A Place to Read

I let You Go by Clare Mackintosh – book review

I recently read Let me Lie by Clare Mackintosh, so I decided to read another of her books, I let You Go. I listened to the book on Audible, but you can also buy a copy from Amazon in paperback or for your kindle. These are affiliate links, thanks for your support.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, audiobook cover
By: Clare Mackintosh
Narrated by: David ThorpeJulia Barrie
Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 07-05-15
Language: English
Publisher: Hachette Audio UK

The Blurb

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief, and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating….

My Review of I Let You Go

I wrote in my last review that I had difficulty in feeling any connection with Clare Mackintosh’s characters. I felt this again with this book. The stories are great, full of twists and turns, the story takes you in and even though it can be a bit drawn out at times, you do want to find out what is going on. I got through both books pretty quickly.

I Let You Go starts with a twist which is pretty easy to work out, but as you follow the life of Jenna you want to feel sorry for her, but for some reason you just feel angry. I cannot imagine what a life of being beaten is like, it has to be awful. Somehow Clare didn’t quite capture this and I wasn’t happy with the way she portrayed her victim.

The Police side again shows a little more character, but although I liked the police man in Let Me Lie, I couldn’t bring myself to like this one even though he did the right thing in the end, and solved a case that everyone had given up on.

There were some threads of the story that seemed totally unnecessary and didn’t really go anywhere. I think they were added to give more character development, but it wasn’t much help.

So, I have totally mixed feelings about this. A good strong story with nice plot twists, but unlikeable characters that just didn’t stir up the right emotions.

Also, listening to the audible book was not as pleasant as I usually find. I made the mistake of not listening to the sample. The male narrator, David Thorpe, reminded me of a school teacher lecturing a class rather than a story reader. The female narrator, Julia Barrie, was the only reason I carried on listening.

My advice would be to grab the paperback and give the character’s the emotions they deserve and maybe this will be a good read. It’s definitely a page turner.

A Place to Enjoy, Shopping

Kerfuffle and Malarkey Tee Shirts.

I’ve recently become an affiliate for Kerfuffle and Malarkey tee shirts which means that if you choose to purchase something from their site I will earn a little money without any extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

I chose to be an affiliate because they do some amazing tee shirts in three different categories, my favourite being the Animal Magic Range.

Animal Magic Tee Shirts.

The Tee Shirts come in both children and adult sizes. The designs are very similar for both but you get a choice of 16 different colours and loads of different sizes.

Kerfuffle and malarky adult tee shirts, animal magic.

Kerfuffle and Malarky create tee shirts that match their name which are meant to excite, stimulate and even be a little silly. It’s a British company, clothing is designed and made in the UK and sourced from a UK based supplier with ethical cotton sourced from India. You can find out more about their designs and ethics you can visit their website

The animal magic collection is for anyone, big or small, who just loves animals. They have got designs featuring farmyard to safari, polar bears to penguins, cats & dogs, bees and the oceans! For adults purchases 10% of the profit goes to the WWF and for children’s 10% goes to Barnardos.

Rainbow Range

rainbow tee shirts for pride

The Rainbow range is in support of the LGBT+ community. Show your colours all year around with these bright statements of individuality and support. There are a wide range of designs and colours to choose from. 10% of profits are donated to the Sport Allies charity.

Slogan Tee Shirts

Currently there are six slogan tee shirts available in different colours and sizes. 10% of profits go to Amnesty International.

If you are looking for a new tee shirt…or dare I say, unusual Christmas present. Then why not take a look at Kerfuffle and Malarkey and give a local small business a chance.

Kerfuffle and Malarkey on Facebook.

A Place to Eat

Weekly Meal Plan – Back to School

I’ve missed meal planning for a couple of weeks again. Last week I was in hospital all day every day, coming home in time for dinner, but I really didn’t feel like cooking and my appetite was low. We had a take out a couple of times, but mostly we managed to rustle something up. I got sent a Mindful Chef delivery which I hadn’t ordered and it wasn’t really food we’d have chosen, but we ate it, and it wasn’t too bad. If I’m really honest, I was so out of it last week I don’t really know how it went. This week the kids are back to school so I had to work harder on figuring out a menu.

