Life with two Smalls and a fistful of daydreams

CMAiI Owe You Nothing by Bros

I have mentioned before that I am an 80s baby and this particular gem was number one on the day that I was born. I like to hold this fact purely responsible for my love of all things cheese in music ever since. Any excuse really ;)

Out of curiosity I have a playlist of all my birthday number ones on Spotify (here, if you want to be nosy) and it’s actually not a bad collection of songs – being a summer baby gives me the advantage of lots of fun summery tracks popping up. There is, of course, the odd track that is awful (Rhianna’s Umbrella for one. I hate that song so much.) but for the most part it’s quite a good sing-along list. Assuming you like singing along to 3 Lions On A Shirt and Love Is All Around that is.

Back to Bros. I do believe my big sister liked these guys so here you go, Chrystal – this one’s for you.


If you have Spotify you can follow the playlist for my Music Alphabet by clicking this link – I will update it each time I add a blog post :)

Playlist so far:

Any Dream Will Do by Jason Donovan

Blown Away by Carrie Underwood

Cello Wars by The Piano Guys

Don’t Belong by Cold

Everybody’s Wrong by Hinder

Five Colours In Her Hair by McFly

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cydni Lauper

Head Over Feet by Alanis Morissette

I Owe You Nothing by Bros

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy

Illustrated by: N/A

Series: N/A

Published: Hodder, April 2015

Edition: Hardback

Print Length: 400 pages

Narrated By: N/A

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller,

Where Did I Get It? I was kindly provided with a copy by the publisher, through BookBridgr, in return for an honest review.

Blurb: In Benjamin Percy’s new thriller, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders.

Then a rider comes from the wasteland beyond its walls. She reports on the outside world: west of the Cascades, rain falls, crops grow, civilization thrives. But there is danger too: the rising power of an army that pillages and enslaves every community they happen upon.

Against the wishes of the Sanctuary, a small group sets out in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, they hope to expand their infant nation, and to reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight.

Opening Line(s):

She knows there is something wrong with the baby. She has known from the very beginning.

My Review:  The Dead Lands was a bit of a mish mash for me. I love a bit of post-apocalyptic fiction, it is probably my favourite type of horror novel, and this had that in spades but it just didn’t quite work in places.

At first it felt a bit Stephen King-esque with the futuristic post-apolcaypse set up and then suddenly there was a clockwork owl flying about spying on people and I began wondering if it was, in fact, going to be a steampunk novel.

Then a short while later someone got thrown across a room by apparent telekenesis. Magic now too?

I was confused. This confusion was not helped by the switching back and forth between characters, some of which were so forgettable I kept thinking they were a new person being introduced each time they were mentioned even though they weren’t.

The story did settle down and, aside from the owl, it happily became a science fiction fantasy novel and the magic felt less clunky than it did when it was first introduced, feeling natural by the end.

The theory of the nuclear fall-out creating giant mutants out of all the animals did take a little deliberate suspending of disbelief – they were a little too horror-movie-nightmare for me to be able to believe in which, as they were a rather large component of the story, took away a fair bit of my enjoyment.

There was however, one truly horrifying character in the book that made me genuinely shudder, and that was the Sheriff, Slade. He was creepy and perverse and seemed utterly evil in a way that was very human and believable. He was like the kind of super-twisted person you hear about in the news and can’t quite believe as you watch. Living in a tiny dark room with mannequins decorated with bits and pieces of his ‘favourite’ girls – hair, fingernails, teeth. Ugh. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

The story itself, of a group of characters escaping their oppressive ‘Sanctuary’ in the hope of finding other survivors and a better place to live, fell a little flat. There wasn’t anything wrong with it per say, it just felt like the story was all about the journey and the ending was an afterthought rather than the reason they set off. I don’t really remember what happened when they arrived even though I’m fairly sure there was some kind of big showdown or other. It was totally forgettable compared to the journey they went on to get to that point.

Benjamin Percy’s main skill lies in his descriptive writing – the world was vast and well rounded. The places felt real and the atmosphere he created with his words was brilliant as the group of characters travelled across the country.

It’s just a shame his characters didn’t live up to the rich world they were living in and that the story wasn’t as well rounded as it could have been.

My Rating: 3.5/5*


138With my back on the mend I am on a mission to catch up on all the housework that has been severely neglected. Yay for me… *yawn*

139Tori rediscovered the Magnastix after school today – I had rearranged the toy shelf and brought the box to the front again. Caius headed off to Scotland for work today leaving just me and the Smalls.

