A Place to Read

Mrs England, The Latest offering from Stacey Halls.

I am fast becoming a fan of Stacey Halls. There was a time where I wouldn’t consider reading an historical novel, but Stacey Halls has me enthralled every time. Mrs England, is the latest offering and once again a very enjoyable read.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Manilla Press (10 Jun. 2021)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1838772863
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838772864
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 14.4 x 3.8 x 22.2 cm

The Blurb

‘Something’s not right here.’
I was aware of Mr Booth’s eyes on me, and he seemed to hold his breath. ‘What do you mean?’
‘In the house. With the family.’

West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the ‘angel of the house’ Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric West Yorkshire landscape, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

My Review of Mrs England

I listened to Mrs England on Audible, using my monthly credit.

I’d always recommend listening to a sample first. This book is narrated by Imogen Wilde with a board Birmingham accent. For me, being a Brummie, it was fine, but others might find it a little difficult. I have trouble listening to certain accents.

That doesn’t take anything away from the brilliant story telling. Mrs England seemed a little slower to actually get started than Stacey Halls previous novels, but it still drew me in, savouring every character and every scene. From the streets of London to Basall Heath in Birmingham, right out to the West Yorkshire landscape, you feel like you are there with your characters.

Little clues of what happened and what is happening are scattered through out, so although there are some twists, nothing comes as a complete suprise. (Well, there was one thing I didn’t guess.) The story is full of intrigue without the massive drama. You have to wait a long time for a dramatic event, but it really doesn’t matter, just get taken along for the ride and enjoy.

I love that Stacey Halls takes an event from history and turns it into a novel. What happened to Ruby May came from a factual story that she’d read. But all the rest is her imagination.

I will be looking forward to more from Stacey Halls.

Read my review of The Foundling by Stacey Halls

Read my review of The Familiars by Stacey Halls

A Place to Reflect

Some Tips to Help You Get to Sleep at Night

Do you have trouble sleeping? You are not alone, a survey showed that 36% of people in the UK suffer from insomnia. I am going to share some tips to help you get to sleep at night.

My tips come from LSW Mind cards who offer a number of products that can help you sleep better. You can buy them in a bundle or individually depending on your needs. What you get is a series of sleep mediations to listen to as you go to sleep and they can be really beneficial.

I am an affiliate for LSW Mind cards so if you click through and make a purchase I may earn some money at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog.

LSW mind cards sleep well collection. A selection of meditations to help you get to sleep at night.

If you pop along to the LSW Mind Cards site and sign up for their newsletter you will receive some good offers. This week they are offering tips to aid sleep, which I am going to share here, and if you are quick, on Friday 9th July, you can get a free sleep meditation to download.

Tips for Getting to Sleep at Night

Here are some tips as provided by LSW Mind Cards.

Having a regular bedtime routine can help to train the mind to prepare for a great night’s sleep. The more you repeat the same actions in the lead up to bedtime the more you will prime your mind to flow into a state of deep relaxation when you climb under the covers.

Turn off or stop using all electronics at least 30 minutes before going to bed

This includes phones, televisions, laptops and computers. Give your mind the time it needs to rest from external worries or stresses and your eyes the time they need to relax without the bright lights of your gadgets.

Have a warm bath or shower

Having a nice warm (but not too hot) bath to allow your body to get to a good temperature for sleeping is a great way to relax both your muscles and your mind. Light some candles, use relaxing bath oils such as lavender and put on some relaxing music for extra indulgence. If you don’t have a bath, fret not! A nice long warm shower can have an equally relaxing effect and you can visualise the stresses of the day washing away down the plughole for extra relaxation.

Use a hot flannel

Your jaw can carry a lot of tension, focus on your jaw right now, see if you can relax any tense muscles. A great way to help you relax is to hold a warm flannel up to your face. Encourage your jaw and the tiny muscles around your eyes to release and let go.

Create a regular bedtime

Find a time that you can make your regular bedtime. It doesn’t matter what time this turns out to be, but try to keep it before midnight. Having a regular bedtime helps to settle your body clock and create a relaxed state of mind in the time leading up to it. It will also help you to keep your sleep time between seven and nine hours.

Close your curtains

Whether you have black out blinds or curtains, make sure that your bedroom is a dark, peaceful place of solitude. This will give your mind maximum opportunity to switch off and drift into a peaceful slumber.

