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The Bugaboo Donkey2 – Duo

When it was clear that Ariella was not going to be able to hold on to a sibling board I began my search into the world of double prams/strollers/buggies. I struggled at first to decide which pram would suit our needs best and switched between all sorts of makes and models. To settle the matter I made a rather large comparison list, comparing the essential features for us. Firstly seat weight limit,  then seat height, overall weight of the pram, width, cost, fold and finally features (particularly parent facing options).


Some of the runners up were the Mountain buggy duet was a close runner up alongside the Baby Jogger City Mini double. However when looking at the prams in person I was won over by the unique ability to make the pram smaller that the mono version of the Donkey2 provides. Ariella will be increasing her nursery or preschool hours soon and there will be more days where I will want to take just Sebastian out without her. The Bugaboo Donkey although it was not the top contender for seat weight or the highest seat limit it seemed to be a good compromise all round for both children. Offering comfort for both rather than the newborn receiving a worse deal in terms of either a narrow carrycot or non parent facing position.

Sibling love – Bugaboo Donkey2

S riding in Mono mode

When the Bugaboo Donkey2 Duo arrived I had to compile it, it came in a multitude of boxes due to the custom fabric options. I chose the Grey Melange premium fabric option for everything because I really love grey, but there are so many to pick from and combinations. I found it pretty easy to put together however and soon enough the pram was up in my front room, which is when I realised I’d want to take it outside. Luckily for me folding it down is a breeze and carrying it was fine, I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been conditioned to carry heavy weights – carrying A for so long!

First thing I did was try and put all the pieces down into the boot, with one piece setup with the carrycot fabrics and the other the seat fabric it fit really well into our Range Rover. If you happen to have a smaller boot I would recommend you go visit a store that stocks the Bugaboo Donkey2 to clarify it does indeed fit. With the carrycot now in seat form both seats stack on top of each other where the carrycot is in the photo below.

Fits nicely into the boot..

I have been delighted to own the Bugaboo Donkey2, it pushes with ease even though it has a heavy load most of the time. With two children and the lower storage area full you would not notice unless perhaps pushing up an incline in which case it makes this easier than our previous option. The carrycot has ample room for a newborn, at three and a half months old Sebastian still had plenty of space to grow into the carrycot. Although this should be the case, guidelines recommend up to six months most carrycots are our grown long before this time. 

I feel this is due to the fact that Bugaboo use the same frame for the carrycot as the seat, changing out just the fabrics so you get a really long frame and thus a nice long carrycot. Space isn’t compromised however you do need the boot space to store such a carrycot (there is the option to remove a few pieces to compress but that seems impractical using the pram day to day). The fabrics entirely are of beautiful quality and materials, it feels very well durable and I love that I can completely remove them to wash at home.

The versatility is perfect, when in duo mode it fits through every door I’ve ever tried. When in mono mode it feels like just a little wider than “normal” but is not restrictive at all and the extra shopping bag space makes for a great option. It is a donkey though, certainly looks a beast next to the baby zen yo-yo we have for when we want to travel light, but we also have taken the Bugaboo Donkey2 with us many times across the UK to visit family just fine.

While travelling with the carrycot we used this as a cot and that made our load even lighter. Bugaboo carrycots are really spacious and the basic mattress is comfortable enough to sleep on if you don’t want to buy an independent mattress option. Rather than buying a fitted sheet I made use of the huge Aden and Anais muslins we were gifted as a base sheet which worked just as well. I was really impressed that the carrycot frame turns into the seat with a quick change of fabrics, most of my friend’s children had long out grown their carrycot before we did. I really do feel given the price of the carrycots normally this made the cost much easier to accept!

Now the Bugaboo Donkey2 is fabulous as S parent faces (please excuse the grub he is enjoying a lovely snack) and Ariella faces the world which is familiar to her. But they can look at each other and often will touch hands or amuse each other, any parent of two children will know how much that interaction between siblings breaks your heart to watch. As S has become more interested in the world I can choose between facing out or facing me, not normally an option for most double’s. Everything is really easy to adjust with their white button system.

Ice cream?

