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The month that was: February 2017

What happened:
I've been busy freelancing all month, but it's been nice to be out and about in central London - especially as spring creeps closer! I'm walking around 7-8 miles a day since I discovered taking the Tube from Waterloo takes me 20 minutes... walking takes me 25 minutes, and is much more scenic. (Not to mention my only form of exercise!) It's also a year since we moved from Brixton to Wandsworth, and I'm still super happy living there.

We headed to Kent this month to visit our niece and nephew, and also booked a wee trip to Belgium for my birthday. Oh, and in good news, Kept went to #4 in UK, #12 in the US, #5 in Canada and #7 in Australia (in the overall best sellers chart - got to love a BookBub promotion!). I also made it to #1 in quite a few sub-genres, and am still in the UK Top 100 chart. Woohoo!

What I ate:
We met Olly's parents at Sophie's Steakhouse for a pre-theatre dinner (them, not us), which is a nice enough place if you're in that area. Their steak frites is a bargain. We also *finally* got to go to Dip & Flip, which was awesome and we'll definitely be back. As an ex-Northerner, I thoroughly approve of gravy with burgers and chips!

I've been making the most of my lunchtimes getting my fill of as much Wasabi and burritos (Chilango, mainly, though I did try Daddy Donkey) as I can - my absolute lunchtime faves - as well as exploring the foodie delight that is Leather Lane. I also had a lunch date at The Fable (they got my order wrong, but they did rectify it), and had a Chit Chat Chaii at home, via Deliveroo. (Delicious, as always!) And, of course, there were the inevitable pancakes - the usual ones on Pancake Day, but we also had some chocolate chip American pancakes at home, with bacon and maple syrup. Yum!

What I watched:
We finished watching The Grand Tour this month, and also Luke Cage. I'm not really a fan of the Marvel TV shows, but I preferred Luke Cage to Jessica Jones and Daredevil. (I never included Daredevil in my monthly round-ups, but I did half-watch it with Olly.) We then blitzed through The People v. O.J. Simpson, which was fascinating (how did he get away with it?!), then started watching the second season of Better Call Saul. (Once BCS finishes, I really want to rewatch Breaking Bad.)

IMDB Top 50 films: Back to the Future (45) and The Prestige (50). Other films watched: Dirty Grandpa, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 10 Things I Hate About You, John Wick, Whiskey Foxtrot Tango and Central Intelligence.

At the cinema we saw The LEGO Batman Movie in 4DX, which was OK. I definitely prefer The LEGO Movie. We also watched an advance screening of Hidden Figures, which I absolutely loved. I now *have* to the book to read. It should have won an Oscar!

What I read:
In February I read 6 books, and listened to one audiobook: Go Set a Watchman, which was perfectly read by Reese Witherspoon. No 5* reads this month, but I enjoyed The Muse by Jessie Burton the most. (I also broke my book buying ban. Oops!)

How was your month? x

The month that was: January 2017 (And resolutions!)

What happened:
Happy New Year! We started 2017 by taking down the tree... and I'm *still* spotting stray pine needles around the house. I eased myself into January, before job hunting, job hunting, job hunting! Things are changing, but this means that, hopefully, in a few years, we might be able to swap renting a flat to owning our very own London shoebox. Unfortunately, for you, this means I have no idea when you'll get book six since I no longer have the luxury of having long chunks of free time.

When I *do* have a book that's in good shape, I won't be publishing it myself either: I'm going to be at the mercy of finding an agent/publishing contract. It's something I meant to do after publishing Kept and Geli Voyante's Hot or Not, but then I decided to continue the Arielle Lockley series and realised no one would want to take on the series mid-point. After completing that, now feels like the right time to get my future books into the hands of many readers as possible.

OK, that explained, January involved the aforementioned job hunting. I've had several interviews, but the jobs/companies haven't felt quite right, so I'm still searching for a permanent position. I am, however, freelancing for the next few months whilst I do this, so that's good for my bank balance!

Our new nephew made his way into the world this month - welcome Alfred George - plus we celebrated our niece's first birthday. We've booked a trip to Yorkshire to visit my family, and flights to Italy for my best friend's wedding in Lake Como. (Como pictured below when we visited one chilly March; can't wait to see it in summer!) All exciting things, right?

Finally, I went to see Aladdin on the West End: Trevor Dean Nicholas, who plays Genie, MADE THE SHOW. Friend Like Me was the BEST song - purely because of the nods to other Disney films - and although it wouldn't make my top ten musicals list, I did enjoy it. Speaking of Disney, I've been playing Disney Magic Kingdoms on my phone this month (addicted), plus Stardew Valley on the PS4.

What I ate:
I caught up with a friend at Pho - I eat there far too often, I know, but it's super cheap and super tasty (what I'm all about these days) - and enjoyed a pre-theatre dinner at Byron. The burgers were even sweeter as they'd sent me a BOGOF email. (Byron Burger Club FTW!) We also met friends for brunch at Blighty Coffee (typical breakfast fare), and I had a mid-week lunchtime burrito date with Olly at Chilango (nom).

New dishes recipe-wise, I made jerk chicken with rice and peas (awesome flavours to the chicken, wasn't so keen on the rice and peas), spiced chicken, spinach and sweet potato stew (nice enough), chicken jalfrezi (awesome) and jerk sweet potato and black bean curry (good for a veggie dish, though I'm still not convinced by jerk food). My food goal this year is, as always, to try out more new recipes - especially tasty and quick ones for weekday evening meals. Share if you have any!

What I watched:
TV-wise, I watched a BBC documentary on Walt Disney. I'm a massive Disney fan, so this was really interesting to find our a little more about the man behind the mouse. Boxset-wise, I blasted through Designated Survivor, a series on Netflix starring Kiefer Sutherland (was hard at first not to have the 24 beeps playing in my head!). It ended on a cliffhanger, and had some flaws, but I'll definitely watch the rest of it when it airs in March. I also watched The OA on Netflix, which was confusing and strange at first... then remained confusing. Definitely the oddest thing I've seen in a long time.

A film-based resolution I have this year is to try and tick off as many of the IMDB Top 50 movies as I can. (The list is actually 250 films long.) It's a good way to tick off some of those films that *everyone* raves about, though I have seen a fair few already. This month I ticked off Interstellar (33)(seen before), Whiplash (46) and La La Land (23). Other films watched: The Revenant, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Now You See Me 2, The Other Woman, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian, The Girl with All the Gifts, Avatar and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

At the cinema I saw Assassin's Creed in 4DX. It didn't look like my cup of tea - it wasn't - but I was curious to see a film in 4DX. There was motion, bubbles, fog and fragrance, to name a few of the sensations. It's sort of like being on a ride at a theme park, but less intense! Not something I'd do for every film, but fun every once in a while. I also saw La La Land, which I'm not convinced will become a classic. Saying that though, a few days later City of Stars was *still* in my head... maybe it will! Finally, I saw Jackie - Natalie Portman was brilliant in it.

What I read:
In January I read 18 books and abandoned reading four books. No 5* reads for me this month, but I enjoyed Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama, Blood Lines by Angela Marsons, A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton, Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Goal-wise, unless a book is free on Kindle (Kept is still free by the way in all Amazon markets worldwide, as well as on Kobo) or I borrow it from the library, I'm not going to buy any books this year in an effort to clear my massive TBR pile! I may allow myself to use Kindle Unlimited when I'm on holiday, but that's it. (Apart from buying the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And some audiobooks on Audible for my commute. Oh, and the new Sarah J. Maas books!)

How was your month? Did you make any resolutions or set any goals for this year? x

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