Book Lovers, Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Book Review : Clipped Wings by Jennifer Gilmour 

This book had my heart beating wildly in my chest as I read each real life account from survivors of domestic abuse.

Synopsis:

The silent chorus. Just imagine you thought that you had met the man or woman of your dreams. This person was charming and you thought they were the one or perhaps that this was fate; it was just meant to be. But as the months go by things start to change. Their behaviour towards you isn’t the same, they are more critical, more particular about your appearance, what you do, how you do it, who you see. Time goes by and you feel isolated from your friends and family because that behaviour has now changed to threats, maybe violence and you feel that your identity is all but gone. But still you stay. Where would you go? Who would help you? You are not worthy. But you are. A group of survivors have spoken about their own experiences. In their own words they show that survivors do have a voice and that it needs to be heard. They show that abuse isn’t unique or strange but that it is, unfortunately, a surprisingly common problem in today’s society. The message of this book is one of courage, as with courage comes awareness and an ability to understand what has happened to you and take the steps needed to become a survivor yourself.

My review :

My heart ached for each person who told their story. Parts of me wished this book was a fiction novel because the pain you read is tremendous.

Each person’s story pulled at your heart strings making you not want to stop reading.
They each give you warning signs to look out for as well as strategies of how to leave if you are in an abusive relationship.

Hearing the stories written by survivors makes you understand why they stay, and makes you realise how desperately they need your help.

I would like to commend the Author for ensuring the stories were written by each survivor in their own distinctive voice. I want to commend her for writing a book that gives a voice to those suffering. I would also like to mention that even though the book speaks mainly of woman’s accounts, but there are countless men experiencing the same pain daily, and the shame they face to speak out is even harder.

To all men and woman who have survived abuse, make your story heard so that someone else who is suffering can find their voice and find their freedom.

I would highly recommend this gripping book to people experiencing abuse and also to family and friends who suspect their loved one is being abused. Let’s spread the word and put a stop to this inhumane act in society.

My Rating:

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 

This book deserves 5 Stars for its ability to tell these stories in the voices of the people who experienced the horror of them. It was brave of each person to tell their story and even more brave of Jennifer to openly share hers. Beautifully written. Gripping and honest. A must read. 

About the Author :
Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business. From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have been in abusive relationships. Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse

Clipped Wings is available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle, and where all good books are sold. 

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Taryn Leigh

Taryn Leigh is the Author of Perfect Imperfections, which is currently available from AmazonWaterstonesBarnes&Noble, Exclusive Books and where all good books are sold. 

Book Lovers

Book Review : Delirium by Lauren Oliver 

Recently I had the pleasure of reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver. 

Synopsis :

In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistake.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

To start off I must say I absolutely love the cover! This revised cover edition is much better than the original and really caught my eye. 

Besides loving the cover, I absolutely fell in love with the book! Dystopia novels are not something I usually read, but the concept of Love being declared a dangerous disease, definitely made me explore further. 

Lauren Oliver has an amazing talent. She almost writes in a style devoid of love in this book, to emphasise the theme. I found myself so drawn to this world as I could feel it and imagine it in every word, every description and the lack of emotion in her way of writing. 

The idea that Lena was about to have her procedure made you start hoping for some way out for her from page one. Being a hopeless romantic myself I definitely was of the school of thought that, should I be in their position,  I would have definitely wanted to go to The Wilds instead. 

Discussion Points :

This book definitely raises some interesting points and I thought I would list some things I found myself discussing with others, that I would love to discuss with you too. 

1. If you had to choose between living a life incapable of feeling love, or living a life devoid of any luxuries in order to at least feel love. What would you choose? 

My view to this was that I would really struggle living in the Wilds without water and electricity etc, but if I was with someone I loved it would make it all worth it. 

2. Do you think that this Dystopian novel hints to the fact that we are currently being controlled by our governments to think or feel a certain way? 

My view is that mass media seems to lead our thinking on certain topics in particular directions. So to an extent I think how we view things is being influenced. 

3. Were there things about the novel that seemed far fetched or not believable? 

My View: Yes I felt that if a breakaway society existed, they didn’t necessarily have to be nomads or jungle dwellers. I’m sure they would have been intelligent enough to create a good comfortable society. I would have loved their world to sound better than the current controlled world, but in some aspects it sounded worse.


Overall I must say I loved this book and I went on to read the next one in the series. 

Although it’s classified as a Young Adults novel, I think it raises some real interesting concepts that we will all love to explore. 

My Rating 

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Definitely a must read for me
This book is available on Amazon in both Paperback and Kindle Formats. 

There are also more books in the Series that you will love to explore. Each written in its own unique style and adds more pieces to the puzzle. 

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Taryn Leigh

Taryn Leigh is the Author of Perfect Imperfections, which is currently available from AmazonWaterstonesBarnes&Noble, Exclusive Books and where all good books are sold. 

