Depression

There are many posts that I have written over the past few months, that I never published. Since October, life got pretty shit. I was diagnosed with depression, my Dad died and well, it was awful. This post was written in October 2015. These were my thoughts when I was diagnosed with depression. 

Depression

I can laugh. I can smile. 
I’m not a zombie.

I’m not suicidal. 

I am, apparently, depressed. 

Anxious. 

I had to take time out.

Time out from what?

Everything.

There’s just not enough time for anything 

Not enough time for me.

Time is probably the reason. 

Time is running out and I have no way of stopping it. 

It’s a summer and autumn of lasts, not firsts.

So many endings. 

Saying goodbye all the time is very hard. 

I can forget, for a while.

I have made the most of the time we have left.

But I am so tired, and strained.

Restless.

I am not how I thought someone depressed is. Should be. 

If I don’t think, I am OK.

Depression is hard.

Many days, I am OK. if I don’t have to do anything, I’m OK.

but pressure,expectation, appointments, or a comment, or a look

Can have my stomach churn and the panic sets in and I am back to square one.

I probably don’t look that unwell on the outside.

But it’s all on the inside.

I’m not hyperventilating, but I am panicking. 

I can’t think of anything else. Round and round and round my head.

Small, insignificant things like a comment on a birthday card. 

I am tired. I am wired. I can’t rest. I can’t stop.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

This is a chilling novel which really had me spooked! A fast paced thriller which really gets the tension going from page one. I was able to read a copy of this book via Netgalley.

  

Here’s the blurb:

Someone’s getting married. Someone’s getting murdered.

In a dark, dark wood 

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. 

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room…. 

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.


The Review

When Nora gets an invite to her old school friends hen do, she hesitates about going. She hasn’t spoken to Clare for 10 years, so why did she send the invite? 

Accepting to go on the Hen Do, Nora ventures from the safety of her small London flat to the wilderness of Northumberland. Flo, chief bridesmaid, has organised a weekend at her Aunts secluded house. From here on, Nora meets the other attendees, all seemingly with secrets they want to keep. The tension builds until a chilling climax which really had me guessing right up until the end. 

This book read like a horror movie; I could almost imagine what the opening scenes would look like as Nora walked into the woods and to the Glass House. The tension is built so well and you are dying to know what will happen, but at the same time dreading it because you know something horrible is going to happen! 

There is an element of trying to guess who or what will happen, and I loved the fact that with this book, I wasn’t sure until near the end. It genuinely gave me the creeps at times, especially before I went to bed! 

I really enjoyed this book, and if you like thrillers and mystery kind of books then this is perfect for you. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. 

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is published by Harvill Secker and is out NOW via Amazon

  

One Wish In Manhatten by Mandy Baggot Book Review

As Bookouture Christmas comes into an end, I have a great review to leave you with. This is a lovely, romantic story which is just the Christmas tonic I needed. This a great book if you want a piece of escapism set in the magical city of New York.

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Here’s the blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to fall in love

The temperature is dropping, snow is on its way and Hayley Walker is heading for New York with one wish on her mind…to start over.

With her nine year-old daughter Angel, Hayley is ready for an adventure. From hot chocolates and horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park, to ice-skating at the Rockefeller Centre, and Christmas shopping on 5th Avenue – they soon fall in love with the city that never sleeps.

But there’s more to New York than the bright twinkly lights and breathtaking skyscrapers. Angel has a Christmas wish of her own – to find her real dad.

While Hayley tries to fulfil her daughter’s wish, she crosses paths with Billionaire Oliver Drummond. Restless and bored with fast living, there’s something intriguing about him that has Hayley hooked.

Determined to make her daughter’s dream come true, can Hayley dare to think her own dreams might turn into reality – could A New York Christmas turn into a New York Forever?

Travel to the Big Apple this Christmas and join Hayley and Oliver as they both realise that life isn’t just about filling the minutes…it’s about making every moment count

The Review

Hayley and her daughter Angel go on a Christmas holiday to New York, to stay with Hayley’s brother Dean. They are there for a holiday, but also to fulfil one wish: Angel wants to find her father. Whilst searching for Michel, Hayley meets Oliver Drummond, Billionaire – and her brother’s Boss! Fate means their paths cross and romance is in the air. But Oliver is hiding a secret. Will They get together? Will Angel find her Father?