This Weeks Menu, Back to School

This week we have another Mindful Chef Delivery and I chose two chicken recipes. Which is a bit of a chicken overload, but like I said, I was a bit out of it last week so I guess I just chose what I fancied without thinking too much. They both look nice though. I may have to ditch one of the other chicken recipes this week. I’m struggling, if I’m honest. I just don’t know what to cook. I always have little extras like sausages though, so I may try a toad-in-the hole. Or we could have a fry up dinner. What do you always have to hand for those days when you just don’t know what to cook?

Weekly meal plan banner with a healthy colourful bowl of food. This week we are trying something new

With the kids back at school, (well two of them anyway) I don’t have to worry about lunches anymore. I do still feed them at the weekend though! It does feel strange not buying all that extra stuff for their lunches. I still have one at home but she’s sticking with sandwiches because that’s what she would have at school. I’ve treated her to a couple of baguettes this week.

You can check out some of my Mindful Chef recipes here

If you have kids and would like to get them interested in cooking, I’ve just become an affiliate for a fabulous kids monthly recipe box called Little Cooks. You can read my post about it here.

Linking up to Katy Kicker’s Meal Planning Linky

Katykicker
A Place to Read

The Existence of Amy, Lana Grace Riva

Lana Grace Riva asked me if I’d like to read her new book, The Existence of Amy and I was instantly intrigued. Here are the details of the book followed by my personal review.

The Existence of Amy

The existence of Amy
Paperback : 281 pages
ISBN-10 : 1086835816
ISBN-13 : 978-1086835816
Product Dimensions : 12.7 x 1.8 x 20.32 cm
Publisher : Independently published (2 Aug. 2019)
Language: : English

The Blurb

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead. A fictional story that depicts the reality of mental illness behind a perception of normality.

My Review of the Existence of Amy

I read the book on my kindle and it was a fairly quick read especially as I was in hospital at the time and had plenty of time on my hands. Saying that, it was also difficult to put down and I felt that I needed to know what was going to happen next.

We live in a society where a lot of people with a mental illness carry on relatively normal lives. On the outside you may not even know they have a problem, but inside things are very different. This book gives you a brief look on what kind of things are happening on the inside. It can make you think twice about that friend or work colleague who keeps disappearing for days and doesn’t turn up to events they are invited to.

Amy, the main character, suffers from a mental illness that crept up suddenly and changed her outlook on life completely. Thankfully, she has some really great friends, who internally she just sees as work colleagues. She learns that one has suffered from mental illness in the past and another has a crush on her. Connections are made and when Amy hits an all time low, it’s one of her friends that lifts her back up again.

The main reason behind the book is to give the reader an insight to mental illness and I think it does this well. However, it is also a work of fiction so it has a storyline. It shows how having people who understand and care can help so much, if only real life was more like that.

Click the book below for my affiliate link to Amazon.

book worms monthly
A Place to Read

Let Me Lie – Clare Mackintosh

This is my review of Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh. I use affiliate links in my posts which mean I may earn a little money if you use them and go on to purchase something, but they will cost you no extra. Thank you for your support.

Let Me Lie, audio book image
By: Clare Mackintosh
Narrated by: Gemma WhelanClare Mackintosh
Length: 12 hrs and 7 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 08-03-18
Language: English
Publisher: Hachette Audio UK

The Blurb

The police say it was suicide. Anna says it was murder. They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life – a shocking suicide carefully played out to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with her parents’ deaths ever since.

Now with a young baby herself, Anna feels her mother’s presence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened. But as she looks for answers, someone is trying to stop her. By digging up the past, she’ll set in motion something that can’t be stopped and will soon discover that sometimes it’s safer to let things lie….

The stunning, twisty new psychological thriller from number one best seller Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go and I See You.

