Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe by Georgia Hill

Books, LIFESTYLE, Uncategorized

*Spoiler alerts*

Cakes? Check. Love interest? Check. Pet dog? Check. Seaside town? Check.

Yep this book has ’em and it was the perfect read to completely relax and fall into the story. Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe follows Millie running her beach side cafe and follows the high and lows that this can bring. With a new larger coffee shop moving into town Millie has to find a way of keeping her smaller, yet more personal cafe afloat. I love a story that includes someone running a business so I immediately wanted to keep reading. The way it is wrote also makes the storyline easy to follow without too much chopping and changing and too many characters. Reading for me is all about finding a relaxing moment and getting absorbed and I can’t tend to do that if there is too much to follow.

Another part to the book that I enjoy are the multiple diy projects. Whether it’s for the cafe having a revamp or the hotel having a complete renovation right through to the homemade bread and local artwork there is something going on throughtout the story to feel inspired by and feeling the urge to start a project. All of the characters get involved in some kind of craft from sewing bunting to painting artwork and the novel has a good community spirit vibe. It all adds to the homemade skill effect of the story and it leaves the reader full of inspiration as well as entertained.

Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe holds plenty of love stories within its pages too. There are the two pooch loving pensioners that have a dislike to love relationship which is sweet (excuse the pun) as anything. Then the younger, university age characters who aren’t sure what they want and of course, Millie herself. It starts in the cafe with a classic meeting between Millie and a tall, dark, handsome stranger. Of course, it was never going to be a smooth boy meets girl scenario and not before long there is a an incident to rock the boat. Jed, being the handsome business type that he is, actually works for Millie’s rival – new in town/mass produced/cheaper – coffee shop.

There is also another romance between Millie’s best friend and her old school crush. Both actors the characters rekindle their old romance and Millie is the one that is picking up the pieces and trying to support her best friend throughout. It brings a lovely friendship storyline the book and a little drama. This storyline and the one of Millie’s new mermaid-esque cafe assistant are what I can imagine would shake a little seaside town. It add complexity to the characters and, I would argue, a little more adult behaviour than what it could have been without them.

I haven’t yet read a book in the ‘chick-lit’ genre where love didn’t prevail and thankfully it does here too. It makes it a light read (even though realistically its probably one of the thicker books in the genre I have read/seen) and good to grab a tea and slice of cake with.

What are your favourite books recently?

Country Lane

Starting a Mindful Routine

LIFESTYLE, Wellbeing

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be able to find my own routine. For a long while I’ve not been in a position where I have been able to say ‘I will do this every day’ or ‘I will attend this class every week’. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you see it) I am a creature of habit and need some form of routine even if this is just at the beginning of the week or having something to look forward to at the end of the week. My mental health has taken a decline over the past few months and this comes in early forms of anxiety and self neglect and I am confident that some form of routine and dedicated time for ‘self care’ will help as well as counselling time. In a few days time I can happily say I will be able to do this so I have been planning a routine and collating the things that I have so far found helps me.

1. Meditation. It’s not all ‘ummm-ing’ and ‘ahhh-ing’ and I use it to take a moment to get back to grips with how my body feels and to get my brain back to focusing. I use the Headspace app for when I need a guided meditation and have also practiced a couple of tips for when I need to take a minute out and about.

2. Exercise. I know it sounds like such a cliche but it works for me and others I have spoken to. For that session I am focused on my workout and the music I’m listening to and there’s a lot to be said for the link between science and hormones. A work routine will allow me to say I will attend a Pilates, Aqua or Yoga session at the same time every week, meet people, get fit, stay focused for that time and get an endorphin buzz.

3. Bath and a book. Reading has always been a form of relaxation for me and getting into a warm bath knowing that that time is going to be spent taking a moment for me is something I can look forward to at the end of a busy week (or on a grey Monday/hump Wednesday or any other time I wanted to plan it in).

