All Wrapped Up by Holly Smale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“All Wrapped Up” follows Harriet Manners after her first kiss with Lion Boy. Harriet is over the moon. It’s Christmas, she’s jolly and floating on Cloud 9. Sure Nick hasn’t texted in four days but that doesn’t mean anything right?
Harriet is a firm believer that there are no rules to dating. Just guidelines that you may or may not follow.
This was a fun and quick Christmas read that I adored immensely (so much so that after finishing this book on Scribd, I went straight to the bookstore to buy myself a print copy). I loved going back into this world and seeing Annabelle pregnant, Harriet’s loopy dad and stalker Toby (this boy is unusually great at his job).
This book was funny and entertaining and I strongly recommend this series (note that I said series and not book) to anyone who needs a few laughs.
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If you ever told me I would have to go on a diet for health reasons, I would have accepted it. I knew my eating habits were bad and I would probably have to go on a meal plan at some stage. However I expected that to atleast be in my thirties.
So imagine my shock when my dermatologist suggested that I might be insulin-resistant. And the even bigger shock when I found out that yep, my insulin levels were high and I needed to cut out sugar and carbs.
You know how they say you don’t know how strong you really are? Yeah, well it’s been four weeks exactly and I’ve been doing relatively well. I have been having carbs now and again (maybe once or twice a week) but for the most part, I have been sticking to the meal plan.
I’m pretty excited to actually see some (really small) changes.
I cannot wait to see what the results look like in another 4 weeks.
If you cannot tell by the title above, I was a seriously Twi-hard back in the day. So much so that for most of my teen years, I read nothing but vampire novels. So if you are also a fan of fangs, here are a few of my recommendations for you:
- Twilight by Stephanie Meyer- An oldie but a goodie.
- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead- High school drama with a vampire princess and her spunky bodyguard. There is romance, action and lots of witty banter.
- Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz- Vampire A-listers in New York. Think Gossip Girl but with vampires. This series has incredible writing and great world-building.
- Vampire Diaries by L.J Smith- Not my favourite vampire series as it seemed to go on forever and ever but I loved the original books (stopping at “Shadow Souls” because after that things just got weird).
- Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey- A gorgeous vampire lands on Jessica’s door claiming to be her fiance. I do not remember much of this book beyond being in love with the main character.
- Boys That Bite by Mari Mancusi- This series follows two sisters and their vampire boyfriends as they battle slayers, fae and even Hell at one point.
Are there any vampire books you think I may have missed? Were you a Twi-hard too? I’d love to know below.
So to most people, giving up shopping for a month is not a big deal. But to someone whose social calendar is defined by visiting certain malls at certain times of the month it was a HUGE deal. I gave up shopping for a month and this is what I’ve learnt.
- I have a SERIOUS spending problem- For the first week and a half, it felt like I was going to go crazy. It was like I had an itch that I could not scratch. I needed to shop and I needed to do it NOW! Eventually I got used to not treating myself but it was sobering how much I felt like I NEEDED to spend money.
- I found other ways to “treat” myself- Instead of spending money as a treat, I had home spa days or movie nights. I found a way to enjoy myself without involving my wallet.
- SO MANY CLOTHES- One of the reasons why I felt like I was going crazy during that first week was because we had family functions to attend and I had nothing to wear. No pretty dress. No pretty bag and nothing in my closet fit! I don’t even remember what I ended up wearing but I do remember that the night was amazing. Also, when I felt frustrated and went shopping in my own cupboard, I found so many great items that I had never worn before. In fact my co-workers thought that I had gone shopping when I had simply just gone through my cupboard.
- I found extra cash- I was very surprised when at the end of the month, I found that I still had R300. Well done, Me
Have you ever gone on a shopping ban? Would you ever consider it? Let me know below.
Okay I know I haven’t been putting 100% into the blog but I have a really good reason.
I’ve finally completed my Digital Marketing course. So now I have a degree in English and Criminology as well as a Digital Marketing certificate (and I’m still not being hired by either of those fields but okay).
Anyway I was so excited to finally finish my studying. I always thought I would never be able to study on my own without the support of lecturers but I did! It actually feels like I can do anything!
In other bookish news, I’ve stopped buying books (no really I have).
I joined Scribd which is like an online library of ebooks and audiobooks.
They have every book I’ve been interested in so it’s definitely going to be a while before I purchased new reads (my wallet and my falling shelves are both very grateful).
Anyway all of this is to say that I will be back publishing regular content soon.
Last week Saturday, my family and I received news that my dad was turned down for a job.
It was pretty startling since it was made to seem as if the job was 100% certain. The company made travel plans and accommodation arrangements for him. Now they were saying they thought it over and did not actual require a manager.
I dealt with this in a very mature fashion. I went to my bed and stayed there for half an hour.
