The Garden Party – Sarah Challis

I have read a few Sarah Challis novels which is why I had no qualms in picking this book up as I normally am guaranteed a good read. Sadly this was not the case.

The Garden Party, is the story of Alice and David and their four children, wives, partners and grandchildren. Alice wants to hold a party, a large major affair to celebrate her sixtieth birthday, fortieth wedding anniversary and David’s retirement. And she wants her whole family there. This is very out of character for Alice , and they all seem somewhat reluctant, that is because they their own lives to lead. 

The story goes through all the children, their lives, their marital setups, marriages and divorces, children, step children and babies not born. The need for a career versus motherhood. Moving away from the fast lane to a slower pace of life. Being true to your beliefs even when others do not agree. It encompasses all these battles, whilst their parents have their own test to face.

And that in a nutshell is the story, just about the lives of this particular family. The threads of their lives many will relate to I am sure, but it was all described rather blandly with no colour in the characters, rather flat and insipid. In the end the garden party seemed to be forgotten in some places as we read more about the lives of the children. No real drama or happiness in the book that made me want to keep reading but I did in the small hope that something was going to happen and I was going to be moved by the book. It did not and I was not.

A disappointing read and if you have never read any Challis before then perhaps start with some earlier novels, such as Footprints in the Sand. If you want a book with a party with more drama then try Sue Welfare’s The Surprise Party. A family orientated party written much better.

I think I should have actually given up on this book, because I actually found it quite draining and this was not the sort of book I probably should have been reading at that time. 

If you get the chance I do recommend her other books I have read, Footprints in the Sand (linked in the review above): Cousins who have to complete a journey across Africa, Mali and the Sahara at the behest of their Great Aunt.

 That Summer Affair : a different sort of village tale that makes you think about how you would react. 

Love and Other Secrets : a novel about mothers and daughters.  

Challis covers a wide range of subjects and sometimes the novels work and in the case of The Garden Party for me it did not work. Not sure though if I would now pick up any more by her or not. 


Siege – Simon Kernick

It is an ordinary day for ordinary people. Family breakfasts are under way, people are coping with good news and bad. Waiting to say goodbye to those they love and hello to those they desire.

For some it is not an ordinary day – it is the day when everything will change.

A bomb goes off in a shopping centre, then another at a train station, then something that at first seems unrelated – a siege at the Stanhope hotel in the heart of London.

Page by page, chapter by chapter, which are punchy, short, direct and keep the pace, the story unfolds. And quite frankly I was hooked which was why I read the book in a day and loved every minute of it.

It brings together a lot of research that at some points I felt I could have quite easily been watching something from a television news broadcast. In places it was even better than that as readers you are at the heart of the hostages, the terrorists and the authorities. Something no broadcast would ever capture.

Well written, with enough depth for all the characters that you started to sympathise and empathise with them at different points throughout the book. I do not think I have read a book where I have felt my heart beating so much as I was desperate to know what happens. Even the stomach turning descriptions of the horrific injuries, did not even want me to stop reading.

This is the first Kernick book I have read and it will certainly not be the last. If you are new to ‘thriller’ novels, and I am somewhat late to this particular party then I suggest you read this novel.

Thank you to the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read this book.

The books is out now in hardback and on kindle. 

I am off to add Simon Kernick to my list of authors to read and have plenty to catch up on. Wonderful! 


Pictures at an Exhibition – Camilla Macpherson

Claire and Rob’s marriage is strained to almost breaking point. The tragedy that occurred is causing Claire to drive them apart. Everything and everyone else has stepped quietly away from the couple, the only thing that Claire can now focus on is the letters that are left to her husband Rob by his grandmother, Elizabeth.

Some sixty years earlier, Elizabeth is sitting out the war in Canada because her husband is Canadian, away from the bombing, the destruction, the shortages; her only link to life back home is through the letters that her cousin Daisy sends her. Daisy embarks on a project to get her through days working in some war ministry as a typist. She decides to go the National Gallery once a month and see the painting that is displayed. As all paintings had been removed because of war, the one picture a month becomes an event. Daisy describes these in detail to Elizabeth as if she was there to see them, but also about how her life is changing. Everything is shared in the letters and it is these letters that come into the hands of Claire.

