Sunday, 13 October 2019

3 things about being vegetarian

2019 has been a year of great change for me. Its seen me start a new job, meet new people, move house (again) and try some new hobbies out.

My favourite change by far is that I've made the choice to be vegetarian. For a while I was eating little meat, what now would be termed as "meat-conscious" but it took 2019 rolling in for me to make the full switch to vegetarianism and I love it.
It's not something many people know about me, this might even be the first time you even realised. Yet it's here to stay so if felt it was about time it had a little debut on Blue Striped Square. Of course, I couldn't possibly talk about it without one of my classic lists. Here are 3 things I regularly get asked:

1. Does that have meat in it?
This one always surprises me as it usually follows after I've mentioned I'm vegetarian. I just wait for the penny to drop slowly but surely...
My stepdad started off asking me this in a passive aggressive way but now that he's acclimatised a tad it's become a family joke. 

2. Don't you miss "insert meat product here"?
Everyone has something they can't love without, yet my life is no less the richer for the lack of meat. Invariably bacon is a common product that'd people feel they'd really miss. Truthfully, on occasion I do miss things but the longer I've gone without meat the less it's bothered me. There's plenty of meat free alternatives to try and I keep my own meals varied so that I keep up the enjoyment factor. 

3. But what about the protein??? 
Okay, so it comes as a big surprise to people but there are other sources of protein other than meat. It took a little bit of self education (aka googling it) for me to find some new sources, but there's more out there than you think. 
If you look beyond the protein, I honestly think I have a much more varied and nutrient rich diet now than I've had. I'm more adventurous about trying new things and I've foubd a lot of stuff I'd have never considered have become staples for me now. 

Becoming veggie has been one of the best things I could have done for myself. I got to reconnect with my love of cooking, get to try new food all the time and be a part of a great community. 
Whatever your reason for eating less meat products, just to try to enjoy the process. Even if it's not possible for you personally to be vegetarian or even vegan, there's still plenty to takeaway from the lifestyle. 

If you have any questions yourself, I'm happy to answer them... Just don't be surprised if they end up in a blog post in the future!

Abi x

Saturday, 22 June 2019

5 parkrun goals

Hey all. How’s it going?
It’s been a while since we’ve had a non book post (sorry, not sorry).
I’ve been running on and off now for the past two years. I’m lucky enough to have a few races under my belt but the one thing I really struggle with is consistency. To counteract this I set a goal this year to complete 12 parkrun, effectively one a month. Doesn’t sound like much right? Still it’s been a challenge and at the time of writing, one I’m succeeding in. 

My local parkrun in Liverpool is the Princes Park Run. It’s a “boss” course with some great characters both amongst the runners and the volunteers. It’s the only course I’ve ever really tried despite the concept happening both nationally and internationally.

Parkrun Tourism is becoming more and more popular as the initiative continues to grow. 
I thought it’d be nice to look at some of the great courses and see if I can get a few more boxes off. 

  1. Sewerby cliff tops-this is a course I’ve walked before I ever had a parkrun account. It’s one of love to do, as the course runs along the gorgeous cliffs of the northeast Yorkshire coastline. Preferably on a sunny day...
  2. Croxteth hall-a local Liverpool course that’s even closer to me than my usual. Highlights reported to be the beautiful country hall and many farm animals watching the speedy runners. 
  3. Fort William: All the way up in Scotland, this particularly parkrun is often touted as one of the most scenic in Scotland. Running alongside a forest in the shade of Ben Nevis sounds pretty awe inspiring to me.
  4. Dolegellau: keeping with the mountain theme, albeit in Wales this time. This particular Parkrun is alongside an old railway, a river and of course the beautiful Snowdonia national Park
  5. York:  A beautiful city that I've visited a few times in the past, never with my running trainers in hand though. This run is a little different, in that its set inside York Race course. Ideal for runners who fancy a flatter course. I reckon I;d need that after all those mountains earlier in this list!
If any of these have inspired you, then head to parkrun to sign up for free. You get emailed a barcode which you have to print and then you’re ready to go! 

Abi x 

Friday, 8 March 2019

Book blog tour: The Bitter Edge by Rachel Lynch

@r_lynchcrimeWelcome to today's post, a book review of Rachel Lynch's newest addition. Released on February 25th 2019, The Bitter Edge is the forth book from Lynch's crime fiction series of  DI Kelly Porter. We last saw DI Porter in Dead End and I cant wait for you all to see what has passed since then.