I felt numb and in shock. Did I read the signs wrong? Why would you talk about travel and accommodation plans if you are NOT hiring? What on Earth had happened?
Finally once I was done moping I decided to reorganise my vanity cupboard and sort out my scarves for winter. I told myself this was fine. Sure, my dad didn’t have a new job but he still had his current job.
I knew the company he worked at was closing but that was in a few months So he just had to look for something within the next two to three months. No biggie.
The Tuesday after this, the company my dad worked at, sent out their official communication that they were closed.
It was like a very cruel prank. This was the one thing I was depending on.
Here’s the thing. I come from a family of three. As in me, my mother and my father.
My mother is medically boarded and I am still in pretty early stages of my career. Basically my father’s the main earner in the house. (Also can I just say how pathetic my story sounds? Boohoo my dad has no job and my mother has Lupus. I could cringe just thinking about it).
If there is one thing my epic magazine failure (yes, going to an interview and deeming the industry as dying is definitely an epic failure in my books) taught me, it is that you should cry. Cry a river if you feel like it would make you feel better. But after that, build a bridge and get over it.
The parents and I sat down. Drew up a budget. Inside, a part of me died. There is one thing we did not address in our family budget. One unspoken but very critical rule.
The shopping would need to stop.
I love shopping. It makes me feel better. I have a stressful job and shopping is my way of fixing it. Could I really give it up? (Spoiler Alert: It is really looking like I can).
So we decided on who would cut out which spending and replace it with paying an account. All was good.
Then my dad’s side job as a driver fell through. At this point I feel like I’m living in my own “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. It is kind of amusing though. Anything that can go wrong is going wrong
So why am I sharing this?
At some point in the distant or not too distant future, I want to look back at this and say “hey remember that time your dad lost his job and you had to change your spending habits? You say you couldn’t but you did!”
Or even “remember that time everything was going wrong and it was so bad it was funny? It will just be nice to look back and say “I made it. Even when I thought I couldn’t.
There has been several times when I was like “nope, I can”t do this. I will not do this” but I got through it fine.
Like my final of year of college when the campus was on fire and I had to skip classes because my Criminology module clashed with English. Then there was that time I was convinced I would never get a job because I was scared to speak on the phone (hello, I now work in a call center).
You never really know what you can and can’t do until you have actually tried to do it.
I am very excited to be sharing an excerpt from Valerie Bowman’s latest “Playful Brides” series.
This series is one of my favourite historicals and I love seeing old characters pop up again and again.
A lady with a love potion. A Duke who takes it by mistake. Romance and mischief ensues when plans go awry in No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman.
SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE
Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…
Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…
Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes
Delilah glanced up and down the dim hallway. It was well past three in the morning, she was still dressed in the pink ball gown she’d worn to the party, and she clutched the small vial of Cupid’s Elixir in her sweaty, guilty palm. She pressed her back against the shadowed wall not far from the Duke of Branville’s bedchamber. She could do this. More importantly, she would do this. She’d come this far, hadn’t she? What did a little sneaking about in the middle of the night matter?
She’d got detailed instructions to Branville’s room from Derek, who thankfully hadn’t asked any questions about why she wanted to know. According to him, the room was four doors to the right, just past the staircase on the third floor. The third floor was where all the bachelor gentlemen were sleeping. It would be a complete scandal if she was found lurking about alone at this time of night, but she’d waited until the household seemed quite asleep and then waited a bit longer for
good measure. Anyone who saw her now would be skulking about themselves, which meant they would hardly be in a position to judge her. She briefly wondered if she’d run into Lavinia.
It was not as if she was out to do anything particularly scandalous. It was more silly and frivolous than anything else. She’d simply die, however, if Branville woke up and asked her what she was doing sprinkling pixie water in his eyes. She’d already decided to pretend as if she were dreaming, thinking she was Puck in the play. Sleepwalking. That would make all the sense in the world. Wouldn’t it? She swallowed hard. Probably not, but she wasn’t about to let the fear of being caught stop her. Besides, all of her and Lucy’s matchmaking had turned into a colossal mess. If a spray of perfume could sort it out, so be it. Of course, Delilah’s conscience reminded her that she hadn’t offered any of the perfume to Rebecca to use on Thomas. She didn’t want to even contemplate that. She’d already shared it with one other person, and that made her guilty enough. The image of Madame Rosa’s disapproving, craggy face had haunted her all evening.
Delilah shook off the thought and turned her attention back to the matter at hand. Pressing her empty palm against the darkened wall, she inched her way along until she came to Branville’s door. She felt like a spy. This was how professional spies did such things, wasn’t it? Too bad she
was too embarrassed by her actions to ask the veritable house full of professional spies who happened to be asleep behind other doors right now.
She transferred the vial into her opposite hand and slowly reached to grasp the door handle.
The metal was cold in her bare hand. She’d discarded her gloves, deciding that they would make her actions more clumsy. The last thing she needed tonight was to be more clumsy than usual.