4. Dog walking. Taking a breath of fresh air, stretching my legs and knowing I have done something that the pooch will also love makes me very happy. Mia gets me outside, maybe saying hello to another human being/another dog and I come back from a walk feeling refreshed and motivated to keep going rather than sitting, procrastinating or just pottering with no real intention around the house.

A couple of other things I intend to add to this list is more financial management and sitting down on a Sunday evening and planning the week ahead to include workouts, meals and quality time with my husband. I’ll keep a track of my mood and experiences and check in over the next few months. If you have any tips or experience of your own to add please get in touch either here or over on Instagram.

Until next time,

L x

Reading more books in 2020

New Reading Goals for 2020

Books, LIFESTYLE

I know, I know we are nearly at the end of January (although it doesn’t feel it) and I’m still here making new goals and intentions for 2020. It’s ok though as I’ve been taking this month steady, going easy on myself and settling in to the new year and new routines.

My first new reading intention is to make time. I find time to scroll on my phone and I find time to stand around my house designing interiors I’ll never change and I find time to watch endless YouTube videos. In these times I could definitely be reading, opening my mind and doing something that completely relaxes me. I find reading and taking those moments good for my mental health so why wouldn’t I do more of it.

The second goal is to read one book a month. I’m doing well coming up to the end of January as I have finished a book (I did start it before Christmas but left it sat for too long) but I can’t wait until I have read a minimum amount of 12 over the year. I consider that for myself and my time this is workable.

The third, but not final, goal and intention is to broaden my genres. I have a strong tendency to stick to the books and genres I know. They are easy to purchase as most of the time you’ll know what you’ll get, happy go lucky themes and end up exactly how you wanted it too. I have ventured out of my comfort zone before but a while ago now and should do it again to get the best from more books.

Do you have any reading goals for 2020?

Until next time,

L x

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Books, LIFESTYLE

This post contains affiliate links. To find out more about these visit the disclaimer.

Where are the first two books in the sequence I hear you ask? Well, friends and family I haven’t yet read them. My husband decided to treat me to a couple of books he saw online and Still Me by Jojo Moyes was one of them. He didn’t realise it was the third book of three and I eventually decided to read it anyway, I would pick the story up (hopefully) and if and when I could I would purchase and read Me Before You and After You, which come in that order.

Let us jump straight into this review as I clearly have a lot to say.

I LOVED IT.

Thanks for reading.

Jokes aside, I can honestly say that this has been my favourite read of the year. With only a month or so to go I feel I can say that with confidence. I managed to sit down and finish a chunk of it, like a giant chocolate brownie, all at once and I think thanks to this I was able to really fall in love with the characters. Louisa Clark – a woman we could all probably get along with who is seemingly so ‘real’ that it is easy to take a liking to her from the off. Relatable is a trait I appreciate in a character and I find I am more likely to continue reading a book if I can see elements of myself or friends in them. Mrs De Witt ended up being my favourite character in Still Me as she changed throughout the story and arguably became the most like-able, along with of course her faithful pup, Dean Martin. As mentioned in other book posts I am a sucker for a doggy sidekick in a novel and this one didn’t fail to deliver.

The story itself seemed to comprise two parts. One half to include Louisa as she started working in New York, finding her way around the city whilst having a long distance relationship back home in England and the other half finding who she was without a partner, job or place to stay. It was the second half of the story that really got me engrossed as it included many a funny one liner to which I laughed out loud (luckily at home) and cried, (multiple times). These along with the evolution of Mrs De Witt’s character and her relationship with Louisa made the second half of the book for me, simply un-put-down-able.

With a little backstory into my personal history there has always been a sewing machine roaring, dresses hung around the house waiting to be mended and always a pin to stand on when you least expected it. Quality clothes have always made their way around us so I was engrossed when Mrs De Witt and Louisa talked of their style, the fashions and their love of clothes throughout the book. I understand that this can’t be the same for every reader but made it that little more special for myself.

