Thursday, 12 March 2020

REVIEW - Marriage Unarranged - as decadent as masala chai

Date read: 12th March 2020

My rating: 5*

Genre I reckon: Contemporary Indian Chicklit 

Buy link: Amazon

If you follow my reviews, you know I rarely give a 5* but this book has earned it. 
Aashi has burrowed into my heart with her excellent, demure grace. 

Where do I begin? The end! 
Oh, that Ravi!!! (*boo hiss*) 

Aashi's family are wonderful. I adore her daddy-ji - such a lovely teddy bear of a man. 
Mummy-ji is quite traditional but no less lovely. 
And her brothers? Nobody could want better - overprotective with love.
And, as if that wasn't enough, Kiran, her best friend, is wonderful if not slightly kamli
- a wonderful Sikh family. 

One of the beauties of this book is that includes Indian wording, specifically, Punjabi. But it's done in such a way that you easily understand. And there's a glossary of terms at the back should you get confused. 

Aashi & co. travel to India, and I felt like I was right there with them!
I could almost smell and taste everything the author described. 
I was even inspired to brew up some masala chai myself!! 
Warning - this book might make you hungry. If you're inspired to make any of the stuff mentioned, there's plenty of recipes online - do it! 

I almost got the holiday blues when the story landed back in the UK! 

So, we have some wonderful characters with amazing settings.
The plot takes you along nicely too. I was rooting for Aashi all the way. 
And the writing style is fab. 
It's also refreshing to read a book featuring Indian culture. I smiled at the phrase "chickpea curry lit"  - yep! 
Have you seen that cover? It's just brilliant! 
BUT, as good as all that is, it's not what makes this book special. And, you should already be one-click buying by now.
But it is the message which really pushes this novel up my admiration ladder. It is so brave. 

Marriage Unarranged seeks to explain, quite gently but firmly, that broken engagements should not leave the girl shamed/tainted. I think possibly more often than not, it's the boy who is culpable but who gets away unscathed.
And massive kudos for subtly addressing gay relationships too. Yes, in some cultures, this is still an issue. 

Honestly, if you're a chicklit/romance fan, you won't be disappointed! 

So good it gets its own special book review photo!
Always in love and light,

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

REVIEW - Into the Fire - the heat is on for Inspector Stone

Date read: 3rd March 2020

My rating: 4*

Genre I reckon: Detective

Buy link: All stores

Doh! Confession: it wasn't until I got to the end that I realised I'd clicked on the wrong book in my Kindle Library! 🙈 This is, in fact book 4 of the series. 
That I didn't realise is testament to the fact that this book can be read as a stand alone. 

I really enjoyed this book. 
There's a whole pile of cases for Detective Stone to wade through, and he's recovering from trauma as it is. 

There's a fun array of characters, all written with depth. 
Details of the cases are classified until you read them 😉

Like all good detectives, Stone is a guy with flaws. This is what makes him so believable. 
I love his friendships and how we get glimpses into his life as he gets on with his work. 
There's even a nosy reporter/friend. 

If you like detective books, you'll want to give this series a read. 

Always in love and light,

Thursday, 13 February 2020

REVIEW - The Fat Girl's Guide to Loving Your Body - true love

Date read: 13th February 2020

My rating: 4.5*

Genre I reckon: Self-help

Buy link: All stores

Now, you may have noticed, I've been using my blog to do the journal assignments in this book. 
There's a lot of journal entries to complete but that's the beauty of this book - it makes you actively think and assess your mindset. 

Now, there's an obvious target market - the clue's in the title. 
However, anyone with body issues can find benefit in this book, regardless of size or gender.
"It is not your job to be pretty" is a core belief here - sound advice for all, right? 

The first half gives you background of the author's journey along with advice before setting tasks for you. This is a voice of experience, people. 

The second half details daily meditations. Every single day for a year, there's a different thought for the day - something to think about or do, all aimed at helping you improve your attitude to your body and food. 

This is not "I know better because I have all these degrees" advice. No, it's far better. This is KL Montgomery sharing her experience and life knowledge with you. Open, honest truths. 

The informal language throughout is fun and feels like a friendly chat - far better than the "do this/that/the other" of a lot of self-help manuals. 
Oh, and there's swearing included, so if the f bomb offends, this may not be the book you are looking for (*waves hand in a Jedi stylee*).

There's definitely some things I will personally take from this book which will help me on my own body positive journey. 

So, if you've got a less than friendly self-dialogue going on, grab this book with both hands. 
It's even in KU as I write this - a whole year's worth of book fro free. Even at £5 it's a bargain. 
If you get the paperback, there's pages included for your journal assignments btw. 

If you do one good thing for yourself this month/year, buy this book! 

JOURNAL - The Fat Girl's Guide to Loving Your Body - entry 13 (last one!)

