2019 Reflections

It's that time of year again when I like to reflect and look back about how our year has gone. 2019 hasn't been the best year for us, in fact it's been pretty hard. There have been some great moments though and exciting things happen. I dont want to just focus on the good stuff that's happened though, as no ones life is perfect and the hard times make us stronger even on the days we dont feel it. Let's be honest here being an adult sucks sometimes and I want to share that as well as the good stuff.





January
Oh January you were a stressful start to year. We spent most of January waiting to hear about survey reports, exchanging contracts and getting a completion date as first time buyers. It was so worth it but the stress of getting completeled in time before we had to move out of the flat certainly didn't help my anxiety. We celebrated completion day with a bottle of bubbly between the two of us. Unfortunately when we went to get the keys the next day they hadn't been handed in and when we managed to get the spare off a neighbour they had left so much junk for us to deal with.


February
February was a pretty emotional month saying goodbye to friends and family knowing they wont be nearby. We had alot of unpacking to do too and getting settled into our new home including getting a new front door ordered . Our anniversary was the day before we moved so we didn't have a chance to celebrate really this year. 


March
We got our new front door sorted out this month and also we had both sets of family visit us. We also finally heard from the pediatrician and Blake was diagnosed with Autism which was a relief for us and we had pretty much expected it. We went to Lincoln one weekend to a gaming festival and also to see the museum of the moon expedition at the collection museum.



April
We had a few days out with my favourite being a trip to Retford.  We ended up finding an amazing park. We've also headed back over to Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire way to see family for Easter. Blake was loving the sunshine, Easter egg hunts and a trip to the farm so it was a rather busy month.


May 
We enjoyed bug hunting, flower spotting, trips to the park and a visit to the local children's centre, where Blake got to enjoy the sensory room. I found myself really struggling in May with my anxiety levels. It doesnt help that Stuart has struggles with his own mental health too.





June
June started off well with the in laws visiting. However the week after we had to cancel our holiday the day before we were to go away as the area was flooded and no trains or buses were running.  This was of course disappointing and we had to change our holiday to July which meant paying extra due to summer holiday prices. We also had to visit Blake's school to discuss his needs ready for starting September. It was also my birthday and I got to enjoy a lovely meal out just the 3 of us. 


July
July was a busy month. We had Blake going into school for some sessions before he started in September. We also had a lovely walk one Sunday along the River Trent. Then we have had our wonderful holiday to Butlins Skegness. To top things off we also found out my sister is expecting her first child in January. Unfortunately I had a mental health blip this month due to medication change which affected me badly.




August 
We went to visit family for just under a week. We went to my sister's gender reveal party where we found out she is having a boy.  At the end of August after saving up we had our garden done and it looks so much better already. There are still things we want to do in 2020 like get some planters. 


September 
We started the month with a flooded kitchen, a broken drain in the bathroom and then the toilet flooding. Not the best timing after paying to get our garden done. We've also had the stress of Blake starting school and his struggles with anxiety of being away from us. I've attended meetings with school regarding Blake and getting an EHCP sorted one of which was a  very draining two hours long!



October 
Stuart ended up in hospital within the first week of the month with heart problems which was such a worrying time. Luckily he was only in for around 36 hours before he was allowed home.  On the plus side this month we found an extra storage room in our attic after being intrigued in what was behind a wooden panel. We also had the in laws over for half term where we enjoyed a visit to Farmer Copleys Pumpkin Festival in Pontefract.




November 
We had to cancel going to visit family for my sister in laws 30th birthday party this month due to the flood alerts in the area. There were train cancellations and warnings not to travel unfortunately. Of course we had to have a leak due to the heavy rain that we need to look into still didn't we. I also found out that I have type 2 diabetes which means a whole new lifestyle change when it comes to my eating habits.  On the plus side we started  with the Christmas festivities with a visit to see the local lantern parade and Christmas light switch on plus Santa's Christmas countdown show. 




December 
The most wonderful time of the year. We've had an elf for Christmas called Pip arrive to keep an eye on Blake who is also rather mischievous. We've put up our Christmas decorations including a new 6ft Christmas tree and worn many festive items of clothing. We've celebrated Blake's 5th birthday and had a wonderful Christmas in our new home. 

2019 end of the year book survey

I have recently come across a few new to me book bloggers and I came across the 2019 end of year book survey over on the perpetual pageturner so I wanted to join in as it looks a great way to look back on my reads in a bit more detail then my goodreads update post.