Sleepy smells

Using essential oils and smells can help to anchor a feeling of relaxation and calm when the time comes to go to sleep. There are a number of lovely pillow sprays specifically designed to help with sleep. Another option is an oil diffuser which allows you to choose which essential oil you use. A few great oils for sleep are lavender, jasmine and cedarwood.

Keep your phone in another room

Keeping your phone out of your bedroom or away from your bed can really help the quality of your sleep as it keeps all distractions at bay. It can also help the quality of your morning as you can wake up without instantly turning over to your phone. Try not to check your phone until you have woken, showered and dressed in order to maintain the restful feeling you will have following a good night’s sleep.

We hope you enjoy finding what works for you, remember, this is about creating the most peaceful and relaxing headspace before climbing into bed for a wonderful night’s sleep. There are no rights or wrongs in this, mix it up and find what works.

Join us on Friday when we will be sharing the first sleep relaxation recording with you for free!

Until then, sleep well,

Lili and the team x

Do consider signing up for the newsletter, it’s always full of positivity and helpful tips.

You can read one of my reviews of LSW Mind cards here.

A Place to Read

Bookworms Monthly July link Up


Hello, Welcome to BookWorms Monthly July. I haven’t done a bookworms monthly for a while but I’ve decided to revive it again

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 come and join me with their posts monthly.

Join Us for Book Worms Monthly
Book worms Monthly will be posted every four weeks, 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 March book posts below.

Here is a badge to share, just use the code below if you want to put it on your blog. Or you can just link back to www.athomealot.com thanks.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

This is the bookworms monthly link up for July, you can see the last link up for June here.

Each month I will read through the linked up posts and add to my TBR list here:

Yet Another Blogging Mummy has written a great review of The Life of Pi

A Place to Read

All Those Things We Never Said – Marc Levy

After really enjoying The Strange Journey of Alice Pendlebury by Marc Levy I decided to give another of his books a try. I chose All Those Things We Never Said from Kindle Unlimited.

My links in this post are affiliate which means if you click through and purchase something I may earn some money at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog.

By: Marc LevyChris Murray – translator
Narrated by: Amy McFadden
Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
Release date: 14-11-17
Language: English

The Blurb from All Those Things We Never Said

Days before her wedding, Julia Walsh is blindsided twice: once by the sudden death of her estranged father…and again when he appears on her doorstep after his funeral, ready to make amends, right his past mistakes, and prevent her from making new ones.

Surprised, to say the least, Julia reluctantly agrees to turn what should have been her honeymoon into a spontaneous road trip with her father to make up for lost time. But when an astonishing secret is revealed about a past relationship, their trip becomes a whirlwind journey of rediscovery that takes them from Montreal to Paris to Berlin and back home again, where Julia learns that even the smallest gestures she might have taken for granted have the power to change her life forever.

My Review

I was intrigued by the blurb, how could her father appear on her doorstep after his funeral? Well, the answer was rather surprising and suspends belief. I’m all for a little sci-fi but it just didn’t seem to fit well into this story.

The premise was lovely, a young women gets to make amends with her father, find out what her childhood was really like, have some long and caring conversations as well as some strops, travel to Canada, Paris and Germany. Meet up with old friends, break up with new and finally realise what is most important in life.

In reality, the story dragged, All Those Things We Never Said, could have been said a little more concisely, cutting the story down. If you like a story which examines all the emotions then you will probably enjoy this. I’m not saying it was bad but…

The main character, Julia, was just annoying, a spoilt brat. The Father was tiresome, meddling, and could have said all those things he needed to say in a letter. Some interesting parts of the story seemed rushed and gave way to lots of dreamy type monologues. The narrator was not to my liking either but that’s a personal choice. I just sometimes think that the past is past and it’s not believable that two so different characters could still be so much in love after the passing of nearly twenty years, or was it eighteen? I got confused as the author used both.

It hasn’t put me off Marc Levy, but I’m glad I got this on my Kindle Unlimited rather than using an Audible credit.

A Place to Enjoy

New Baby Crochet Cardigan and Blanket

If you read my other blog, Raisiebay, you may already know that we have a new baby in the family. My niece had a little boy just a few weeks ago and he is the most adorable little baby, I just had to get my hooks out and make something for him. I decided to crochet a blanket and a cardigan.

