Tag Archives: books

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! 

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!

  

Read….January 2015

I’ve had a brilliant month for books, I feel like I’ve made time to relax and start reading again which is fab.

So, here’s what I’ve been reading in January:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I love the film, and so was intrigued about the book. The first thing I’d say, is that the film is rather different to the book. There are some basic similarities but the book is surprisingly different. I love the style it’s written in, it’s a refreshing take on the fairy tale kind of story, and it’s funny as well. A lovely little bit of escapism.

Going Out In The Midday Sun by Kate.A.Hardy

I loved this book, and I read it as part of the bahlsen book club. This book is about four strangers living in London in the late 90s, their lives interconnected in some random ways. It’s a great nostalgic read. Full Review here.

Second life by SJ Watson

This is a brilliant thriller, a fabulous second book by S J Watson. When Julia’s sister is murdered, it leaves her with questions about her sisters life that she will do anything to find out. Her enquiries lead her to make decisions which change her life forever. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, which is published on 12th February. It’s a great show stopping read, and the tension is held throughout. Full review here.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

I was a bit disappointed with this book, really. I didn’t find it as engrossing as I may have thought. I love the TV Series Girls but this doesn’t really have the same charm. I’m not really sure what this book is about; it gives a glimpse as to who Lena is, but it’s a very carefully thought and written and in a way I don’t think you get too know her at all. I liked some chapters in this book, particularly about weight and diet, but the chapters about love and everything associated with it was a bit boring for me. Maybe I’m just too old!

So these are the books I have read this month. For February, I’ve got a few crackers in store which I can’t wait to read! These include Disclaimer and my friend Ericka’s book Confessions of a Mother Inferior.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, would love to know your thoughts.

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Going Out In The Midday Sun by Kate. A. Hardy #bahlsenbookclub review

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Going Out In The Midday Sun is a really good read. It’s based around the lives of four Londoners in the late 90s, and their lives all interweave with each other. Here’s the blurb:

Four Londoners out of 8 million – through a series of coincidences their lives begin to intertwine. . . Set in the ‘halcyon’ days of the late nineties, heading towards the great millennium . . . Going out in the midday sun is part one of a trilogy spanning twenty years, in which the heroes are challenged with the everyday – love, babies, earning, family disputes – as well as a new life in France, a communal enterprise, astonishing amounts of bureaucracy, duck gizzard salad, and possibly the end of the world.

It’s a refreshing book that plays with this kind of storyline. Things happen where the characters follow their hearts, not their heads and you are just willing them to do it. There are the set stereotype of characters (the gay one, the unrequited love, the unlucky in love singletons, the people wondering where there life is going…) but that’s where the stereotype stops in my opinion. The characters are well written and you really get to know them. They become people you have a vested interest in, and at no point did I question what they were doing – as in they made choices which seemed natural for the character to do. The book is filled with moments humour, sadness and also of sexual tension, it’s written really well and is not cringey at all. I love all the nostalgia that the book brings back to me, and the way the lives of the characters weave around each other. It’s a true escapism book, and I was really drawn to the characters which made me want to keep reading. There was just something about this book which really appealed to me.

I am really pleased that there are more books to read, as this is the first book in a trilogy which spans over 20 years. I am really looking forward to seeing where these stories go. I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I was sent this book as part of the Bahlsen Book Club. All thoughts and Opinions are my own

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Last week – Week 1

What’s been happening in Tealady land this past week….

Books
This last week I have been reading lots! Over Christmas I was keen to read a few books and I managed to get quite a few read. Last week I finished Ajax Penumbra 1969 which is a fab prequel to Mr Penumbras 24 Hour Book Store. It was a good if short read, really I’d liked to have had a bit more depth to the story but it was not a bad book. I have also read Stardust by Neil Gaiman. This is the book that the film Stardust is based on. I love the film, so was intrigued by the book. Well, the book is totally different to the film, and I loved it. A lively magical fairy tale which was also a refreshing take on that sort of genre. I really loved it. I’m currently reading Second Life by SJ Watson. This is an amazing book, so tense and a real thriller. I am really enjoying it. I will be writing a review of all the books I read this month so keep an eye out for them on the blog soon. I am also looking for some recommendations for things to read this year. My goodreads target is 60 books and I am determined to reach it – last year I got to 35/40 but I could’ve done it I think if I’d just put a but more effort in, hence upping the target this year.

Me
The last few weeks have been lovely. I do feel like I have relaxed and started to get back to normal again after the stress of what happened over December. I surprised myself in a way by getting straight back on my weight watchers wagon and tracking and starting again. December was pretty much a write off, but I only have a 4lb gain to show for it, I think that shows how I have changed as a person, I am sure at one time I could have easily put on a stone in the same amount of time. Anyway, I am motivated and quite happy, I just hope I show a loss next week as I haven’t seen one for so long! I think this week will be mainly filling and healthy, I need to cut out the crap and try and eat a bit cleaner. I need to write up a menu for the week and plan my treats too. I am also starting my tap dancing lessons again on Wednesday which I am really pleased about, time to get active and have fun. Nothing should stop me now, I need to get organised and focus on what and where I want to be this year. I am making this year count.