I was hooked on this book from the moment I started reading! I have been to New York so straight away the idea of going there for Christmas really appealed. I think New York sounds so romantic at Christmas, with the snow and the lights, it is the perfect setting for a Christmas romance! Hayley and Angel are likeable characters, even though at times I did question Hayley’s decisions. Initially, Oliver is a difficult character to like, but you see him develop as the story continues and you start to see a different side to him. The idea of meeting a Billionaire and falling in love is such a fantasy, it was great escapism to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The book has a few twists and turns, and there is also some comedic elements to the story too. Angel is a great character, and I loved her optimism and positivity.

I love the theme of this book about making each moment count. This is definitely something that I have been thinking about recently. Following your dreams and taking chances are just what we need to do in life, there will never be a right time, so why not just go for it now! Hayley definitely lives for the moment, and it made me think that I need to do this a bit too.

This book is exactly what you want a Christmas book to be: Full of romance, wonder, and most of all, a fantastic happy ending!  I thought the story flowed well and it was an easy, relaxing read. It really is a positive, uplifting book and that you can’t help but smile about.

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot is published by Bookouture and is out NOW Via Amazon.

The Author

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Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning author of romantic women’s fiction and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, she is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women’s networking groups.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, Corfu and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor and lives in Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two children and cats Kravitz and Springsteen.

www.mandybaggot.com

See my Q&A with Mandy Baggot here!

Q&A with Mandy Baggot, Author Of One Wish in Manhattan #BookoutureXmas

  

Today as part of Bookouture Christmas I’m welcoming Mandy Baggot, author of  One Wish in Manhattan, to the blog for a Q&A! Find out about what gets Mandy in a Christmassy mood, her writing tips and an X factor audition!

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1. I love the theme of the novel about making every moment count – how do you do this in your day to day life?

I think we all struggle with making every moment count, possibly on a daily basis! I know I do. We all work so hard sometimes you just need to step back and realise what’s important. The way I do this is by spending all my spare cash on holidays rather than home improvements or clothes etc. I like to give my children experiences they will remember forever. For me, spending quality time with those you love is more important than having the latest gadgets or flashy cars.

2. Do you have any top tips for planning a winter trip to New York?

I think winter trips to New York are all about those scenes from the movies. I would suggest Googling Christmas in New York and visiting all the touristy sights. And of course save some dollars for hitting those famous stores!

3. What gets you into a Christmassy mood?

Food! I am a lover of Christmas nibbles! Mince pies, yule logs, cheese boards, Quality Street chocolates and don’t get me started on the turkey dinner. 

4. When did you start planning this Christmas story? Was it hard to keep the Christmas feeling alive along the way? 

I was writing my Christmas story in New York in the summer! It was very hard writing about snow and jingle bells when there was a heatwave going on outside. I lit some spiced orange candles, made hot chocolate and listened to Frank Sinatra!

5. How did you start writing? What tips do you have for us budding authors out there?

I started writing short love stories when I was at senior school. After that I was more about romance in real life and didn’t write very much until my twenties. I penned my first self-published novel, Excess All Areas on maternity leave with my first daughter. It was an escape from the nappy changing and it changed my life. I rediscovered my love of writing and haven’t looked back. I am so pleased to be able to do this as a job now. Any budding authors out there should just keep writing, feed your passion, enjoy every second and make every page your learning curve.

6. I read that you auditioned for the X factor! How did that go?

Yes! I auditioned for the X Factor in 2008. I was one of 10,000 people at Cardiff Millennium Stadium in Wales who auditioned on the pitch to a member of the production team. I’m pleased to say I got down to the final 500 but that’s where my journey ended and I didn’t get to meet the judges. I sang Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’.

7. Favourite Christmas song? 

It has to be Jona Lewie ‘Stop the Cavalry’.

8. I think there’s nothing like sitting down with a good book and a cup of tea. How do you make your cuppa? 

I love a cup of tea! I have about six or seven a day. Tea bag in, splash of milk and then I add the hot water. No sugar. Slurp! Lovely!

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot is published by Bookouture and is out now. 

  

Come back tomorrow for my review of the book! 