Unfortunately the love lives of the characters are not blessed until the end and thankfully it is as romantic as you hoped it would be with the New York setting, if not fantastically prolonged and tension building. Will Traynor, Louisa’s reason for getting herself out there in the first place, still crops up in moments of remembrance and it is a great way of coming back to how it first started, even if like me, you missed the first two books. I didn’t go in completely unawares though, I did watch the film based on the book Me Before You, (to which there were of course more tears). The love story between New Yorker new guy Josh starts as a fairytale and I was soon thinking how perfect it all seemed then reality set back in and led to me thinking, ‘that’s not how it usually works’ and lo and behold I was right, although it definitely took a turn and got me thinking.

Pulling up something a little random but this book is meaty. No I haven’t tasted it I mean more like you can really get your teeth into it. Really now I must think away from eating. It has a lot of content. That’s where I’m going with this. There are plenty of ‘scenes’ throughout the book, still flowing continuously and all linking but it really brings the story to life, rather than jumping and missing moments. Whether these are big inclusions, like Louisa’s time at home over Christmas and her meeting with ex-boyfriend Sam to smaller sections, perhaps the times spent at the library, they are all following a path rather than disjointed moments jumping from one romantic scene to the next. I understand this is probably a given and many books do have some form of secondary storyline happening but not one I have read for a long time and not as descriptive and as in-depth as Jojo Moyes does in Still Me. This absolutely goes with the novel itself and Louisa’s character development whereas it could just be a happy go lucky romance. This is probably a big reason into why I loved it. Not only does it tell of a love story but of a woman blazing her own trail and probably as well why it left me in tears in parts, nervous and laughing as I believe you could only do this when you’re really rooting for the characters and you’re taken in by the story.

I will certainly be reading Jojo Moyes other books after reading Still Me and already can’t wait to see whats on the shelves next time I’m out. Sorry not sorry if you didn’t like the book and came here for an unbiased review, cause well, I don’t have one. It will be the book I hand to my mum to read and she’ll love it too.

Until next time,

L x

Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

Books, LIFESTYLE

I started following Giovanna Fletcher on Instagram a few months back and loved her content. It was so real and connecting that when she bought out her ‘new at the time’ book Some Kind of Wonderful I wanted to read the books she had previously written. It was Always With Love that I found in the bookshop first and of course then had to pick it up even if it was one part of a bigger story.

Even though I hadn’t read the others in the series following Billy and Me I was immediately absorbed and picked the story up easily. It has an air of including the best of both worlds and as it has the real life vs celebrity life narrative it delivers a certain element of fantasy. Not in the sense of magic but more in the way of those dreaming of a celeb life.

This novel, Always With Love, follows the story of Sophie and Billy as he takes up work in Los Angeles while she runs a tea room and cake shop in Rosefont Hill in the UK. It takes you through the challenges they face living apart and continuing their relationships via letters, phone calls and fly in visits and the emotions and struggles that this can come with. These lie both within the family and friends that Sophie and Billy have individually when they are apart and the differences in the lifestyle, what they each deem to be ‘normal’ in their everyday. Even after having a relationship previous to this book the characters seem to be still finding their feet with these new obstacles, especially as Sophie is now to be part of Billy’s life as he returns to acting. Their relationship before refers to a ‘quieter life’ being together in Rosefont Hill.

I am a sucker for a cosy environment and Giovanna Fletcher describes the tea rooms so well it makes me want to open one immediately. There are a few novels that include a tea shop or involve cakes in some way and I can definitely see why as a comfort, cosy factor certainly adds to a good romance novel. The writing works in same way that a life in LA sounds just as good with the description of the city being drenched in a sunrise of ‘luscious purples’, ‘vivid reds’ and ‘perfect pinks’. Written like this does make the reader vote for a move either side of the world as there are pro’s and con’s to both, a theme which keeps you hanging on right until the end of the book asking the question, where will Billy choose?

