Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's Going On?


I don't even know where to start with this, I have so much I want to talk about. Bear with me, this is a rant, and it's a long one.

Over the past week or so, every time I turn the laptop on I read something else that leaves me pretty much like this:

I think it's probably easiest to list them, and see where it goes from there.

1. "Kimye" on Honeymoon. Supposedly, Kim Kardashian (famous for having a sex tape) and Kanye West (famous for taking microphones off award winners on stage) flew into Shannon to have their Honeymoon here. Fair play to them, they're entitled to go wherever they want. What I don't understand is the mass hysteria that followed - there were people actually out trying to find them, get pictures of them, they were discussed on twitter, facebook, the news - every day this week. Signs were erected in their honour. Sightings were sent into radio stations. Are we so obsessed with celebrity that this is what passes for national interest now? I haven't seen a picture of them here. I don't want to. I don't CARE. They're just people. Ask Vincent Browne.

[Source: Mark Farrelly via]

2. Solange Knowles was offered a $1 million deal to compete in an Ultimate Fight deal after footage was leaked of her attacking her brother-in-law JayZ in a lift. The footage showed Solange flying at him furiously until she was pulled away by security. I know that this was more than likely a publicity stunt from the guy behind the championship, but it left a really bad taste in my mouth. In the days following the incident, media here even held a phone-in to see if there were any women in Ireland named Solange. WHAT??!! Violence should never be glorified.

3. "Miss Personality". The Tubridy Show on 2FM are running a competition to find someone to send to the Miss Ireland pageant. The winner will be selected based purely on personality, not on looks. Which is admirable. Or, it would be, if it wasn't so inherently disgusting. I happened to hear the "entrants" this morning - one lady called herself "Miss Grecian Feline" because her first name was Greek and she liked cats. Ryan went on to mock her nickname, mock her for liking cats, and insult her home county (Cavan - "We can't have a Miss Ireland from Cavan") but all in his usual jokey, jingly way. He also had "Miss Leinster Lady"  who had a passion for rugby - Ryan asked her "is that only because of the Kearneys, yeah?" - and "Miss Pearl" - Miss Pearl was a foreign national who had moved to Ireland as a young child. She told us all that people mistook her for being Swedish because she was blonde and blue-eyed, and talked about her love of chess. Ryan used the words "geek" and "nerd" several times when discussing chess and when discussing comic books with the first entrant - he asked her what her favourite Superhero was, and when she replied "Wolverine" he said "Tell the truth, you don't like him at all, you just like Hugh Jackman".She said that if she got through, she'd wear a wetsuit and sun hat in the Swimwear round because she felt that not being skinny wasn't a valid reason for not entering Miss Ireland. "Swimwear round" you say? Yes. Miss Personality will have to partake in the Swimwear round, where they will stand on a table and have the judges draw circles around all their fat parts. Okay, not really, but it will be a "closed door" judging, which is nonsensical. I fail to see what this is achieving, to be honest. Ryan gets to patronize 8 young women and laugh it off because "it's all a bit of fun". If you want to be judged on your personality and not your looks, WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU ENTERING A PAGEANT? EDIT: Someone left me a comment saying I mixed the Miss Personality contestants up, I deleted it by accident. With all due respect, I don't listen to Ryan Tubridy's show. On the morning that I caught that, I was out and happened to hear it. I was typing that night, from memory. My problem was with Ryan's responses and questions, not with the entrants.  I apologise if I mixed the women up, I didn't mean to make them seem interchangeable. 

4. "The Sex Factor". I heard about this today on the radio - it's a new reality show that will feature 8 men and 8 women who all want to become porn stars. The winners (one male and one female) will get to star in a porn movie with the presenter, Belle Knox. There's a hashtag & everything, so we can all play along at home. YIPPEE, I know I can't wait to sit at home salivating over nude people and getting them to engage in various sexual acts in the name of entertainment. How have I existed this long without it?