First up, I bought my wool, I chose Stylecraft Special in Aspen colour. I did think it would be more blue, but it was a kind of aquamarine colour, which happens to be my niece’s favourite colour.

Baby Blanket.

I tried lots of patterns but I decided on just a simple waffle crochet stitch to make this square pram size blanket. But it needed a little decorations so I made a couple of bunnies to sew on the corner.

baby blanket crochet in waffle stitch, with two little bunnies sewn on
baby blanket with bunnies

Baby Cardigan

I chose my cardigan pattern from Kerry Jane Designs on Etsy.

crochet baby cardigan.
Little Ridge Cardigan from Kelly Jane Designs

I bought the buttons on Amazon which were a great bargain. Just £6.99 for 150 buttons in different sizes. Each one is printed with the words, Handmade with love and with two little hearts. I think they are perfect for a baby cardigan.

I made the cardigan in the newborn size but as my great nephew is so tiny it doesn’t fit him yet. I am thinking of making some more for my shop as it’s such a great pattern.

You can see more of my crochet here on this blog. And you can see some of the things I’ve made for sale on my Etsy shop which is also called At Home A Lot.

This post contains affiliate links which may earn me a little money if you click them and go on to purchase something, but they will cost you no extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

A Place to Read

The Strange Journey of Alice Pendlebury, book review

My latest audio book was The Strange Journey of Alice Pendlebury which I read for free from Amazon Kindle Unlimited. I’ll get on to the book review in a moment.

I love Audible but I keep listening to more than one book every month and I needed to get access to more books without paying too much. Audio books are generally more expensive than normal books or ebooks. I decided to sign up to Amazon Kindle Unlimited which gives me access to many more books with audio narration. And I get three months free to try it out.


The Strange Journey of Alice Pendlebury

The Blurb

Alice Pendelbury believes everything in her life is pretty much in order – from her good friends to her burgeoning career. But even Alice has to admit it’s been an odd week. Not only has her belligerent neighbor, Mr. Daldry, suddenly become a surprisingly agreeable confidant, but he’s encouraging her to take seriously the fortune-teller who told her that only by traveling to Turkey can Alice meet the most important person in her life.

What’s more, the peculiarly insistent Mr. Daldry has even agreed to finance Alice’s trip – one that against all reason seems to be predestined. It’s on this journey, crazy from the outset and strangely irresistible, that Alice will find out that nothing in her life is real, that her past is not true, and that the six people she’s about to encounter will shape her future in ways she could never have dreamed.

My Review

The book was originally written in French but it was translated by an American, which gives it a strange American themes to the English scenes. You may spot them, but I wasn’t overly bothered by them. The narrator was agreeable to listen to, but I always advise anyone purchasing an ebook to listen to the preview.

The book is available on kindle and paperback too, I’ll give links at the end of my post.

This is not the kind of book I would normally read but I was drawn in by the blurb. It sounded quite fascinating and a little bit mystical. The story is basically a love story, but it has lots of little twists and love is not the obvious objective.

I really enjoyed the stories of life in Turkey. For someone who hasn’t travelled much I love hearing stories about other countries. Of course, there was also some of the sad history in the story too. The actual book is set in the 1950s but it also covers 1915 which was a pretty awful time for the Armenians living in Turkey. It encouraged me to read a little more into what happened back then.

Alice Pendlebury is a likeable character and she doesn’t ‘do’ nonsense which is great. Mr Daldry is not so likeable at first, but he grows on you. It’s never really explained why he is so uptight, but it’s lovely to see the little parts of him that endears his character.

The other characters are all brought to life with lots of colour and interest. I have decided that I want to read more from Marc Levy. I’ve already downloaded my next book from Amazon Unlimited.

More ways of getting the book, please not that all my links are affiliate links which may earn me some money if you go on to by something, but they won’t cost you any extra, so thanks for your support.

bookworms monthly linky
A Place to Read

Join us for Bookworms Monthly June Linkup Party

Welcome to Bookworms June linkup

Hello, Welcome to BookWorms Monthly June. I haven’t done a bookworms monthly for a while but I’ve decided to revive it again.

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 come and join me with their posts monthly.

Join Us for Book Worms Monthly

Book worms Monthly will be posted every four weeks, 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 March book posts below.