Bugaboo have added a few extra things with the latest version, new fabric options firstly. The side shopping basket used in Mono mode now comes with a fabric cover and can hold a heavier weight, very handy when it rains as it protects your shopping well. The wheels are now foam so no longer do you have to worry about pumping up air, I think that might have put me off a bit – as well as this the suspension has been upgraded. No complaints here on that one!

If you aren’t sure about it you can always buy the Mono and should you want to extend to a second child buy the expansion of the extra seat. I really love this option as it allows the Bugaboo Donkey to grow with your family. You could even extend it to include a third child by adding on a sibling board/seat later. The versatility of the stroller I felt really pushed it to the next level and when you consider the price being able to keep the stroller as your family grows becomes quite cost effective.

Graduated to the seat fabric
Ariella with her snack tray accessory, such a great idea

Now to the main negatives:

  • The size – I think the obvious issue is it’s a big pram there is no disguising that fact but I’d also say any double is really. I had real genuine worry about getting around with a double pram day to day, living in a small market town with little paths but I have had no issue with this at all. The other main downside is the larger fold, you do need to go check out your boot space, Mamas and Papas usually have the pram in stock so you can go trial that out (do ring ahead to check!).
  • Rain covers –  I don’t really like the rain covers that much, they are quite annoying and fiddly – I preferred the Stokke Xplory rain cover which just was on elastic where as the Bugaboo covers have a velcro in the middle you join together. You are supposed to be able to fold them down into the neat little package they come in using the velcro but i’ve yet to figure out how to achieve this unless it’s a really hot day and the plastic is much more pliable.
  • Cost – It’s really very expensive, when you take the base unit plus the accessories but if it’s within budget it’s well worth the plunge in my view, plus if you buy it with your first child and use it as a single with the option to expand later it seems very cost effective. The quality of the pram and the accessories is really good, I think there is quite a reasonable market for resale later too.

With all of the above said I really can’t fault the Bugaboo Donkey2 much at all. It’s great they have done a fabulous job with it and I love ours! 

For your amusement, don’t always take the way a shop puts the boot space test run in your boot at the best method. Only those well established at Tetris are qualified to work out how to put a Donkey in a boot.

*All of my reviews are my own personal opinions and I have no affiliation with any other the brands mentioned above.

Being Mum Reviews

Review – Stokke Xplory

The ultimate connection stroller. With pioneering seat height adjustability, the iconic Stokke® Xplory® brings your baby closer promoting interaction while you explore the world together. Thoughtful design makes Stokke® Xplory® effortless to manoeuvre, even around the tightest city corners. Front or rear facing, Stokke® Xplory® provides an almost infinite choice of seating positions. No other stroller brings child and parent together like the Stokke® Xplory®. –

Image from the Stokke website

I’ve been using the Stokke (pronounced Stowe-kah) Xplory for some time now and finally feel I can offer a good review. Deciding which stroller, pram, travel system (the list is endless) to go for reminded me much like buying a car. You’ll have it for a while and you want to make the right choice, comfort, versatility and cost all come in to play; even storage is important.

I hadn’t actually seen many of these out and about until I started looking, suddenly the world seemed quite full of them here in London. If you like the modern look then I think they are certainly catering for that market. When you compare what I would deem the main competitor Bugaboo appear a tad more traditional. So why buy one, or perhaps why not?

The Xplory really excels in the city and urban environments. It’s diversity is excellent being able to adjust the height, angle and direction (front or back facing) of the seat allows for lots of flexibility. If you like to eat out or have coffee it’s really great to be able to have the baby facing the table high up so they are still part of the fun. On a personal level I’ve found my daughter seems happy just watching us eat and doesn’t tend to fuss very much in this stroller, she can always see me.

On the storage front you get the shopping bag which is detachable and included a net inside. Which is a good thing since the bag itself is pretty small, certainly it’s no basket. But with the net and drawstring closure you can expand the size and store plenty when on the go. I’ve often used it for picking up essentials on food trips or if we take lunch out for our picnic.

Base model you get the rain cover and mosquito net. I haven’t used the mosquito net so can’t really say too much about that but the rain cover is excellent. It’s easy to assemble which is great when it rains as often you have little warning prior to a down pour here in the United Kingdom. It contains a small flap window which can be open or closed and fastened down with Velcro. This is great for just popping dummy in or reaching in without removing the cover. So far I’ve never seen any leaking or rain seeping through and it feels good quality when on.