My Review of Let Me Lie

This book felt a bit slow at times, but just when you think you know what’s happened you suddenly find out that you are wrong. There are lots of plot twists, some you’ll figure out easily, others not so. One completely threw me!

I have read books where I don’t like the characters much before and enjoyed them, but there was something about the main characters in this book that just irritated me. I did like the police man, Murray and his wife and although their story seemed a distraction from the actual plot, it was a nice one as they were characters I could enjoy reading about.

The story was riveting and I definitely wanted to find out what the heck was going on, yes, I was really lost at times. The final ‘showdown’ felt to be a bit of a let down. I just couldn’t believe it. The ending was good though, maybe the last little twist could have been omitted, I didn’t need that.

For a thriller/mystery I think the book delivered quite well. It was the first book by Clare Mackintosh that I’ve read but I’d be happy to delve into more.

I listened to the book on Audible and the narrator, Gemma Whelan, delivered the story really well.

You can also buy the book in hardback for £12.99 or paperback for £7.99 from Waterstones

A Place to Eat, health

Why Cooking Is Your Secret Relaxation Weapon

So much of what we do in life is all about mindset. For some people, jumping out of an aeroplane is fun – for others, it’s a nightmare. The same variations in attitude occur concerning cooking. For many people, getting out all the crockery to make a meal from scratch is a massive chore, especially after a long day at the office. For others, it’s a sacred ritual – something you feel like you have to do for the day to feel complete. 

chopping board full of healthy food such as broccoli, carrots strips, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes

Pexels – CC0 License

It’s a shame that cooking is seen as “just something you have to do,” like brushing your teeth. Because, in truth, it’s not like that at all. Rustling up a delicious meal is more like creating a work of art than sweeping the floor. You get a rare opportunity to do something original that other people can enjoy immediately. That’s a good thing, right? 

Cooking is, in many ways, your secret weapon for more relaxing evenings. There are all sorts of reasons for this – many of which you wouldn’t expect. What’s more, they can all have massive ramifications for your overall well being, changing how you feel daily. 

Cooking Brings The Family Together

image shows two parents and two children cooking together

Pexels – CC0 License

Do you sometimes feel disconnected from the other people in your household? If so, it could be because you’re not spending enough time eating together. 

Research shows that families that take the time to eat meals together are typically a lot happier with their setup than those who don’t. There’s something about combining good conversation and delicious food that allows people to connect and enjoy each others’ company. It seems like such a simple thing, but it works. Plus, people will be more willing to put down what they’re doing if they know that something special awaits them at the dinner table. 

Cooking Provides Important Structure To Your Day

From the moment we wake up to the moment we have our evening meal, we’re in a high state of alert, constantly checking our emails and tapping away at our computers. But then when we eat dinner, we cross a threshold. Afterward, we relax, switch off our devices, and take some much-needed time out. 

However, when we just grab meals or quick snacks out of the refrigerator, we undermine this ritual. We’re not making a conscious decision to stop what we’re doing and relax. And that’s a problem. If your parasympathetic nervous system is continually active, it can’t recover from one day to the next. And that means that you ultimately wind up with burnout and chronic fatigue – not what you want. 

Cooking is something that provides structure to your day. Once you get the chopping board out and start arranging ingredients on your sideboard, you know that it’s “me time.” Everything after that point is about unwinding and preparing yourself for bed so that you can do it all again tomorrow.

Cooking Allows You To Eat Foods That Reduce Brain Inflammation

Brain inflammation sounds scary – and it can be. But it is also something that affects the vast majority of people. The reason has to do with the standard western diet.

The majority of the food that people eat at restaurants, take-outs, or pre-prepared contain factors that cause the body’s immune system to go into overdrive. Various toxins, chemicals, additives, and bacteria in the food all trick the body’s defenses into believing that they need to mount a response. Consequently, immune cells start churning out inflammatory factors that make their way to the brain. When this happens, it becomes inflamed, leading to problems like low mood, anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, and depression. 

When you cook, though, you invariably avoid artificial and highly processed products. Most of the time, recipes call for fresh fruits and veggies as they come out of the ground. No middlemen are spiking them with ingredients that will cause inflammation or take away fiber and nutrients that protect your body. 