Claire uses the same focus as a project to get her through the tragedy. As Claire views the pictures monthly as Daisy has described them, she becomes all consumed in Daisy’s story as she tries to fill in the gaps with what she wants to happen. It becomes this which is the focus for Claire and she embarks on a rather dangerous encounter when her head and heart are working in opposing directions. Life cannot be directed to happen in the way Claire wants, and most of all she should know that. I am not sure whether Claire actually understands this by the end of the book?

An interesting novel which in places is rather slow, although I think this may be the intention to appreciate the plot and the paintings? The author moves between Claire and Daisy well, and I actually like Daisy more as a character, she had her flaws but was ultimately trying to survive the choices she had made as well as a war. Claire on the other hand I disliked, there was something so grating about her, as if she was the only person tragedy had ever touched and relentless blame on everyone else (she was not to blame either) was rather wearing by the end. I sensed that it would always be some sort of ulcer eating away at her for the rest of her marriage to Rob. That left me feeling rather sad.

A part epistolary novel with the letters that Daisy writes, I found this part of it interesting, as I like such novels, but felt rather cheated that I was only getting one side, I would have liked to have read the replies by Elizabeth, much more than I enjoyed Claire’s role in the book.

The clever use of technology to be able to scan a QR code to reach the paintings which are referred to at each chapter beginning was somewhat of a distraction, should I be looking at the painting as it is being described in the novel or not? In the end I looked them up at the end and I recommend the author’s website and see all the paintings there so you have an idea.

This is an interesting debut novel which perhaps does not follow a normal path, in terms of conclusion but it seemingly takes a long time to get there as well. For me the novel had simply too much going on, as if the author wanted to pack in many ideas. I would have preferred more the story set in the Second World War, the letters between the two women, and the art that was being displayed in the National Gallery after having been removed to a more secure setting. To me that has plenty of potential.

Nonetheless an interesting book and I would not rule out reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. The book is published on 26 April 2012. 

I struggled with the review for this book, because it is was difficult to know where to start and finish with the review without actually giving anything away. A struggle for most book reviewers I am sure. I feel that it is woolly because that was how the book came across to me. 

As I have covered in my review, it had so much potential but it was not taken up and some parts glossed over. It certainly worked more in the 1940s, Second World War setting than it did in the present day. I think this was down to the characters and also my love of history. I found the removal of the paintings fascinating, why was more not made of that? 

That said the book did educate me in reference to art, which is an area I would say I was lacking greatly. If you follow this link you will see the paintings that are discussed in the letters.  Can you have a favourite? I like the Renoir the best, something to do with the rain and the umbrellas. The Rokeby Venus is a close second, I think because of the colours. The back drop, the blue silk she is sitting on. It draws the eye. No doubt at the time and now, the naked form also draws the eye as well. The others seem very dark and dismal in contrast. 

This is Camilla Macpherson’s first published novel. Her website can be found here. 


Living Dangerously – Katie Fforde

Polly is resolutely single, certainly no man in her life. Just her, friends, in particular Bridget and her children, her job part time at the local Whole Nut Cafe, her hobby that is more a calling of pottery, and her ramshackle little home, with enough space for and her cat, Selina.

David is a widower, with no woman in his life. He has his work as a wine merchant, taking him around the area and abroad, two rather differing teenage sons, one away at university, the other, Patrick deciding to take another path in life, a large very clinical house, a mantelpiece full of invitations embossed on posh card and a rather interesting housekeeper.

Polly bumps into Melissa a friend from school who invites her to dinner. Melissa mixes in the social circles that Polly does not, Melissa mixes in David’s social circle.

And so the novel really gets going with the most unlikely couple suddenly been thrown into many situations, quite a lot of them with David’s son Patrick who seems to be inadvertently pushing them together. Polly is doing everything in the meantime to escape.

