'm not a big fan of over the top jewellery as you can probably tell, but I have been tempted to get something dainty but good quality like the Pandora silver rings that you can stack up, although I think that's a birthday present I'll have to wait for! Has anyone got any of these though? I know a lot of people have the Pandora bracelets, but I've never been big on those, but I'd love to know how the rings stack up (great pun there, I know!). But I did manage to remember to accessorize with a hat in this outfit, although that was more of a case of keeping the sun out of my eyes than anything else, and actually I ended up handing it to a begrudging Ben while I wandered the stalls - oops!
outfit with strawberry dress
harrogate vintage fair outfit
I did spot a lot of lovely things at the fair even though it wasn't very big, including a couple of 50s swimsuits that weren't made of that swimsuit material - they were more like playsuits, and I really wanted one, but none were in my size. I also picked up a couple of very cheap gypsy style tops but put them back down as well as some high waisted shorts and a gorgeous 50s full skirted dress that was way to expensive for me to afford.
I'd headed to the fair looking for a couple of things in particular: pin up style clothes, particularly repro ones (like this dress or by an actual repro brand), and some seamed stockings. I'd been following the fair's Facebook page where they mentioned that they would have a retailer called Burlesque Nylons by YLJ selling seamed stockings made with proper nylon on a proper vintage machine, so they were as authentic as could be. I ended up buying a pair of the nylons with seams as well as a suspender belt with 4 thick straps (rather than the 2 flimsy ones you get on fashion ones nowadays). It took me forever to choose just one, and typically I didn't have any cash so ended up having to put my items on hold, run up into town (with a McFlurry on the way - first time I'd been to McDonalds in literally 5 years!), and grab some cash to be able to buy them.
And back to now again, I'm still suffering with my sprained ankles at the moment and am not allowed to drive, which means I've had to work at home a lot recently - sounds fun but is actually really boring. Aside from when the cats decide to bring mice in which I have to hobble over and dispose of, thanks cats! We're also looking after Charley's tortoise too at the moment while she's been on holiday, so during the day I'm resting with my feet up (and my new Mac for working eee!) while he scrabbles around in his tortoise table on the other side of the room - very strange working at home set up, but there you go. 
strawberry print dress
vintage dress with straw hat

