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My 'To Be Read' Pile

I am guilty of buying books whenever I enter a bookstore. In fact come to think of it, I usually make a beeline for the book aisle in the supermarkets too! What can I say? I am a book nerd. However it has come to my attention that my 'to be read' pile has grown so vastly that it's taken over my bedroom. I haven't even made a dent in it and I am a little ashamed of myself.

Once upon a time I'd plough through a book in two evenings flat. These days I pick up a book, read a paragraph or two and then put it to one side. I know exactly what the problem is. Well, there's two actually! Firstly, I'm shattered at the moment. And I don't just mean - had a long busy day at work, need to collapse into bed and sleep - kind of tired. Nope. I'm mentally exhausted. This isn't uncommon for me. I find it hard to switch off at the best of times. In fact the only wind down time that works for me of late is watching Grey's Anatomy with my mum. (I love that TV show. Yes I'm borderline obsessed! Anyone else? Jemma I know you're nodding furiously right now! Ha ha!) And the second reason? I simply haven't read a really good book in ages.

It takes something special to grab my attention. Yes I'm a notoriously hard reader to please. My rule of thumb is if I'm not hooked by the end of the first page, then I don't tend to give the book much of a chance. My only exception to that is if it's a novel that has been hyped up by the media in which case I'll persist to see what the fuss is all about. Don't get me wrong, I've read plenty of 'okay' books this year. But I'm after another 'All The Bright Places' or 'Girl On A Train.' The kind of novel that will suck me in and keep me awake well into the early hours.

I'm hoping that now I've had a few days off work, I'll relax a bit and be more inclined to dive into one of the six I've photographed. Let me know if you've read any of these or if you have any recommendations. I'm all ears! Until next time... xxx

P.s... As I'm writing this I've just discovered a new author, Sophie McKenzie. Might be onto a winner... Watch this space! :)


Favourite Blog Posts From July

July seemed to be over in the blink of an eye right? I didn't really get much done in the way of writing/blogging but I did read several really good posts by other bloggers. If you already follow me then you'll have seen these kind of posts from me before. Basically it's all about sharing the blog love!

I'm going to apologise before you run away screaming at your computer/mobile phone. Yes Jordan and Jemma feature on this. Obviously. Because they always do. But this time around I'm also sharing some posts by other bloggers I've come across. I hope you like them as much as I do.

I love all Jordan's posts but when I was writing this there was only one obvious choice to share. 'Peaches and Cream' is just all the blog goals I could ever have. Beautifully styled with the prettiest of backdrops, this is Jordan at her natural best! Don't believe me? Go see for yourself...

Next up is Jemma. I'm sure you're all familiar with the founder of 'The Girl Gang' by now. Or at least those in the blogosphere should be. (Either that or you've been living under a rock.)
This month sees Jemma's first big Girl Gang event and I'm super psyched for her. I've chosen her post 'Staying Motivated Every Day' because I think that's something we all need a bit of a boost with.

I love discovering a new blog! And this by Sarah is a classic example of why. Although this post was written in June, I didn't actually read it until July - therefore it makes my list!!
Sarah is lovely. I cannot use any other words to describe her. And I'm not just saying that because she features on my sidebar. I had no idea what she'd gone through until I read this very post. We should never take anything or anyone for granted. Here Sarah talks about her transplant journey and why she has no regrets...

Lily Kate was someone I discovered on Instagram. She's a talented writer, blogger and stunning to boot. Yes I am a teensy bit jealous. But look at her. Tell me you're not too!?
Her '10 days in the middle of nowhere' post was the one that hooked me. Imagine no Wi-Fi. No scrolling through your social media feed. Yes I know it hurts but go on, put yourself in that place for a moment. Reading this post made me realise just how many distractions we actually have in this day and age.
Technically this post creeps into August territory but I don't care ha ha! I'm all about bending the rules. Click the link and you'll see why it's a must read.