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin Book Review #BookoutureXmas

  

Holly says this is the perfect book to curl up by the fire with, and I totally agree! Christmas at Lilac Cottage is a snowy whirlwind of romance and full of Christmas charm. I was able to read this book by taking part in Bookouture Christmas who provided me with an ebook via Netgalley.

  

Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen. 

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded. 

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore … 

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of? 

Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously heartwarming novel down. 

Spend the perfect Christmas in White Cliff Bay this year.


The Review

When Penny rents out her annexe, little does she know that romance awaits her. As soon as she meets Henry, there is an instant attraction. However, after having her heart broken 8 years ago, Penny is unsure she wants to take the risk of romance. However Henry, and his daughter Daisy soon become a part of her life. As Christmas gets closer, will they?

I really loved this story, it was charmingly magical and romantic. From the start, I just wanted Henry and Penny to get together. The will they, won’t they scenario grows in tension and you go through ups and downs with the characters, all framed behind a perfect Christmas setting, with snow included. The town of White Bay has a lot of interesting characters, and I can see how Holly was able to write another tale set in the town. There’s a lot of potential here! The book was also surprisingly funny for a romance novel, it was laugh out loud in places which I really loved. I really got to know the characters of Penny and Henry, they were so believable, I felt invested in the story and wanted them to have a happy ending!

It was an easy read, and one I wanted to take my time over with a cuppa. I got totally wrapped up in the story, and that is exactly what you want from a Christmas novel.

I give Christmas at Lilac Cottage 5 out of 5 stars. 

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin is published by Bookouture and is out now! Available on Amazon.

The Author

  

Holly Martin

Holly emerged onto the Chick Lit scene by winning the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition – and has not looked back since.

Her adult fiction debut, The Guestbook, hit number 5 in the Amazon chart and she has now written three books with Bookouture: Fairytale Beginnings, Christmas at Lilac Cottage and Snowflakes at Silver Cove.

https://hollymartinwriter.wordpress.com 

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Brownies by Bella! #BookoutureXmas

  
These fabulous brownies are featured heavily in ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off’ By Sue Watson- and the recipe is also included in the book – it was only fair that I gave the recipe a go and try them! They are so easy to make and taste lovely, and really get you in the Christmas mood. As part of #BookoutureXmas I have the recipe for you here on the blog! Why not give them a go and get that Christmas feeling?

  

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Brownie Recipe from ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off’ 

These delicious, cranberry studied brownies always take me right back to my friend Amy’s house at Christmas. It was always warm and cosy and in the vanilla and cinnamon scented kitchen we would ‘help’ her mum by sampling the batter and scattering the dried cranberries, which we’d pretend were Rudolph noses. Every Christmas Eve, Amy’s mum would leave one of these for Father Christmas and one for Rudolph, and on Christmas Morning they were gone – which is why we kept believing in Father Christmas.

This is Amy’s mother’s recipe…

 

250g dark chocolate

100g butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin

3 eggs

250g cooked beetroot, drained

250g light brown sugar

150g ground almonds

2tbsp cocoa

1tbsp baking powder

50g dried cranberries

Teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm square baking tin with a little butter and line with non-stick baking paper. Leave two ‘tails’ at either side to help you lift the cooked brownie out of the tin.

 

Break up the chocolate into squares, place in a heatproof bowl with the butter, and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow the mixture to gently melt, while stirring gently.

 

Tip the beetroot into a food processor and purée, (Amy’s mum used to mash with a strong potato masher, but I love my gadgets!) Then add the melted chocolate, butter and eggs and whizz again until combined. Then add the sugar, ground almonds, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon and process until you have a smooth batter. Lift the lid off – breathe in, and the sweet, spicy fragrance of chocolate and cinnamon will take you straight to Christmas heaven.

 

Now pour into the baking tin, sprinkle on the cranberries (Rudolph noses) and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is set and the brownie is starting to pull a little away from the sides of the tin.

 

Once out of the oven, ease the brownie from the tin with the paper ‘tails’ and cut into 16 squares. When cool, dust the surface with a little icing sugar, while singing ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.’

 

Happy Christmas!

Love, Bella x


 Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson is published by Bookouture and is out now! Read my 5* review here


Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson #BookoutureXmas

  

 

First of all let me say Welcome to Bookouture Xmas! 