Already I have a few events to look forward to this year and places to go. I am making it my mission to get out there, see friends, see sights, go to places I have always wanted to go, revisit some places as well. So I’ve made a good start!

Some people know (especially if you follow on twitter) that I love comping. I have been comping since I was pregnant, but not very seriously, just when I can, and I’ve been fairly successful over the last two years – nothing big but things I like. Last year I won things such as a 9 month subscription to Abel and cole, jewellery, tickets to events, books and during the advent competition madness I won X factor live tickets, candles, goody bag, cinema tickets, a £200 hamper, a notebook and rescue remedy pastilles, ombré court shoes, chocolates, cook book, vitamins and jewellery. It’s a fun little pastime, I find I win a lot of my wins on twitter so I like to try and do that every day if I can. This year I want to try and keep going with the comping and get a big organised, start entering different competitions and try to win some big prizes. It’s just nice to have something to aim high with! Would love to know if you comp and if you do we could buddy up.

Motherhood

Bubs is just so amazing. She was so poorly in December it is only now she is well I can really tell – she is an absolute live wire, always active, laughing and happy. She can get a but bossy and stroppy – “No Mummy!” Is what I’m hearing a lot of at the moment! She is eating loads although initially everything is yucky – even when she’s eating it she’s telling me it’s yucky! – and her speech has come on leaps and bounds, she will chat away with us and most of the time I can understand her. It’s so nice to chat and play with her, she has had some lovely presents and loves pretending to cook in her kitchen, play shop or push her babies around in her buggy. Imaginative play is really taking off and it’s so wonderful to see and take part in. She will be going to nursery all day on a Wednesday from now on, as I’m back to work full time. She will really love it and I think it’s the right time for her. I’m no sure how I’ll cope having to work all week but let’s see what happens!

Anyway, so that’s been my week. As I’m back to work now I am writing these updates every Sunday. See you next week.

Emily

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Bagabook Tote Bag Review

Bagabook are a unique company with a unique product – a book cover carrier which protects your book or diary, as well as being functional like a bag.

I was asked by Bagabook to review some of their new range which they have recently launched. I was sent a Tote Bag, but the range also includes matching book covers, iPad covers and a scarf. There are three designs in the range: liquorice, candy stripe or bouquet. I was sent a bouquet tote bag, and the design is bright, colourful and modern.

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The tote bag is a good size – it fits under your arm easily and there is lots of room inside for your book, your purse and anything else you may need.

The bag is made well, and feels sturdy. The ‘BB’ emblem on my bag looks a little at a slant but you can’t really notice this – I suspect that’s just my bag however. The pockets inside are a good detail, meaning that you have places to put your phone and keys. The phone pocket is nice and wide, making sure all sorts of phones can fit in – there’s nothing more annoying than having a bag where you can’t use the phone pocket! There is plenty of room in here for any other bits and pieces you may need to take out – for me it’s usually juice cups and wet wipes!

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The tote bag is great for when you want to take your book and a few other things out, it all fits nicely inside and it’s easy to wear on your shoulder.

For me, the bags price is a little out of my usual price range – it’s £39.95 – I would usually be looking at bags for less than this, so I would see this more as a gift item than something I would buy myself. If you know someone who has the Bagabook book cover, then getting the tote bag to match would be a great Christmas gift.

I was sent the bouquet tote bag from Bagabook in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Week

Well, I know what you’re thinking. I missed last week! Doh! I was all a bit caught up in my birthday, work, and also a poorly girl, so apologies if anyone out there actually missed my little post. Anyway, back on form today. And yes, I know it’s now Sunday and I’ve totally not written this post on time either!

This last week hasn’t been that exciting, really. Being cooped up with a poorly toddler, as well as feeling poorly yourself, is no fun.

Me

My birthday was lovely and I did write a bit about it here. I went out for dinner with my partner the weekend before, which was a great evening, and much needed bit of time for us. On the day of my birthday I went to work, and when I got home I got into my PJs and had a takeaway with my sister. It was really nice, and just what I needed.

Weight wise, I stayed the same last week, which isn’t any surprise considering the meals out and the takeaway! So I was rather pleased about this, and didn’t feel too bad about it. I’ve lost half a pound this week, which is rather less than I was hoping, so I want to see a bigger loss next week as it is creeping slowly towards christmas and I would love to lose a stone before then. I am back to basics of tracking everything I eat and I really need to get active.