Flexibility, possibly the highest stroller for tall people and easily changed to suit all heights

Can be front and back facing, has various tilts for rest and being active

Long term, can be used up to 15kg/33lbs
Seperate carry cot so can be used from birth, seat comes with newborn wedge which is acceptable in many countries from birth.

Comes with rain cover and mosquito net included

Glides easily, good turning circle and good brakes.

Price, at £849 for just the seat with shopping bag (rain cover and mosquito net) it’s on the higher end of the market. Once you add the carrycot £170, cup holder £18 (ok not essential!),sun umbrella £42 or summer kit £119 plus other accessories it starts adding up to quite an investment for many parents.

Storage, it’s not going to win an award here. It does have a detachable shopping bag with net and toggle to expand but it’s limited. However it depends if this is important to you.

Suspension, you are not going to be taking this stroller on many hikes or off road adventures. I have pushed it around a huge park, but it certainly wasn’t going to be nap time for my daughter whip doing so.

Size, yes you may have to change your car. Check out this website which has taken many car models and their boot space with the Xplory in it.

With everything you buy as a parent it’s about matching things that fit for you. I love the Xplory, but we did change our car but I love how comfortable my daughter is in it and sociable!

It’s important to go and check out the Xplory in person if you are considering it. We found a large Mamas and Papas had a good range and loved the easy of movement in person. We could also get an idea of size and knew we would need more room.

Some might cringe at the thought of spending so much money on a single item for a baby but they do resell well so you may be able to pickup a bargain from a considerate owner.

My top tip would be to buy the changing bag for it too as you can use that for extra storage as there are clips for it on the front of the seat. I clip my actual changing bag onto the handle.


Review – Yoomi Feeding System

Back long before I was pregnant I remember stumbling across this product line, coming from a technology background I am certainly all for gadgets that help you out. As far as I’m concerned this product certainly does that, I actually can’t believe someone didn’t come up with it sooner. We already have the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine which I will be reviewing later but that doesn’t help when out of the house, I wanted something that meant I could easily go for a picnic and warm up formula without needing hot water. There are lots of ways to achieve this but I loved the whole idea of the Yoomi range and let me explain why.

The warmer works in the same way as the gel hand-warming packs that warm up when you click a metal disc inside – when you press the orange button on the yoomi warmer, you’re effectively clicking the metal disc and it’s the phase change from liquid to solid inside the warmer that creates the instant warmth. The cold feed is gently warmed as it flows around the specially designed channels on the outside of the warmer. By the time the feed reaches the teat, it is at natural breast milk temperature (32-34 deg C). The warmer has been carefully designed to stay warm for up to one hour. You then need to recharge the warmer between each use. You need to take the warmer back to its liquid state inside, ready to use again. – Yoomi Website

Yoomi 8oz Feeding System

Yoomi do a full range, you could actually just use their bottles, as I mentioned before though we do have the prep machine so I purchased their 8 oz feeding system if you wanted to start with a smaller bottle they do a 5oz feeding system also. This set includes one 8oz (240ml) bottle, soft teat, warmer and the recharge pod which is perfect for occasional trips out exactly what I wanted it for. Before the we bought the prep machine I was going to buy a whole starter range from Yoomi however it makes much more sense for me to have the prep machine warming feeds at home and we have the space for it. The bottle has been designed with six anti colic vents within the teat which apparently has been designed to stop air bubbling through the teat and into the feed. You do have to buy their teats when you want to replace them, but they have a bunch of options for flow on their website and I don’t think they are that expensive given the convenience (2 pack for £4.50).

How does it work?

First time setup is a tad more complicated as Yoomi give you what’s called a stage 1 time, but once you’ve done that there are only really a few steps to this bottle system.

  1. Charging the warmer
  2. Sterilise everything
  3. Fill bottle with formula, breast milk whatever you want to feed
  4. Push the button
  5. Wait 60 seconds and its ready to use

Charging the warmer

Now to charge the warmer you have two options, either you boil the warmer in a saucepan full of water or you can microwave the warmer in the charging pod. Microwaves vary to Yoomi get you to do a stage 1 setup, which stops you overcooking your warmer.

