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REVIEW: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

I wrote this review waaaay back in July, forgot about it, rediscovered it, and am now posting it. 

Synopsis: "After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it's casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years... and panic sets in.
They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me - anything from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to photo shoots - mishaps arise with disastrous and comical results. 
Gradually, the surprises turn to shocking discoveries. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all..."

This book feels different from Kinsella's other work. The twist is darker than expected, and nowhere near as fluffy as her other novels. 

I gave this book 3 of out of 5 stars on Goodreads (link to my profile here). And overall, I did enjoy the book. 

HOWEVER, if you had told me the twist was going to be darker - I would've been really interested in the book. But, in reality, I found the twist lacking because it took SO long for the twist to come and for anything exciting to happen. The first 200-ish pages were a bit naff. The last 150 had me hooked though! 

The basic plot of the story:
The story is based around Sylvie (side note: Sylvia is one of my favourite names) who is married to Dan, and they have twin girls together. An event happens that causes them to question the longevity of their lives and relationship. There is a load of secrets between them, which leads to the main story and twist. 

I bought the book for less than £4 in Asda. And do not regret buying it, nor reading it. But if you've never read Sophie Kinsella this is not the book I would recommend you read first. But if you're a Sophie Kinsella fan, then go for it!


If money were no question...

Please note that this post is inspired by Rebecca (From Roses) recent post. 

My whole life this question/topic has been coming up. Even in university, Lecturer's would ask "If money wasn't a problem, what would you do after uni?". I've heard friends & family discuss what they would do if they won the Euromillions tonight. As a species, we're a little obsessed with thinking about the 'what ifs'. 

In general, I try not to think about the lottery and think too much about the difference money makes in my life. But every so often, it's difficult to avoid the subject and you just have to give in.

So, what would I do if I money were no question...

01. Open a pet boutique/playfield/cafe
Firstly, my dog has a better wardrobe than me - it's no secret that Keira owns a lot of sh!t. Secondly, I love nothing more than seeing doggos running around and living their best lives. Thirdly, I would consider living off coffee & cake until the end of time. 

02. Adopt ALL of the dogs 
The older dogs who get forgotten about, the dogs who need a little more love and care. The dogs who don't get adopted. I want them all to be spoilt and loved. (Side note: I'm 90% sure that the next dog I adopt will be an older doggie, looking for a home to peacefully enjoy retirement in.)

03. Photograph Everything 
Without fear of clients not paying or no-one wanting my services. 
The scariest part of deciding to pick up more freelance work is the fact that people may not want to pay for my work. Or, even worst, not like my work. If money wasn't an object, it wouldn't matter, I could just mooch around with my camera all day and every day. 

04. Own my house
Not necessarily the one I'm living in right now. But the luxury of not having to worry about paying rent or a mortgage. (Ideally, it'll be by the sea, with a LARGE garden, big windows, lots of light, a cosy fire, all of the blankets & cushions!)

05. Travel
Not specifically out of the UK. I would be happy going for a weekend away once a month. I just love exploring new places. And I'm certainly not the person who dreams of migrating to Australia to start a new life. 

06. Go to my shows/gigs
Art/music/comedy/musicals - all of them. I'm always so disappointed that none come near me, and if they do it'll be when I'm too short on funds to justify the cost. I think experiences are so much more meaningful, but you do need some money tucked away to enjoy them!

So tell me, what would you do if money were no question?

Kay xx

November Goals

Remember how in this post, I said I was going to post every Sunday? That went... well? horribly? awful? It just didn't go anywhere.

Let's have a restart on 'getting back into blogging'!

My goals in October were:

01. Blog again. Failed.

02. Make a routine. A success. Hurrah.

03. Photography. Half and half. I started creating still lifes, but I need to work on carrying my camera with me again.

04. Read. Didn't read a single book.

05. Enjoy Autumn/October. Nailed it.

Although it wasn't an awful month, I would say I completed 50% of my goals. Some of this is coming across to November, other stuff is being forgotten about and swept under the metaphorical rug.
Admittedly, I'm writing my goals on the 8th November. But they're still valid - I've decided. 