Book Blurb: 
DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down...
When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.
Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.
Don't miss this gripping crime thriller featuring a phenomenal detective. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney and Robert Bryndza.

Book review:
Following on the success of Dark Game, Deep Fear and Dead End, reading on of DI Porter felt like coming home. Tackling dark themes as ever,  we follow the DI and her team as they begin to untangle the deaths of young girls in the ever beautiful Cumbrian Lake District. 
I love how Lynch never fails to bring the scenery to life with often stark contrasts. The pressure is kept on throughout most of the novel.
For those who have read the previous novels, we begin to address the secrets of Kelly herself. Building on the familial revelations, we see Kelly beginning to accept the trauma to her identity in finding out more of her biological father. It's a personal journey that we, the readers, are treated to and is impressively chronicled by Lynch amidst the main plot of the novel.

For those who are fans of a crime thriller,  the series is a must read with this recent novel being the icing of the cake. 

I cannot wait to see what comes next of this character we've come to know.

About the author:
Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.
Find her on twitter: 

Find the book on:  Amazon (UK), Kobo (UK), Google Books (UK), Apple Books (UK)

Abi x

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Book blog tour: The Lilith Gene by M.Cassol

Hi guys! Today's post a cheeky little spotlight about a really intriguing book called The Lilith Gene by M.Cassol.

Here's a summary of whats going on:
Vesna, a Serbian PhD student in Art History living in Tuscany, is a master rock climber. The only thing she can't get a grip on is her love life. Beset by terrifying panic attacks that strike every time she allows herself to be intimate with another woman, she strives to avoid the so-called mermaids in her life. Olga is a widened-eye nurse trainee in Sarajevo. It’s 1912 and Olga is all too keen to document her life and the world changing around her in her diaries. Olga's passion for nursing is only rivalled by her love for her anguished boyfriend Gav. The arrival of the obscure Patient J.D. 347 at the hospital is about to change everything for Olga. Everything will change for Vesna too, when she meets the compelling art restorer Rafaella Guaritore. Rafaella holds the key to Vesna's research into influential women painters of the Renaissance and the metaphorical Lilith Gene that all the rebellious ladies in art are believed to share. Will Rafaella hold the key to solving Vesna's mysterious recurring dreams and find the root of all her anxiety? Or is the answer to Vesna's problems hidden in Olga's diaries?

Five particularly fab things about “The Lilith Gene” are:

1) Perzie - the mysterious soldier JD 347, was based on a true magnificent woman and everyone should read about her. Her name is Milunka Savić and she was a Serbian war hero and an extraordinary lady.
2) The theory portrayed in the book of “genetic inherited trauma” is real, there are several studies about the subject.
3) The painter Artemisia Gentileschi who is the main subject on Vesna’s character research for her phd is an important part of art history and feminist culture.
4) The Lilith Gene develops in two parallel time lines, one in today’s dates and one in Bosnia 1912 where tensions are building up and all historical events mentioned in the book really happened.
5) The ayahuasca plant that Vesna tries on the book it’s called the Vine of Spirits. There many studies showing possible beneficial studies relating the molecule DMT present on the hallucinogenic brew to improvement in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

About the Author:
M.Cassol was born in transit on the Brazilian and Uruguian boarders, when her mother went into
labour on the return leg of a family holiday. Cassol graduated in medicine in Brazil in 2004, but instead of sticking to a formal academic path, she left everything behind to travel the world, crossing oceans and moving to Europe. After settling in London, Cassol has become one of the most respected specialist doctors in aesthetic medicine, associating her passion for beauty and creativity to perfect her treatments. Her first lesbian novel was published in Brazil; Fuga da Lula (which translates to Fanny Fun in English), reached number one on the Amazon Lesbian Romance chart and is currently being turned into a movie.

About the Book
Title: The Lilith Gene
Author: M. Cassol
Release Date: 29th November 2018
Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 232
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing 
Find the book on Goodreads  and  Amazon.

Abi x

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Review: Hafla Hafla

Heyooo! One of the things I love about living in the city is the opportunity to try new and wonderful things. I adore being able to walk down some of the more popular areas and spot new and upcoming places to eat. Cos let’s face it I love me some grub.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Book blog tour: Where The Truth Lies by M.J. Lee

Hey all! Todays lovely post comes as part of the blog tour for the gripping thriller "Where The Truth Lies" By M.J. Lee. As part of the tour I've been lucky to nab an extract for you lovely lot! Before that, I've included some info about the book, read on and find out...