Reading Always With Love does make me want to read Giovanna Fletcher’s other novels including Eve of Man that she wrote with her husband Tom as I enjoy the way she writes. I will definitely read the novels that cam before this one and likely read this again after, to follow the characters along. Have you read Always With Love or have any recommendations?

Until next time,

L x

Talk like Ted by Carmine Gallo

Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo

Books, LIFESTYLE

This post contains affiliate links.

It was my husband that first picked this up but I admit I am a total book thief and read everything if it looks in the least interesting or a slightly fun read. The book, Talk Like Ted, was written by Carmine Gallo who I hadn’t heard of before now but am interested on looking into his history a little more after reading to find other reads in the business genre.

It can be guessed correctly that this book is based on presentations, speeches and how to deliver both confidently whilst keeping the interest of your listeners and now, viewers. To be honest I have watched a few Ted Talks presentations but never really thought about the amount of preparation that went into each by the person delivering them. Thinking about this now I must say this book opened my eyes a little on the work, the nerves and the outcomes that each presenter may feel.

Given the topic throughout I didn’t really engage fully with some parts of the book as I wasn’t preparing myself for a huge speech but can see how it would help those who were. I did find some chapters and paragraphs very interesting, one of these being the 18 minute rule. Watching the Ted Talks previously I hadn’t thought about how long they lasted but it’s great to keep people’s attention. The book throughout does well to keep the reader engaged and moves cleanly from chapters, ideas and suggestions. What I also liked about it is that some paragraphs are in bold to grab attention or pick out topics and there are diagrams to demonstrate ideas. Parts also break up in bullet points, with images or headers which makes what could be a heavily informative book a lot lighter and divided into sections makes it easier to digest certain sections or engage the reader in other ways, instead of pushing the information one way only.

If you are giving a presentation at work or get nervous speaking in front of people this book could be a good read. If you are looking for ideas on how to put together a great speech, timing, and delivery again it could be a great help.

Let me know if you have read this book and if it helped your presenting style if you did.

Until next time,

L x

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Books, LIFESTYLE

This post contains affiliate links.

My first book for review was written by Sophie Kinsella who I have previously read other titles from but not for years. The story of My Not-So Perfect Life follows Katie who has moved to London for work and to find a better, cooler lifestyle. Little did she know that city life and keeping up appearances wouldn’t be quite as much fun as she first thought. Her work environment makes it hard to stand out, the girls in her office seem to have it so much easier and her boss, Demeter, seems so perfect.

Katie goes on to meet the ideal guy who seems like he could be the one until she hears rumours from colleagues he’s secretly with her boss. Her life all but crumbles down when Katie gets fired from her job in London. Her house share suddenly becomes far too expensive and she soon has to move home to help her dad with his new glamping business in Somerset, without him realising what’s going on of course.

For a while she is able to keep up with her lie that her life in London is great in front of her Dad and his girlfriend, Biddy, that is until her ex-boss comes glamping with her family and Katie’s love interest turns up to fire her.

It all gets quite funny as Katie invents a form of meditation in the woods and secrets get unravelled whilst trying to still keep everything from spilling out in front of her Dad and Biddy.

Throughout the book there are some good twists and I thoroughly enjoyed letting the story carry me away.

Reading this book you certainly want a happy ending and it thankfully delivers. I believe a few people could relate to the story entwined in the book too. Instagram only shows you part of someone. They post what they want you to see but there may be so much more going off behind the scenes. Katie realises this and goes from posting a seemingly perfect lifestyle to the real stuff, to which I’m sure many readers can relate.

The story is easy to follow along with the characters and again a lot of people could probably pick out parts of themselves or others throughout the book which makes it fun. It is lighthearted and a recommended read if you are a fan of the chick lit genre like me.

Let me know if you’ve read this book or if there are any more from Sophie Kinsella that you would definitely recommend!

Until next time,

L x