5. "Skin for 1D". This was trending on twitter tonight. I clicked on it, and much like the beyond belief tag "cut for Bieber" (in which Justin Bieber fans cut themselves to show support for him after his arrest) this features fans of One Direction uploading naked pictures of themselves "in support" of the boys, who are reported to smoke weed. I couldn't care less what they smoke, but I do care that there are young men and women out there who think it's a good idea to take a photograph of themselves naked and upload it online. I clicked on the tag once and saw multiple pictures of fans, one spreading her vagina apart with her fingers "in support" of the boys. How is that supporting anything? What the hell is going on in the mind of someone who thinks that is okay? The comments on photos are usual twitter fare - 50% troll, 50% OMG, but it really saddens me that a young woman can post such an intimate picture on such a public forum (not to mention potential future employment) over a pop group. If you want to bare all, go ahead. But please, for the love of humanity, don't do it because some boyband you're never going to meet have allegedly smoked weed. You're worth more than that.

6. "#YesAllWomen" and the reaction to it. This was another hashtag that trended during the week - mostly in response to the theory that misogyny was behind Elliot Rodger's killing spree. Go have a look at it yourself - it's just shocking. (HERE). What was even more shocking was the response from some men - note, I said SOME men, not ALL men. I saw one lady mention something sexist thrown up by Google, and she was almost immediately shot down by a response from a young guy saying "So Google is sexist then, stop using it". You don't have to scroll very far to see why the majority of points on that tag are still relevant. Contrary to popular belief, I don't think feminism has "gotten out of control" or that we've all turned into a nation of man-haters - I do believe that sexism and misogyny is absolutely rampant and it's up to us as society, and as parents, and as brothers, sisters, friends - as PEOPLE - to stop it. Nobody should have to feel afraid walking home. Nobody should have to consider if what they choose to wear on a night out could possibly be interpreted as a come-on. Nobody should have to explain themselves if they say "No", or fear that by saying no, they are branded a slut, a whore, a cocktease, a bitch. This is a screenshot (names removed) from just a few minutes ago.

This isn't good enough, guys. There are very, very good men out there, and equally there are some horrible women out there too - but the fact that the majority of women have experienced sexism, harassment or misogyny at one point or another means that something needs to be done. As the mother of three boys I feel an incredible responsibility to do all I can to make sure they do not think this is okay - but I can't control what their peers do or say.

7.  The people who comment on certain Radio/TV Talkshow facebook pages. Find wall, bang head, repeat. Leaving aside the most appalling grammar and spelling, pages like this prove two things. Firstly, that they thrive on stirring people to fight amongst themselves. Secondly, that there are still many backward, ignorant, idiots alive and well in the country. Example - one talkshow page posted something about obesity levels today and instead of asking what people thought, or if they thought the studies were accurate, they asked if it was okay to call people fat "to get them to lose weight". Here's a gem from that discussion (which also contained the comment "Send the women in that picture out to the starvin blacks in Africa", just in case anyone ordered a side of casual racism with their fatphobia):

That guy in the middle is obviously fairly young. Therein lies the problem. I have three sons. How in the hell am I supposed to teach them to be respectful, empathetic, honest and decent human beings when this is the sort of cretin they're undoubtedly going to be mixing with at some stage? A lovely lady I talk to on twitter had something ridiculously stupid about her hair colour shouted at her from a man in a car the other day. This is 2014, folks. 

I could go on and on - about the man who sexually assaulted a woman and then blamed his medication, about a certain newspaper digging up pictures of the "girl" Elliot Rodger was rejected by and printing pictures of her in a bikini - but I fear I'd explode altogether. 

In the words of He-Man (and 4 Non Blondes) WHAT'S GOING ON??!!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Giant Haul of Ridiculousness


Over the past 6 weeks or so, my shopping got a bit daft. In the same way that Tom Cruise felt the need.... the need for speed, I feel the need for stuff, stuff, and more stuff. I love it. I love tat and rubbish and crap and clutter. I LOVE STUFF.

Hence, this. Now in fairness, this was all since the start of April, and we're almost in June now. So there's that. Also, only two things out of this whole giant pile were over €10. So there's that too.

All items bought online are linked in bold, so you can be as silly with your money as I am.

All prices are correct at time of publishing this post, based on exchange rate at time of purchase. 

Bite Necklace, eBay: €0.67. Etude House Juicy Cocktail Nail Trio, eBay: €4.76.

Nature Republic Friends Walnut Hand Cream, eBay: €5.05. Lioele L'cret Magic Lipstick, eBay €4.99. Butterfly Foot Peeling Mask, €3.35.

The stem on the handcream is a little headphone jack cover!!

Wonder Woman Notebook (size B5), eBay: €8.65.