This next one has to be one of the most unusual posts I've ever read.
After first thinking eww that's disgusting, I realised maybe Lylia Rose might be onto something. So you're wondering what the hek I'm on about right?
In an attempt to get healthier, shinier, product free hair, Lylia Rose went on a seven week challenge, washing her hair with water only. Here is how she got on...

I'm going to give you advance warning before you read my final recommendation. You're going to need tissues. I usually share mostly happy posts, ones that have made me smile. But let's face it, this is real life. And when I discovered this next post it broke my heart.
I sobbed big, fat horrible tears for Sharon. And for Ned. I wanted to give her a hug, to do something to take away her pain. Of course no one can.
Sharon has to be one of the bravest people I know so I couldn't not share her story with all of you. Rather than start you off with a July post, I've included an earlier link so you can read the follow on posts in order. And remember, this is not a light read. You have been sufficiently warned...

So there you have it. My favourite reads from July. Hope you enjoy them. Do let me know what you think. I've already bookmarked a couple of new favourites for August but I'm always on the lookout for new blogs so please send your links over!

Until next time xxx

P.s Newsflash for any HelloMissJordan or Dorkface fans. They've both launched new YouTube channels! Yey! Links below.

Last but not least, Sharon Marie Jones will see her debut children's book, 'Grace-Ella: Spells For Beginners' published by Firefly Press this September.
*All photos taken from relevant bloggers websites or social media accounts. Copyright not my own.


Book Clearout: Grab Yourself A Bargain

Following on from Friday's post where I was on about spring cleaning my life, I have decided it's time to clear off my book shelf and only keep my absolute favourites or books on my TBR list. Hopefully this will eventually help free floor space ha ha! Yes I'm having my very first blog sale!

To keep things fair it's going to be on a first come first served basis. I'm not charging a lot, just enough to cover the cost of postage and packaging and maybe there'll be the odd twenty pence left over to go towards paying off my debts. (I wish!) I usually say UK only to anything like this but if you're from somewhere else and you're happy to pay the additional postage charge then feel free to put dibs on the book of your choice. Please see end of post for prices.

If you do see something you would like, please comment below with your email address and the name of the book you want. Alternatively you can drop me an email at

Happy perusing!

The Humans by Matt Haig (Paperback)
Back reads: After an 'incident' one wet Friday night were he is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confuse him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he's a dog. Who is he really? And what could make someone change their mind about the human race?

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern (Paperback)
Back reads: Kitty Logan has lost her way. As a journalist, she's spent the past few years chasing the big scoops - no matter the consequences. When she makes a terrible mistake, she finds herself mired in scandal, her career implodes and even her personal relationships are tested to the limits. At a loss, Kitty finds distraction in a list of one hundred names her late mentor and boss, Constance, has left her. Kitty's been given one final chance, the most important assignment of her life - to write the story behind the one hundred names as a tribute piece to Constance.


The Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson (Paperback)
Back reads: Sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn't want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan's earlier life is revealed.

Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella (Paperback)
Back reads: For once in Becky Bloomwood's life, things are going smoothly. She's got the dream job as a personal shopper and a fabulous Manhattan apartment with her boyfriend Luke. Then Luke proposes - and all of a sudden life gets hectic. Becky's mum wants her to get married in Oxshott and wear her old frilly wedding dress. Luke's mother wants to host a grand extravaganza at the New York Plaza. Becky knows she has to decide - but it's a lot more fun tasting cake, trying on dresses and registering wedding presents. Time's ticking by and plans are being made on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Paperback)
Back reads: Shopaholic Becky Brandon's two-year-old is... spirited. She knows what she wants, whether it's a grown up Prada handbag or a toy pony (40% off, so a bargain, surely?) When yet another shopping trip turns into mayhem, Becky decides it's time to give Minnie her own pocket money. Is it a bad sign when Minnie goes instantly overdrawn? Minnie isn't the only one in financial crisis. As the Bank of London collapses, people are having to cut back. Everyone needs cheering up, so what better way than to throw a fabulous surprise party? A thrifty party, of course. Except economising and keeping a secret have never been Becky's strong points.