November Goals:

01. Blog, again, again. 

02. Freelance Photography. Open those books up again to bookings and commissions. 

03. Take the camera out with me. 

04. Start planning Christmas.

05. Be more aware of where my money is going. Not my spending habits, but where I'm spending my money. Buy secondhand/independent/etc. Find ways to buy locally for Christmas presents. 

06. Alongside being aware of where I spent my money and buying indie. Be aware of my impact on the planet. Buying secondhand means the clothes aren't being made specifically for a shop. (Watch THE Stacey Dooley documentary.) Buy wrapping paper that CAN be recycled. Buy Christmas cards from individuals instead of a big ol' pack of 50 from Tesco. Donate to charity. 

07. Decide what is important to me. And work towards those 'things'.

What are your goals for November? 

Follow along with our adventures here: @thecornishstaffy

Kay xx

Postcard from Porthtowan, Cornwall | The Cornish Staffy

Took me a few too many weeks to gather these photos together. But here's a collection of snapshots from Keira's weekend away to Porthtowan, Cornwall.

Life after University

Please note: this post is the ramblings and justification of a recent graduate. In a year, two years, ten years, I might be tooting a different tune. Bare with me while I struggle to leave education and enter the real world.

I existed before going to university, I survived during university, but I'm worried about how I'll be after university and in 'adulthood'. 

Brief history: I always knew I was going to go to uni. My parents/family spoke about it my whole life. I went to university, I've completed two degrees. I'm considering going back to uni in my middle/long-term future. I went to university straight after finishing college and did my degrees back-to-back without a 'break' period. 

Now I've finished university. I was ready to finish uni. I wanted to finish and stop the process of education. I needed a break - more then a summer could give to me - but I thrive in a system of education and in an environment that I can learn in. 

The scariest part of leaving university and the safety net of education is; the idea that you NEED to know exactly what you're doing when you're going to do it, and how you're going to do it. Leaving university and saying "I'm just going to work in the bakery for a bit longer" sounds rubbish. But, I can't afford to work for free to build up my client list and pay rent/bills at the same time. 

Is it OK to not know what you're going to do after uni?

I'm sure your family members will say no. "You've just got yourself in thousands of pounds worth of debt." But the reality is, that it's near on impossible to find a graduate job. Unless you're training to specifically become something (i.e. nurse, doctor, vet, mechanic, designer, etc.) But when you do a course out of love for a subject, it becomes difficult and confusing. Up until now, I've been a photographer since I was around 14. I started because I was fascinated by photography, and have continued on. But I never wanted to become a working photographer. It's a difficult career choice and, quite honestly, it would kill my love for art. 

The long-term goal for me is to get a Masters (possible work towards a Doctorate at some point) and teach. I could've got my teaching degree straight after uni, then work in schools/colleges, but then I would never leave the education system. A break is healthy. And will allow me to exist as an adult, without the boundaries of summer holiday vacations. Also, I've run out of government funding - my masters is going to cost ME money and I want to have some stability in my life first.

The biggest factor is I don't want to teach where I grew up. I don't want to teach my friends children. I don't want to work with my old lecturers. I need distance from where I was a child/teenager/student.

So for now, I'm living at home (still paying a hefty amount of rent), working full-time, and trying to make my first baby steps into adulthood. I'm not alone in saying this, but all graduates (minus the lucky b*ggers who got graduate jobs) are feeling fear over leaving university.

Kay xx


Goodreads Rating 4 out of 5 stars.

"In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . ."