Kobo cover, Boot Sale, 2 for €1 (I got a red one too). Sony Xperia E Skin, eBay: €3.59

Essence "Bloom Me Up" lipstick, Penneys: €2.49. Sponge Nail Polish Remover, Penneys: €3.79.

All Penneys: Coral Bag, €9.00. Polka Dot Shoes, €5.00. Striped Long Sleeved Top, €6.00.
Striped Peeptoe Shoes, €6.00. Coral Vest, €3.00. White Long Sleeved Top, €5.00. Coral Chain Necklace, €5.00.

Here's a better look at the white top, I got it to layer over different coloured vests. It's really light and great if you're self-conscious about arms! I got the coral flats in Penneys a few weeks ago too, I think they were €5.

I also got these for the boys - I don't even follow football but I thought they were cute.

Baby football kits - €5 each, Penneys.

Saved By the Bell T-shirt, Redbubble: €23.

Me being an eejit, I managed to order this in a man's 3XL size instead of a girly fit 2XL (Size 16-18 approx), so it's actually more like a Saved By the Bell dress. Grand for schlubbing around the house with a pair of leggings, or for prompting your significant other to ask "what in the name of jesus are you WEARING?", which is my favourite reaction.

Lastly, I got a few bits in Tesco:

They have an offer on at the minute, six cans of any flavour of San Pellegrino for under €4 so I got the lemon ones. I treated myself to some peach roses, and I also got InStyle - I've picked it up and put it back a million times, but I wanted a magazine for the weekend and I said I'd get it if they had one of the coral polishes left.

This was one quick coat done on Friday before I went to vote:

I added another coat when I came home, but it had chipped by Saturday and was pretty much non-existent yesterday. Boo, Nails Inc. BOO. No wonder they give so much of it away with promotions.

The roses were really gorgeous, and are still going strong, they're €3.50 a bunch but mine were discounted.

I picked this up in Tesco, too - Treacle Moon shower gel. It was less than €4 and smells UNREAL. Also, adorable packaging.

There's also stuff from eBay that I ordered but didn't get yet:

Blue Flower Statement Necklace, eBay: €12.20 (I know that's expensive for eBay but LOOK AT IT). Nail Art Source Book, eBay: €4.39. Pink Cotton/Metal Bracelet, eBay: €0.86 (I got this in pink and green). Nail Gradient Sponge Set, eBay: €0.73. Harry Potter Time Turner Necklace, eBay: €0.95. Statement Necklace, eBay: €4.39

I think you can agree, I plainly needed all that. Necessities.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream No.13 - Palest BB Cream ever?


I placed a few orders on eBay a while ago during one of my maudlin "I must buy things" moods. I picked a few quirky Korean things that I thought looked pretty, including this Missha BB Cream.

Thanks to lovely blogs like Makeupmonster, I've been intrigued by Asian BB creams and cosmetics for a while, but have never used any apart from the little sample sachets that come free with eBay orders. I ordered this 20ml mini size from this seller for a total of €5 (P&P was free). Please note - on that listing it shows the full size, which has a pump dispenser. The mini size has a normal screw top.

At first look, I thought it was going to be far too pale for me - believe me, that's not a problem I come across regularly.

It's thick, much thicker than some other BB creams, but blends well. Here's a gammy picture, left face has nothing on and right face just has the BB cream.

The coverage was really nice for a BB cream and it felt super light on my skin. It lasted all day, but I'm not sure how well it would hold up if I was doing anything other than arsing about the house. It's still a bit shiny on my nose and on one cheek so I think if I was going out I'd use a small bit of powder.

For a shade comparison, I grabbed some foundations - I compared it with Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24hr in 005, Rimmel Match Perfection in Ivory (Ivory my hole, it's the darkest out of the four), and Max Factor Facefinity 3 in 1 in Warm Almond:

If you're a fan of Teint Idole, but you don't want to waste it for every day, I'd definitely recommend this BB cream. It's cheap as chips, it arrived quickly, has an SPF, and it feels lovely on the skin.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Goodreads Tag!


I've been tagged by one of my favourite bloggers Chloe (Nurse Fancy Pants) to do this Goodreads tag, and I couldn't wait to do it.

I love Goodreads. I've been a member since March 2013 and I regret not joining sooner! Goodreads is a dream for book lovers. If you're looking for reviews, summaries, suggestions, book groups - you will love it. My page is here, so feel free to add me if you want. On to the tag!