Did you know that when you put people on a whole food diet, the inflammation level in their brains goes down? Invariably, they report feeling better and more relaxed. Over the course of a month or so, it can make a massive difference. 

Cooking Allows You To Include Pro-Relaxation Ingredients

Dietary styles, such as eating unprocessed foods, can help to combat exhaustion and stress. But some superstar ingredients can do the same thing. 

Take saffron, for instance. This simple herb is famous all over the world for its fragrant smell and yellow color. It’s a beautiful thing to include in your cooking, no matter what you’re making. But it is also extremely relaxing. The same goes for the spice cumin. It acts as a painkiller, calming the center of the brain responsible for anxiety and pain. 

Then there’s CBD oil – something that people are increasingly including when cooking baked goods. It attaches to particular receptors in the nervous system, creating a calming effect and bringing the body back into balance. You can add the stuff to things like brownies or cupcakes (made with healthy ingredients, of course). 

Not many people have heard of the Indian ayurvedic spice, ashwagandha, but there is robust evidence that it also helps people relax. Like some of the other herbs we’ve discussed, it contains chemicals that attach to receptors in the nervous system, shutting down pain and anxiety and balancing your mood. Again, people swear by it. 

Ashwagandha is a bit of a weird ingredient, but you can order it online. It smells a bit like “sweaty horse,” and has a kind of musty aroma. But you can add it to cereal, soups, and baked goods. 

Just be warned – it’s funky stuff!

Cooking Takes Your Mind Off Your Worries

We live in a troubled world. There are so many problems, both in our personal lives and society at large. Thus, sometimes you need a way to switch off and escape your thoughts. For many people, that means sitting down in front of the TV and watching your favorite shows. But for others, it means losing yourself in a recipe and mastering it. 

Cooking is great because it requires you to concentrate on it wholeheartedly. You can’t follow a recipe and think about emails from your boss at the same time. There are so many components involved in making a decent meal; you need to apply yourself fully. 

In that sense, it’s a bit like work. While you’re doing it, you do not have to deal with your own thoughts. You have a distraction. 

Cooking Allows You To Try Novel Flavors

We already talked about some strange flavors, but the range of ingredients and cuisines out there is truly remarkable. The amount of different sensations you can have dancing on your tongue is spectacular, from the tartness of freshly-chopped pineapple to the strange tingling sensation you get eating Sichuan peppercorns. 

Most people eat the same five meals on repeat throughout the month, never really trying anything different. That’s a shame because there are so many flavors out there with which you can experiment. There are also undiscovered cuisines that aren’t available for take-out. You have to make them yourself. 

Novel flavors are important for relaxation because they help increase your dopamine levels. When you find something exciting or new, it floods your brain with feel-good neurotransmitters, reducing stress levels almost immediately. 

Thus, next time you’re in the kitchen, take some time to experiment. Look for new flavor combinations and run with them. Becoming a great chef can be a way to improve your overall wellbeing and create delicious food at the same time. 

This is a collaborative post

A Place to Reflect, health

Aspects of Health care You Shouldn’t Overlook

If you are keen to ensure that you are properly taking care of yourself, there are many things that you need to be aware of along the way. It is so easy to accidentally overlook a number of important aspects to your health care, but if you want to really be in charge of your own health then you need to start thinking about what you can do to improve these things in particular. In this post, we will take a look at these and see how you can make sure that you are paying more attention to them in general.

woman sitting in a yoga position, healthcare

Image Source – CCO Licence

The Basics

First of all, you need to make sure that you are focusing on the essential things that you know you can’t do without. In other words, as long as you are having a good diet and exercising well, you know that you are moving in the right direction. But it can be surprisingly hard to make these things a reality, and that’s why it is vital that you focus on them as well as possible at all times. If you notice that you are not quite eating right, you will need to delve into what it is that you should be eating more or less of, for instance.