Microwave charging

Stage 1 Setup –  You basically put the warmer in the charging pod upside down, click the arms in place and pop the whole thing in the microwave for 60 seconds. Next remove from the microwave hold the pod securely and shake five times, if you can hear the warmer rattle then your Stage 1 is 60 seconds, if not then you put the pod back in the microwave for another 10 seconds. Again remove the pod securely and shake five times, if you can now hear the warmer rattle your stage 1 is 70 seconds, if not you pop the pod back into the microwave for another 10 seconds then remove it and your stage 1 is 80 seconds. This initial setup means you don’t have to repeat this process again, once you know how long your stage 1 is. The warmer will now be charged, next time you use the “heat, shake, heat, shake method”. After the first time setup, you charge your warmer using the heat shake method like so:

  • Pop the warmer upside down in the charging pod, secure the arms down and place in the microwave. Heat for your stage 1 time (worked out above).
  • Remove from the microwave and shake the pod for 30 seconds, pop the pod back in the microwave after.
  • Heat for a final 30 seconds.
  • Remove from the microwave and shake the pod for 10 seconds, then let the warmer cool down for 75 minutes or pop in cold water for 20 minutes to cool before pressing the button.

Boiling water charging

Sterilising the warmer, bottle and teat

The important thing to remember is all these parts need sterilising as with all bottles, this includes the warmer. What you don’t want to do is use a microwave steriliser with the warmer because working out your charging time for your microwave is part of the initial setup and you do not want to overcook your warmer. So you can only sterilise the warmer in either an electric steriliser, cold water (with tablets) or in a saucepan of boiling water for four minutes. I have a microwave steriliser so I’ll be sterilising my warmer in a saucepan, every other part of the feeding system can be sterilisers in the microwave steriliser as normal.wd_7930

The good points

Once charged the warmer can be kept until you need to use it, so it makes for a quick and fast option for flinging into the changing bag (once sterilised).

Speed – I like that the warmer is designed so that the milk flows down through to warm the feed, 60 seconds is pretty speedy!

Connivence – If I can get a baby product which is going to make things easily for me then I am all for that product.

Safe – The Yoomi bottle should never over heat the feed by design (although always test it before giving)

Hygienic – Unlike other warmers, the Yoomi bottle keeps the feed cool until you want to warm it up. Where as other warmers keep the feed warm for several hours allowing bacteria to breed.

The bad points

Quite a few parts to sterilise, not really a massive issue though

Remembering to charge the warmer before you need it

You have to buy Yoomi teats, your baby may not get on with the Yoomi teat.

Limited life of warmer, Yoomi quote around 150 charges before you need to replace your warmer.


Review – Storksak Elizabeth Changing Bag

Picking a changing bag was quite important to me, I only realised this quite late on; after all it’s not just a changing bag is it? It becomes your carry around bag, where you keep not only your babies things but your things. So many of the changing bags on the market are really gimmick inducing, bold colours, crazy patterns or design to go with the travel system. There’s nothing wrong with this but I wanted a grown up bag still.

So a little research online and one brand caught my eye “Storksak”, they make a variety of designer changing bags which have been carefully designed to store everything you might need. One of the key things I liked about their bags was that they come with a matching foldable changing mat and also an insulated bottle holder, what more do you need?

Onto the bag, this is the Elizabeth bag in the colour Dove Grey, Elizabeth is one of their timeless editions and has been in their collection since they launched.

Made from luxurious lake washed leather, which ages beautifully, it is finished with brushed silver hardware. Big enough to fit most laptops, this is the perfect baby bag to double-up as your every day or work bag. With two outer pockets, including a mobile pocket, ten internal pockets as well as a insulated bottle holder, this is your ultimate baby bag. – Storksak Website

Look and feel

I love that due to the leather used, each bag is unique and will be slightly different to another. In addition to this it should be quite hard wearing, the leather feels very strong and has a lovely scent (if you like the smell of leather that is). On first look everything seems to be made to a high standard, good quality stitching used and the hardware looks sturdy. I’m hopeful that this bag will last, which will offset the higher pricetag. It comes in a few other colour options in the lake washed leather (black, chalk, tan and walnut) and also a black quilted soft cow hide leather if you prefer that look. The leather does feel very soft to touch and there is also a long strap for over the shoulder use if you so desire.