I was thrilled to be able to read an advance copy of Bella’s Christmas  Bake Off from Bookouture via Netgalley as part of the #BookoutureXmas event. Check back each day until 27th October when I will be revealing more book reviews, interviews and guest posts from all the Bookouture Christmassy authors, with added Christmas magic! Check out some of the other blogs taking part and catch them all on twitter: 

  

Back to Bella’s Christmas Bake Off: This is such a lovely, heartwarming story that is just perfect for Christmas! 

  

Here’s the Blurb:

Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER.

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. 

But this year things are going to be different. 

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. 

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off… 

After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember… 

  

The Review



When Amy’s husband leaves her just before Christmas, she feels like her world has ended. She packs up the Christmas Tree and all the trimmings. Watching her old school friend, Bella, on the television, now a famous celebrity baker, she reminisces about their friendship and what led to them to end their friendship 10 years ago. As Amy watches Bella’s show, she starts to realise the recipes are all her Mothers! Amy then sets the wheels in motion to finally meet with Bella and discuss the events of 10 years ago, with many hilarious events along the way!

I genuinely laughed out loud reading Bella’s Christmas Bake Off. It was a lovely, relaxing read, and one that really cheered me up. It has the perfect recipe of laughter, happiness and a little romance thrown in. It really gave me a Christmassy feel, and I would’ve loved a slice of Christmas Cake to eat along with it!

I liked the fact the book was about friendship, and that even when you haven’t seen a friend for a long time, even years, as soon as you meet them again, it’s like you pick up where you left off! I have so many friends I am not able to see regularly, and I definitely know it’s so easy to get back into the friendship again even after a long time apart. Christmas is a time when we  can meet up with old friends, and traditionally a time when we may try and put the past behind us.

The book talks about all different recipes for christmas, and baking with family at Christmas time. It reminded me that I used to love watching my Mum bake the Christmas cake, and all the exciting Christmas biscuits and mince pies I used to help with. I felt like getting in the kitchen and starting to make one myself.

The book has a few surprises within it, and the plot flowed nicely. I could definitely empathise with Amy, even though her character is a little older than me. The situation that Amy finds herself in, and the issues she faces, I think we can all associate with. Oh, and Cake. We can all empathise with Cake! 

I loved having a glimpse into the life of a TV star and how TV shows are made, we get a behind the scenes look at Bella’s Bake Off and it’s a real eye opener! Makes you wonder what they really get up to on The Great British Bake Off and other shows!

I absolutely loved this book, it is a fab Christmas read and I highly recommend it. I give Bella’s Christmas Bake Off 5 Stars.

Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson is published by Bookouture and is released TODAY! Available on Amazon

The Author

  

Sue Watson

Sue Watson was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before leaving it all behind for a career in TV. As a producer with the BBC she worked on garden makeovers, kitchen takeovers and daytime sofas – all the time making copious notes so that one day she might escape to the country and turn it all into a book.

After much deliberation and copious consumption of cake, Sue eventually left her life in TV to write. After a very successful debut novel, Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, Sue signed with Bookouture and has gone on to write four fabulous books.

www.suewatsonbooks.com

Check back tomorrow for a fabulous Christmas recipe by Bella Herself! 
  

No I’m not pregnant….

I’m just not drinking alcohol 

I’m the designated driver 

I’m not that fond of shellfish

I just ate too much at lunchtime 

I’ve given up Diet Coke

I’m just wearing leggings because of my hairy legs

I got so used to using my stomach as a tea cup holder I never stopped 

Just because two people at work are, doesn’t mean I am

I’m just cutting out caffeine because I am a sadist 

I don’t fancy that rollercoaster, ok?

I’m waddling because I seem to have injured my hip picking up a 2 stone toddler 

I like water 

I’m just wearing a dress which accentuates my stomach 

I just caught my daughters sickness bug

This pair of maternity trousers were the only clean ones I had 

They only had decaff at the shop, and I was desperate 

I just like trying new things! So what if I’ve never eaten prawns before…

I accidentally bought this top from the maternity section 

It’s perfectly normal to cry at The Great British Bake Off

I’m just fat!

My daughter is just 2 years old, I didn’t realise that meant I should be pregnant by now 

Goodbye Granny Pants

When I was pregnant and I was told that I had to buy some massive pants for after the birth, I was half amazed and half disgusted that I had to buy some Granny Pants. 

