2016 Book Challenge reviews


One of my New Year’s achievables for 2016 was to read more.Reading is a brilliant pastime, a form of escapism from the norm, a way to learn and educate. I can’t stress how important I think reading is…your vocabulary expands, your spelling improves, it’s suitable for any age….shur it’s great! Get on it now! Anyway, as you may have guessed, I love reading, but since having Small Monkey, I definitely read less, so to get on the right road I found one of those reading challenge lists and went about completing it. ย As you can see the list has a variety of different headers to complete, which meant I actually strayed out of my normal fantasy type comfort zone and picked up books I wouldn’t normally. So if you want to expand your horizons book-wise, take up a reading challenge. Some of the books I read, covered one or two of the topics, and some topics I ended up reading a few books from the suggested header. ย There was a few I never actually covered all so I’ll try again this year. If you’ve had a look at my Facebook page you may already have read these reviews but shur just in case you’re not….

Books that were published this year;

14324174_1784887261724450_839442903035615910_oThe UnMumsy Mum is brilliant…and funny…and true to life. If any of you follow her blog, you’ll understand. This book covers the joys of parenting, I mean the sarcastic joys and the real joys.It made me laugh and it made me cry a little too, and even though I’ve eventually come to the realisation that there is no perfect way to be a parent, it was great to have written confirmation. I was going to pass this on to somebody else but decided to keep in just in case The Monkey completely wrecks my head one day, and I need some sort of reassurance that it’s not just me…I’ll reach for this book and I’ll feel better.

13640794_1760308004182376_6867007835768446105_oGotta admit, the title of this book, Letters to my Fanny, suggested to me that it would be a hilarious account of Cherry’s different male conquests (sorry Cherry!) so don’t let the title scare you away from it or mislead you either. It’s a nice book and easy to read with some “LOL” sections.Cherry writes as if she was sitting there talking to you, which I kinda like. She covers ALL sorts of topics in this book in their unedited versions but basically she’s trying to tell us women to be happy in the skin you’re in, love yourself and have fun. I gotta admit I did find my interest waning a little towards the end but I persevered and overall I liked it.

12615503_1706284456251398_3804505197703622923_oAt the time of buying this, In a Dark Dark Wood, was one of the closest books published to 2016 that drew my interest, partly because it was recommended by Reese Witherspoon ๐Ÿ˜‚ and I quite like her.A group of friends, two of whom haven’t seen each other since they were 16, get together for a hen do…one that ends in murder. This book is a good twisty, “who dunnit” read that I really wanted to get to the back of quickly, my only niggle with it was the weak reason the two girls fell out in the first place…like Nora reeeally holds a grudge!


Books you can read in a day;

12671643_1706284416251402_2448178747103444143_oNight is the real account of life as a Nazi prisoner, not only was Wiesel a prisoner, but an innocent child. This is his short but heart breaking account of his time in the death camps of Birkenau and Auschwitz. It’s so hard to believe people can afflict so much suffering on each other and even harder to believe the strength of the people who survived it.




A book you’ve been meaning to read;

15156888_1816194485260394_6151292377575875042_oI’ve been meaning to read The Colour Purple for aaaages. It’s one of them books you’ve just heard about. It’s written in a series of letters from Celie to God and then to her sister Nettie, and from Nettie to Celie, which makes it easy to read.

Celie is raped by her “father” as a young girl and has two children by him. Her kids are taken from her and eventually her dear sister is torn from her too. She is married off to a man she doesn’t love, who also abuses and belittles her, strangely enough she learns love and self expression from the flamboyant Shug Avery, her husband’s mistress. The pair forge a bond and become a force to be reckoned with.There’s so much suffering in this book, from rape to female mutilation but there’s also hope, courage and love and one thing that shone through to me, was what strong women Celie, Shug, Sofia and Nettie are. Celie, being the main character has gone through so much and I’m so glad she triumphed in the end.

It’s a great book, so if you haven’t read it you should!

Books that were recommended;

12778747_1706284359584741_4260572613144978734_oStephen King is one of my fav authors so he was bound to show up in my reading challenge. The sales assistant in WHS recommended this one. I’d picked up Mr Mercedes and put it down twice, unsure about this particular King, but I’m glad she convinced me to buy it. It was different to the other Stephen King’s I’ve read in that “shock, horror” there’s no supernatural elements in it. The gripping, opening scene tricked me into thinking otherwise, with the brutal mowing down of 8 people. We then meet the suicidal, retired detective Bill Hodges and psycho killer, Brady Hartsfield and the race against time starts again. Despite spending half the time waiting for something “supernatural” to pop up, nothing did but I still really enjoyed this gripping read from good auld Stephen.

I’ve since found out there are actually two follow ups to this which I can’t wait to get my hands on… Finders Keepers and End of Watch…I really need to know how this all pans out.

15195892_1816194451927064_3276153822877113430_oIf you read reviews on Sleeping Around and Breaking the Rules, you’ll probably notice there’s a lot of comparisons between Catherine Townsend and Carrie Bradshaw which is exactly what I thought when I read them. I still enjoyed the books though and I think if you’re a SATC fan you’ll enjoy them too.