Number of books read: 64
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre you read the most: Thrillers 


1. Best books you read in 2019?
Thriller: In The Dark and No Way Out by Cara Hunter 
Fantasy: A Curse So Dark And Lonely By Brigid Kemmerer 
Classic: Wuthering Heights By Emily Bronte
Historical Romance: The Tattooist of Auschwitz By Heather Morris 
General Fiction: The Great Alone By Kristin Hannah 
None Fiction : How to Raise A Happy Autistic Child By Jessie Hewittson 

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
Blood Orange By Harriet Tyce. I had read quite good reviews about it but I hated it.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way)  book your read?
If I could go anywhere by Paige Toon. I usually love her books but this one was a bit of a disappointment. Also Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty was a disappointment compared to her other books I've read. 

4. Book you "pushed" he most people to read (and they did)?
How to Raise A Happy Autistic Child By Jessie Hewittson. I've recommended to a mummy friend who's son is also on the spectrum.

5. Best series you started in 2019. Best sequel of 2019. Best series ender of 2019.
I've not really read many series. Both A Curse So Dark And Lonely and A Portrait Of Death were great first books that will have second books out soon.

6. Favourite new author discovered in 2019?

This is such a tough one but I'm going with Rhen Garland

7. Best book from a genre you don't typically read/is out of your comfort zone?

Must admit I've stuck with the usual genres this year. However I did read a book about books called The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle which was very interesting and not the usual fiction book I'd opt  for.


8. Most action packed/thrilling/unputdownable of the year:
Ghoster By Jason Arnop and A House of Ghosts By W.C.Ryan are ones that I definitely were gripped reading.


 9. Book You Read In 2019 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I tend to mainly wait longer to re-read a book however if I was to than it would be You by Caroline Kepnes as I loved the book and the Netflix show alot. 


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019?

 The Familiars by Stacey Halls has such a stunning cover. Even though it has a rope on it to signify the witch trials I love the autumnal colours and the illustration of the fox.

11. Most memorable character of 2019?

 My first thought is Harper from A Curse So Dark And Lonely. She's such a brave and fierce character in my opinion.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2019?

 Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce for me was such a beautiful easy read as was The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2019?

 I wouldn't say any of the ones I've read were to me.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read? 

 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte because I loved it and I wish I had started reading classics more sooner.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2019?

Confession time I've not really paid much attention to quotes.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019?

Shortest book : The Reason I jump by Naoki Higashida with 192 pages
Longest : The Mister By E.L. James with 503 pages.


17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
A Portrait Of Death certainly had many twists and turns.


18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Lale and Gita Sokolov from the Tattooist of Auschwitz they definitely belong together.


19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

 Paige and her mum Joan in All the Wrong Places By Joy Fielding 

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2019 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

 A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult

21. Best Book You Read In 2019 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From somebody else/peer pressure/ bookstagram

The Brighton Mermaid By Dorothy Koomson reccomend to me via my Hooked on books facebook group.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019?

 None to be honest 

23. Best 2019 debut you read?

 A Portrait of Death by Rhen Garland 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

 Have to choose two it's between A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Beauty and the Beast Lost in a book by Jennifer Donnelly.

25. Book/s That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

 The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright and Playgroups and Prosecco By Jo Middle both got me laughing 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2019?

I cry easily and both Dear Mrs Bird and The Tattooist of Auschwitz both made me shed tears at parts.


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

 The Sound of her voice by Nathan Blackwell 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

None that got me really sobbing 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2019?
 The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Handmaids Tail by Marge Atwood 



 1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2019?
It's my goal for 2020 to check out more but I do A Cornish Geek's blog and Instagram.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2019?
 Dare I day I dont have a book favourite post as I've only really done book tours on here in 2019

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2019:?




4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?
 I've done many book tours on here but cant pick a favourite. I've not actually gone to any events though.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2019?
Getting the chance to review some great books and authors I wouldn't have known about otherwise.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Getting books read in time for book tours when arriving later than expected.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
 Book wise its the book tour for A house of ghosts by W.C.Ryan.


8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
 Most of my book reviews tbh

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I've not discovered anywhere new this year I've mainly shopped on Amazon or found reads in charity shops.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Yes I set a goal of 60 books and have read 64


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2019 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2020?
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and I've actually started it.


2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2020 (non-debut)? 

I'm eager for Cara Hunters new book All The Rage which is due to be released January 23rd.


3. 2020 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

 I'm not actually sure I need to look up releases for 2020.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2020?
I'm looking forward to the rease of A Heart so broken and fierce by Brigid Kemmerer which will be the second book in a series

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2020?
 I'm wanting to feature more book related posts on my blog.