They looked bloody HUGE.

I couldn’t find any to start with. I just needed some non fancy everyday kind of granny pants. I didn’t even think I’d wear them. In the end I went to BHS and bought about 5 in varying dark colours. One thing I noticed about pregnancy was that every book I read and everyone I spoke to talked in hushed tones about wearing dark clothes and using dark towels and dark granny pants. I couldn’t imagine wearing them at all.  In BHS, I hunched my shoulders, trying to shield my face in case anyone I knew saw me in BHS and then, buying Granny Pants. It was an ordeal. 

2.5 years later…..

I am wearing the same granny pants. The granny pants moved in and they never moved out. I found the Granny Pants to be quite comfy, actually. Reassuringly secure, if you will. They held everything that was starting to flop down quite well. They also hid the bushy nightmare that was my bikini line.

But.

But I am 32 years old, not 92. I really should wear some non Granny Pants for a bit, right? Something that may make me feel a little more Giselle rather than Granny. I realised one day that I had given up on my pants. I had become accustomed to pants that came up to my belly button. They didn’t exactly make my VPL look any better. Skinny jeans and Granny Pants is probably not such a good idea, in retrospect.

So I set off to look for some sparkly new pants. I felt excitement as I entered M&S (yes, I could’ve picked a sexier shop, but you know, I’m starting off gently). 

As I walked into the lingerie department, I looked around at all the pants. Loads of pants. 

And I got immediately confused.

So. Many. Pants.

What the hell was a Brazilian pair of pants? Why were these pants made of what looked like spandex? I picked up a thong, which looked menacingly floss-like. They were the same size as my daughters pants. 

My head swirled with lurid pink, and black lace and little white bows. 

Shorts, high leg, bikini, Brazilian, no VPL, short leg, French knickers, high waisted, midi, waist cincher, thong….the words meant nothing to me. 

How do you even know what knickers to wear anyway?! 

I just wanted some nice pants. Pants I could just wear and not feel like I had a piece of string up my bum.

In the end I just picked a pair that looked like it covered at least 65% of my bum. Brazilian. That’d have to do. 

I purchased my new pants and felt a nervous anticipation about wearing them. 

The next day, I examined my pants. I seemed to have picked up a pair of pants that looked like they were the wrong way round. My derrière was barely covered by a lacy back and the front was just as bad.  

I realised I needed to sort out the lady garden area pretty nifty too. A VPL was the least of my worries, at the moment I had a VBL (visible bushy leg).

But, they looked nice at least. If I breathed in. So I wore them. I spent half the day scratching my bum due to the lace and the other half trying to sit down without getting a wedgie. 

Does that happen to everyone, I wonder?

Thing is, putting on my Granny pants, I feel comfort and minimal effort is needed to just throw them on. Maybe they’re not so bad after all…..

What I’ve Read: September

I have been a bad book blogger. In that, I haven’t blogged anything booky for a really long time. I suddenly hit a reading block, and I just couldn’t budge it for a while. I didn’t read anything for a long time. Life got in the way a bit, which was a bit of a first. I also broke my kindle for a while, which really did mess up my reading schedule. I just checked and I haven’t written a review since MAY! seriously, where does the time go?! I am ready to get reading again and start reviewing books as usual. 

In 4 months I only read 3 books, which is pathetic but mostly due to the issues highlighted above, and the biggest one being my kindle broke. Anyway, here’s a super quick recap of what I have read over the Summer:

I finished reading Cesca Major’s Silent Hours, a brilliant novel based on true events set in France in World War Two. It was a great read, and has an ending which left me a little speechless. Go and read it!

The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon – I really enjoyed this book, about Bryony as a young woman about London. It was so entertaining and I laughed out loud quite a bit. Many aspects reminded me of myself as I have grown up. 

First One Missing By Tammy Cohen- This is a chilling thriller set around the deaths of 4 young girls and how their families cope as the Police continue to search for their killer. A good twist at the end.

Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon I am afraid I started to read this, but I had to give up, because it was like sticking bubblegum in my eyes….I will try and return it it though.

I am currently reading:

All the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doer

To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

So this is a little catch up post but I am going to make it my misison from now on to read more and review more. So watch this space!