My Top Ten Gems in London

1.  Forbidden Planet

Full of books, comics and merchandise for (almost) every fandom you can think of. They also get amazing authors and graphic designers coming in for signings every so often – it’s definitely worth going to see. (Leicester Square)

2. Chin Chin Labs

They make ice cream using liquid nitrogen and create some amazing flavours (including vegan friendly recipes). They also make the most AMAZING thick hot chocolate with marshmallow fluff (again, vegan option is available). (Soho and Camden)

3. Museum of London

We are so lucky to have so many amazing museums and galleries around London, and for free. One of my favourites is the Museum of London. This is a literal walk through time including lots of child friendly information and interactive displays. My favourite part is walking through the Victorian shops. They also have some really cool exhibitions on, I went to one about Crimes where they displayed evidence from famous crimes around London (including Jack the Ripper) and death masks and hanging ropes. (Nearest tube is Bank)

4. Soho Theatre

If you know anything about me, you know I love seeing comedy. I usually see at least one a month (laughter is the best medicine). The Soho Theatre is one of my favourite places to go. They have big comedians at amazing prices, they do a lot of work in progress shows and all the rooms are small and intimate. Comedians I’ve seen here include: Jack Whitehall, Daniel Sloss, Shappi Khorsandi, Nina Conti and Rhys James.

5. Thames Boat Tours

I’ve only recently been on these but I had a great time. The stops include; Westminster, London Eye, Tower Bridge and Greenwich. They do live commentary as you sail down the Thames. I’ve lived in London for the past 6 years and learnt lots of new things (including where Ian McKellen’s pub is!)

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, bridge, sky and outdoor

6. Royal Parks – St James’, Richmond and Bushy Park.

We are blessed to have so many beautiful Royal Parks in London, with Hyde Park and Green Park being two of the most popular. My personal favourites are St James’ for the pelicans, Richmond for how large and diverse it is, and Bushy Park for the deer.

7. Afternoon tea -BBakery Tea Bus, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The are so many different afternoon teas in London to suit everyone’s mood and need. Posh hotels? We’ve got it. Themed tea? Check. Quirky toilets? I’m looking at you Sketch. I’ve been lucky enough to try out quite a few – my favourites so far are;

Bbakery tea bus tour – have afternoon tea on an old route master whilst seeing the sights of London. They introduced me to my love of Rooibos tea!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea – From smoking cocktails to bacon jam to surprising flavours. This was an absolute treat!

The Savoy – Oh my goodness. The best scones I’ve ever had. Plus, I just had to check out how posh the toilets were.

Brown’s Hotel – We went here for our anniversary. It’s the oldest hotel in London. We were seated next to the fireplace with a live piano playing throughout the afternoon. How wonderful!


8. Tea – Bird&Blend Tea Co., Twinings

I am a tea addict. My shelves are jam packed with every variety of tea you could possibly want. I have a tea subscription and this year I even have a tea advent calendar! (Thank you, Bird & Blend tea!) Bird & Blend are slowly popping up all over London. I went there for a tea making course and fell in love. They showed me how to make macha properly and how to make iced tea using loose leaves. Yum! Twinings caramel rooibos tea remains one of my favourites and I love visiting their 300 year old shop whenever I’m running low on supplies.

9. Escape rooms

London has a lot of escape rooms. So far, I’ve only tried one. Engima Quest’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry quest. For a Harry Potter fan, this was so much fun! You had to solve the challenges to pass subjects. For each subject passed you got a grade. Of course, we managed to pass all 6 subjects and get “Outstanding”. I’m reluctant to reveal any of the secrets but would highly recommend this to anyone and everyone!


10.  Theatre Shows

One of the delights of living so close to London is the amount of amazing theatre I’ve seen. From the huge musicals The Lion King, Wicked, Matilda to Shakespeare at the the Globe to the National Theatre to Pinter plays. If a play/musical has been there for a while, it’s worth seeing. I would recommend ANYTHING at the Royal Court Theatre, everything I’ve seen there has been thought provoking and engaging.

Hopefully some of the things you love are on my list and I would love it if you have discovered something new!

Have you done any of these things?

What do you love doing in London?


October Wrap Up

I’ve hit that low point of the year, it’s probably due to being back at work after 6 weeks off, and I don’t have the motivation to blog any more. Every time I go to write something I have that niggling voice in my head saying “what’s the point, Em?”  So, I apologise, and I will get better at posting because I have done and read some amazing things over the past couple of months, especially as I’ve finally gotten out of my reading slump!