140This evening I decided to unwind with a jigsaw – I haven’t done a grown up jigsaw in years, it was fun!

141Arthur tripped and skinned his hand on the way to school today. Hello Kitty to the rescue!

142It was Liberty’s birthday earlier in the week and this evening we had a girly night out together to celebrate (thank you to Lesley for Small-sitting for me).

143The Smalls discovered Tiddlywinks today. Tori got quite good at it by the end!

144Today the Smalls set about making their props ready for our audition in The W Factor at Warwick Castle next week.

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So, in a moment of madness I signed up to join in with the LGBT Readathon being hosted over at A Daydreamer’s Thoughts at the end of the month (25th-31st May).

Because trying to read more than normal during a busy half term around a four year old and a five year old is a GENIUS idea. Obviously.

I am going to be sensible and aim to read two books and not beat myself up if I only manage one. This one:

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger: Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl. Her whole life is leading up to the day she decides to become Grady, a guy. While coming out as transgendered feels right to Grady, he isn’t prepared for the reaction he gets from everyone else. His mother is upset, his younger sister is mortified, and his best friend, Eve, won’t acknowledge him in public. Why can’t people just let Grady be himself?

Grady’s life is miserable until he finds friends in some unexpected places — like the school geek, Sebastian, who explains that there is precedent in the natural world (parrotfish change gender when they need to, and the newly male fish are the alpha males), and Kita, a senior who might just be Grady’s first love.



I need a second book though and I just can’t decide. I have put together a wish list of all my maybes and I just can’t choose between them so I need you to choose for me. Pleeeease!

Here are the contenders in no particular order:

More Than This by Patrick Ness: Seth drowns, desperate and alone. But then he wakes. Naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. And where is he? The street seems familiar, but everything is abandoned, overgrown, covered in dust. He remembers dying, his skull bashed against the rocks. Has he woken up in his own personal hell? Is there more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife? From the acclaimed author of the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls comes one of the most provocative teen novels of our time.


The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison: It’s Rachel Morgan’s ultimate adventure . . . and anything can happen in this final book by New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison.

Rachel Morgan has come a long way since her early days as an inexperienced bounty hunter. She’s faced vampires and werewolves, banshees, witches, and soul-eating demons. She’s crossed worlds, channelled gods, and accepted her place as a day-walking demon. She’s lost friends and lovers and family, and an old enemy has unexpectedly become something much more.

But power demands responsibility, and world-changers must always pay a price. Rachel knew that this day would come – and now it is here.

To save Ivy’s soul and the rest of the living vampires, to keep the demonic ever-after and our own world from destruction, Rachel Morgan will risk everything . . .

Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton: Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes…
Kitty’s keeping secrets. Like how she’s struggling to cope with her mum’s illness. And how she’s falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair… A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty’s secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?

Sprout by Dale Peck: How many secrets can you hide in plain sight? Sprout Bradford has a secret. It’s not what you think—he’ll tell you he’s gay. He’ll tell you about his dad’s drinking and his mother’s death. The green fingerprints everywhere tell you when he last dyed his hair. But neither the reader nor Sprout are prepared for what happens when Sprout suddenly finds he’s had a more profound effect on the lives around him than he ever thought possible. Sprout is both hilarious and gripping; a story of one boy at odds with the expected.


The Darkest Part Of The Forest by Holly Black: Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Far From You by Tess Sharpe: Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler: Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her . . .

Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

A thought-provoking coming out story from a highly skilled author.


So, there you have my not-so-short-list. Every book has something related to the LGBT topic somewhere in there – be it the overall theme, storyline or the characters themselves. I want to read them all at some point but 1) I’ll never read them all in one week, even if I sit in a room all by myself for the whole seven days and 2) I can’t afford to buy them all at once and my local library is sadly lacking in… well, all of them at my last search.

I need your help – what should I pick as book number two?

CMAhHead Over Feet by Alanis Morissette

Head Over Feet is probably one of my favourite songs of all time. I like almost everything Alanis Morissette had produced and she was amazing when we saw her live at V Festival one year (slightly upstaged by her awesome glittery guitar though… I like glitter.)

I think it is the lyrics that make this song so perfect – they are romantic without being fluffy which makes it feel honest and resonates better with real life love rather than teenage daydream love. You get a bit sick of teenage dayream love in music after a while.