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Festival Fashion

Denim pencil skirt outfit with crop top
Festival outfit with denim pencil skirt and kimono
Festival outfit with white sandals
Floral Crown: Primark
Bardot Crop Top: c/o New Look (teens)
A very New Look outfit today, and for a reason! I was asked to put together an outfit to match up with New Look's festival fashion range, including their Festival Fashion timeline. As you probably know, I'm not a big one for festivals - the muddiness and crowds tend to be a bit too stressful for me, and that's not even mentioning my aversion to particularly loud music - I'm such an old woman! But I'm not one to turn down a fashion challenge, especially one which includes festival attire, something I am a big fan of (even if the outfits you often see put together in magazines aren't exactly festival appropriate!).
So, I tried to put together my outfit based on the timeline New Look had provided for me. I knew I wanted a kimono in it, and when I saw the heeled sandals they had in, I knew I had to choose those too. So all I needed to complete the outfit was, well, some actual clothes I suppose. I wanted to make sure they wouldn't be things I'd just wear for these photos then never wear again, so it needed to be something not to "out there" and nothing too short, as I'm not a fan nowadays. I decided floaty dress wouldn't work with the kimono, and I couldn't find anything lacey or crochet-y that would work, so I decided to go with this. So, what eras have I taken inspiration from for the outfit? The floral crown and floaty kimono are apparently part of the Bohemian trend popular in 1969 and Woodstock; this was the original plan, to go all out Bohemian, but I ended up changing half way through! The skirt screams of 90s festival fashion, 1992 at Reading according to the timeline, with its acid wash; and the neon necklace is modern "Neon Boho" apparently. Then the crop top is pretty modern I'd say, and the sandals, "Tropical Beach" maybe? To be honest, I just liked them and wanted them too! The crop top is actually from the teens range, because I noticed it was longer than all the grown up versions, and fits like a size 10, so is actually pretty perfect for me!
Festival outfit, pink kimono
White sandals
So, you might notice that I'm not wearing the shoes... and for a good reason! As I've spoken about recently, I've started running recently, and now had to stop. Somehow I've managed to sprain both of my ankes (yes, both!) while running. I did notice some pain in my last run, but then my feet went numb, so I thought "Ah well, the pain isn't there at least!" and kept going. Yeh, pretty silly, I know. I have to run on a fairly uneven field surface, so I have had a couple of twists and tumbles on the furrowed ground, but thought nothing of it, but I think I managed to do that while my feet were numb and didn't realise. It wasn't until later in the evening that the pain set in, and now I'm kind of having problems walking, and moving, and just generally doing anything. It's very odd because the pain feels like a bruise from the outside, but is above the ankle bone on the outside, and I'm unable to rotate my ankles at all. I've spoken to my doctor and apparently it sounds like a classic sprain, most likely a high ankle sprain, which explains why it's above the ankle bone. So, I took the tubigrip bandages off for the photos, but there was no way I was putting the shoes on. I pretty much just kept my feet in place too before hobbling back into the house to put my feet back up again - the things I do for this blog! If they're not feeling any better soon, I'm going to have to go in to see someone properly about them because it's really frustrating now, and very sore!
I also had to have a blood test on Friday, so it wasn't my best day ever! If you've been around here a while, you'll know my veins and I don't get along too well. At hearing there's a needle in the vicinity, they will immediately retreat deep into my flesh and not come out, to the extent that when I had my gallbladder removed it took 16 attempts with a needle, and finally one of them hitting the ligament in my wrist and damaging a nerve, so they just knocked me out with gas. So I now immediately warn any blood-takers as I enter the room and spend the time before ensuring that my hands and arms are as warm as possibly can be to at least have a chance of finding a vein somewhere in there. And of course, this time was no different! It took the normal nurse, the practice's senior nurse and a doctor, called out of his appointment, to finally get some blood out of me. I'm used to it being a hassle now, so I'm prepared, but it still doesn't stop me feeling a little bit worried that they might just hit another nerve *ouch*! Luckily, it wasn't too bad and they did get the blood out eventually. The good thing seems to be though that the veins are so far below the surface that I don't tend to bruise easily at all, so all the stabbing doesn't leave me with bruises at least!
Anyway, that's about it for now! Another "Sian week" to be honest; these happen frequently! We're also tortoise-sitting for Charley at the moment, which is fun, but we have to make sure the cats are away from him and not trying to eat him (not sure this could happen, but you never know). It's been the Tour de Yorkshire around here recently, so lots of excitement, but we haven't actually seen a lot of traffic! It did go through Ripon where I work, but it was yesterday, so I didn't have to battle any traffic luckily. Today it went through York and near where Ben works too, so that was also exciting.
Outfit with kimono and crop top
Floral festival outfit

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Book Reviews: June 2014

june books
Just a few books to report on this month - I did get "stuck" on one for a while, so it took me longer than usual to read, which was annoying because I'd got up to date on my Goodreads reading challenge and that got me behind again! I have been fairly busy too with starting running and getting into sewing my circle skirts too this month, so haven't sat down and read very much, usually only the occasional lunch break at work and half an hour in bed. Again, linking to the books this month because apparently that was useful last week, and on with the reviews.