Motherhood

Bubs has been so lovely recently. She is picking up new words everyday and she has such a friendly temperament. Even when she was unwell, she was still smiling. She has just got her incisor teeth coming through top and bottom now as well; I don’t think she has many more teeth after that, thank goodness! She is loving nursery now, and we have managed to get over the tears at the front door which was awful to see, and having to leave her at nursery in tears made me feel awful! She seems to be really enjoying it. I’ve started to think about Christmas now, and what we are going to get her. As her birthday is in February we need to think about that too soon! I have seen lots of different Christmas traditions and I’m thinking whether or not to start with she this year. I’d love to know your Christmas ideas.

Books

Whilst looking after a poorly Bubs and myself, I managed to finish The Goldfinch. I loved this book, it was so good and totally got me hooked.

I am currently reading A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which is interesting and quite strange to read! It’s written all in prose, and it’s almost a steam of consciousness thing. I quite like it though!

I have had a voucher for my birthday, so I am looking for some reading reccomendations, so let me know your favourites!

Tea

I have been drinking Yorkshire Tea this week, which is very nice. I have also been trying some tea I had for my birthday, which is called Slim Tea – I will let you know if it works!

What I’ve Read….September

This has been a bumper month for me with regards to books, going on holiday meant that I could get through a few books, which I thought was brilliant!

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

I loved this book, it is a different sort of book in that there is a twist and it is quite early on in the book. I hadn’t seen much about the book before I read it so it was a nice surprise but I was also waiting for something else as the book continued. However the writing and the ethos of the book is great and I was almost in tears by the end – it’s very poignant to me as in a way I can relate. I’m not going to talk spoilers here but I am planning on reading the Booker shortlist so may do more in depth there. I loved it, and would recommend.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

My Bahlsen Book Club Book this month – when Eva’s husband is tragically killed, she travels to his Tasmanian homeland to meet his family. Whilst there though she starts to uncover secrets about her husband she never knew. A great book which is quick paced and has twists and turns throughout. My Review is here.

Mother’s Ruined by Aimee Horton

This was such a funny book, I am so glad that I downloaded it. When Dottie moves house, she starts to hear things over the baby monitor. It’s absolutely hilarious, but also a good story line which makes you want to read more. I felt like I got to know Dottie, and the book had such a lovely relaxed feel to it you felt you could almost be friends. I could relate to so much of the book, and the funny things that can happen with babies and children, I was literally laughing out loud which is something that doesn’t always happen.

Before we Met by Lucie Whitehouse

This book, although I didn’t realise it when I bought it, is in a similar vein to A Single Breath. I personally feel like this book didn’t do it as well. It had a lot of promise – the mystery around the disappearance of Hannah’s husband and the unravelling of their perfect life is a great start and had me hooked; however after this point it becomes all a bit predictable and it transcends the realms of reality at times. It is a readable book though, and was a good book to read on holiday.

The Poet’s Wife

This is a beautiful book, a family saga tale which is told against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Era. One of my favourites this month. My full review is here.

Currently Reading: The Goldfinch – really enjoying this book, can’t wait to let you all know what I think.

I think I will recommend Mothers Ruined and The Poets Wife this month. If you read any of these books, let me know!

My Week on Wednesday

Wow, this week has gone fast! I am not sure where it’s gone really.

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Me

I’m just getting back into the swing of things after our holiday. This last week at work has been one of catching up and getting back into it all. It’s been busy but at least the days have gone by quickly.

Last week, I was really pleased that I had got my degree. I received my degree certificate on Friday so that was a great excuse to have some bubbles! I know I keep going on about my degree but it is such a big deal to me. Now I have it, I feel I need to find something else to focus on!

This last weekend was very exciting for me. I was meeting my university friends as it has been 10 years since we all met when we started our nursing and midwifery diplomas! I went up to Nottingham for the first time in years, and it was lovely from the moment I sat down on the train. I managed to read, write poetry and just chill before getting to Nottingham and meeting my friends. We had a stroll down memory lane and revisited some iconic places, such as the university and the hospital where we were based. We also went to look at our old uni house, which looked just the same as when we left it 7 years ago!

I felt all sorts of emotions as I was there. I felt a real pang of reminiscence, and a little bit of me wanted to just come back and stay there. I will always have a soft spot for the East Midlands, and Derbyshire, and going back pulled at my heart strings a bit. But in a happy way.

We also stumbled across the BBC World War One exhibition which was on in the square. We even saw Larry Lamb talking about the war with a historian, which was really interesting, adding a bit of culture to proceedings!

We went to a lovely Thai place called Tarn Thai for dinner, which was really tasty, and then on to drinks at The Pitcher and Piano, an old haunt if ours. We haven’t met up for a year so there was lots of chat and catching up to do.