On the outside of the bag there are two pockets, one of the front and one on the back kept closed with magnets. Probably ideal for storing your phone so that you can get to it quickly when the bag is either on the travel system or being held. Inside there are nine compartments. There is a flushed zipper compartment on one side and on the other a velcro secured compartment, the rest are mostly pouches which seem quite useful for nappies and other items. I’ve managed to fit three nappies easily into just one of these compartments so there really is plenty of space. I love how Storksak seem to have measured out the compartments so they suit baby related items well. There is also a detachable bottle compartment which you can use to keep your bottle upright. In addition to this is a small vanity pouch which can be easily found as it’s attached by a clip, the pouch has the same leather colour used on the bag which I like.wd_b5e5

Extra features

There is also a matching changing mat and bottle holder, all matching the internal material of the bag which you can wipe clean. I don’t think this picture really does the material justice but the previous internal picture should give you an idea. I should also mention that the bag is a zip to close style, which I wanted as I didn’t want things falling out. It looks really robust and chunky so I have high hopes of it not breaking on me! The changing mat looks really luxurious compared to some of the others I’ve seen and is extra padded so should be quite comfortable. The insulated bottle holder should keep things cool/warm for up to four hours, so that’s useful.wd_84ad

Overall thoughts

I really like this changing bag, I’m hoping it will serve me well and for now I think it’s definitely worth the extra money. It is a tad on the girly side but we’ve bought the Stokke changing bag which matches the Stokke Xplory for my husband to use (reviews on these to follow). If you want a changing bag that can easily pass for a normal day to day back I would highly recommend Storksak, you are bound to be able to find a style and colour to suit you. The changing bag will fit most strollers as you can use the over the shoulder strap however I’ll be purchasing their Storksak Stroller Clips as the Stokke Xplory doesn’t have the traditional stroller handle but instead has a loop. So I should be able to use the clips around the handle, but if I don’t like the look of it then It will just have to be carried. Can’t complain!

The bag has plenty of storage and room to fit everything you need in, although If I had more than one child in nappies I might opt for one of their slightly bigger bags. I can definitely seem my collection growing as I want to update things and what’s great is Storksak are always bringing out seasonal changes to their collections.

I’m looking forward to using the bag, once I do I will add an update below who knows my thoughts might change!

Books Reviews

Review – Insurgent, yipee!

Insurgent book front
Wow I’ve just realised this post was still in draft format, I finished this book last summer and wrote the review on the 22nd of August! So publishing now, I can only assume I started to feel sick and gave up.

It took me a little longer than I thought it would to finish this book, which is not a reflection on the book at all but merely my own ability to focus! Insurgent is the second instalment of the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. It’s another young adult science fiction meets dystopia and personally I love that the book follows on from the first book Divergent pretty much seamlessly.

As always I won’t spoil the book by revealing the plot line for you, however I’ll give you a general overview and my thoughts on the book. Insurgent is easy reading, it’s written in a format which I think makes it viable for all kinds of adults (not just the young ones!). The book has plenty of good structure, keeping the main story line running along nicely. The main characters Beatrice (Tris) and Tobias (Four) along with the dystopia society of factions. Veronica has done a good job in terms of character development ready for the third instalment, as the story progresses you get a much better understanding of who they are. In fact I think even the characters learn who they are and who are are not for the first time. After all they have just been through a major societal shake up, lots of new relationships are formed and a deeper understanding of all the factions is seen.

Fighting for survival in a shattered world… the truth is her only hope.

The thrillingly dark sequel to No. 1 New York Times bestseller, DIVERGENT.

I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever… because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Insurgent keeps you on edge, it’s cleverly written and leaves you with a longing to start reading the next and final book (which I may or may not have just ordered). Divergent was a great book, not all sequels live up to their second book but I can firmly say that Insurgent does indeed match Divergent. I’m actually quite surprised that this series has not had quite the same publicity as  The Hunger Games or Twilight because it’s on par.