A Girl's Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber (Paperback)
Back reads: When Leanne and her daughter-in-law Nichole went through divorces at the same time, they compiled a list to help them move on from the heartbreak. Now, two years on, these unlikely best friends have managed to pick up the pieces, and love is on the cards for them both. Leanne's friendship with one of her language students, has deepened into something more meaningful. And Nichole has finally allowed herself to trust a man again. Rocco although a little rough around the edges, has a heart of gold. But just when it seems they've figured it all out, life throws up more challenges, putting their hard-won contentment at risk.

Keep Calm And Carry On (Small Hardback)
Little book filled with good advice for hard times

Bridesmaids by Jane Costello (Paperback)
Back reads: With less than an hour to go before her best friend is to walk down the aisle, Evie is attempting to fulfil her most important role as bridesmaid: to deposit the bride at the start-line. Evie is 27, a sparkly, down-to-earth journalist who has never been in love and has started to think that she never will be. Being bridesmaid at so many impending weddings fills her with utter trepidation. When Jack starts becoming a regular fixture at the nuptials however, things really start looking up. Only between her discovery that he's dating the stunning, self-obsessed Valentina, and an unfortunate incident with a 10-inch vibrator, not everything goes quite as Evie might have hoped.

My Single Friend by Jane Costello (Paperback)
Back reads: Lucy Tyler and Henry Fox have been best friends since primary school. So when he enlists her help to embark on an image makeover, she and her friends Dominique and Erin approach the project with relish. But none of the girls imagine just how successful it's going to be. After a shaky start, Henry's transformation from Lucy's terminally single friend to an irresistible sex god takes on a life of it's own. And Lucy isn't at all sure she likes it.
Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes (Paperback)
Back reads: Tara, Katherine and Fintan have been best friends since they were teenagers. Now in their early thirties, they've been living it up in London for ten years. But what have they got to show for it? Sure, Tara's got her boyfriend - but she loves food, shopping and her lipstick so much more. Katherine, on the other hand, is a serial singleton whose neatness fetish won't let a man mess up her life. And Fintan? Well, Fintan has everything. Until he gets ill and he has to ask himself: what have you got if you haven't got your health? They're about to discover that if you don't change your life, life has a way of changing you...

Still Alice by Lisa Genova (Paperback)
Back reads: Alice is just fifty when she finds herself in a downward spiral, increasingly disoriented and forgetful. A university professor, wife and mother of three, she has books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But now a tragic diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease is set to change her life - and her relationship with her family and the world - forever.

Best Friends by Jacqueline Wilson (Kids Paperback)
Back reads: Gemma and Alice have been best friends since they were born. It never seems to matter that Gemma loves football while Alice prefers drawing or that Gemma never stops talking while Alice is more likely to be listening. They share everything. Then one day Gemma finds out that there's something Alice isn't sharing. A secret. And when Gemma discovers what it is, she isn't sure if she and Alice can stay best friends forever.

The Girls' Book of Glamour: A Guide To Being A Goddess (Medium Hardback)
Back reads: Be confident. Be gorgeous. Be glamorous. The tips and tricks in this book will help you reveal the goddess inside you. Every girl deserves to live a life of glamour.

Lastly just to throw these two in the mix, I've also got a couple of DVD box sets. 
'the City' Season One starring Whitney Port and Glee Season 1 Volume 2

*All paperbacks £3 each. Small hardback £3. Medium hardback £4. DVD boxsets £5 each.
*Paypal only friends and family.


Girls Night Out At Turtle Bay

Up until last night, it had been ages since I'd been out with the girls from work. My anxiety had kept getting the better of me. Not any more though! (Granted my friend did give me a lift so if I had tried to back out she'd have no doubt dragged me kicking and screaming from the house... Ha ha!) For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was honestly excited about venturing out. Progress!

