Books · Lifestyle · Travel

Book Review – Water Gypsies by Annie Murray

I was really excited to reading this book as soon as I got it for two reasons. Firstly, Annie Murray is one of my favourite authors, her style of writing captures my imagination instantly. Her books always run in a series of at least two books so that you can follow the story of the characters. Secondly, I am obsessed with canal boats and always have been since an early age. I buy decorative items from a local man who paints the floral detail on canal boats for a living and as a sideline paints the same detail onto pots, pans and other beautiful pieces.

What I didn’t realise when I bought this book was that it was part two in a series, which luckily I had already read the first book called “The narrowboat girl”. It was a couple of years ago that I read it but as soon as I started on “Water gypsies”, I was transported back into the world of canal boats as if I had read both books one after the other. Whilst you can still read “Water gypsies” without having read “The narrowboat girl”, I do believe you should read them in order to get a better understanding of what character Maryann’s childhood was like before she became a boat woman. Perhaps a good suggestion on my part for the publishers and indeed authors would be to identify their books on the cover so that we can understand its part of a series! With a bit of luck you never know a publisher might be reading this review.

“Water gypsies” tells a more in-depth story of what life was really like for a boat woman in the 1940s and the hardships that were faced that we perhaps don’t think about now.

I felt there was two main points to the story and the way of life for boat families, where they struggled with a large family, little money, hard work for the husband on top of this was World War II.

From the start of the book I was gripped, whereas sometimes i feel starting a book the story line is slow on the uptake. There were so many unexpected twists and turns throughout the story that I just simply struggled put the book down. Annie’s wonderful descriptions of inside the boat caught my imagination so much that I could almost imagine myself being there. Her use of local slang also had me reading the book in my head with a Birmingham accent which was where the character Maryann originated. Overall I think this book was one of the best saga genre books that I have read in a very long time and I will admit that I actually read the last quarter of the book in one go because i was so intrigued to its ending (I finished it at 2am). If you love a little bit of history alongside your romance and saga books like I do then this book is the one for you.

Books · Travel

Another man’s child by Anne Bennett

I’m back with another book review and one that I have literally just finished reading.

Set in Ireland in 1920, “another man’s child” starts off telling the tale of what life was like for a farmers daughter growing up at that time. The character Celia is so sweet and innocent that I instantly felt like I wanted to both be her friend and protect her. She soon finds a bit of happiness that due to her fathers stubbornness, she is about to loose forever. Encouraged by her sister Nora, she has a decision to make about whether to loose the man she loved or leave the country that had always been home.

The story then takes a unexpected twist and Celia and her love Andy are soon separated. It is a separation that due to misunderstandings and male pride, take longer than necessary to rectify. Through sadness, becomes happiness but only after a few truths have been told and in the end, things work out just fine.

I would love to see a sequel to this story because it feels like it isnt quite finished and that there is another chapter to the story. I’d love to know what happens next to the two sisters and have felt so connected with them, that I feel like I’m alongside them every step of the way. For me, that is something that I have always found Anne Bennett has a gift for, drawing the reader into the story.

It is not until the end of the book that I realised that the story was based on a true one and that Anne had basically just given the story a much different ending. To think that people had actually gone through this makes me appreciate even more the morale of the story and that is that you should choose your own happiness and love, for nobody can choose that for you.

Books · Travel

Hinch Yourself Happy book Review

Firstly, if you don’t know who Mrs Hinch is, where have you been hiding? Her name is everywhere at the moment and even more so since her book came out. Even my partner Andy knows who Mrs Hinch is and can recognise her voice instantly.

I asked my mum to pre-order the book as a birthday present and once the book arrived, I read the whole book in less than a week, which is something I haven’t done in years.

The book itself is split down into five key sections – The first section is “Home is where my heart is”, the second is “welcome to my Hinching world”, the third is “a bit about me”, the fourth is “grab your Minkeh we’re going on a cleaning adventure” and lastly is “let’s de-clutter our lives”. Each section is easy to read and also had at least one page called diary where you can answer some questions such as what is your favourite tunes to clean to. At the back of the book, there is also some check list pages where you can right down the things you want to clean.

One of the main things I loved about reading the book was the fact that Mrs Hinch spoke about herself more than on her Instagram account, where she talks about how to clean things and also about what eBay bargains she has bought, so we were able to get to know her.

Rather than just seeing the face of a great Instagram account, you can read about her childhood, health struggles, meeting and marrying Jamie and a whole lot of other things in between. I particularly loved reading about her reaction to reaching 1 million Instagram followers because it was just so normal and exactly how I would probably feel too.

As much as I love watching Mrs Hinch on Instagram stories, there were some parts of her cleaning that I just didn’t understand but this is where the Hinchionary part of the book is perfect because it tells you the names of the cloths she uses and also the story behind her favourite words and sayings, for examples.

Further on past this section is all about the “Hinching family” and her favourite products to use. Rather than just naming a load of products, Mrs Hinch has written her tips, tricks and routines to follow to make cleaning less of a chore and more manageable. I have since bought a few products that I previously hadn’t tried but now I love such as the Pink Stuff and Elbow Grease.

If you’ve ever wondered how to clean quickly but efficiently, this book is for you. You can try various methods such as just room by room, Hinch half hour, the clockwise clean or fresh’n up Friday, all of which are explained in the book.

Overall I’m absolutely obsessed with this book and if I forget anything, I can refer back to the book when I’m cleaning. I’m also more productive at cleaning because I now target certain areas at a time rather than trying to do it all at once.

Books · Travel

My festive books

Hello everyone! I just wanted to quickly write a post to share with you which books I will be reading over the festive season. This year, I’ve narrowed it down to just three so that I actually get out the house and do things, so I thought I’d write a little bit about each of them down below.

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

Even though there was a war on, the Woolworths girls brought Christmas cheer to their customers. Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away busy fighting the enemy, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love… Until a mysterious stranger turns up one day – could he reignite a spark in Betty? As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead… With so much change, can their friendship survive the war?

Winter on the Mersey by Annie Groves

For the residents of Empire Street, on Merseyside’s docks, the war against Hitler has been a long one but they all hope that the end is now in sight. Kitty Callaghan is finally coming home and she isn’t the same girl they will remember. Like many others, Kitty has seen her fair share of tradegy and instead of thinking about romance, is determined to do her bit for King and country. When Kitty finds herself stationed alongside Frank Feeny, the brave young officer who has always held a special place in her heart, feelings she thinks are long-buried rise to the surface. Britain is on the verge of victory, but will Kitty embrace the future and learn to love again?

Christmas with the Bomb Girls by Daisy Styles

Christmas is approaching at the Phoenix Munitions Factory, and its going to be one to remember. A factory floor might not be their first choice of a place to spend Christmas, but pulling together and making do is exactly what the Bomb Girls are best at. Gladys, however, back from the singing for the troops in Europe, is quiet as she takes up her place on the cordite line. Her old friends are determined to bring back her spark while they work hard to help their country, as the threat of danger grows ever-closer. What dark secret lies in Gladys’s heart? Will the girls see out another year in a country at war? And, if everyone does their bit, despite the worry, pain and toil, will the Bomb Girls be able to provide a wonderful Christmas for all?

I’m excited to read all three of these, not only because they are my favourite genre but because they have a festive element without them being too in your face. I’m currently about a third of the way through Christmas at Woolworths and am liking it so far but I will let you know what I think of all three of the books in the new year.