Uncategorized

Strawberry Pavlova Recipe

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I absolutely love Pavlova. The variations are limitless, with strawberries, and kiwi fruit, or chocolate and nuts with pears.

Here is my never fail Strawberry Pavlova recipe

Ingredients

4 egg whites 

250g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping
250ml cream
500g fresh strawberries

Optional
2 tbsp icing sugar

Method

  1. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan. Using a pencil, mark out the circumference of a dinner plate on baking parchment. Whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the meringue looks glossy. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla.
  2. Spread the meringue inside the circle, creating a crater by making the sides a little higher than the middle. Bake for 1 hr, then turn off the heat and let the Pavlova cool completely inside the oven.
  3. When the meringue is cool, chop the strawberries. Cover in 1 tbsp icing sugar (optional). Let it stand to sweeten. Whip the cream and spread it over the meringue. Put the strawberries on top of on the cream and dust with the remaining icing sugar if desired

 

I hope you enjoy as much as I do!

 

 

Uncategorized

The Perfect Holiday Reads

Many people don’t know that we Authors also have our own Must Read list of books.

These are books we eye out from other Authors and we promise ourselves that we will find time to read them in the coming months.

I thought I would share my wish list for the holidays with you, so that we can explore these gems together. I haven’t limited them to any particular genre, as I like to read a combination of things.

If you find yourself reading any of these, please do find me on Social media so we can chat about them together.

You can also chat to me about my own book, because of course it MADE THE LIST!

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Title: The Rome Affair

Author: Karen Swan

Available on Amazon & Kindle

Synopsis: 1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.

2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.

Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.

1b

Title: A Window Opens

Author: Elisabeth Egan

Available on Amazon & Kindle

Synopsis: In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine Elisabeth Egan brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbour and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach. Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?

1c

Title: Whiskey & Charlie

Author: Annabel Smith

Available on Amazon & Kindle

Synopsis: Whiskey and Charlie might have come from the same family, but they’d tell you two completely different stories about growing up. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not ― bold, daring, carefree ― and Charlie blames his twin brother for always stealing the limelight, always getting everything, always pushing Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.

When they were just boys, the secret language they whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies connected them, in a way. The two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, Charlie, delta) became their code, their lifeline. But as the brothers grew up, they grew apart.

When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, Charlie can’t make sense of it. Who is he without Whiskey? As days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever slimmer, Charlie is forced to consider that he may never get to say all the things he wants to say. A compelling and unforgettable novel about rivalry and redemption, Whiskey & Charlie is perfect for anyone whose family has ever been less than picture-perfect.

1d

Title: Last Seen

Author: Lucy Clarke

Available on Amazon & Kindle

Synopsis: Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

1e

Title: Perfect Imperfections

Author: Taryn Leigh

Available on Amazon & Kindle

Synopsis: Sarah Lewis desires nothing more than to begin again after a failed marriage and a tragedy so terrifying, it forces her to leave her life in London to stay with her best friend a world apart in South Africa.

Despite immediate success in her business, she struggles to understand who she really is and where she belongs in the world. So begins a journey of discovery as Sarah re-unites with Katy in the land where she was born, where the air is lavender scented, and weekends are spent cycling on the beach.

Until the day when she has to return to London to face the ghosts of her past and confront a situation that has grown more complicated in her absence. Perfect Imperfections is an intriguing tale which hints at wrongdoings and deceit without giving too much away.

The author cleverly weaves a tale around fragile yet strong Sarah as she tries to reconcile her past with her future, engaging the reader to the point where we simply want the best for her and for happiness finally to come her way.

Book Lovers

The Power of Fiction

Fiction may be seen to some as a way of escaping reality. Journalists or Political Activists might feel that an Author writing fiction has no power to influence society, culture, and an individual.

That however is vastly untrue.

For centuries books have been a source of knowledge, the gateway to understanding, and a platform for debate. Fiction novels, have been at the forefront of these in many instances.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence is a book about an aristocratic woman who commits adultery with a working-class man. This book was subsequently banned in the UK due to its sexual content and language. However, it brought to light the plight of censorship and helped to overthrow it.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe is given credit for transforming American views about slavery.

Animal Farm by George Orwell strongly affected readers’ views of government and politics.

The question stands that how could a story, primarily brought together by the Author, have such a profound effect on society, and how we view things?

The answer is found in how these stories have a way to cause the reader to:

  • Have empathy for the lead character
  • Feel the pain of what they may be going through
  • View painful circumstances through the eyes of someone else
  • Go through the suffering from a distant yet involved view
  • Share in the frustration of societal problems and dysfunctions, and explore possible solutions.

These stories have a way to connect the reader emotionally to a fictitious stranger. It causes people to empathise with a stranger, where they might not empathise with someone they know. It causes them to tap into their emotions and review their stance on real issues.