Catherine or Cat, is a real life Carrie though which although I love reading about her “adventures” I still think of the end game. Is she ever going to find the one? She has wrote openly, not hiding her name or who she is…will it be to much for some men? It shouldn’t be, I think she’s actually quite brave being so open about her life. I did, though kinda feel like maybe some of the stuff was done in the name of journalism. Still I won’t complain, I like a bit of frankness and filth and Cat delivers.

Both books are nice and easy to read, what I like to call light or holiday reading and certainly, if you liked the likes of Girl with a One Track mind then pick these up.

14379893_1784881435058366_2295362779125063639_oThe Life Changing Magic of Not giving a F**k by Sarah Knight. I LOVVE this book! It may actually be my most favourite read this year! I borrowed it on a recommendation, as I never read “self-help” type books and thought I’m not wasting my money buying one. I always feel like they’re gonna bore me but this was great. It really helps you prioritise the more important things in life. The things or people you want to put more effort into but don’t as you spend more time with less worthy people or minor things in your life.I think once you turn 18 the government should automatically send you a copy. I must have screen shotted 90% of it and I’m definitley buying my own copy, just to go back over in case I start giving to many f**ks.


The good news is Sarah has now published another book, which is sitting in my Amazon basket as we speak…“Get Your Sh*t Together; how to stop worrying about what you should do so you can finish what you need to and start doing what you want to do”…yep it’s a bloody long title!

A book you should have read at school;

13147538_1733583043521539_1250037527377895125_oThe Catcher in the Rye‘s main character, Holden Caulfield is a troubled teenager, troubled in that he’s never gotten over the death of his little brother. He seems sad, depressed and convinced that adults just lie most of the time, throw into the mix that he’s caught in that “not a kid but not an adult yet” stage of life, I felt like he was a little bit suicidal and he sometimes annoyed me. I guess though that’s how teenagers are though!? (Annoying, that is.) I feel guilty saying this isn’t a book I will read again, as it’s raved about as being a brilliant “coming of age” type of book but I found it tedious ’til about the last chapter. It took me aaaages to read it. I didn’t hate the book, but the style of writing and content just didn’t excite me.

Books chosen by a spouse, sibling or child;

15235651_1816194508593725_4746642443181276254_oSo I took Small Man up to our bookcase and said pick a book for Mammy to read. Well of course he picked Incy Wincy and as it’s small I asked him to pick another…that’s where Party Cakes came from. ๐Ÿ˜€

I actually like this version of Incy Wincy…it’s not just about poor auld Incy being washed down the spout…his story doesn’t end there…Incy found a way to overcome his nemesis. I won’t tell you how it goes but this book is full of drama and fun :D…well done Kate Toms.

I gotta say I don’t think I’ll actually use this cookbook. I’m sure there are much quicker and easier ways to make the cakes inside, but there are some really nice designs inside. Maybe it’s just ‘cos I’m not a natural baker, but everything seemed lonnng and technical.

A book published before I was born and was banned at some point;
13116478_1737436259802884_4222428340206150186_oFanny Hill was written 250 years ago and as you can imagine from the title did not go down to well. It was so scandalous for the time, it was also previously banned! Frances Hill is 15 when she heads to London for a better life and ends up working in a brothel. Its almost an 18th century Pretty Woman story line but with more explicit detail, for that era. It can be a little tedious to read at times as it’s written in “ye olde English” and with verrrrry descriptive, lonnng sentences. Cleland was some man to make up different names for certain body parts which I found quite amusing. It’s an interesting insight into what was considered shocking 250 years ago, I mean the book does cover everything including a gay sex scene, but I think if a Victorian was to read the same type of book written now some of our to the point and explicit details would wear out the smelling salt supplies!!
Other banned books: The Colour Purple, Night and The Catcher in the Rye.
A book that intimidates me;
15167689_1816194465260396_5539415777576712021_oI didn’t get to fully read Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel list and I’m kinda glad. There were so many AMAZING places in there, it made me scared that I won’t get to see them all and annoyed that I haven’t put enough effort into trying either. Saying that there are about 30-40 places here in the UK and Ireland that I can certainly get going on (Cliffs of Moher & Newgrange ticked off already lads!).


So that’s it, please do share your thoughts on these books or if you have any suggestions for future reads let me know. In the meantime, I’m still trying to decide which book challenge to follow for 2017…stick with short or go long? Hmmm…..
Donna xx





Last year’s resolutions..success or failure?



“Here we are again, we’re on the road again”….aggh…*sigh*.

Yep. Hiya 2017, you shot round fairly quick, so quick in fact I didn’t get to complete my “achievables” from last year. God there’s just not enough time in a year! So how did I fare? Well let’s have a look…..