I've never tried Caribbean food before so I wasn't really sure what to expect. The first thing that hit me when we wandered into Turtle Bay was how busy it was. It's obviously a very popular place.
Pretty lights were strung throughout and what I'm assuming was either Caribbean or Jamaican music played in the background. (Well I say background but it was pretty loud, I found myself shouting to talk to the others but I guess that's a sign I'm getting old! :P)

There was so much choice on the menu that I worked in reverse picking my dessert first, then my main then starter. If you know me then this will probably come as no surprise.
Dani and I shared our starters. We had 'Duck Roll' and 'Garlic 'N' Herb Flatbread' between us. The duck was slow roasted and shredded with onion, tamarind, soy sauce, chilli and sugarcane. It was served with sour orange chutney. The flatbread was stone baked with herb, chilli and garlic butter. Both tasted heavenly but the flatbread did have a bit of a kick and I found my eyes streaming somewhat. I can't handle spicy food so don't let this put you off, the average Joe would be fine.

The girls (apart from those driving) tried various cocktails and rums whereas I stuck to my white wine. Hangovers and I do not go down well! I did however try a sip of Kiera's 'Island Iced Tea' out of curiosity. If I could hold my alcohol I would have been trying everything because happy hour was on from 10pm which meant cocktails and wine were on a two for one deal.

For the main I opted for the famous 'Jerk Chicken' that I have heard so much about. I have to be honest. I had no idea what jerk chicken was. The name has always reminded me of those dog treats. Anyone else know what I mean? But after being assured that no it was in fact NOT dog food - ha ha thank you Jody - I ordered it with cheesy fries. The chicken itself had been marinated for twenty four hours and grilled. It was served with sour orange chutney and coconut shavings.
As soon as it arrived - well, after taking photos for the blog of course, I must have driven the girls mad! - I tucked straight in. I didn't bother adding any extra sauces because it had enough flavour without and I devoured the lot.

Although I didn't taste any of the other mains, the girls gave positive feedback on all their dishes.

'Banana and Toffee Cheesecake' was my go to choice for dessert. I am a HUGE cheesecake fan. And this one didn't disappoint. In fact it didn't even touch the sides.


Overall it was a brilliant evening and not too expensive either. The food was fantastic, the staff friendly and of course I was with amazing company - see what I did there girls?? :P

If you have a Turtle Bay near you, definitely try it. This evening gets a ten out of ten! Bring on the next... Until next time xxx


Turtle Bay links:



Organised Chaos: Spring Cleaning My Life

For whatever reason I'm in a decidedly minimalistic mood at the moment. I've collected things (*coughs and mutters under breath... hoarded) for years and although most people only see the organised side of me, the majority of my life and surrounding environment is more like 'organised chaos!' So I made a decision sometime last week to start spring cleaning my life!

My work area now looks like someone else has been in and taken over, because for the first time in a VERY long while, everything is in it's rightful place or has been given a home. Gone are my post it notes with reminders, instead I'm using a notebook! I can go off happily on my annual leave and relax in the knowledge that my colleagues will be able to find their way around my work station.

Next on the agenda is my room! You could call that 'creative chaos.' And it's going to take a lot longer to sort but I've made a start.

The whole process has been rather motivating. I never much believed in that 'tidy environment, tidy mind' malarky. But I must say I feel much better for doing this, because it's made me realize I need to organize the goals in my life too. I procrastinate like there's no tomorrow. I write endless lists of tasks and never make it half way through. I talk about all the things I want to do yet somehow never achieve any.

It goes without saying that if you have too much going on in your brain, too many goals, it's inevitable that things will slip by the wayside and nothing will ever get done. I'm guilty of this which is probably why my novel isn't complete yet. I always think I'll do it tomorrow. But how many tomorrows will there be before it's too late?

From now on I'm going to be a little more realistic. I'm choosing to focus on one task at a time. At least then I might make some progress. Over the next few weeks my only goal is to work on my novel. Everything else will have to wait. For now at any rate...

Happy weekend everyone! Until next time...