What was the last book you marked as read?
It was The Wronged Sons by John Marrs. I finished it yesterday morning, it was a really unique thriller about a man who walks out on his family for no apparent reason, then turns up again on the doorstep 25 years later. It was a debut novel too, which is impressive.

What are you currently reading?
I'm still trying to get through The Marriage Plot for my 1,001 books challenge but it's so tedious. I'm also about 90% of the way through The Crucible by Arthur Miller, I'm working my way through Bad Science by Ben Goldacre and I'm also partly done with Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett. Oh, and The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison but it's like a sleeping tablet in book form. That sounds like a lot - but some of them are things I can't read all in one sitting, so I take a chapter or two between reading other books.

What was the last book you marked as to-read?
Fly Away by Kristin Hannah. the cover.

What do you plan to read next? 
I want to read another Stephen King book, I haven't read any in a few weeks. Maybe Desperation or IT, it's been a long time since I read either of those. I also want to re-read Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and I want to pick another book off the 1,001 books list.

Do you use the star rating system?
I do, but it annoys me. I wish it were a 1-10 system like IMDB use - I find the stars limiting. I can really enjoy a book but not give it 4/5 because I don't find it on the same level as some of my favourites. I rarely give a book 5.

Are you doing a 2014 reading challenge?
I am indeed, I let it fall by the wayside last year and then tried to speed-read in December to catch up (it didn't work) so this time I set it to 50 books. I'm halfway there (wooooah-oh) so I'll see how I get on and if I hit the 50, I'll increase by 10.

Do you have a wish list?
For books? No. I just read as I'm going along. Sometimes I get the urge to read about particular subjects, so I look books up and add them to my amazon basket or download them. I do write down the names of books I hear about on the radio so I can look them up later.

What book do you plan to buy next?
I want to buy Sinéad Crowley's one, Can Anybody Help Me?. I heard her talking about it on the radio and it sounded really good, so I'll be picking that one up. I'm actually going to mark that one as to-read now.

Who are your favourite authors?
Stephen King, Sarah Addison Allen, Jojo Moyes, Jodi Picoult, Alex Marwood, Harlan Coben, Andrew Gross, Alice Hoffman, Neil Gaiman, William Shakespeare, Roald Dahl.

Have you joined any groups?
I have, but I keep forgetting about them so I don't interact at all really. I have joined in with a few author chats, which are really fun! You get to leave questions for your favourite authors, the majority will answer them for you.

Thanks so much to Chloe for the tag, I tag anyone who would like to do the post, please leave a link if you do it, I'd love to see your answers.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nail Basics: How to use Striping Tape


Today I have a tutorial of sorts, prompted by lovely D over at Lilliwhiterose - stripes! I love doing striped nails but I'm beyond hopeless at them if I don't have striping tape. I genuinely can not draw a straight line freehand - I never could, even in Art projects at school. I always need a ruler or guide. I'd heard about striping tape, but when I googled it, I thought that because it was in different colours, that you were supposed to leave it on your nail and put a topcoat over it. That didn't appeal to me at all, so I avoided it for years. Finally, I came across a few nail blogs where they had used it as a guide - and a love affair was born!

First things first - striping tape is available on eBay and it's really, really cheap. You can also get it from Born Pretty Store - there's a discount code over on the sidebar if you want to order from them. You can use medical tape or sellotape either, but I find striping tape the handiest.

First things first - choose a base colour and paint your nails. If you want black to feature, then make sure you paint your nails the colour you want your stripes to be. The colour you paint on top needs to be a one-coater - or able to cover up the base colour. For mine, I chose a green and pink from Essie (Naughty Nautical and Bottle Service respectively), and my go-to white of the moment, Rita Ora for Rimmel White Hot Love. You'll also need a scissors and a tweezers.

You need to make sure your nails are 100% dry before you use any kind of tape. Sellotape leaves a horrible residue and tends to pull, so striping tape really is a great option here. I painted my nails in the morning and waited until lunchtime to do the stripes.