I went to the Body Worlds experience in London. It was really weird but interesting. After a while you start to forget that these were once living, breathing people.

Books Read in October

Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan Gold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svg

Talking with Serial Killers: The Most Evil People in the World Tell Their Stories by Christopher Berry-Dee Gold_Star.svgGold_Star.svg

The More You Ignore Me by Jo Brand Gold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svg

Hollow WorldTalking with Serial Killers: The Most Evil People in the World Tell Their Own Stories


Blog Posts

sunday smiles

Sunday Smiles – Cambridge


Books I Bought In October.


Currently Reading: 

The Life and Loves of a He Devil

Looking Forward To In November…

  • My birthday! We’re going to the Harry Potter themed escape rooms! I’m very, very excited!
  • It’s our 10 year anniversary so we’re going for afternoon tea and to see The Lion King.

How was your October?

Talking with Serial Killers by Christopher Berry-Dee

Talking with Serial Killers: The Most Evil People in the World Tell Their Own Stories

Title: Talking with Serial Killers: The Most Evil people in the World Tell Their Own Stories
Author: Christopher Berry-Dee
Series: N/A
Publication: 31st May 2003
Genre: Nonfiction, Crime.

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book that intimidates / scares you.

My Thoughts (2)


An investigative criminologist, Christopher Berry-Dee is a man who talks to serial killers. In this book, their pursuit of horror and violence is described in their own words, transcribed from audio and videotape interviews conducted deep inside some of the toughest prisons in the world. Berry-Dee describes the circumstances of his meetings with some of the world’s most evil men, and reproduces their very words as they describe their crimes and discuss their remorse—or lack of it. This work offers a penetrating insight into the workings of the criminal mind.

My Thoughts

I have a morbid interest in serial killers. If I could do any job in the world, without needing a degree or prior training, I would love to look into the psyche of serial killers; finding out their motivations and what compels them to commit these crimes.

There is no denying that Christopher Berry-Dee is a skilled interviewer, getting some of these murderers to talk to him and admit things, which they haven’t done for other people. In some cases they haven’t spoken to journalists in years, if ever. However, a lot of this book felt like Berry-Dee was giving himself a pat on the back.

“The Most Evil People In the World Tell Their Own Stories.” Except they don’t.  I probably would have rated it higher had the title not misled me. There are only a few direct quotes from the interviews or letter correspondence with the killers, usually at the start or end of the chapter. This book is a series of mini biographies about the different serial killers. They usually started with the background of the place, then the background of the person before then listing the murders, some in more detail than others. Most of the information is stated as fact. Although the majority of it is, some of it certainly couldn’t be confirmed unless he witnessed it firsthand, such as the emotions of the murderers and the victims whilst the crimes are being committed, or in the case of McDuff, a detailed description of the lethal injection from the injectee’s point of view (eg. “he contemplated the end, which he thought would be painless…” “McDuff felt pressure in his chest. It was a suffocating feeling…” “He was dizzy and hyperventilating.”)

An interesting subject but the misleading title, lack of direct quotes from the killers, and unreliable narration left me less impressed than I hoped. I was going to get his conversations with female serial killers but after reading this book, I don’t think I will.

My Thoughts (1)


Third Quarter Quell – 3 Month Wrap Up

Copy of Monthly Wrap Up.png

Welcome to the third Quarter Quell of 2018. This is where I look back at the challenges I set myself at the beginning of the year and see how much progress I’ve made on them. Half way through the year I wasn’t doing particularly great on any of my challenges. Since then it has been the Summer holidays, six weeks of potential reading time and things haven’t exactly gone to plan…

I set myself the following challenges at the beginning of the year: 

  • To read my pre-ordered books. (Court of Mist and Fury and Angel of Storm)
  • To get above 75% on NetGalley
  • To complete The Sherlock Holmes Collection
  • To read more pages in total than the 2016 total (16,084 pages)
  • To read at least 25 books I already own.
  • To complete at least one classic (other than Sherlock Holmes)
  • To read at least 5 of the books delivered to me in my illumicrate boxes, including any new ones I get.
  • To complete at least 26 of the Around the Year In 52 Books Challenge.

To Read My Pre-Orders: The first book I read this year was A Court of Mist and Fury! What a great way to start the year, it was a brilliant book and it half ticked off one of my challenges! 🙂 Just Angel of Storm to read now!