As I mentioned above the second book follows pretty much immediately after the first, I am so glad the Veronica did not included the recapping most authors do. It was refreshing not to have to be bored by repeated content for readers who had not read the first book. The story line is actually quite complex, personally I did not find anything too weird or strange but then I enjoy sci-fi in general so perhaps that’s why.

I would highly recommend the book, go and read it now!


Review – Roomba 880, I said I would!

I’ve got my hands on the latest household robot the Roomba 880 robot vacuum and I said once I did that I would review it. It’s been here for just under a week and firstly it’s great, it is so nice not to have to vacuum. In fact I haven’t got the big Dyson out since plugging the Roomba in last week.

The new 880 is great for pet hair and all types of dirt on any floor surface which is why I wanted the 880 model. From what I’ve read the previous models had brushes on the bottom which swept up dirt but had problems with hair. The hair would get tangled on these brushes and you would need to detangle them often which increased maintenance overall. The Roomba 880 does not have brushes, it’s using iRobots latest invention which is called AeroForce technology which you can see below. This makes it much more viable for pet owners and works a treat indeed, I think iRobot quote about 50% more suction power for the latest model in comparison?

The Roomba 880 can be scheduled to automatically turn on and clean, it has dirt detection for dirty areas, spot cleaning, can be remotely controlled. It also comes with two lighthouse/virtual walls which are great, you can set a vital wall to stop the Roomba from passing. Or a lighthouse which tells the Roomba this is a new room and helps it guide its way back to the dock.

We’ve left the Roomba to clean while we were away one night and came back to two happy cats and clean floors, what more can you ask for?

So how well does it really work?

For me it works well, the apartment here is mostly open plan so the Roomba goes about it’s business. The only issue I do have is the dip down to the master bedroom door frame is too high for it to get back up again. So I currently block off that room and use a virtual wall to stop the Roomba going into it. This way when I want the bedroom cleaned I can turn the virtual wall into a lighthouse and the Roomba will go into the room, when it’s done I can pick it up and take it to the dock.

It picks up a lot of dust, dirt and hair; much more than I thought it would. I’m actually quite surprised how much it picks up each day. It isn’t noisy, I don’t know why people claim that it is? Compared to a upright vacuum it’s very quiet, I can easily watch TV while it’s on. It’s really great waking up in the morning and going to go make a cup of coffee, watching the Roomba turn on and clean for you.

I used to get that annoying sigh feeling when you wake up and there is dirt everywhere, I’m sure most people would consider my level of dirt as clean but I just like things to be tidy where possible at all times.

The only other slight issue I have had is the pet food bowls, at the moment I’ve virtual walled off the whole kitchen as I need a halo accessory that emits a twenty inch radius to protect the food bowls. Something to work on, but it isn’t too bad as I can just sweep the kitchen myself when it needs it.

When I first turned on the Roomba it went in really weird directions and I wondered what it was doing. Now it seems to have learnt a certain route while still being a little bit crazy so it covers lots of surface area, but it seems to know how to get back to the dock easily now.

Who shouldn’t buy this?

I wouldn’t buy one of these if I had lots of levels to my floors, so between rooms you have lots of raised door frames. I think if you’ve got stairs then you’d need to consider buying more than one which makes it quite an expense or moving the Roomba between floors.

If you happen to be one of those people that leaves things lying around on the floor then this possibly is not for you. I don’t do clutter and thus the floors are pretty free of obstacles, as well as this I also keep my cables out of view and this works in the Roombas favour. If you don’t want to live like that then like I said it’s not for you.

If you want a robot that’s going to map out your home the Roomba isn’t for you, but I don’t find this hinders its ability to clean at all. You would be better off getting a Neato which take a more linear approach. Or alternatively the LG Hom-Bot which uses your ceilings to map out the size of the rooms, this doesn’t work too well with furniture though!

Does this replace an upright?

No it doesn’t, I still have to vacuum the rug because it’s really deep pile (although Roomba is fine on more shallow rugs). I still will need to use an upright but I just don’t need to use it every day, if you are sick of doing it every day and you have the money spare to buy a Roomba then it makes sense. I suppose it depends on your priorities, hopefully the robots will get cheaper and more intelligent over time as it would be excellent to see develops for smart households.