Here's a step-by-step graphic that's pretty self-explanatory:

Pop your striping tape on your nail, then cut it - leaving a little tail at the end so you can pull it off with the tweezers (this gives a cleaner line). When you've positioned your tape, paint over it in your chosen colour. Pull off the tape with the tweezers while the polish is still wet. This is hugely important - if you leave it to dry, you won't get a clean line. You can add a topcoat if you wish, but some of them can streak. I've found Essence and Sally Hansen the worst offenders - Poshe topcoat is good, and I'd try Seche if you have it.

You can use striping tape to create a variety of different looks - if you want a thicker stripe, just put two lines of tape together.

 I find it handy to loop my thumb through the tape and use it like this:

You can also make patterns or designs using tape - just make sure you pull the tape off in reverse. The piece of tape you put on last - pull that off first, and so on.

Striping tape is a really cheap way to get really impressive results. It's most definitely an essential item in the arsenal of any nail art fan!

If you have any ideas or requests for a Nail Basics post, please let me know in the comments and I'd be happy to oblige.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throwback Thursday - A Rather Nineties Picture


For this week's Throwback Thursday post, I thought I'd risk the wrath of my sister and show you this incredibly embarrassing, incredibly nineties picture.

Christmas!! Ahh. Christmas crackers on the table, Coke in fancy glasses for my sister and I, and a log with a candle stuck in it on the window.

There are so many fashion statements going on in this picture - let's take a look individually.

1. Nana: Sparkly Disco Socks.

She loved a glittery sock, did Nana. She also loved a Christmas dinner - while she ate it with us, she insisted on cooking her own and carrying it up to our house.

2. Sister: Purple Scrunchies, Woolly Snot-Coloured Jumper, and what appears to be a fringe that she cut herself.

It's okay, she has gained mad skillz since then. You can see for yourself on her blog: Itsonlyme

3. Mother: Deirdre Barlow glasses and an orange velour onesie. 

I have no explanation for this. None. ORANGE.VELOUR.ONESIE.

Me. Sweet Merciful Jesus.

Velvet hat. Choker. Red cheeks. Oh, and no front tooth due to a bike fall. Classy bird.

You'd imagine this photograph would be bad enough, wouldn't you? The following year, I was wearing a waistcoat and had a very, very short bit of hair sticking out of the front of my head that I liked to call a side fringe. When Mommy Dearest sent a copy to relations in England, one of my lovely cousins did a pencil drawing of the photo and sent it over. Can you imagine the sequel to this in pencil?

If you're nice, I'll show it to you. Sometime. Maybe.

I'm sorry, Stephanie!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Books I Read in April/May


I haven't done a book post in so long - I'm still crawling through my last pick for the 1,000 Books Challenge (The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides) and to be honest it's almost like a chore to pick it up - I'll give it another week and if I still can't get into it I'll pick another number.

In the meantime, I've set myself the task of reading 50 books this year on Goodreads - it was at 100 but I kept falling behind, so if I manage to clear 50 before the end of the year, I'll increase the number.

Here's what I've read in April/May. (All book images are from Goodreads).

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green 
I adored this book, I have passed it over many times and I was livid with myself for not discovering it sooner. I fell in love with the characters and the story - it was just so beautifully told. If someone had told me last year that a YA novel about a 16 year old cancer patient and a 17 year old amputee would turn out to be one of the most touching, warm, books I'd read in years - I wouldn't have believed them. Please read it! Definitely not in public though. It made me do a Dawson cry.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 
This one was narrated by teenager Charlie, who is said to be on the Autism spectrum (this isn't said in the book), while others think he may be affected by PTSD. I didn't enjoy this book, I have to say. I found it depressing and upsetting. Think of every bad thing that could possibly happen to someone before they reach adulthood - and it all happens. I just don't think I was in the right headspace for reading it, and Charlie really irritated me. The formatting on my e-copy was all wonky too - for example, when he mentioned the TV show M*A*S*H, it came up on my Kobo as MoreInAInSoInHave - I didn't have a baldy notion what he was on about. The film is on my to-watch list, many people have said that I may enjoy it more than the book.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman 
This was a re-read, and I took my time with it this time. Coraline is a young girl who has parents who are always really busy. They don't pay much attention to what she wants or does - so when Coraline finds an alternate reality with a pretty nifty set of really attentive parents, what's a girl to do? She finds out fairly quickly that the grass is not always greener, and with the aid of a new friend in the form of a talking cat, takes on a pretty impressive villain in order to put things right. 