To get above 75% on NetGalley: In December 2017 it was at 70%, by June it had dropped down to 69%. It’s now at 72%

Books that are sitting on my shelf, still to be read, include:

  • Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton
  • Age of Swords – Michael J Sullivan
  • The Best of Adam Sharp – Graeme Simsion
  • Godsgrave – Jay Kristoff
  • The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

I did ARC August this year and ticked off 4 books.

To complete The Sherlock Holmes Collection:  In December 2017, I was 88% through with just The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes left to read. I haven’t picked it up yet this year.

To read more pages in total than the 2016 total (16,084 pages): So far (according to Goodreads, not including children’s picture books) I’ve read 10016 pages = 62% of 2016’s total.

To read at least 25 books I already own: I definitely set the bar too high on this one. I’ve managed 16 books so far. All the books to date here on my Mount TBR Challenge page.

To complete at least one classic (other than Sherlock Holmes): Yeah, that’s not going to happen… But I have read more non-fiction books this year!

To read 5 of the books delivered to me in my illumicrate boxes: This challenge is going really, really badly. I’ve read 1 book – The Smoke ThievesI like the sound of A Thousand Perfect Notes and I’ll probably read Wonder Woman and CatWoman eventually, but the others aren’t really grabbing my attention. The books I still have to read are:

  • The Graces – Laure Eve
  • Diabolic – S. J. Kincaid
  • Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones
  • The Walking Land  by Callie Bates
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo
  • Nyxia – Scott Reintgen
  • Artemis – Andy Weir
  • The City of Brass – S.A.Chakraborty
  • Blood and Sand – C.V.Wyk
  • Light Years – Kass Morgan
  • A Thousand Perfect Notes  – C.G.Drews
  • CatWoman – Sarah J. Maas

I still have the November box to come…

✓  To complete at least 26 of the  Around the Year In 52 Books Challenge(28/52 completed) Finally! One target I’ve actually managed to achieve!

Reading Challenge 2018- 9 months

In the past 3 months I have ticked off:
5. A book about or inspired by real events – This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
6. A book originally written in a language other than English – Tokyo Ghoul, tome 1 (Tokyo Ghoul #1) by Sui Ishida (25.9.18)
8. An “own voices” book* – To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han (2.9.18)
10. An author’s debut book (their first book to be published) – The Novice by Taran Matharu 
12. A book set in Africa or South America – Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart 
13. A book with a plot centered around a secret (forbidden love, spies, secret societies, etc) – Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
16. A narrative nonfiction – The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson 
17. A book you expect to make you laugh – Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills 
33. A book connected (title, cover, content) to a word “born” in the same year as you (link– Trust Me, I’m a (Junior) Doctor by Max Pemberton
42. A book that takes place on, in, or underwater – To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo 
43. A book with a title that is a whole sentence – How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne (25/9/18)
47. A book where the main character (or author) is of a different ethnic origin, religion, or sexual identity than your own – A Life of Crime: The Memoirs of a High Court Judge by Harry Ognall (22.9.18)
50. A book with a warm atmosphere (centered on family, friendship, love or summer) – You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance 

See all the challenges I’ve ticked off here.

Extra Reads:

Claude at the CircusClaude in the CountryClaude in the SpotlightMiranda The Explorer (EARLY READER)

Currently reading:

The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold StoryThe Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man (The Hundred-Year-Old Man, #2)

Have you read any of these books?
How are you getting on with your resolutions?

Season of Storms (The Witcher #0) by Andrezj Sapkowski

Title: Season of Storms
Author: Andrezj Sapkowski
Series: The Witcher #0
Publication: 22nd May 2018 by Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Fantasy

My Thoughts (2)


Geralt. The witcher whose mission is to protect ordinary people from the monsters created with magic. A mutant who has the task of killing unnatural beings. He uses a magical sign, potions and the pride of every witcher – two swords, steel and silver. But what would happen if Geralt lost his weapons?

Andrzej Sapkowski returns to his most popular hero in a stand-alone novel where Geralt fights, travels and loves again, Dandelion sings and flies from trouble to trouble, sorcerers are scheming … and across the whole world clouds are gathering – the season of storms is coming…

My Thoughts

The story is a prequel to the renowned series of novels by Sapkowski. As always Geralt is caught up in a huge mess involving sorceress’ and the politics of yet another empire. However, he isn’t alone, his trusty sidekick Dandelion appears just in the nick of time and you begin to learn more about Geralt’s friendship with the dwarven kind.