That alone can be a struggle, but mostly it’s about eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and not much else. If you are following that basic diet, you are going to find that you have more energy, you feel better within yourself, and that you are keeping all those problems at bay much more successfully. The other main aspect to diet is to ensure that you are not overeating at all. This is easy to do, but if you think about making use of fasting as a tool then you should find that it is much simpler to make this a reality.

On the exercise front, you don’t actually need all that much in order to be healthy in a normal way. As long as you are getting forty minutes or so of light to moderate exercise every few days, you are probably getting enough. You might want to increase this over time if you are keen on losing weight or you have a specific goal in mind, but for the average person this should be plenty of exercise. It is also a good idea to shake up the kind of exercise you are doing: there is a reason that those who cross-train tend to be so well overall, after all. But the main point is that you should be exercising a minimum amount to keep your heart health in check. If you are doing that, you should be fine.

Image of woman running at first light

Image Source – CCO Licence

Healthy Home

Many people spend a lot of time at the gym and ensure that they are healthy at work, only to forget about this when they go home. But the home is the most important place in the world if you are trying to live a healthier life, and you need to make sure that yours is set up to be as salubrious for you as possible. But what does this entail and how do you make sure that you are doing everything to keep your home as healthy as possible?

Mostly, this is a matter of setting it up so that it is working for you, in whatever way that might mean. For some people, that will include setting up a home gym, and for others it’s just about having healthy food in the kitchen and no junk food. But one of the most important things is that you are keeping the home as clean as possible. Without a clean home, you can’t hope for your health to really be looked after, and that could be a huge problem in the long run. So make sure that you are cleaning it regularly and thoroughly if you want to really look after your own health.

As long as you are keeping your home in the right condition, your health is going to be in the right condition too. It will be a way to show yourself that you are really taking it seriously, and that alone can be all that you need to do to prove it to yourself.

health spelt out in pills

Image Source – CCO Licence

Regular Check-Ups

You should always make sure that you are getting regular check-ups, as this is a prime way of ensuring that you know what is going on in your body and what problems there might be that need dealing with. Some of these check-ups are particularly important, such as having an annual general health check-up with your GP. That will ensure that there is nothing specifically wrong which you need to worry about, and having that sense of ease is going to be something you enjoy.

Beyond that, there are specific check-ups you should do regularly, once a year or every other year. That includes going to the optometrist to have your eyes checked, as you never know when you might need to start searching a list for eyeglasses. You should also have your ears checked regularly to make sure that you are able to hear well. These things are just as important as any other part of your bodily health, so make sure not to overlook them.

Mental Health

If you are not looking after your mind, then you are not really taking care of your health on the whole, or your body – as these two are often inextricably linked. To look after your mind, you need to focus on not allowing stress to overtake you and keeping an eye on what is going on in your mind, using mindfulness or meditation as a tool. The more you do that, the more aware you are of what you might need to focus on, and that is something that is really going to make a huge difference in the long run.

With all of these in place, your health should be in a much better position.

collaborative post

A Place to Reflect, Chronic Illness

6 Ways to Take Better Care of Your Health

take care of your health,

Pexels – CCO Licence

Now, more than ever, it is important that we are all doing as much as we can to take the best possible care of our health. Whether you have a chronic illness, a short term illness, or no illness at all, the threat of coronavirus is very real, and anything you can do to improve your health right now will help you to stay as safe as possible. 

With that in mind, here are a few things we can all do to take better care of our health right now:

Be proactive in your health care

When it comes to your health, you need to be proactive. You need to take immediate action as soon as you’re experiencing a worrying symptom, whether that means speaking to the pharmacist or booking an appointment with the doctor. You need to make sure that you order your repeat prescriptions on time so that you aren’t left without medication and you need find ways to relax when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. What you do not need to do is ignore the symptoms, put off seeing the doctor, lead your stress to fester until it’s out of control. You need to be proactive so that your issues can be dealt with before they become even more difficult to deal with.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