Daddy's Little Princess by Cathy Glass - 8/10 (Kindle version
I tend to read Cathy Glass books as quickly as I can whenever I've found she's published another, hence the fact that I have in the past reviewed six of them on the blog (reviews: Another Forgotten Child, My Dad's a Policeman, Will You Love Me, and Please Don't Take My Baby, A Baby's Cry and I Miss Mummy). Though the subject matter can be difficult to deal with, they're very quick reads for me. This one follows Cathy when she has only just begun fostering and has two young children herself. It isn't as harsh as other books, as Beth, aged 7, comes from a home where her daddy, who loves her very much according to the girl's reports, is staying in hospital recovering from a mental breakdown. It explores the concept of "emotional incest", which isn't necessarily harmful for the child at the time, but can have a huge impact on their future relationships if continued. It was very interesting to read as it explains another method of abuse that isn't frequently talked about. The book also sees Cathy's marriage breaking down too alongside the main storyline. If you like books about fostering or Cathy Glass' other novels, you'll definitely like this one too, and I would recommend it.

The Last Human by Ink Pieper - 6.5/10 (Kindle version) (reviewed via NetGalley)
Okay, yes, it's pretty clear from the title that this is another dystopian future - I know! Also another one that sees the world decimated by a virus concocted by human hands, but this time on a larger scale as it is used been different nations' warfare. It doesn't focus much on the virus itself, but rather the impact on a smaller scale on a group of young people, watching the world through the eyes of Clay who is taken from his home and held in one of the worst facilities where he is tested, beaten and battered, kept in a tiny dark cell. There is, of course, a girl involved who he escapes with, but here is where it changes slightly from other dystopian novels, in that there doesn't appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel throughout pretty much all of the book. There is a pretty big twist too towards the end which actually really confused me, but was very interesting indeed. I did enjoy reading it, but often found the story could be a little bit strange and confusing - it did bring across the atmosphere of a dying world very well though, and I suppose it makes sense as the characters struggle through a world they no longer understand.

The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon - 5.5/10 (Kindle version)
I picked this a while ago off Amazon because it mentioned that it was about the world of Ancient Greece and Aristotle's daughter, which sounds just about right for me, plus it was one of the Kindle deals. The book opens with a "cast" of characters; people have commented that some of the names are confusing and to be honest, even with my pretty extensive knowledge of Ancient Greece (I did do a degree in it!), some of the names were weird, a couple were similar and I ended up mixing them up occasionally. Pythias, the main character, truly is her father, Aristotle's, daughter, spending her younger years outdoing his friends at dinner parties and helping him dissect creatures for his studies. She certainly doesn't conform to the standards that women in Ancient Greece should uphold. Then, banished from Athens, the family, including her father's mistress, her younger brother and a layabout cousin, flee to a small town, where her father soon falls ill and passes away. The family is split, and Pythias has to learn to live without the protection that having a father brings, and she flits between places including the family home where the servants run amok, a temple to a goddess, the chambers of a strange house owned by a woman with three "daughters" and the care of a midwife. It was definitely interesting to read about Ancient Greece from this point of view, and see what life might have been like for a woman of her standing, but I found the story to be convoluted and have no clear purpose at times. I often couldn't figure out where things were going, but I suppose it was probably more realistic than other novels as it followed a more daily kind of life.

The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby - 7.5/10 (Kindle version) (reviewed via NetGalley)
This was a pretty good crime mystery novel that had me thinking a bit, scared in parts, and shocked at others. It follows two main characters: DI Zoe Nolan, the lead police investigator on a case of women being beaten, raped and finally murdered by the "Creeper" who has a troubled past which is introduced to us in the prologue, and Jane Webster, a volunteer at a "listening" helpline, who receives a call from a man claiming that he is carrying out the crimes. The opening chapter (after the prologue) was pretty fantastic, I have to say - read it to see why, but I loved it. The story definitely kept me interested, unveiling clues here and there as to who the Creeper is and why he's doing this, although there were also other parts that I found to be a bit random to be honest - there were parts inserted into the novel that were unconnected until the end, but of course this made it quite clear due to the fact that they had nothing to do with what was going on at the time that the characters in these parts would be important later, so was a little obvious in those aspects. I did find the characterisation of Zoe excellent, with parts of her history slowly coming out through the book to connect her then with her now, and to explain the way she acts and treats other, particularly in the relationship with an old policeman friend who she cares for. I would recommend it, but certain bits could have been put together a bit more slyly so as not to give anything away too early.

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