Sapkowski has a particular method for describing the more sexual nature of his novels including describing a scene by applying the metaphor of a ship in a rocky bay for the sexuality between Geralt and the sorceress, Lytta Neyd. To quote the weirdness of the sea metaphors “He utterly devoted his hands and attention to a pair of galleons under full sail.” This appears in the midst of his raunchy relationship and I’m sure that I don’t need to explain what these “galleons” are. The strangest thing about this relationship is that it revolves around Lytta, the sorceress to a crazy King who specialises in creating infertile brides (usually around 18 years old) for the King (who is around 80 years old).

Sadly, if you have read the short manga styled adventures of Geralt then you would have already read the majority of this story. Also, the story took on a very interesting twist when Geralt is sent on a cat and mouse hunt for a disgustingly violent serial killer – a much more interesting story line. However, despite this being built up for the majority of the story, it is incredibly quickly resolved when Geralt comes face to face with the enemy.

Sadly the story does not live up to the rest of the Witcher series and should be avoided – just don’t avoid the actual series of novels (these are much better!).

My Thoughts (1)


This is Going to Hurt: Secrets of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay


This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Title: This is Going to Hurt: Secrets of a Junior Doctor
Author: Adam Kay
Series: N/A
Publication:  7th September 2017 by Picador
Genre: Non-fiction, medical, biography

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book about or inspired by real events

My Thoughts (2)


Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

My Thoughts

I was first introduced to this book when the author was in dictionary corner on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. He read snippets from his book and I couldn’t help but snort laugh. I had to buy it and definitely don’t regret doing so.

This book consists of extracts from a diary Adam Kay kept whist he was a Junior Doctor working for the NHS. The book is funny, heart warming, heartbreaking and, as he was an obs & gynae doctor, sometime disgusting.  It was eye opening to see just how many hours doctors are expected to do, on little sleep, food or toileting, to see the effect the job had on their families, their social lives and their mental health.

As it is a collection of diary entries, I will share my favourites.

“Three a.m. attendance at labour ward triage. Patient RO is twenty-five years old and thirty weeks into her first pregnancy. She complains of a large number of painless spots on her tongue. Diagnosis: taste buds.”

“I missed what the argument was about, but a woman storms out of gynae outpatients screaming at the clinic sister, ‘I pay your salary! I pay your salary!’ The sister yells back, ‘Can I have a raise then?'”

“‘In order to encourage use of public transport’ there is no staff car park at the hospital – an admirable sentiment that would land me with a two-hour-twenty-minute commute each way.”

“Prescribing a morning-after pill in A&E. The patient says, ‘I slept with three guys last night. Will one pill be enough?'”

“Sending a patient home from the day surgery unit following laparoscopic sterilization. I tell her she can have sex again as soon as she feels ready, but to use alternative contraception until her next period. I nod at her husband and say, ‘That means he has to wear a condom.’ I can’t quite work out why their faces are a picture of horror, melting like the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. What have I said? It’s perfectly good advice, right? I look at them both again, and realize the man is actually her father.”

A book which will have you going through a roller coaster of emotions and leaving me with the feeling that maybe my work hours aren’t so bad as I thought. I already respected those who work in medicine but even more so after reading this.

My Thoughts (1)


Top Ten Hidden Gems


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsty Reader. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. It’s a great way to learn more about the bloggers you follow and to find lots of new books. This week’s topic is “Top Ten Hidden Gems.”

These are among some of my favourite books which cover a range of issues including friendship, rape, alcoholism and abuse. I feel all of these books are very powerful and done very well. Click on the book title to link to my reviews.

Books I don’t think are talked about enough are…

Solitude of a Birdcage by Brielle Skye – Maxie is sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend. They are going to tell him in the morning, when he is hospitalised due to a bullet wound and wakes up unable to remember either of the girls.

Trouble by Non Pratt – The book flicks between pregnant teenager Hannah and Aaron, the boy who is pretending to be the baby’s father.

One by Sarah Crossan – Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins. No longer able to afford homeschooling, they are venturing out into the world. The book is written in free verse.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Don Tillman decides he needs a wife. So in order to sage himself time he approaches it systematically, through the use of a 16 page questionnaire to find himself the ‘perfect’ wife.

Solitude of a Birdcage (Forget Me Not #1)TroubleOneThe Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi – 17 year old Nina likes to drink. Sometimes she wakes up with little memory of the night before, but her friends will fill in the blanks. Until one Sunday, even her friends can’t help her piece together the Saturday and Nina has a deep sense of shame, that something very bag has happened to her…

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes – Flicking between Catherine Baily’s life “then” and “now”. The personalities are complete different within the 4 year gap. Something life changing has clearly happens in order to cause this. Could gorgeous, spontaneous, protective Lee have something to do with this?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (review soon) – Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you. The diary of a Junior Doctor working for the NHS.