On Sunday we met up for breakfast and more catching up before it was time to get the train back. I had such a lovely weekend, I always feel more myself again when I come back, like I’ve found myself again by being with my friends. Yes I have friends in Bristol but not really close friends like my university friends. I am really hoping we can meet up before Christmas or afterwards, a year is just too long!

Diet wise, things are back on track after the holiday. I lost 1.5lbs last week and even though I was away for the weekend, I have been really keeping in control of what I eat. Over the weekend I didn’t want to eat crappy train food or ‘waste’ myself on junk. I chose foods I wanted to eat, thought about what I ate, and also to some extent what I drank. I felt so much better for feeling in control and not caving in to sweet snacky foods. This week, I am eating at least one organic meal a day as I am celebrating organic month with Waitrose. This has given me such an excuse to eat more fruit and veg and given me just the boost I need – review will be on the blog within the day!

Books

I managed to finish the Poets Wife by Rebecca stonehill whilst away, and it is a lovely book. A family saga set in the time of the Spanish civil war and Franco era, it really engaged me. Review is here if you what to take a look and the book is published this friday!

I am now reading The Goldfinch and it is totally not what I expected, it’s reeled me in and I’m enjoying reading it!

Motherhood

Bubs is just growing every which way! She must be on a growth spurt as she is eating loads and drinking loads too. She is talking all the time, and new words are appearing every day! She said to me the other day, “Mummy look at this!” Which shocked me a bit – she is talking sentences! It’s so delightful to see her chatting away to her toys, singing and talking to me about things she loves. She is also doing a lot of pretend play, I got send a baby Oleg meerkat toy after buying my insurance and she loves it, rocking it to sleep and kissing it. This is a lovely time, she does have her moments and we are still figuring out how to manage her tantrums, but she isn’t ear piercing screaming as much at least!

Tea

I have just reviewed Little Miracles organic soft drinks which have organic tea in them, I thought they were pretty good. Review up this week.

My Week on Wednesday

Well after a little holiday, here I am, back on Wednesday. It’s been a lovely week and I am very relaxed and chilled – wonder how long that’ll last!

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Me

We have been on holiday this last week to Menorca. It was really lovely, a beautiful place and it was great to look out on my balcony and see the sea. We had a lovely time together as a family, and spent plenty of time at the pool and Bubs loved to be in the pool – she was in her element and she quickly got the hang of her arm bands, floating in the pool and kicking her legs, managing to sort of doggy paddle around the pool! We went al inclusive and I must say it was a great idea, we didn’t have to worry about money or drinks and food, there was something each of us would eat every day and the quality of the food was good. I managed to read quite a few books and got a lot of sunshine, I am sure it has made a difference to me as I feel so rested and energised. Bubs was brilliant on the plane there and back, and managed to sleep part of the way each time, which was great. She was so lovely, she said “Hola!” to everyone she met and she made friends with a few children too, the first time I have seen her really interact like that with other children. So, yes we had a fab time.

 

I am really pleased that this week I got the official results of my degree, and I have achieved a 2:1. I am so pleased about this. It has taken me the best part of 13 years to actually get a degree,  after quitting university twice and then going to university to undertake my Nursing diploma, and in all it has taken me 4 years part time study to achieve this degree. It’s the closing of a chapter in my life, tying up loose ends and now I feel I can really move forward with my life and career.

Weight wise, being off work for two weeks has been difficult but in all, over the two weeks I gained 2.5lbs which isn’t too bad I don’t think, especially since I went on an all-inclusive holiday! I am straight back into weight watchers now, and I am glad, I was craving ‘normal’ food by the end. I have a few ideas for my lunch and am determined to get right back on track. There are a few of us on twitter who are on weight watchers and its nice to have a bit of back up!

Books

I have read so many books on holiday, and I feel really good about it! I really enjoyed reading ‘We are All completely Beside ourselves’ by Karen Joy Fowler which was such a good book. I really don’t want to say anything about it other than read it! I was really glad to see that it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I also read A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke which was my Bahlsen Book Club read this month. It was a really good book, loads of twists and suspense, the perfect holiday book for me. I also read Before We Met which was a good book, but was a bit more predictable. I also read Mothers Ruined by Aimee Horton, who is also a blogger. It was such a funny book, totally relateable to me as a mum to a toddler. I was really laughing out loud.

Motherhood

Bubs is growing up, its so weird to see her chatting away, and she is saying more and more, and little sentences too. I can understand what she says although I doubt other people can at times! She is very clingy for me at the moment, and wants to be with me all the time. I feel sorry really for her Dad, although I am sure his time will come soon! She is getting really good at eating her meals now, she is eating much more and is also using her spoon and fork most of the time, which is great. She is also starting to drink really well from her ‘normal’ cup, although we still get occasional times when she decides to spit it all out or pour it all over herself!

Tea

I was desperate for a cuppa on holiday, there was not a good cup of tea in sight! Now I’m back here, I am enjoying my cuppas again.