Book available to buy here

Entry 13 - My Tribe

Aww, look at my happy gang. 
This photo was actually taken a while back. A whole bunch of us got together and did some planetary lightwork near Stonehenge. 
Now, some of you may be glazing over and wondering what the hell I just said. 
Well, it doesn't matter, really. 
What's important is that this is a selection of my like-minded friends; my soul tribe. 
"Vibe with your tribe" really is good advice. 
When I did my 2nd Reiki degree with a lovely lady, I met some fab new friends who understood me. More importantly, helped me accept the slightly odd journey I was on and accept I wasn't alone or completely losing my marbles. 
I did more courses with said lovely lady and made more friends. And through them, more. My reach then extended further again. I even reunited with a wonderful friend I studied counselling with; we'd lost touch but haven't since. 

I feel so loved an supported by this gang. 

And so it is with my writing tribe. 
I have some great author friends. It's so important; writing can be lonely and isolating. And nobody else truly understands your nuances. But other writers will! 
I think my 'Interview With an Author' series showed that nicely. 
So, where do you find these wonderful people? We're all over social media! 
On Facebook, I run the Indie Coffee Lounge to bring writers/readers/bloggers together. 
And the very author of this book I'm journalling from runs 'Indie Author Support'.
There's lots out there - just search for your genre and join groups. 
I found Instagram a wonderful, friendly place to connect with authors too btw. 

So, go out, do things you like and maybe find like-minded souls in the process. 

Always in love and light,

Monday, 10 February 2020

JOURNAL - The Fat Girl's Guide to Loving Your Body - entry 12

Book available to buy here

Entry 11 - Be Kind

I know I've used this image before but it's so good and is one that is a constant companion in my life. It was even my screensaver when I worked in an office. 
So simple yet so tricky. 
Yes, it's always possible. You just may not always feel like doing it. 

I once had a driver badly cut me up - my braking saved a nasty accident. 
Yet, I took a very deep breath and wished the other driver who sped away love and light. 
I prayed their life would improve - if they are less stressed/hurried then they're less likely to be involved in another near miss or worse. 
And I felt better! The good intentions calmed me. 
After all, my anger would go nowhere - they wouldn't know. It'd just eat away at me. 
So, it CAN happen! It takes practice. And I'll admit I'm a bit out of practice at the moment. 
I don't know if maybe my hormones are starting to bubble over as I age, or what but I do seem to have a shorter fuse again at the moment. 

Talking of being kind, This Morning (British daytime TV programme) run a #bekind campaign to help stop bullying.

I'd like to expand on kindness a little further here with RAOK 
(a Random Act Of Kindness)

This can be as simple as you like and can cost nothing e.g. check in on an elderly neighbour, especially if the weather's iffy. 
Or maybe buy a friend a random bunch of flowers. 
Call a relative or friend - on the actual phone!
Buy a homeless person a coffee/sandwich (don't give money though).
Post a thank you on social media.
Leave a review for a good book 😉
Compliment someone - especially fun on a passing stranger in the street!
Bake for neighbours/colleagues.
You get the idea.

True story:
I was queued behind a mum and her young daughter in a gift shop at Christmas. I overheard their conversation; the daughter was trying to add her gift for her mum to her purchases as she didn't personally have enough money, but didn't want her mum to see it or know how much it was. 
Being a sticky-beak, I noticed it was all of £1.50 and found this whole set up rather sweet. 
However, the dumbass cashier completely misunderstood the instruction and ran the gift through separately and completely ruined the surprise in the girl's eyes. 
So, out came £1.50 from my purse, and it travelled into the girl's hand. I tried to whisper, "Here, give this to your mummy as she shouldn't have to buy her own Christmas present." 
Obviously, the mum, seeing a stranger near her offspring had ear like a hawk and heard what I said. 
"Oh my God, that's the sweetest thing," she blubbed, "I can't believe it. Thank you so much. You just made my year!"
£1.50 bought me happy tears! This poor woman had obviously had a really shit year and I brought happiness to her dented heart 💗 
Lesson: you never know what a huge impact your tiny deed may have. 

I often leave my change at the till to put towards the next person in the queue behind me (unless they seem like an arsehole - my generosity doesn't stretch to them yet!). 

Honestly; try it. 
It gives me such warm fuzzies. 

Always in love and light,

Friday, 7 February 2020

JOURNAL - The Fat Girl's Guide to Loving Your Body - entry 11

Book available to buy here

Entry 10 - Fashion

(*sings*) "She's in fashion..." 🎶

I have long since made peace with my "weird" (means wise woman originally; the pointy hat fits!) 
And thus, my clothes are whatever make me feel good. 

But let's take a step back...under here...
Good clothes start with good underwear. Especially for the more amply busted ladies; the girls need good support - for comfort and for clothes hanging. 
I go on fairly regular pilgrimages to Brighton as that's the home of a Bravissimo - they do very good measuring and have fab bras. 
My bra size is considered 'plus size' - I really wish they'd look their size, but hey, I digress. 
A lot of shops don't go above (UK) DD 😲 And when they do, the bras are plain and boring, like big boobs don't want pretty things! 😡 It's like KL was saying in her book about plus size clothes. just in underwear. 
However, Bravissimo do many sizes AND in pretty. Yep, I just linked so you can take a look if you're in need of fab bras. They actually also do fab clothes in different 'curvy' sizes, to fit your boobs and waist nicely. 