Decidedly, she needed to be less so.
She clutched the door handle like a lifeline and closed her eyes, steadying her shaking fingers on the knob. She was close, so close. Praying that the door wouldn’t squeak, she turned the handle slowly. The only sound was the thumping of her own heart in her ears.
When the handle was turned as far as it would go, she pushed it, praying fervently that it wasn’t locked. It took a moment before she realized the door was opening. Its hinges silent, merci a Dieu. Completely silent.
She slipped inside the cool, dark room. Steady, deep breathing came from the bed. Thank goodness, she hadn’t woken the duke with her entrance. She could barely see a thing, but she didn’t dare light a candle. A tiny stream of moonlight filtered into the room through a small opening in the curtains on the far window. She used that to identify the hulking bed in the center of the room. She tiptoed over to it slowly, taking care in case there was anything to trip over. No doubt she would find it if there was.
She made it to the foot of the bed without incident and paused, trying to quell her nerves and dispel her guilt. She clutched the vial more tightly in her palm, shaking with fear and anxiety. Now that she was here, she had no earthly idea how to drop liquid on a man’s eyes without awakening
him. Besides, how much of it was she supposed to use? Surely not much. She would employ the tiniest drops possible so as not to disturb him, but she also needed to ensure the perfume touched his eyelids. Tricky business, this being a fairy. She had a sudden appreciation for Puck.
Holding her breath, she lifted her skirts with her free hand and tiptoed to the right side of the bed. Because it was summer, the bed curtains weren’t drawn. The window was open, and a slight breeze blew through the crack in the curtains.
The outline of the duke’s body was barely visible in the moonlight. He was turned away on his side, his back to her, his face toward the window. She would have to lean over his body to sprinkle the elixir on his eyes. The bed was tall. She must carefully climb up to do this task properly.
She only hoped she didn’t jostle the mattress enough to wake him.
She waited in silence for a few moments to ensure his breathing remained steady, then she carefully lifted first one knee and then the other, bracing them on the mattress and pulling herself up, still clutching the vial. She winced as he moved slightly in his sleep, but he kept his face turned away. Blast it.
Once she was fully atop the bed, she paused and hoped the hammering of her heart didn’t wake him. He smelled good, a combination of soap and maleness that she wanted to breathe in.
There was something vaguely familiar about his scent.
Shaking away that unhelpful thought, she moved gingerly across the mattress on her knees until she came to a stop at his side. His shirt was off. The beam of moonlight hit his smooth, muscled arm. She swallowed. The man’s chest was positively swoon-worthy. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and uncorked the vial. Then she carefully leaned over as far as she could to locate his eyes. They remained shrouded in the dark, but she took a guess as to their general direction and tipped the little vial as slowly and carefully as she could. He turned then, and she was afforded enough light to see that the first tiny drop of liquid did indeed fall directly onto his eyelid.
He blinked, and she held her breath. When he settled back into sleep, she closed her eyes and said a brief prayer that she would get away with it a second time before tipping the vial once more to allow another tiny drop to fall on his other eyelid.
He blinked and rubbed at his eyes while Delilah held her breath again, paralyzed with fear.
Soon, he settled back into his pillow and his breathing returned to its steady pace.
She pressed a hand to her throat. It was over. She was done. All she had to do was extract herself from the bed and the room without being seen or heard. The difficult part was behind her.
Still praying he wouldn’t stir, she backed away from the duke. Slowly. Slowly. She’d nearly made it to the edge of the bed when he flipped over to face her. A beam of moonlight slid over his sleeping features.
From No Other Duke But You. Copyright © 2019 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
Purchase a copy here
Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.
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I love eating out. It’s like a weakness of mine. Bad day? Grab take-out. Good day? Pop in to a nice restaurant. Pay day? SPLURGE on a meal.
This was especially tough for me when I first started work. It didn’t take long for me to realise that a huge chunk of my salary was being spent on food. At the time I told myself it was fine since I was a temp work and I didn’t know how long I would have an income for. However since then I have picked up a few tips to help me save money when eating out (so that I can eat out again. What? I didn’t say that I stopped the habit completely).
1) Split meals- When my friends and I go out for lunch we always split meals. Usually restaurant portions are bigger than what we are used to so we can usually make one meal last between two or three of us.
2) Take the extras home- Alternatively if you ordered too much food you can always take the extras home so that you have food for another meal.
3) Order a starter- Starters are cheaper than mains and sometimes they are just as filling. Order a starter if you are a bit light on cash but still want to eat out.
4) Drink water- Water is free. Also I’m going through a phase where all I drink is water for some reason so for me, water is free and tasty. (Tip- water will fill you up less than cooldrink so that you are able to eat more)
5) Choose specials- Some places have specials that you just cannot refuse. Sign up for mailing lists of your favourite spots so you can be informed when there’s a special.