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Book blog tour: Dead End by Rachel Lynch

Hi alllll! So it's been a hot minute a post over here. Today we've brought you a lovely guest post from author Rachel Lynch following the release of her latest novel "Dead End", explaining her some of her research process.

Guest post: Rachel Lynch

In the Kelly Porter novels, I’m always looking for new angles to explore pathology and police procedure. The research never stops, and it’s vitally important for me to learn new procedures and technologies, and incorporate them in my books.

For example, in Dead End, Kelly makes an aerial search of a mountainous area, looking for two missing girls. I loved researching this! I’ve been in helicopters and I’m a bit like Kelly: they shouldn’t work but they do! I know the police use them all the time now, but resources are tight in Cumbria, and sometimes they use the mountain rescue helicopters, or borrow from neighbouring constabularies, such as Lancaster. It has to be plausible to me, and Kelly is used to having technology on tap in London, but this is very different and she’d got to use her resourcefulness.

Police dive teams appeared in Dark Game and they make a reappearance here in Dead End. I trained to be a Sports Diver in Cyprus, when I lived there for almost three years. It meant I could dive to fifty metres in open water, and it involved a lot of exams and technical knowledge. I love the atmosphere that’s made possible in the confine space of a wetsuit and a tank of air- it’s adrenaline pumping and then some! There’s also a commercial dive scene in Dead End, and I do like to throw in the odd curve ball here and there, and that dive instructor was fun to create. 

I also like to have the coroner use different techniques and face new challenges in his work, and so this time, for Dead End, I did a lot of research into brain pathology, without giving too much away. Ted Wallis is obviously a very experienced pathologist and I always like to give him slightly different angles to work with. This is a good source of tension for Kelly, too, because results take time, and sometimes, dead bodies throw up real surprises.

Nowadays, it’s quite easy to research topics on the internet, but my joy is gained from taking that research, and turning what I find into a proper job for my developing characters. Also, things don’t always go to plan in the real world and mistakes are made and opportunities lost. I also have to keep in mind that a lot of police work, and pathology, is fairly dull: crunching data and looking for detail. It can take weeks to follow a lead on one carpet strand, as it can take months to wait to see if DNA can be replicated and harvested. Obviously this would make a pretty flat plot, and so I take liberties with time and space, but always make sure the investigative detail is plausible.

One example of this is the Lake District terrain. Accuracy is important to me, however, sometimes, Kelly has to cover distances and altitudes quickly, to keep the story moving forward. For example, it’s possible to get up to Martindale as quickly as she does, but, in summer, stuck behind a mini-bus, on narrow lanes choked with tourists, it’s probably a long shot. The same is true about the geography of Place Fell- the location that first inspired Dead End, and if ever you get chance to visit, it’s a cracking walk to start with. From the summit, the whole of Ullswater spreads out before you, majestic and vast. It’s truly breath taking. There are several ways up to the summit, and Kelly and Johnny could easily jog up it, given their level of fitness. It is deserted most of the time, it’s wind swept, and these features are what planted the seed of a major plot thread for me in Dead End. I remember sitting up there one day, looking down on Ullswater, Dead End beginning to form in my head. 

Having said all that, research has to be handled with care. Like William Faulkner said, the novelist has to kill their darlings, and it’s true. For every paragraph on technical detail, I’ve probably researched a book load of facts. In the final edit, they all have to be culled, to leave just enough nuggets to thrill the reader!

Book Spotlight:

Title: Dead End

Author Name: Rachel Lynch

Previous Books (if applicable): Dark Game and Deep Fear

Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

Release Date: 8th October 2018

Publisher: Canelo

Book Blurb:
When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging from the rafters at Wasdale Hall, everyone assumes the aging, hard-partying aristocrat had finally had enough of chasing the glory of his youth. But when the coroner finds signs of foul play, DI Kelly Porter is swept into a luxurious world where secrets and lies dominate.
At the same time, two young hikers go missing and it’s up to Kelly to lead the search. But digging deeper reveals ties to two other unsolved disappearances and Kelly and her team find themselves in a race against time.
Now, as all roads of both investigations and Kelly’s own family secrets lead to Wasdale Hall it becomes more important than ever for Kelly to discover the devious truths hidden behind the walls of the Lake District’s most exclusive estate...
Don't miss this gripping crime thriller featuring an unforgettable detective. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney and Robert Bryndza.

Links to Book:  Amazon (UK) Kobo (UK) Google Books (UK) Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio: Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Twitter: @r_lynchcrime

I can't wait to read this one!!

Abi x