And Polly escapes with so much humour and bad luck that it made me cry with laughter and remember all those social situations where you will do almost anything to get out of there. So what if local cats are waiting outside the door for the residents cat who happens to be in season, so what if actually the petrol gauge decides to really tell the truth about how much is left or not left in the account.

A light novel, were you can fall in love with the characters, and hope that they come to their senses. Rather Austenesque with Lizzie and Darcy, with a touch of the Bridget Jones as some reviewers have mentioned but all rather more grown up and with a story that paces along quite nicely. If you also like me love people to hate as well or at least despise them (for here see Melissa!) this book can oblige as well. Some people just need to breakdown with no petrol and the wrong shoes on to know what life is exactly like!!! This book is rounded enough to fulfil a pleasant couple of days and is ideal for a beach read or a curled up on the sofa read.

I have come rather late to the Katie Fforde party, and only read one previous novel a matter of weeks ago – Paradise Fields . I spotted this novel in the library whilst on holiday and thought well what are you waiting for! And I did not. I have chosen the cover of the book that I actually picked up in the library as opposed to the most recent cover. 

I have since picked up two more books in a charity shop and they are on the pile to be read! In fact who knows by the time this post is published and you are reading it as you are now, I may well have read another. 

Before I go, please indulge me whilst I share this photo which I have taken of the text of the book. Not because I have gone madder than normal, but because someone, presumably a previous reader from the library has felt compelled enough to make a correction.

I hope all further readers have appreciated this persons graffiti! It made me smile. 

Books · Jottings

Jottings #5 – Week, Wodehouse & World Book Night

A little jotting to say that if you did not know already but Monday is World Book Night. I picked up my books today. 24 copies of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

Don’t they look lovely all together – but actually there is one missing already because I was cheeky gave one away to the Mortgage Adviser in the bank (it didn’t sway the mortgage), where I had an appointment which tied in with me visiting my local Waterstones to pick them up. She was thrilled and as she had just finished a book, did not know what to read next and had never read Rebecca. Result!

So what shall I do with all of these books – well give them away of course. And on the off chance that any readers and followers of this blog have NOT read this wonderful novel then please leave a message and I will send one out to you. I am a little bit nervous about giving them out to random people but I am sure it will be fine. Some of them are going to be given to friends for a Book Club that I have started at their behest. More about that in another post.

Robert Colville of the Telegraph writes an interesting piece on World Book Night about how giving out books gets people reading which is a good thing.

So what else is there to tell you about this week – it was the first week back at work after holidays. It was a tough one in more ways than I would imagine and has been rather challenging. Hopefully routine is back and the early mornings will not hurt so much now and I will be much settled next week. The swimming has been going well, so that is a bonus.

Always wanting to have something to look forward to and I am a bit late to perhaps be mentioning this as I see it was announced in Feb 2012 but the BBC have commissioned a television series of Blandings by P G Wodehouse. I have read nearly all of the Jeeves and Wooster stories but not Blandings so when I saw this was announced I wanted to see what they were like. Popping along to my local library I thought I would see what they had and picked up a book –  Leave it to Psmith.

Not that I need to be borrowing books from the library as I have enough at home to be read. But I did wander round, and saw lots of books that I can pop back and borrow. Especially those that I want to catch up on and will be good for the Crime Fiction Alphabet Challenge coming up in May.

And then of course we have had rain……rain…….rain……


Cards on the Table – Agatha Christie

My Mum's copy - complete with damage on spine and very yellow pages inside.
They were second-hand when my mum got them 35 years ago

There are four suspected murderers in one room playing Bridge.

There are four investigators in one room playing Bridge.

There is one host, Mr Shaitana not playing Bridge.


He has been murdered.

And so starts The Cards on the Table, any one of the four of the suspected murderers could have done it. But there are no clues.

So Hercule Poriot must use all his little grey cells to come to the correct conclusion without being prejudiced by the fact they have all committed a crime before. Eventually he will lay his cards on the table and give his conclusion.