2019 Goals | How did I do?

I'm honestly glad that 2019 is coming to end. Don't get we wrong we've had some good moments this year but also quite a bit of bad luck which makes me feel that 9 is our unlucky number. I say this because 2009 was also an awful year for us so it's  got me thinking.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing my year in review so you will know more about what 2019 has been like for us. Today though is about the goals I set myself on the 1st January and if I've actually stuck at them.


1) Read 60 books 
This year I signed up to the goodreads challenge and set myself a goal of reading 60 books by December 31st. I am happy to say I completed this goal on 7th December and have managed to read a further 3 books. I'll definitely be setting a challenge again for 2020.



2) Indulge in more creative activities
I've been getting into Calligraphy, colouring and starting to fill up a sketchbook with some art work. I definitely want to continue in 2020 with these hobbies as I've really been enjoying them.


3) Make time for meditation
I've sort of done this however I could certainly need to be doing it alot more often than I have been to make it into a habit.

4. Visit new places
We've definitely visited quite a few places but it definitely is something in 2020 I want to do more of. 


If you set goals at the beginning of year have you managed to stick at them? 


8 Reading Goals for 2020

If you read yesterday’s Goodreads update, you’ll know that I read 63 books in 2019 meaning I managed to complete my Goodreads challenge of 60 books.


I mentioned in the post that I want to challenge myself again for 2020 and so I have set myself some reading goals for the year ahead.




1. Read 65 Books

I loved setting a target on Goodreads for 2019 and watching my progress so I'm going to do the same for 2020. This time I'm increasing the goal to 65 which I'm sure I'll be able to do.


2. Read more genres

I do enjoy a few different genres but I want to start reading ones I dont normally go for such as science fiction or poetry for example.


3. Spend more time reading

I want to make it a habit of scrolling through social media less. I find I waste alot of time on social media when I could be enjoying a mug of coffee and a good book instead.


4. Join in a reading challenge

I've seen a good few reading challenges and so I've taken inspiration and I've written my own list using prompts from a mixture which I've saved as a note on my phone.


5.  Read the books I have

I have about 20 books on my shelves I've yet to read so I want to start getting through them in 2020. I also want to re-read at least one of my favourite books.


6. Borrow from the library

Instead of buying new books off Amazon or from charity shops I want to sign up to my local library and start borrowing instead. This way not only am I saving myself money but I'm then able to save space as well.


7. Declutter my books

I tend to do this at least once a year. I think its important to only keep books I love and want to read again at some point.


8.  More book/ reading related  blog posts

I want to start sharing more book/ reading related posts in 2020. As reading is my favourite hobby I feel I want to include that more.


9. Be more present on my Hooked on Books facebook page

I've been slacking with sharing my reads and blog posts so this year I plan to start being more present on the page.


10. Sharing my monthly reads

I do this at the moment via a little loves post I do each month. I'm actually planning on not joining in with that linky next year and will instead go back to doing specific monthly what I read posts.

My 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

This year I've really got into using Goodreads to track what books I've read. At the beginning of 2019 I chose to set a target on there of reading 60 books by the end of December. I actually managed to complete that at the beginning of December and so in total I've read 63 books this year. I'm hoping to finish book 64 by the 31st though.

I'll definitely be setting myself a challenge for 2020 along with other reading goals which I'll be sharing about more in tomorrow's post. Its actually lovely to see the stats from Goodreads  and I've done a screenshot of them for you to look at.






How to raise a happy autistic child has be my favourite non fiction read this year. It's such a helpful insight into autism and really has helped with my understanding of what it's like for my son. I highly recommend this book if you have a child or a child in the family who is on the spectrum.


I've read two classics this year The Handmaids Tail and Wuthering Heights and out of both I definitely prefer Wuthering Heights. I plan to read more than 2 classics in 2020. I've also read alot of thrillers/crime/mystery books which was expected as it's my favourite genre. My favourite out of that category were the 2 by Cara Hunter In the Dark and No way out. 

My favourite fiction book of the year is The Great Alone. Fantasy wise A curse so dark and lonely was a winner a for me. 

My least favourite book of the year is a tie between The Stranger and Blood Orange. I finished reading them, but they were reads I just couldn't get into.


I've read some reads from my favourite authors and enjoyed  A spark of light by Jodi Picoult. Lisa Jewels books were as great as usual. Nine perfect strangers by Lianne Moriarty was a bit of a disappointment. YOU I loved after having watched the Netflix show. The Secret library was a great book about books with facts I didn't know. 