Nina is Not OKInto the Darkest CornerEleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineThis is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

What books do you think we need to talk about more?

Sunday Smiles

sunday smiles

My Sunday Smiles

Image result for there's no tired like first week of school

<– Literally me on Thursday night. The children were back to school on Wednesday and it’s been an interesting week. I’m in Year 3 so it’s a big jump up from infants for them, which I don’t think they were expecting. The lack of playtime in the afternoon definitely shocked them.

I bought a Triwizards Tournament cup as my reward for the table of the week. Their little faces when they saw how big it is was very sweet. Even more so when I turned on the blue light.

Image result for tim minchin backI LOVE seeing comedians, everyone needs a good laugh every now and again. I am thrilled that this week I managed to get tickets for Tim Minchin who has been on my list of comedians to see for years. I also went and treated myself to Hamilton tickets too!

What’s made you smile this week?

Sunday Smiles is a weekly meme created by me at Tumbling into Wonderland Books. It runs every Sunday. Want to find out more or join in the fun? Check out the details here.

You Only Live Once (Gracie Dart #1) by Jess Vallance 

You Only Live Once (Gracie Dart #1)

Title: You Only Live Once
Author: Jess Vallance
Series: Gracie Dart #1
Publication:  23rd August 2018 by Hot Key Books
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Fiction

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book with a warm atmosphere (centered on family, friendship, love or summer)

My Thoughts (2)


Gracie Dart has always worked hard and she’s got a wall covered with revision timetables and French verbs to prove it. But now GCSEs are behind her and she suddenly starts to think: what was the POINT of it all?

When Gracie thinks she’s dying of a disgusting tropical illness, she starts to worry she’s been wasting her best years being sensible. It’s like people say: you only live once – so isn’t it about time she started LIVING?
(OK, so the tropical illness turned out to be a fake-tan miscalculation. Anyone could make the same mistake.)

When Gracie decides to do something, she does it properly. Gracie Dart is about to live out her dreams. However embarrassing.

My Thoughts

This book is marketed at being good for fans of Geek Girl, which was completely spot on. It also reminded me a lot of Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson books. It was funny and enjoyable with some strong themes of friendship.

The book starts with Gracie coming back from holiday after her stressful GCSEs and taking herself off to hospital as, she has Googled it, she clearly has a tropical illness and is dying. Being prepared, she wees into a tub, pops it into her handbag and gets a single bus ticket to the hospital. On the way the bottle breaks in her bag, soaking her in urine. After a few hours wait she sees the Dr, who she off loads onto like a therapist. It turns out she’s not going to die after all! After her near-death(ish) experiece she decides she’s going to live life to the full and stats pushing herself out of her comfort zone by riding a horse along a beach (kind of), bungy jumping (what could possibly go wrong?) and taking her Gran on an impromptu trip to Paris.

It’s told entirely from Grace’s point of view and the author gets the teenage girl’s voice and thoughts spot on; from the humour, to the insecurities, to the dating. It captures family life, both the ups and downs. It even covers cutting friends out of your life because a “better offer” comes along.

A wonderful, funny and enjoyable read.

My Thoughts (1)


ARC August 2018: Wrap Up

ARC-August (1)

ARC August (hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat.) has come to an end and I must say I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. I read a book which has been sitting on my Netgalley shelf for THREE years and I read a book before its release date.

My Goals

My aim at the beginning of this challenge was to get into the 70’s but I really wanted the 75%. I raised my percentage from 69% to 72%

Feedback Ratio: 72%

103 Approved  |  74 Feedback Sent
28 Books on shelf


The Books

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo Gold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svg

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart Gold_Star.svgGold_Star.svg

Summoner: The Novice by Taran Matharu Gold_Star.svgGold_Star.svg

You Only Live Once (Gracie Dart #1) by Jess Vallance  (Review published on 5th Sept) Gold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svgGold_Star.svg

To Kill a KingdomGenuine FraudYou Only Live Once (Gracie Dart #1)

Still on the shelf…

  • Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan (23%)
  • Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (Started)
  • The Break by Marian Keyes
  • The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  • The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr
  • The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
  • My Sister’s Secret by Tracy Buchanan


Have you read any of these books?

Will you be joining in with ARC August?