So overall I’m really happy with the Roomba 880, it might look like a drunk fool at times but by doing this it covers the room better and cleans better. It’s got great power behind it and it’s saving me loads of time in the day while keeping my two cats entertained.

Books Reviews

Review – Gone Girl, seems simple enough right?

I wanted to love this book, I really did. I really enjoy a good mystery and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has knitted together a great story. But and there is a but, which is such a shame I just did not like the ending. Gone Girl has great general review score on Amazon and as per normal I hunted it out in my local book store to check it in the flesh.

The book is a cleverly written thriller, it’s great really it is but I just found myself wondering where the rest of the story was after I finished reading. I was actually stumped that I had hit the last page, how could it end like that? Without giving you too much away in my opinion if the ending was a biscuit it would be a soggy crunch cream, great at first but soon as you dunk it all of its redeeming features are gone. Just like the girl, gone *sigh* which is such a shame as I believe that it could have been so much more clever at the end.

Who are you?

What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Just looking at the Amazon reviews I can see that loads of people agree, the ending is dire. I don’t read the Amazon reviews by the way when I look for books as I find people spoil the story a lot in them. It’s almost infuriating as this book is so good other than the end, I was surprised at every corner. It was great, what was Gillian thinking! The ending just flops.

I also really did not like that the author filled the last pages with the first chapter of one of her other books, it was like poor advertising “Please purchase my other books, here’s the first chapter if you read it then you’ll want to know what is coming next then you’ll buy my book??? Please???”. Needless to say I did not read the first chapter of whatever book has been bunched in the final pages.

Still with all of that said, I think you should read this book because it’s great apart from the ending. Given that so many people have read it and rated it highly I’m sure maybe the ending is like Marmite you ever love it or hate it. Personally I don’t find it believable at all and it infuriates me but the rest of the book was good so I don’t regret reading it. I read this book on and off for fives days because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, it’s very much a can’t put down book but I do feel a little cheated.

Gone Girl isn’t conventional, Gillian focuses a lot on human relationships and particularly marriage. There is a lot of lying, lots of manipulation, you can’t take for granted that what you are being told as the reader is true which is very different to other thrillers I’ve read. It’s what makes the book so good, addictive because you don’t know all the facts, you don’t know if what you are being told is the truth and you are taken along as much as all the other characters through the story. If only the ending was better, this would be a great film!

So if you don’t mind taking a risk, a gamble with the ending then totally read this!

Gone Girl City Living Soul Rating:3
Books Reviews

Review – The Book Thief, an interesting insight into death

The Book ThiefI was very much looking forward to reading The Book Thief,  it is written by an Australian author Markus Zusak and most interestingly narrated by the character “Death”. It took me a little while to warm up to the narration as Death has a very different way of viewing the world to humans, which is reflected heavily in the narration.

The book has a lot to contend with and there are stories which cover Nazi Germany already, like the boy in the striped pajamas. But what sets this book apart from the rest is the narration. By the end of the book you begin to think that perhaps it is possible that Death does exist. That he does come to take your soul and also what that process might feel like.

As per normal here is the synopsis from the back of the book:

Here is a small fact, you are going to die.
1939 Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year old girl is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.
Some important information
This novel is narrated by Death
It’s a small story, about
a girl + an accordionist + some fanatical Germans + a Jewish fist fighter + and quite a lot of thievery.
Another thing you should know
Death will visit the book thief three times

 The Book Thief was published in 2005 which I was quite surprised about, but it was the best-selling debut literacy novel in 2007. It has won a variety of awards and was listed in The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks. Even though the book is narrated by Death, the characters stories are still covered fully and in a beautiful way. Before reading the book I had never really considered what Germany must have been like during the Nazi take over. As time went on I found that I was intrigued to find out what happened next, how the inhabitants of Himmel street pushed forward even in such poverty. It really is an astonishing book, great writing but with an unusual style but fitting the narrator perfectly. If you find unusual writing methods tiresome you may struggle for the first few chapters of this book, but continue on and eventually the writing is easily absorbed. I will admit that the first few chapters I was not convinced that I wanted to continue reading, as I really struggled with the narration but now I have finished it I’m glad I did!