Agatha Christie cleverly weaves the tale and takes us through each individual suspect, as he questions them about their Bridge playing and what they observed in the room, whilst Superintendent Battle uses more police procedural methods.   The other two investigators, Colonel Race uses his connections to get background on one of the suspects. Whilst Ariadne Oliver, the famous author, jumps from conclusion to conclusion but her fame is the way one of the suspects acquaintances reveals something that has been kept hidden.

And so with all the evidence. Truths are revealed, accusations are bandied about and the perpetrator of the crime is caught all within 200 pages. What more could a fan of crime want?

A rattling good read, which has a foreword from the author in the book;

There is an idea prevalent that a detective story is rather like a big race – a number of starters – likely horses and jockeys. “You pays your money and you takes your choice!” The favourite is by common consent the opposite of a favourite on the race-course. In other words he is likely to be a complete outsider! Spot the least likely person to have committed the crime and in nine times out of ten your task is finished. 

Since I do not want my faithful readers to fling away this book in disgust, I prefer to warn them beforehand that this is not that kind of book. There are only four starters and any one of them, given the right circumstances, might have committed the crime. that knocks out forcibly the element of surprise. 

Already the scene is set for this book before you have even been introduced the characters or locations, Christie builds up the psychological suspense in the way she does best.

The only criticism of the book and that is nothing to do with the writing, characters or plot, is actually my complete ignorance of the card game bridge. It sounds so wonderfully clever, and perhaps if I understood such terminology as dummy, bids, defenders, etc I may have got even more from the book. Although I know I have always been better at the card game Patience (Solitaire to US readers). 

I came to this book, after seeing the television adaptation many times already. The book is nothing like the programme as is the case in so much of adaptation. Deviation from the storyline and plot. I will not give anything away in case any reader has not read the book. However, despite the deviations I do find the adaptation one of the more watchable. If only for the wonderful Ariadne Oliver who is played by Zoe Wanamaker. More about Ariadne I feel when the Crime Fiction Alphabet Challenge starts.

Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver
Books · Crafts

Super-Cute Felt

Although I review all the books I read, I as a rule do not review books like the one pictured above; non fiction books in this case – a craft book. Followers of the blog will know that besides the reading I do a lot of crafts. I spotted this book in an advert and fell in love with the colours. Bright and cheerful. Lucky for me, my mum went and bought me a copy so I can indulge.

This is a great book I think for starting anyone off on some crafts. There are lots of different ideas, pictures and ways of displaying the felt. The cover of the book does give you some idea of what is inside and I wish I could show you more pictures, but if you head over to Amazon and you can ‘click’ to look inside!

Great clear instructions, lists for the type of materials you will need and what will work well. Clear explanation of the stitches and the best way of cutting the felt. I find this particularly tricky and might need to invest in some better scissors! At the back there is all the templates, which have made good use of the space of the book. This is certainly not a book where the majority of it is templates and not much else. These can be photocopied and also enlarged them as well, and they came out fine.

So with the combination of this book, the felt I had bought at last years Knitting and Stitching Show from Blooming Felt  and felt, buttons and findings as a Christmas present, it made sense to do something with it all. The photo below is the result.

This was for my mum for Mother’s Day. It required a bit of planning, as I had given her the plant pot, which I had decopatched a while back so I asked for it back, which resulted in a number of questions. As did when I needed to borrow a saw so I could get the green garden cane (bargain in Wilkinson’s!) to the appropriate length! Anyway she had no idea what I was doing and she absolutely loves it! In fact so do I.

My only decision now is what do I make next from the book?

Laura Howard the author of this book runs her own blog Bugs and Fishes where you can find ideas, tutorials, more information about Laura and lots of other crafty stuff as well.


Better Than A Rest – Pauline McLynn

It is rather inconvenient when you have a crash in your car.

It is more than inconvenient when the person that stops to see if you are alright is the person you were covertly following.

Suddenly private detective Leo (short for Leonora) Street realises that her latest job is going to be a bit more trickier than she first thought. So she needs some help in watching Michael O’Donoghue eminent obstetrician in Dublin, who his wife believes is philandering.  For Leo this is the bread and butter work of being a private detective but that now needs to be spread by someone else.