Right, so once you've got the right underpinning, it's time to find outerwear. 
Jeans - bane of my life! I have long legs, smaller waist, big hips and my lower back goes in 🙈
However, I DO manage to find jeans to fit. I have a few stores I will try first now, but it took a while to find them. 

There's not many things I won't wear. It's all personal taste for me. 
I move in 'holistic' circles and they kinda expect me to dress in tie-dye. Yeah, I have a couple of pieces but don't expect it all the time. 
I try to shop ethically too - at least avoiding the child/slave labour products. That's not always easy as it's not obvious - well, they wouldn't want to advertise their awful human rights infringements, eh? 

Last year I worked a LOT of temp jobs. And I got a good deal on my (long-moaned-about) new house roof. So, I treated myself to a FABULOUS coat...
Now, a lot of people I see (at work), raise their eyebrows and say stuff like, "Now, THAT's a coat," or "You won't get lost in a crowd, will you?" - this is British for, holy fuck, what the hell are you wearing? Know what? I couldn't give a tiny rat's arse!! 
This coat is super comfy and I think it's super gorgeous. 
I don't give a shit what they decide to wear. 
Mind you, it was quite nice when I wore it round Bath and lots of people stopped me to compliment my magick coat (of 2 colours) and ask where I bought it - genuine compliments! I may need to move there?! 

Some of my dressy-upy moments
Sorry - I tend to only have photos on special occasions.
That bottom left dress is one of my faves - it has pockets!!! 

Anyway, yeah, I don't conform. I wear what I like! 

I did actually look for a bikini shot but I only have legs in those!? Will get more in the future! 


Always in love and light,

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

JOURNAL - The Fat Girl's Guide to Loving Your Body - entry 10

Book available to buy here

Entry 10 - Self-Love

Right, now we're talking! This is something I know about. 
Did I mention I've literally written the book Self Love?
That book came about from years of experience, as a counsellor, holistic therapist and my own journey. 
Sure, it's a humorous novel but it also aims to help the reader improve their own self-care. 
I'd like to point out that yes, the heroine does go on a weight loss journey but it's because of health issues. It's not about that. It's about her self-discovery. 

OK, enough advertising 😉
There's a serious message here. 

Let me repeat that...
Self-love is NOT selfish, it IS essential! 
You cannot pour from an empty cup. 
If you are not at your best you are not best able to help others. 
Plus, y'know, who wants to feel rubbish? 

But we have years of conditioning to battle here. We've been taught "don't be selfish". 
I'm here to tell you that's not right. 
No, we shouldn't be all about self. But we shouldn't neglect self either. 

I ran some self-talk talks last year. They were really popular, but I have a global fan base, so I recorded a mini version of the talk. Please take ten minutes to watch it on YouTube or my IGTV. It really is worth it, I promise. It's free! 

Feel free to nab these images and print them
I created these for a double-sided leaflet 

There are what I call self-love tools, such as:

  • Meditation (link takes you to one of mine on the InsightTimer app but there's loads out there)
  • Giving thanks for your blessings
  • Stop feeling guilty
  • Ensure your inner voice is your own and that it's kind
  • Reduce/stop using "should"
  • Accept and give compliments
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take social media breaks
  • Forgiveness (of self & others)
  • Celebrate your successes
  • Treat yourself
  • Carry crystals/essential oil cream
  • Create a jar of happiness
  • Eat healthily
  • Exercise (find something you enjoy)
  • Get crafting
  • Listen to music (especially helpful when doing housework; Snow White had a point!) 😆
  • Reading
I could go on, but you get the idea. It's not all about hot baths and candles, as nice as they are. 

This is what some of mine look like.
I'm a huge fan of sleep. I have days out with Hubby and also my bestie. Strolls in the forest. Eating yummies. My bedside has a plethora of essential oils and crystals. Kitty cuddles. Reading, obvs. 

Last year, I also started a bullet journal. 
The thing I found most helpful is the Mood Tracker aspect. I'm a bit of a drama queen (*shocked gasp*), and tend to catastrophise sometimes. The mood tracker helped me see that my months were never all bad, and often a lot better than I gave myself credit for. Although, January 2020 was mostly 'tired'. But then I'm taking a lesson from that and factoring in more rest in February.
So, armed with all this knowledge, why am I reading KL's book? 
Well, I'm great at giving advice, not so good at taking it. 
I keep saying it but I really am a work in progress. I say that without shame. We all are. None of us are perfect. 
I'm a lot better than I used to be but appreciate there's still more I can and will do.

I'm currently eating more spinach and bananas to cope with my energy dip.
I'm also mercifully getting more sleep - January had many early mornings. Waking up in the dark sucks even more for someone with SAD!
Jogging is starting to come back into my routine, and I'm hoping to get some yoga/pilates in too.

Have you got any plans for better self-love?
Feel free to share in the comments - no obligation.

Always in love and light,