Here is a badge to share, just use the code below if you want to put it on your blog. Or you can just link back to www.athomealot.com thanks.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
A Place to Read

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro Book Review

I recently listened to Klara and The Sun on Audible and this is my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I purchased the audio book myself. I will however use affiliate links in my post which may earn me a little money if you click through and purchase something, but they will not cost you any extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

By: Kazuo Ishiguro
Narrated by: Sura Siu
Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 02-03-21
Language: English
Publisher: Faber & Faber

Klara and The Sun on Audible

The Blurb

The sun always has ways to reach us.

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?  

My Review of Klara and The Sun

After reading some other discussion of this book I can see it has very mixed results. So my review is going to be my personal thoughts. I rarely read much into books before reading them, I tend to take a look at the Blurb that comes with the book and judge on the genre and whether I think I will be interested. If it’s an audio book I will then listen to an extract because there is nothing worse than listening to someone who grates on you.

I did think the narrator was good as Klara, but her grasp of the way English people speak was almost humorous. I guess we all talk like the queen then.

Ok, on to the story. I will admit, I do like a bit of science fiction occasionally and I have a particular fascination with robots and Artificial Intelligence. I was reading Isaac Asimov as a young teenager. The story of Klara fascinated me and I was excited to start this book.

Klara is the first person narrator of the book so we see the entire story through her eyes, which are not always clearly focused. Klara is an AF or Artificial Friend, developed in the future to be a companion to children. We spend a lot of the first part of the story following Klara’s life in the shop, the time she spends in the window, and her other AF friends and interaction with the shop manager. Once, while in the window, she is approached by a young girl who promises to come back for her. So, even though the manager has told her not to wait, that is what she does.

Eventually, Klara is taken home to be a friend to Josie who is seemingly unwell. Klara is a special kind of A.I. though, and takes it on herself to make Josie well again. She puts all of her trust into the power of The Sun and makes a pact with it to make Josie recover.

As the whole story is told from the perspective of the AF it does seem a little fragmented at times. You have to fill in a lot of gaps yourself, Klara is also representative of a young girl so she is also not fully developed and has misunderstandings of many issues.

I did think that maybe it would be better suited as a Young Adult book as it focuses on young people and their actions and feelings. But, it also shows the darker side of adults and the kind of world that the future may become. So, although it may be a simply told story, the underlying parts give you plenty of food for thought.

I don’t mind that you have to fill in a lot of gaps yourself, it gives a good impression of the gaps that would be experienced by the narrator, or indeed a child. You do get enough little clues to build up a bigger picture of this not too distant type of world.

You can also purchase Klara and the Sun on Amazon

My Last read The Foundling by Stacey Halls.

Uncategorized

Studying with the Centre of Excellence

It was a few months back now when I saw an ad on Facebook for the Centre of Excellence for a course I was interested in. It was on special offer and I thought why not give it a try and I signed up.

After signing up, I also decided to become an affiliate for the program, so my links here will be affiliate links and could earn me a little money if you use them, at no extra cost to yourself. So thank you for supporting my blog.

What Can You Study with The Centre of Excellence?

There is so much to choose from but the main categories are:

  • Corporate Welfare
  • Child Education
  • Herbalist Courses
  • Language Courses
  • Aromatherapy Courses
  • Reflexology Courses
  • Massage Courses
  • Autism & Special Needs Courses
  • Reiki Courses
  • Life Coaching Courses
  • CBT courses
  • Mindfulness Courses
  • Psychic and Supernatural
  • Beauty and Therapy
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Counselling Courses
  • Psychology Courses
  • Diet and Nutrition Courses
  • NLP Courses
  • Hypnotherapy Courses
  • Animal Care Courses
  • Hobby and Craft
  • Writing Courses
  • Fitness and Well-being
  • Business, Marketing and PR
  • History Courses
  • Earth Sciences
  • Children’s Courses
  • Free Courses

Currently there are two free courses you can sign up for, these do change occasionally. It’s a great way of finding out if the style of learning is for you.

So, why not try Improve Your Memory Diploma Course for free. Or even do a Home Education Course to help your children, especially seeing as these days a lot of parents have decided to go down the home education route after the pandemic.

What I Like about The Centre of Excellence

I paid just £29 for my course on Reiki Crystal Healing and now I have access to all the course materials for as long as I wish. There is no rush to complete the course in a set time, you work at your own pace. I like to keep up with a couple of sessions a week though, just so I don’t fall behind or forget what I have learned.