If you have Spotify you can follow the playlist for my Music Alphabet by clicking this link – I will update it each time I add a blog post :)

Playlist so far:

Any Dream Will Do by Jason Donovan

Blown Away by Carrie Underwood

Cello Wars by The Piano Guys

Don’t Belong by Cold

Everybody’s Wrong by Hinder

Five Colours In Her Hair by McFly

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cydni Lauper

Head Over Feet by Alanis Morissette

Visual_Identity_TheWFactor_FINALWarwick Castle is challenging you to get involved and get historical as they search for that special ‘W Factor’ – Horrible Histories style!

Horrible Histories is coming to Warwick Castle with a whole new live stage show – Wicked Warwick – and they are offering up a brilliant opportunity for people to get involved and try to win a cameo role in the play AND a family night glamping in Warwick Castle’s own Mediaeval Glamping Village!

hh-characterThe Horrible Histories characters have been entertaining visitors to Warwick castle since 2012, viewers of CBBC since 2009 and readers of Terry Deary’s original books since 1993 but this year they are bringing a specially scripted stage show to Warwick for the very first time. This partnership with The Birmingham Stage Company is an exciting event and the team at Warwick castle wanted to celebrate in an extra special way so they are inviting members of the public to join in and audition to win a one-time cameo in Wicked Warwick by auditioning for The W Factor at Warwick Castle.

Geoff Spooner, General Manager at Warwick Castle explained the inspiration behind The W Factor: ‘There’s no better way to enjoy history than to be involved in telling stories, and The W Factor at Warwick Castle gives everyone the chance to tell a tale in their own way, inspired by our friends from Horrible Histories. You won’t see the show anywhere else, and nowhere else can you win a once in a lifetime role on stage to perform live in front of thousands of families.’

If you want to join in, you can take inspiration from any part of Warwick Castle’s own 1,100 year history or any other historical event that grabs your imagination – be it a tale from the Terrible Tudors or a Rotten Roman romp – it’s up to you. The W Factor at Warwick Castle parodies the sketch-show format of the TV show and anyone (over the age of four) can get involved.

Go it alone or get together with friends and family and come up with a fun, gruesome, gory or exciting short story ready to present to a panel of three judges at Warwick Castle on the morning of Wednesday 27th May.

w factor logoIt is free to enter and super easy – all you have to do is visit the Warwick Castle website to register your intention to audition live in front of the judges on 27th May. Registrants will receive a 2-for-1 entry voucher to the Castle on the day, too!

If you are planning on entering, you can make a practice video and upload it to the Warwick Castle Facebook page with the hashtag #thewfactor to show off your talents beforehand and receive priority placement in the audition queue! (Last minute entries may be accommodated on the day depending on time available.)

The judges will choose FOUR entrants to perform in live shows at Warwick Castle on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st June and ONE overall winner will also receive a unique woodland family sleepover in the Mediaeval Glamping Village on 21st June.

HH_WickedWarwick_logoFor full Terms & Conditions and further details about the competition please visit The W Factor web page and don’t forget to check out the hashtag on social media for some horrible inspiration too!

131We have been a sickly household recently. Arthur was sick last Thursday and I’d got hopeful that the bug had bypassed Tori but it wasn’t to be and it hit her today instead :(

132Since starting my project to send more post, I have had a good sort out of my stationery and finally have it organised in these handy drawers so I can actually find and use all the stuff I have! (I also failed my driving test today after starting the day cleaning up sick and failing to unblock a toilet. It hasn’t been the best.)

133I got dressed in the dark today – can you tell?

134I’ve had these flowers on the kitchen windowsill for a couple of weeks now and they are actually pretty much dead but the purple flowers seem to have just dried as they are and I still think they are beautiful!

135After a bit of a frantic week I decided to spend this morning just being with my boy. There won’t be so much of this time soon as he starts at school in September so I need to make the most of it now. We built castles, read stories and enjoyed snack time watching his favourite Thomas the Tank Engine DVD.

136Arthur has rediscovered his collection of crazy rings which have all been cupcake toppers at some time or other. They render his hand basically useless but make a very funky knuckleduster ;)

137I am not very green fingered at all so I am very pleased to see that the few plants that the Smalls and I have tried to grow are actually flowering! Conveniently most of them are purple, too!

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