A Heart So Big by Rio Hogarty 
I bought this after Rio appeared on the Late Late Show here a couple of months ago. A little unassuming woman in her seventies, she looks no different on the outside to any other well-groomed lady. But her story is amazing - Rio has single-handedly fostered over 140 children (even before State support was available) over the past few decades. If she saw a child in need, she stepped in. She's a true fighter, she's absolutely hilarious, and she's one of life's good people. This book was such a great insight into her world - I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with her. 

The Memory Child by Steena Holmes
This was one of those cheap books that catch my eye on the Kindle charts on Amazon sometimes (that one-click is a danger). Brian and Diane have always planned to have children - when Diane finds out she is pregnant, she begins to panic due to a tragic accident years ago after her mother suffered severe post partum psychosis. Brian, however, is overjoyed - and promises Diane that he will do all he can to help her come to terms with the fact that she is not her mother, and history doesn't have to repeat itself. So why, then, has he disappeared? Why has he not come home from working abroad? Why hasn't he contacted his wife, or seen his baby daughter? Why does the Nanny keep making secret whispered calls? It's told in alternating chapters, so we get to see both Brian and Diane's point of view.

Perfect by Rachel Joyce
Written by the author of "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", Perfect is based on the notion that two seconds can change several lives forever. It's set in 1972, when two seconds were added to the clock to balance things out in accordance with the way the Earth is moving (this has happened a few times since, too). For Byron, this becomes an obsession. His friend James has told him about the two seconds and Byron finds it fascinating. Unfortunately, his obsession leads to an incident that will change the lives of everyone in his family spectacularly. Interweaved with the melancholy tale of what happens because of the incident in 1972 is a present-day account of a lonely, isolated man named Jim who suffers with pretty severe OCD, and his blossoming friendships with his workmates. I would recommend this - it's like nothing I've read before, even if the 1972 parts seem like they were set several decades earlier. I was sure I had figured out the ending - I couldn't have been more wrong. Really good.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman wants a wife - a very specific wife. He draws up a questionnaire and will not entertain the notion of even dating any woman who does not measure up to it - then Rosie comes crashing into his life and guess what happens. Leaving predictable romances aside, Rosie asks geneticist Don to help her with something - she needs to find out who her real father is, and she wants Don to find him. Don and Rosie embark on a frankly ludicrous mission to gather as much DNA as possible from all the guys her mother associated with the night Rosie was conceived. This book was okay - it's not that I didn't enjoy it, it's just that it's blatantly obvious even from the cover what's going to happen, and for a man who definitely exhibits most of the symptoms of Aspergers at the start of the book, it's amazing how quickly he can leave all that by the wayside and just "train" himself  - like the combination of how fantastic Rosie is and the fact that Don's so unbelievably intelligent is enough to just get rid of any spectrum disorder almost overnight. Apart from that, and the cocktail party chapter, it was grand.  I've seen it described as "Sheldon in Love" for those of you who are Big Bang Theory fans. I, unfortunately, am not, so that didn't endear it to me.

Hidden Secrets by Carolyn Brown
Mills and Boon in disguise - and not a very good one, either. This was another one-click disaster, based on 4-5 star reviews on Amazon (whoever gave this 5 stars needs an introduction to Stephen King). A tale of four generations of the one family - a 20 year old pregnant divorcee, her mother, her mother, and her mother. Following? Young girl, her Mam, her Granny, and her Great-Granny all up sticks and move to a farm after it's left to the Great-Grandmother in a will. I kept forgetting which one was which, and in the end I genuinely didn't give a shite, I just wanted it to end. I did read to the end of it but it was so schmaltzy and so "happiness =  men" that I'm surprised my eyes didn't fall out on the table from rolling them so much.