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

I think I was initial drawn to The Book Thief because of the cover, a young girl dancing holding hands with Death. I took the book with me to Italy over the weekend and It was perfect those periods when you need to pass time. I won’t spoil the story for you here, but I do think it’s worth reading and I look forward to now watching the film. If you think you might like to read a book about how a street in Germany coped with tragic events without losing hope, read the book.

Books Reviews

The Husbands Secret – What a great book!

I had no idea what to expect from this book, I bought it for my mother some time ago when The Husbands Secret first came out back in August 2013. I can’t remember exactly why, perhaps it was a Christmas present but something about the front cover made me think she would like it. It was only recently that I decided to read it myself, I had no idea how good it was! I must have flown through this book, I think I read the first chapter then left it for a week or so due to being so busy. But once I was ready to start reading again I pretty much ignored my poor husband for a few evenings. Not that I think he minded, since it gave him guilt free gaming time plus the easter weekend helped too!

The husbands secret

Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband’s hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.

Curious, she opens it – and time stops.

John-Paul’s letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.

I think that The Husbands Secret’s target audience has to be women, it reminds me of Desperate Housewives an American TV series which followed the lives of a whole bunch of housewives. The book shows multiple viewpoints of storyline events from different characters which makes it interesting and keeps the story flowing well. The biggest couple the feature the most would be John-Paul and Cecilia but all the characters are just as important throughout. As per usual I will try and review this book without spoilers, so rather than telling you what will happen I will try and explain what I liked about the book.

I really love the story, the synopsis quoted above gives you some idea that there is this massive secret but the story is about much more than just the big reveal. If anything I think the book enlightens you to exactly how the real world is once you wipe away the “American dream” world, which it does while being funny and gripping. I enjoy books which have clever story lines, I like guessing what might be going on but I don’t want to be right first time. While I think I did guess the secret in this book early on, I had no idea of the true secrets that were held within and was genuinely surprised by the very end of the book. If you are like most of the population, you’ll find yourself judging characters in the book too soon only to find that perhaps their motives are different later on. The book is a puzzle and if you enjoy that kind of story then I highly recommend you read this, you won’t be disappointed.

There were points in the book that I found slow which is a shame, but it did not detract from the overall experience and I still think the overall reviews of this book online are justified. I purchased it on Amazon for £3.80 (Bargain!) and as you will see the reviews for it on there are great, with almost five stars and around 2,400 reviews you cannot go wrong.

Seeing as I enjoyed this book I think I may look at purchasing more from the Author Liane Moriarty although her other books have not been such a big hit as The Husbands Secret.

Anyway please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are on the book in the comments section!


The Cuckoo’s Calling and we like it

I’ll be the first to admit that I am by no means the best reader, I have not picked up a book for pure entertainment for at least ten years. I’ve been an audiobook fan for a while, but I find that does not require the same level of commitment and I used to combine listening with other tasks like cleaning.

I love watching films so when I suddenly had some of that free time I talked about in my last blog appear I decided would give reading another try.

 A few weeks back I popped into the local Waterstones to check out what books are popular at the moment, after my third visit I decided to buy “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K Rowling). It’s a crime fiction which is something I’ve always enjoyed back when I did read. I find looking for books a lot easier online than I do in a book store.

I don’t want to spoilt the ending for anyone reading this or thinking of reading this book so I’ll keep that in mind with my comments. The book is based on a model who falls to her death leaving behind the question of suicide or murder? In steps a private detective (Cormoran Strike) who’s job it is to answer the question.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; I think that J.K Rowling is a great writer and she has kept you guessing about firstly whether there is a murder at all and then secondly if there is who it might be. I found the book to be easy to read which I like, but still very descriptive.I’m not one to enjoy books that use overly complex wording but may work up to that over time we will see!

It’s nice to see that the author has been able to successfully write a book that is outside of the Harry Potter world. I would not be surprised if the book get’s made into a film at a later date.

I finished the book yesterday and am now eagerly waiting for the next book which follows the private detective Cormoran Strike on his next journey. The books called “Silkworm” and it’s due to be released on the 19th of June 2014, so that will definitely be on my reading list.

Today I’ve started reading “The Shock of the fall” by Nathan Filer and I will be sure to keep you posted of whether I think that’s worth a read.