My Year of Living Danishly – The Happiest People in the World

I just love reading about what other people are reading, as it gives me inspiration so here is some for you! I am totally obsessed with reading right now, it is the one activity that I can easily fit-in, in little snippets, whilst taking care of my baby girl – how you ask? How do you have time to read when you have a baby? Well if you don’t already know me, this may be a surprise, or maybe not…audiobooks!! Sorry if you are bored with my harping on about audiobooks, but I have been a big fan of them for like 5 years now, and I have never read and enjoyed so many books in my life! There are two ways I read audiobooks, one through my library (which is free), they have an app called OneClickDigital which enable me to “check out” an audiobook and listen to it on my phone. Though they don’t have many books to choose from.

The best, but not free version though is Audible – I love audible, they have more audiobooks than any other company, their app works perfectly, they are part of amazon so I use the same login, and if you purchase a pack of 12 audiobooks they come down in price to about £4-£5 per book and you own the books, so if you cancel you account, the books are yours to keep forever.

Listening to books mean that no matter what you are doing, you can be reading e.g. on the school run, cleaning the house, at the gym, shopping, waiting in line, driving!

I digress, so what have I been reading recently (or listening to), well my favourite, which I listened to in 5 days (how often do you read an entire book in less than a week?) is “My Year of Living Danishly” by Helen Russell.

happiest people in the world book cover

I read it so quickly because I loved it. Her writing style, her quirky nicknames and the way she describes life just had me captivated. I also loved learning about a country that I had never even considered visiting, I knew absolutely nothing about Denmark, before reading this book. Okay I have to be honest and say that I didn’t even know where Denmark is – my geography is not very good. The fact that they are the happiest people in the world, was interesting, and I enjoyed learning why – some of which anyone could adopt and I was totally fascinated by their amazing way of life over there.

After inhaling this book I immediately read Helen Russell’s second book “Leap Year” because that is also set in Denmark and had the addition of her toddler “Little red”. I love reading books about family life. Leap Year was more about making changes and becoming happier over the course of a year. Also a good read though not as captivating as her first endeavour.

Another highlight of reading these books is that I told her on twitter how great they were and she actually replied to me! It’s so exciting when an author replies to you, I also got a tweet from Jodi Picoult once!

where is denmark map

10 things I learned about Denmark:

  1. Lego is Danish – and if you work for Lego, you get to play with Lego in meetings – how fun would that be?!
  2. Hygge – have you heard of Hoogah (Hygge) it is the art of living a cosy life, this is how the Danish survive their long harsh winters!
  3. They only have 11 hours of sunlight per month, in winter and it gets as cold as -20DegreesC – that certainly shut me up when I was complaining about our particularly cold and rainy winter this year.
  4. The state pays 75% of their childcare, so for a full time nursery place they only pay £200-£300 per month!! That’s nuts, we pay that per week in England!! I almost starting packing my bags on hearing that!
  5. Because childcare is so cheap, everyone works and women have equality, the gap between what men and women earn is less, and the gap between the rich and the poor is very narrow so the quality of life is fantastic.
  6. The state pays all university fees and life-long learning up until the age of 30 years!
  7. If you lose or leave your job you are paid up to 2 years of earnings to look for a new job! And because of this they leave their jobs/careers whenever they are unhappy – how lovely to be able to do that.
  8. They have Danish Patries – okay I did already know that, but I didn’t realise how amazing they were or how long you have to train to be in the pastry business. I have totally had cravings for Danishes ever since I read this book, yum!
  9. Denmark is a very small country, with a population on par with London.
  10. They trust each other, doors are left open, babies are left in prams outside of restaurants and cafes – wow what a world to live in.
5

Dream Sequence Book Review (and #Competition)

books with headphones

I have recently read (well listened to actually) all seven books in the Dream Series, books by J.J DiBennedetto. I am also running a competition for three of my readers to win the first 3 books in the series (in audiobook format). So if you have ever been intrigued by audio-books but were unsure, this is your time to try it for free. If you already love audiobooks, this is a no-brainer.

My overall assessment of the series is that I really loved the first few books but did not enjoy the later books quite as much, though I enjoyed watching the family expand and her dreams with them. I found the books intriguing and clever and even though I did not enjoy the later books quite as much, if I had reviewed just the earlier books this would be a rave review. Be aware that these are my personal opinions about the books and just like movies and music books are terribly subjective.

Book 1 – Dream Student

Sara is a pre-med university student who starts having nightmares. The difference is that her nightmares are other people’s dreams. Sara confides in her room-mate (and best-friend) Beth and meets Brian, whom she begins dating. Sara is dreaming about a murderer, every night she sees what he does to his victims, she has to watch but she cannot do anything about it, or can she?

I find University life in America fascinating so it was an interesting backdrop to this story to read about Sara’s pre-med programme. I found Sara strangely arrogant at times, she jumped from indecision and self-doubt one moment and than cocky at other times, in spite of that, I actually really warmed to her and felt bad for her and her nightmares. I did actually guess who the murderer was but still found the climax pretty thrilling.

dream student characters

Book 2 – Dream Doctor

Brian and Sara get married and move in together in the dorms while she starts Medical School. I like that her dreams are not as disturbing this time, there is no way a real person could live like that. My favourite part is learning about medical school, the intricacies of that way of life is fascinating to me. Her jealousy of her neighbour, whom she thinks is lusting over her husband is quite amusing and realistic. Her empathy towards Janet is amazing, she really goes above and beyond for someone so young and I just love how she stands up for Janet. The idea of her having a baby though, wow, I know I shouldn’t judge but it’s really hard not to. The idea of marrying someone within a few months of knowing them at age 21, whilst at university and then deciding to have a child whilst you are both studying, if it was a close friend of mine I would advise against it. No normal person would be able to cope with Medical School and a baby, a baby completely rocks your world, especially the first time.