At the end of each module there is an assessment which you complete online. It is then marked and sent back to you. At the end of the course you get a certificate if you have passed it.

There are many good reviews about the Centre of Excellence on Trustpilot and they have won lots of awards. The certificates you earn are CPD or Continuing Professional Development and are widely recognised. If you are doing a course to enhance your career though, it is worth checking that they accept CPD credits as qualifications.

Support

There is plenty of support available from both The Centre of Excellence and the Facebook support groups. There are so many people doing courses and helping each other, or just being there for a boost or congratulations.

You can contact the support team by e-mail or telephone if you have any questions with your course or about the courses in general.

The Centre of Excellence is upfront with all the costs involved in taking the course you choose, including if you have to pay extra for the certificate. The costs vary on what course you want to take and what level.

The course costs vary but it’s worth looking out for special offers. Sometimes you can get an expensive course at a much cheaper price. Or you can even buy a bundle of courses and make a big saving. And remember, once you are signed up you can take your time in completing the courses.

For a little extra you can buy the paper or audio versions of the courses, but mostly you can do the courses online.

Have you thought about delving into a little more further education. I have a list of courses that I would like to do, but one step at a time.

Here are a few of the courses available:

A Place to Reflect

Something Positive for Mental Health Awareness Week

This week, 10th-16th May 2021 is Mental Health Awareness week. But, to be honest, our mental health is something that we should all be looking after all year long. The theme chosen for this week is Nature because connecting with nature is so good for our mental health and there are lots of ways we can do this.

Going for a Walk

As someone who doesn’t get out a lot, I’ve noticed that when I do I take much more notice of the things around me. I used to rush to the shops, get what I needed and rush back, but even on those trips there is something that can make you stop and enjoy. Once, I saw a little robin in a bush and I just felt compelled to stop and look, he was so cute, for a moment I felt my spirit lifted. I connected with nature.

Of course a walk in a place full of nature is much more rewarding than a trip to the shops, and even in my wheelchair there have been places I could visit and just enjoy the scenery. From when I was very young, I’ve always enjoyed the bluebell woods.

For more than five years I’ve been stuck at home for most of the time, but there is nothing I like more than listening to the bird song at my back door when I get up in the morning. Or even just looking at the trees and wondering about the life they contain. I’m not very green fingered, but this year I am actually managing to keep some plants alive. I’m hoping for a garden in bloom for summer.

Mindfulness

One of my main tools for keeping my mental health in check is Mindfulness. I try to spend a little time each day just focusing on nothing in particular. I can be meditating or listening to Schumann Resonance just to ground myself.

But if keeping your mind really blank is a problem their are many other mindful activities. Colouring, breathing techniques, yoga, visualisation or even crafts.

I use my LSW Mind Cards to help me. They now have a New Mums edition as well as a Kids Edition. Their journals and notebooks are also lovely. I am an affiliate for Mind Cards so I may earn a little money if you click through and purchase something, even though it won’t cost you any extra, so thank you.

I’ve had my Mind Cards for over a year now and still use them every day.

Positive Mind Training

I recently tried a Positive Mind Training Course which I found really useful. It helped me to choose how I react to things differently and more positively. I even found some of the things I learned where helpful to my daughter who is currently doing her GCSEs. It’s a really good tool for mental health awareness.

The first part of the course is free, but still worth listening to. The Positive Mind Training course is Part of a bigger initiative called Change a Billion Minds a ‘not for profit’ company that has a big aim of improving the lives of many people and help change the world for the better.

positive mind training for mental health week

Learn Something New

Learning new things can be great for our mental health and I have recently completed a course at The Centre of Excellence. Again, I am an affiliate so if you click through and purchase a course then I may earn some money at no extra cost to you.

The Centre of Excellence offers so many different courses from Child Education, to Beauty Therapy, Life Coaching to Writing Courses, History to Business Marketing. You can even learn how to set up your own online course.

If you need a little extra help with your mental health you could always choose a course on Mindfulness or Reiki.

Some of the courses are expensive, but sign up for the newsletter and you will get some fabulous bargains. I got my course for just £29, and there are free courses on offer too.

What do you do to improve your mental health? If you ever need to talk you can always find me on Twitter or Facebook and message me for a chat.

Take care and stay happy and healthy x