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
The One Plus One is essentially the story of an unconventional road trip - Jess has done a very bad thing in order to give her daughter a chance at a better life, and needs to get to Scotland for a maths competition so that Tanzie can win some money to sort things out. Ed has also done a very bad thing that might result in prison time, so he needs to get away and clear his head for a few days. They cross each others path and form an unlikely alliance - Ed offers to drive Jess, her daughter Tanzie, stepson Nicky, and their great big dog (whose name I can't remember) to the maths competition. It's good, it's an enjoyable read, but I've (somewhat unfairly) come to expect so much more from Jojo Moyes. This one didn't hit me emotionally at all, maybe because I didn't find myself rooting for Jess at any point. I loved Nicky and Tanzie.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Embarrassingly, I'd never read anything by David Sedaris before. I definitely will read some more of his stories - this was so, so funny. The first chapter alone had me crying laughing - the image of his mother standing at the door trying to make small talk about trailers while David shut himself in his room trying to eat all his Halloween candy for fear she might take some of it for the neighbours had me in tears. David treats us to some hilarious family anecdotes in a series of short stories - it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but you're in for a treat if you like observational comedy.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
This is a book told from several points of view, and in three parts. In the first part, we meet Sage - a reclusive baker who is struggling with a facial disfigurement after an accident, her affair with a married man, and her assumption that her sisters blame her for the death of a parent. Sage strikes up an unlikely friendship with ninety-something year old Josef Weber at a grief group. Josef is well-loved within the community, and seems like a quiet, happy man - until one night when he confesses to Sage that he is a former Nazi SS Guard and he wants her to help him to die. Sage's Grandmother was a Holocaust survivor - and there begins our real story. The whole middle section of the book is a brutal, harrowing account of the Holocaust as told from the point of view of both Guard and Prisoner. I actually had to put the book aside for a few days, it affected me to the point that I was dreaming about it and woke up in tears. The amount of research Jodi Picoult put into this book is just unbelievable - if you told me it was a real-life account, I'd believe you. By the time we got to the third part of the book, I was fairly sure I'd figured out the ending, but it didn't ruin the story. I could have done without the fairytale woven through the book - a tale Sage's Grandmother wrote during the War in order to help her through it. I do understand why it's there, but I wouldn't have missed it. I also wouldn't have missed that stupid character that worked at the bakery and spoke only in Haiku, or the stupid insta-romance, but the middle section of the book more than makes up for any minor annoyances elsewhere. This one will stay with me for a while!

Summer's Child by Diane Chamberlain
This is a fluffy, light read - definitely what I needed after reading that Picoult one. On the morning of Daria's 11th birthday, she finds a newborn baby girl under an enormous shell on the beach. She carries her home, and her parents end up adopting her and raising her as their own. Roll on 22 years, and the baby is now Shelly (see what they did there, etc), a young woman who wants to find out who her birth mother is. She gets in touch with TV investigator Rory Taylor, who specialises in true life stories. Rory is a former neighbour of Daria and her family, so he comes back to Kill Devil Hills for the summer with his teenage son to see if he can help Shelly find some information about where she came from. Now here's the problem I had with this - by the end of the 20th chapter, Rory had still done bugger all apart from ponce around the beach after a woman he'd just met. The mysterious Grace arrives and starts asking questions about Shelly - does she have something to hide? Course she does. Is Rory too busy thinking with his willy to see that Grace isn't there for him, but she has a weird obsession with Shelly? Indeed he is. Does anyone else in the small community have something to hide? You betcha. Is the ending rushed, predictable, and silly? Yep! Look - it's not terrible. Bring it on holiday with you, it's the absolute perfect beach read. No brain power required!

The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
I have a soft spot for Sarah Addison Allen's books - the first one I read was Garden Spells, and it reminded me so much of the film Practical Magic (based on an Alice Hoffman book) which was one of my favourite films for years until I overdosed on it - I practically know the script at this stage. Dubbed "magical realism", Sarah's books have a smattering of magic in them - just enough so that it's almost believable. She knocked it out of the park again with this one, a charming tale of teenage orphan Emily, sent to live with her gentle Giant Grandfather Vance in the magical town of Mullaby. Few are happy to see Emily in the town - her mother apparently did a very bad thing years ago that resulted in a death and a ruined family secret. Mysterious Win Coffey takes a shine to Emily, but it was his family that bore the brunt of Emily's mother's mistake. Emily finds an ally in neighbour Julia, who has returned to Mullaby despite having some horrible experiences there as a teen (some at the hands of Emily's mother) in order to turn her Dad's business around so she can sell it off. Add in some magical lights that appear at night, wallpaper that changes depending on your mood, a handsome ex-love, and a baker that can lead people to her with her creations - It's just a gorgeous little book, I really loved it.

Phew!! I've several more on the go at the moment, but I'll leave them for a few weeks (if anyone's still reading, thank you!!) or this post will be double the length.

Any recommendations for me?