This time Sara dreams about one of her teachers, a very mean man that is impossible to like, who it appears everyone is plotting to kill. Sara has to try to piece her dreams together to find out who, of all the suspects it could be and try to intervene.

Book 3 – Dream Child

Sara is a paediatric resident with not just a 3 year old but baby twins – all I can say is she is superwoman! It’s amazing how often she takes her toddler to work with her, I have never seen or heard of that happening in England, maybe it is specific to Americans or doctors? It’s pretty impressive how close she and Brian still are after so much stress, and three kids, including twin babies.

In this book we find out that Lizzie has started to have the same dreams as her mum Sara and that they can actually see each other in the dreams, its pretty surreal. In this book they help a congressman who is tangled up with the mob. This book felt less realistic and was not quite as enjoyable as the previous two books which I enjoyed very much.

Book 4 – Dream Family

It’s not the authors fault but I really did not like the narrator of this book. I prefer to have the same narrator all the way through a series otherwise it can get confusing who the character are, as you get used to their voices. I really did not like the voice she did for the Paul Sorentino, and for Lizzie, her voice was so annoying I almost stopped listening, perhaps the narrator is new. It’s a shame because it is a powerful story, as something disturbing happens to Sara, and she struggles to cope. It is really hard to listen to her go through such a hard time in prison, as brief as it was. The whole book is about her recovery, and how her family help her through it. It turns out that her mother can also see other people’s dreams.

I have to admit that I found Sara and Brian even more unbelievable as characters in this book, how many people do you know that have been married for like 8-10 years, have 3 kids, work doctors hours and are as lovey dovey as teenagers? I don’t know anyone like that, it’s just not realistic.

Book 5 – Waking Dream

The family move into a new family home. Grace is part of the family now and acclimates surprisingly well. Through her dreams Sara sees a woman in a red dress sneaking into Brian’s dreams, but why and who is she? Sara realises her family are not the only one’s who have the ability to go into people’s dreams. Sara and Brian have no sex for almost 3 months, they are normal, I thought at first and then they go back to being love-struck teenagers again! This book is very surreal and new rules are made up about what she and others can do in the dreams.

Book 6 – Dream Reunion

Sara feels guilty for what happened in her dreams last time, but she moves on and goes to her college re-union. She dreams about her friend Joe, whom she thinks is going to do something bad to the family business. Sara and Brian, after 15 years of marriage and 5 children have their first argument, their first argument after 15 years, who are these people?

Book 7 – Dream Home

Sara and her family, including her parents, move into a new home in a small town. She gives up private practice and joins the local hospital, where it turns out she is not wanted, and she is not very popular. The book centres on Grace who is trying out for the lead part in the school play and has a huge crush. Sara befriends an elderly shop-owner who predicts that the town will soon be facing a earth-shattering snow-storm.

dream sequence books

If you enjoy fantasy, something a little different but also enjoy reading about university/medical school and doctors you will enjoy this series.

Competition

If you would like to be in with a chance to win the first three audiobooks in the series please enter via rafflecopter below. The winners will receive an audible code that, when entered into the check out will allow them to receive the first three books of the Dream Sequence – Dream Student, Dream Doctor and Dream Child. I have three audible codes to give-away courtesy of the author J.J. DiBenedetto.

Terms and Conditions of entry:

1. I will be accepting worldwide entries.
2. The prize on offer is an audible code which gives the winner a set of 3 books from the Dream Series (Dream Student, Dream Doctor and Dream Child), you will need to have either an audible or amazon account to use the code and there are 3 up for grabs.
3. The prize will be sent by myself via email to the winners.
4. You must enter using the Rafflecopter widget below and perform the task(s) correctly (for example, if you enter your email address to subscribe, ensure when you receive the confirmation email that you accept the subscription too), for each task completed you will gain more entries into the competition.
5. You must enter a valid email address into Rafflecopter so that you can be contacted if you are a winner.
6.This is a sponsored post, and the author “J.J. Dibenedetto” has provided the prizes.
7.The winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter after the closing date (6th October 2015), and the winners will be contacted via email and announced soon thereafter. If a winner does not respond within 14 days another winner shall be chosen. Check back to this page to see the winners, it will also be announced on my social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is a sponsored post, I was provided with the audiobooks for free in exchange for my honest reviews.

13

Don’t read this…if you NEVER get bored!

If you never get bored, you don’t need this!

old books on bookshelf

I absolutely love to read, always have, from a young age when my mum used to drop me off at the library, go shopping, then come back for me. I always took the maximum amount of books home and read them all! The naughtiest girl in school was one of my early favourites. Then as a teen I moved onto Virginia Andrews and Point Horrors. Now as an adult I love reading everything from young adult (Twilight and Hunger Games) to chick lit (Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes) to Crime (Mo Hayder and Nikki French) to Comedy (Bill Bryson) and Romance (Maeve Binchy and Barbara Taylor-Bradford). My current novel was recommended by another blogger, something completely different “Clan of the Cave Bear” by Jean Auel. I read about 4-6 books a month at present, I fit this in around full-time work, blogging and parenting a toddler…but how do I manage to read so much with so little free time?

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