I'm pleased with the mixture of reads for this year and I definitely need to register at my local library in 2020.  I definitely want to broaden my reading next year and read books I wouldnt usually go for such as poetry for example. Come back tomorrow to find out about my reading goals for 2020.


#LITTLELOVES December



Christmas is over for another year already which is crazy. I hope you all had a wonderful time. We had such a wonderful December filled with all things festive. We've had Pip our elf join us for the month causing all kinds of mischief. Blake turned 5 this month and it's been so lovely to see Blake understanding alot more about both his Birthday and Christmas. He adores the Christmas decorations especially the tree with its colourful lights. We popped to a Christmas market in town and the tea cup ride was a hit with him.

Now lets get on with my little loves for December.

READ

I've read 4 books this month and I also completed my 2019 challenge of reading 60 books this year and am currently on book number 64 which I hope to finish by the end of December.



All the wrong places by Joy Fielding
I really enjoyed this gripping read. It was for my last blog book tour of the year and you can read more about the book here.


An Island Christmas by Jenny Colgan
I have to read at least one Christmas themed book in December. This is one was a lovely festive read cuddled up under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate.

The women in the dark by Vanessa Savage
Another thrilling and suspenseful read. I fully reccomend picking this one up.

The suspect by Fiona Barton
I love fiona Barton's thrillers and this one was just as thrilling as The Child which I read in 2018.

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce
I do love reading novels based in world war 2 and Dear Mrs Bird is a light hearted one which I'm currently reading.

Every night I've also been reading Blake a book from his Disney Storybook advent calendar we got him this year. I love the mixture of stories featured and will be using it again next year.

Watched 

You can see my bumper list of Christmas films as we've been making our way through the ones mentioned. 

Blake has also had quite a few videos from Santa via Portable North Pole  thanks to the magic pass we were gifted. 

Heard

Christmas songs have been played quite a bit this month and Blake has been singing Jingle Bells alot.

WORE

Blake and I have been loving wearing match Christmas Pjs. He was so thrilled to see that I have the same pair as him. These were from B&M and we will be saving them for next year too.

Blake's been wearing a few of his Christmas themed tops and we especially love the jumper I picked up for him from Aldi. He's worn it both for Christmas jumper day and on the last day of school before the Christmas holiday.


MADE

Stuart let me have one of my Christmas presents early..The new Pinch of Nom book! and so we made a couple of recipes from it. The oven baked Risotto with smoked salmon and peas was a favourite along with the ploughmans platter which we had Christmas Eve.


Christmas Eve was the only time we got to do crafts and it was a The snowman set that I had picked up at poundland. Blake loved the colouring and painting and he wanted to me to do the scratch art which I feel turned out well.




AND LASTLY...

Here are some photos from Blake's birthday.




Review | NOVIE The Interactive Smart Robot

Ad – Review. I was sent Novie for review purposes and all thoughts are my own

Meet Novie the Interactive smart robot by Spin Master. A sweet faced mini robot that will entertain the whole family. Novie is agreat STEM toy for teaching children to think about what they play with such as using logic with how things work. STEM toys are raising in popularity at the moment as they are great for expanding childrens little minds. 

Novie is great for encouraging the idea of coding. This is done via tricks and commands using hand gestures. You have to carry out the sequence for each trick to be unlocked. This is actually alot of fun although Blake finds it a bit tricky at the moment he loves watching me show him how Novie works. 



Novie is ready to play straight from the box as batteries are included. On the base of Novie there is an on and off switch and on the top of his head is a button for you to go through the different stage modes available.

Novie once turned on his eyes light up to let you know he is ready to play. Overall there are 12 tricks and 75 actions he can learn and preform. The quick guide that you get with Novie is simple to read and understand meaning you can start right away.


Novie is taught different fun tricks like Spinout, Wheelie, Wacko Walk, Fartnado and more. The 3 different modes available that increase the difficulty,he’ll get better with practice until he learns each trick! Once Novie has mastered a trick he'll make a happy sound. 

If you have more than one Novie you will find that they will actually play together. Aimed at ages 4 and over this cute and clever mini robot is not just fun for children but for adults too. 



Novie is so easy to use and such a fun little robot. We have used him on both carpet and hard flooring  and he works much better on hard surfaces as he can zoom around more easy.  He seems a robust little thing and when you stop playing with him he likes to show off what he has learnt before eventually going into sleep mode. 

The only thing I would say is a problem is the amount of plastic packaging for such a tiny item. This is definitely something alot more companies need to look into reducing.