As an Author of Fiction myself, I have made it my mission to write books that can bring a change to someone else’s life. Whether it’s showing them the power of forgiveness or allowing them to have empathy for someone else who is going through the hardest moments in their life. For me, it’s important, to not just write beautiful stories, but to have a lasting impact on the very person whose hands grace the pages of my books.

Book Lovers

Book Secrets you didn’t know

We all love to read our favourite books. Yet there are those secrets we rarely hear about, and its those little things we love to know.

So here are a few just for you! …

 Secrets of Thirteen Reasons Why

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 Not every character in the series is in the book.

When the writers brought the 288-page book to life as a 13-hour series, they had to expand the world of the story with new characters.

“I think of the book as this outline of Hannah’s story, and then from that, the writers of the series — with Jay’s blessing — added so many details and plots that allow the viewer to unpack the story to a greater extent,” Hannah said. “The new characters help out flesh out this world.”

 

Her character Stephanie is among the new additions, which meant Hannah was acting from a clean slate. She’s one of Courtney’s best friends and “a ditzy take on the typical mean girl,” Hannah explained. “When I got the breakdown for this character, it was funny because the script just said, ‘Stephanie (pretty, dumb.)'”

Read more from the source here

 

Secrets of Perfect Imperfections by Taryn Leigh

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“Edward’s character in the book is actually inspired by my real life husband. Also the mention of Wuthering Heights in the book is a hint towards my husband, as Wuthering Heights is the very first book he gave me when we had just started dating.

One day we were walking in a flea market, and he picked up a used copy of Wuthering Heights sold by a book merchant, and bought it for me. He then took me to the park, and sat playing with my hair as I read the first few chapters. He won my heart that day!”

 Secrets of JK Rowling, Author of Harry Potter

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JK Rowling finds ways to bring elements of herself into her books.

She and Harry Potter share a birthday, July 31st. She is reported as saying that Hermione is a bit like her when she was younger, and her favourite animal is an otter—which is, of course, Hermione’s patronus. Plus, both Dumbledore and Rowling like sherbet lemons (Rowling said that the wizard’s “got good taste”). 

Read more from the source here

 

Secrets of Karen Swan, Author of Christmas at Tiffany’s

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Karen Swans real name is Karen Anne Swan MacLeod

Much as she loves her very Scottish name, Swan had to drop the MacLeod when she started writing blockbuster fiction since the shorter name suited the flamboyantly embossed covers of her saucy books,

“I’d always written as a journalist as Karen Swan MacLeod. Dad’s family name is actually MacSwan MacLeod, so we’re very Scottish. I think Karen Swan sounds like a made-up name for someone who writes sexy, romantic novels”

Read more from the source here

 

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Taryn Leigh

 

Life Lessons

8 small ways to Ease your Stress

a.jpgSometimes the easiest way to ease your stress is to do small manageable things to simplify your life. You will be amazed at how those small things add up to make one feel overwhelmed.

So here are some things you can do to ease your stress.

  1. Focus on one thing at a time. Sometimes we feel stressed because we tend to try to juggle too many balls at once. Rather sit back and write out all the things you need to do. Then decide what to tackle first, and give it your full attention. As you tick each thing off the list you will feel your stress start to ease up
  2. Pack your lunch or the kids school bags the night before. This will enable your mind to rest while you sleep instead of thinking of a million things you still have to do when you wake up.
  3. De-clutter.  Throw out things that you haven’t used in a year. You will be amazed at how getting rid of the junk around you keeps you stress free.
  4. Keep your house tidy. And here I mean tidy and not just clean. Having things laying around adds a level of stress that you cant even imagine. So keep it tidy, and that includes that messy cupboard.
  5. Say less. When you are angry, say less. That includes the emails you may write at work. There are things we say in anger that we can’t take back, and it causes bigger problems when people start to react and it blows out of control. So listen more and say less.
  6. Don’t assume. There is a stress that comes when we start to guess what someone meant or what someone thinks. We tend to build castles in our minds around these assumptions. We stress over them, get sad and angry over them, and yet if we just asked for clarity we might see that what we assumed is wrong.
  7. Do a random act of kindness. You will find that if you do a random act of kindness a day, you will remove all the negativity and frustration from your life, as your focus shifts away from you and your stress and instead you get the gift of joy that comes with kindness. So whether you buy the person behind you in the Starbucks line a cup of coffee or if you bake muffins and give it to the beggar on the street, or leave a note in your husband or child’s lunch telling them how you love them. Be creative. Be kind.
  8. Stop doing what you hate to do. If its a job you hate, make a plan to find a way to go into a new career path. If its doing things to please people, then stop and see your own worth.

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Remember there is a calm that comes in simplicity. So keep things simple. Do what’s small and manageable, and soon the mountain will disappear.

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Taryn Leigh