A lot of people, especially those with a chronic illness, often feel like a healthy lifestyle is beyond them, but there are a lot of things we can all do to be healthier from whatever starting point we’re at. For example, most of us could eat a healthy diet that’s high in whole foods or take up meditation to give us some headspace and help us deal better with our mental health. Most of us could even move a little more even if only by doing a few seated stretches. The key is to work out what is possible for you and what would make the most difference in giving you a healthier lifestyle and then taking it from there, using baby steps to ensure you stay safe and don’t get overwhelmed as you get healthy.

take care of your health, image shows lady in a yoga position

Pixabay – CCO Licence

Don’t do too much

On the flip side, it’s important that you don’t try to do too much. Whether you have a chronic illness or not, doing too much could lead to disaster. Not only can overexercising strain the body and cause fatigue and injuries, but it can also lead to stress and burnout which can be tough to deal with mentally. Ideally, you should do enough to stay healthy and happy and not too much to overwhelm you. There’s nothing selfish about taking time out to relax and practice self-care – it’s a sensible measure that could keep you out of the doctor’s surgery and more able to look after yourself and support those around you. Know your limits and protect them fiercely.

Make sleep a priority

Sleep is so important for our physical and mental health. A lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, worsening symptoms of illness, stress, depression, weight gain and even an increased risk of heart disease and stroke amongst other things. So, it’s fair to say that getting between 7 and 9 hours a night should be a priority.

Of course, for some of us sleep can prove elusive. If that’s the case, try turning off electronics an hour before bed. You may also want to try herbal sleep remedies, chamomile tea or evening meditation. If nothing seems to work, you may need to talk to your doctor about potentially trying some prescription medication. Your body needs sleep more than almost anything else, so do what you can to get it.

Practice good hygiene

Good hygiene, like regular hand washing and cleaning your home, is vital for keeping nasty bugs and viruses at bay. It won’t stop you from picking up everything, but it will lower your chances of succumbing and right now when coronavirus is such a threat, it’s just a really important thing for us all to do.

hands under the tap

Pixabay – CCO Licence

Stay connected

Staying connected with friends and family is a little more difficult right now, but it’s important you make the effort, even if you are only able to see them on Zoom. Why? Because connection is a vital building block of good mental health. It can help to stave off depression and anxiety and keep our minds feeling healthy. It also stops us from feeling so alone at a time when being alone is really tough.

Do as many of these things as you can and your health will benefit as a result. 

collaborated post

A Place to Read

Book Worms Monthly September Link up

Welcome to Book worms Monthly September link up

Hello, Welcome to Book worms Monthly, September. I managed to read three books last month but as I’ve only just finished the last one I’m going to add it as my first link up this month. I’m already started on my next book, ‘Let Me Lie’ by Clare Mackintosh. So far, I’m really enjoying it. I read Maya Angelou’s first part of her Autobiography last month but I’m considering listening to the dramatisation of all her books

Reading is my passion and I love to write about what I’ve read. I’m a real book worm and I have been since the day I could read. I decided to start this linky so that other book worms could Share. I’m starting monthly for now, so you have a whole month to link up your posts. You can link up to four posts, so that’s one a week. Or if you like you can link up some of your older posts.

Let’s share what we read and give other’s ideas what to read next. Tell me your reviews, you book reading lists, your author interviews, kids book favourites, Young Adult books, and even posts about your favourite authors. Anything book related is allowed and I can’t wait to read them all. I want to find all the book worms out there.Here is last months linky to give you some idea of what book worms monthly is about. I’m trying to reach out to all the book worms out there to com and join me with their posts monthly.

Join Us for Book Worms Monthly

Book worms Monthly will be posted every month, and you can join in at any time. I will share anyone who links over on my Social Media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Mix (formerly Stumbleupon.) I’ll also come along and read and comment on your post. Please do share this link up with your friends.

Link up your BookWorms Monthly September book posts below.

Here’s a badge to share. No code, just copy and paste it on your blog and link the photo back to mine if you wish. Or please mention my blog 
https://athomealot.com/ with a link instead. That we we can encourage more to join in and share.

book worms monthly September

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