The old weightloss…well on that I actually did ok. I got down to my lowest weight so far on my Slimming World journey annnnd I can wear a size 12 in quite a few shops now which is what my target was on starting the plan. Most people have a weight in mind that they want to get down to, mine was a clothing size…a size 12 everywhere. I gotta say though the way sizes vary from shop to shop and depending on the cut, I no longer feel crap if I have to buy a bigger size now. So not only am I lighter and smaller, I’m wise to the ways of you bloody shops and your weird sizing! Just after New Year, I attacked my wardrobe again and was actually ruthless, I got rid of pretty much everything that is now two sizes too big. I was still wearing them ‘cos they fitted but actually they didn’t they were shapeless and baggy and weren’t doing me any favours. Plus I never intend on being that size again so ta, ta for ever bigger sizes (ok I might have kept one or two pretty dresses which I love for if and when I’m preggers again…make savings where you can peeps!) Anyway on that note, if you have lost weight by whatever means (safely, hopefully) but you can’t see the difference yourself, go and try on the clothes you’re still wearing and I bet you’ll see the difference then.

Exercise….hmm…I feel like I did pretty well on this up until October, then it started getting darker and colder. During the summer, I’d started dragging my ass outta bed at 6.30 for a pre-work “wun” (walking/running…interval training I suppose). I’m not ready to commit to the word running just yet. plus there’s still an awful lot of huffing and puffing and general feeling like my heart is gonna burst out of my chest. If I didn’t get going in the morning I’d go walking with Suzanne in the evenings….jayzus lads, I even got outta me bed whilst AT HOME!! At 6.30 IN THE MORNING!! I think the only time I’ve ever been up at that time of the morning at home was on a walk home from the pub…or Ash’s house…with Karl Green! People were going to mass!!!! The SCANDAL!!!!! At the moment though, I’m still struggling to get motivated again…but it’s ok…January Blues an’ all that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Money!!! Fecking money!! It can’t buy you happiness but it can certainly help you on your way. Well, this my friends, was a complete failure! I really codded meself into thinking I could save with all that was going on last year. The upside to not having saved is, I spent it on having a really good time! So I’m winning right? Hubby and myself have set the much easier target of saving ALL of our ยฃ2 coins…far more doable.

Patience!!! HAAA! Forgit aboud iiiit (say that like Hugh Grant in Mickey Blue Eyes!) I can’t even elaborate…I think I’ve actually gotten worse!

I have learned this year, that I am not now, nor will I ever be a knitter. I tried the sky blanket, but I got bored knitting tiny squares in the same grey (poo British weather) so never got past day 21. As much as I want to yarn bomb Calvin’s front door, it ain’t gonna happen. Fear not though, there was a winner in this too…I sent my Ma all the wool I’d bought, she was delira!

Happily, the “piles” (not the bum ones, thank you) have gotten better. My bedroom is normally clutter free, well the top of my dresser still suffers and it still has no handles BUT the only piles currently in my room are either en route to the attic or charity shop Thursday. I finally got my writing bureau finished and I’m very proud of it, along with a couple of other little bits of furniture I revamped. At the minute I’m in the process of “McQueening” Small Man’s room.


The Reading Challenge was a success too. I’m glad I took part in it, not that there was a prize or anything but it made me take time out to do something I love again. I think I ticked off each heading on the list. I reviewed all of the books I read over on my FB page but I might just pop it on a separate post here…ya know just in case you’re not on FB and feel like you’re missing out. Hee hee! I’m going to do it again this year so if you have any book suggestions please let me know and if you’re doing let me know too.

I can’t encourage reading enough, it’s such a great pass time, it can take you anywhere, you can be anyone. It can broaden your horizons, improve your spelling and language skills and you can do it anywhere. I read to Small Man every night, woe betide me if I don’t. So go, go get your books out and discover something new.

My Blog..my little bloggy woggy! I so wanted it to be better, for more people to know about it and to read it. I wanted more interaction too, I guess though, that just helps me know that it’s being read and enjoyed…or not enjoyed but how do I know? Thing is though I still don’t know how to promote it, or I’m not brave enough.I still write once a month for Family Friendly Hq, which I find easier to say. Weird eh!? I wanted to write more and I wanted to post prettier pictures like LilliWhiteRose and Kate Kelly, but writing a blog is not as easy as one might think. It’s time consuming to say the least but I’m not giving up and there’s still time. So if you read me, and you like what you read, do share it about and don’t be afraid to say hi now and then.

So what’s the plan for this year? Well as I said to Hubby…LIVE! I intend to do more of the things I want to do and stop procrastinating. Be they large or small, I will achieve…within my means….oooh oooh…I’m going to Paris!!! Wooo!!!! And, annnnd Electric Picnic (pleeeease be good…now if Lana Del Rey was to perform again shur I’d be made up!) I’ll continue my quest to be the “size 12 that fits everywhere” and I’ll get bloody handles for that dressing table!!

Happy New Year People, may it be all you want it to be.

Love Donna xx

P.S When I say more of what I want to do, this will include my menfolk should they wish or should it be suitable for them to take part.

P.P.S It’s 9 days into January and I am totally broke! ๐Ÿ˜€