Justine xxx


Meet My August Advertisers

Hello all! And hello August! There's a lot I love about this month. I'm about to take my two weeks annual leave AND it's my birthday coming up! This always gets me excited no matter how old I get. I'm hoping to get to the Lake District for a bit because I find it so peaceful. The header photo above was actually taken in Windermere on a - typically British - rainy day. No doubt I'll be packing my brolly for any day trips out!

As we spring into a new month, I also have two new lovelies who have joined my sidebar!
Say a huge hello to Sarah and Siobhan! I do hope you'll take a few moments to check out their individual blogs and links. I'm sure they'd love your support. That's all from me for now, I'm going to hand over to the girls and let them introduce themselves... Justine xxx

P.s If you missed the July 'Meet My Advertisers' post, you can still check out the fab four further down. Happy reading!

Hey! I'm Sarah from Glasgow and over at 'Things Sarah Loves.'
I blog about literally everything that I love, (tea, food, books, beauty, crafts and my odd obsession with crime documentaries.)
I also share my transplant journey in hope to help others and promote cornea donation.
Love chatting so pop over and say hello! If you're a fellow history geek, we'll get along swimmingly!

My name is Siobhan. I'm a 27 year old office worker from Leeds.
I love all things homeware related, candles, beauty products, makeup, psychology and trends. Whatever the current trend is, I'll give it a go! (Albeit, badly sometimes! But hey, that's the fun of it right?)
I love apple and elderflower juice, sitting down with a nice cup of tea, and declaring my love for things on a daily basis.
I created the brand, 'A Handful Of Sparkle' in April 2015. From the start I wanted my blog to be an extension of my personality. For it to be a place where people could read posts that could have been written by a friend. and to laugh at the awkwardness of me trying to be cool and amusing!!
Anything I'm loving at the time, I will blog about! My blog combines my love of candles, stationery and music, with beauty reviews, lifestyle posts, shopping hauls and cooking.
You can generally find me on Twitter complaining about my lack of human ability on a day to day basis due to shift work and tiredness, spamming your feed with emojis (because, emojis ftw!) and trying to be cool (see previous ftw comment!)

Thanks girls! As I mentioned in my intro, I did a feature on the fab four (below) when they started advertising with me in July. They've decided to stay on with me which I'm super happy about. You can read more about them by clicking this link here or alternatively just click the links under each image.
Katie blogs over at Kaleidoscope peonies

Rebecca blogs over at Pocahontas Jane

Aimee blogs over at AimeeRaindropWrites

You can read all about author Andrew Males at

*All photos except header taken from relevant websites/blogs. Copyright not my own


Random Acts Of Kindness Ft. Thorntons Continental

Yesterday afternoon I received the loveliest surprise. You may have already guessed exactly what from the picture above and yes you'd be right.

On returning from lunch my colleague Diane informed me that a patient had popped in with a card and some chocolates for me. It caught me completely off guard.

It's fair to say that as a practice we have the most generous and loveliest of patients, and yet they never cease to surprise and amaze me.

I certainly don't do my job to get thanks, nor do I go out of my way to be nice to people just to get things in return. And yet in all my years of working there, I have found that my kindness has unintentionally reaped so many rewards.

I now count the majority of the patients there as friends. It's hard not to after fifteen years. They've witnessed me grow up from being a painfully shy teenager to the - not quite as young as I'd like to be - woman I am today.

I guess it's true what they say. Being nice to others has a domino effect.

In a world now filled with so much evil, I take comfort in these small random acts of kindness. It restores my faith in humanity, if even only for a short while.

I'm off to enjoy these scrummy looking chocolates with my mum.

Wishing you all the loveliest of weekends. Until next time...

Lots of love Justine xxx

Thorntons Continental 'The Taste Journey' features an assortment of milk, dark and white chocolates. Includes Thorntons Signature, Espresso, Salted Caramel Praline, Sicilian Lemon, Chocolate Milano, Hazelnut Slice, Alpini Praline, Seville Caramel, Vanille Truffle, & Viennese Truffle.