It took me forever to read this book. Almost two months. Shameful. But the Part One didn't grab my attention. And it wasn't until I forced myself to read this book and got past Part One, that I started to enjoy it. I, also, particularly enjoy how everything comes to a neat end. (Gone Girl, why couldn't you come to a sufficient ending?). It is a thriller, (i think), and explores the story around Nel, Katie & Lauren's suspicious deaths. It explores domestic abuse, sexual assault, death (duh), family life, teenagers, and everything else. Although it explores some triggering subjects, it's not too deep and doesn't go into anything graphic - don't feel like the book is based around abuse - although, if you don't feel like you can handle it, please don't read it. 

The part of the review with spoilers...

stop reading if you don't want spoilers...
last chance...

Firstly, Patrick Townsend makes me want to be sick. His language. His presence. His manipulation. I just can't believe how much I hated it. And from early on in the book. He's everything I hate in one person. Sexist. Homophobic. Rude. Racist (probably). A first-class a-hole. 
Secondly, the only part it leaves hanging is Mark Henderson's death. Do they find him? What happens in the moments directly after? Does Lena get found out? I. Need. To. Know.
Thirdly, I realised I have more questions, does Lena find out who her Dad is? Does she meet Robbie? Does she even want to meet Robbie?
Fourthly, I want a book, say 10 years in the future, and to find out what everyone does afterwards? Does Sean come clean? Where does Sean go? How is Helen? Are the Whittakers living a more peaceful life? Has Lena moved back? I just want the future.


*Insert classic 'Hello October' Heading here*

Damn. That 'break' lasted a lot longer then I expected.

Let's catch up...

I have been non-stop with work. 5 days a week is taking the biscuit, but coming out of university - I need the money to keep up with rent without the glory of my student loan in September.

I have been trying to use at least one of my days off (I get two in a week), to meet up with friends. This does mean I'm 'missing out' on valuable sitting around and relaxing time, but working without seeing friends is really lonely. (Also, friends fancy meeting up for a coffee? I can bring Keira if you want doggy cuddles?)

Also, had the joy of travelling up to London for a couple of days to do a barista course with All Press.  Yes, please & thank-you. This girl managed to graduate - thinking about writing a post about graduation breakdowns? And had cuddles with my four-legged love (pictured above).

That finishes September for me. Work. Work. Work. Friends. Work. Work. Home day. Repeat.

Now, onto October...

I'm so happy it's Autumn and even happier that it's October! 

My favourite season and the last festive period until the BIG C. YES!

I have some more 'personal' goals for this month. I want to focus on having consistency outside of work. Making sure I have some order to my life, and I'm not playing catch-up on my days off. 

01. Blog again! Ignoring this post, I'm going to be posting every Sunday. Back to one post a week, and I'm going to make time to write and shoot for them. 

02. Make a routine. A flexible routine. That I can use daily to fit into work life. Somedays I start work at 9am, others 10am, sometimes even 11am - and then I can finish between 4pm and 7pm. So my routine needs to be flexible, but I need to have one in place to keep up with my home life. 

03. Photography. I haven't managed to charge the batteries for my camera this month. I'm missing out on the beautiful Autumn Harvest because I'm overthinking and freaking out about what I should be creating - again, I think I'm going to write a post on this meltdown too. 

04. Read, again. I binged through about 5 books one weekend in September, and I haven't picked up a book since. I want reading to become regular and a reliable part of my life again. Plus my tbr shelf is OVERFILLING. (Again, Again, a post for my tbr this month?)

05. I'm becoming reliable and making plans each week with a friend(s), but I need to make a conscious effort to meet up with friends who I don't always call on, but I know I want to be better friends with! 

06. Enjoy Autumn & October. When I'm planning my days off, I want to do something that celebrates the season, I want to enjoy a hot chocolate while watching a cosy film, I want to drink PSL and be basic, I want to go for crisp morning walks, I want to enjoy Autumn/October. 

What are your goals for October/Autumn? I'm going to be trying to upload daily (if not every other day) onto my Instagram this month, so follow me on there!

I guess I'll see you on Sunday for more rambling from yours truly. 

Kay xx