That someone else is Ciara a teenage goth who can radically change her appearance in almost wonder women esque style to fit in anywhere. So with Ciara on the Doctor’s case, Leo can concentrate a bit more on herself and perhaps have a rest.

But no, picking up her nephew and niece at the local crèche she stumbles across a potential situation where old school friends suddenly behave out of character. Then Leo’s friend television actress Maeve is getting strange phone and although Maeve does not want to get the Garda involved, she goes to some hilarious if not haphazard lengths to find the culprit – she get’s her man.

Not even Leo’s personal life is on an even footing. The last of her family to get engaged, the good Catholic Irish family turned a blind eye to her living with Barry, but they know he is not the one for her. But Leo thinks that he will do, but then someone pop’s up and Leo realises perhaps exactly what she has been missing when Andy takes her to some places she has never been before.

But the case of the Doctor still keeps coming back to Leo and she needs to carry on passed her first objective to see if he is a philandering husband, with some rather thought provoking and interesting answers.

This is the second novel in Pauline McLynn’s repertoire that features Leo Street, and having not read the first, I felt I was slightly missing out on some of the characters backgrounds; Ciara and Father Con both arrived in book one; Something for the Weekend. That said, the book does work fairly well as a stand alone and actually if you are a fan of Irish humour, a bit of a detective fan as well as the family orientated Irish novel then this is certainly a book which you could get a long with. The characters are likeable and that quirky sense of humour shines through in them and the writing.

In fact a book which you could happily have a rest with!

I came to Pauline McLynn’s books by accident whilst browsing in the library, and picked up The Woman on the Bus. I had no idea until reading it that it was the lady off Father Ted, in fact I had never watched the programme although knew of the character and was pleasantly surprised by her writing, this led me to read some more of her novels;

Bright Lights and Promises  all about a theatrical agent. Very ironic read when you think of the authors work.

Missing you Already which deals with a daughter looking after her mother who has Alzheimer’s and is deteriorating fast.

McLynn seems to be able to successfully cover the falseness of television, romance, humour, private detection, and serious subjects with such skill that you would be forgiven if you initially thought that all an actress was doing was cashing in on her name, and writing drivel. Not the case here in my humble opinion. Worthy of a read, and I am going to certainly catch up on the rest of the novels I have missed.


Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter – Simon Brett

Think Bertie Wooster but only much sillier then you have a fair idea of the characters of this book, “Blotto” in particular who goes by the correct title Right Ho. Devereux Lyminster finds that good old fashioned murder plot line has happened in his ancestral pile Tawcester Towers – “a body in the library”. His mother rightly dismisses it as frightfully inconvenient especially as they are in the middle of hosting a house party for the ex-King of Mitteleuropia and his wife the ex-Queen and their daughter, the ex-Princess. Blotto is dispatched to sort out such trifling matters without any involvement from the local authorities who are of no use whatsoever anyway.

Trouble is Blotto, likes two things hunting and cricket and his substantially small brain is taken up with that and not dead bodies, intrigue, plotting and ousting murderer’s for that he leaves it all to his sister, Lady Honoria Lyminster or “Twinks” as she has the brains to keep Blotto on the straight and narrow or at least focussed to the problem in hand.

As the body count increases and a kidnap plot is not foiled due to the incompetent belief in people, Blotto has to save family honour and travel to Mitteleuropia to see about restoring the ex-King as the the King. Not taking any chances he is accompanied by a Mitteleuropian manservant who seems to have the same taste in perfume as his sister, Twinks?

So with a few scuffles, a temptation, the threat of death and a bit of wielding a cricket back, somehow Blotto saves the day. But he will have to uphold family honour from his deed, but can Twinks save him from that fate or not?

This is a very silly book, and I cannot think of a better word to describe it really. If you are happy to perhaps suspend disbelief for a few hours then you will seek enjoyment in the book. The silliness extends to the continual references to the ex-King,  the usurper and plans made;

“But what if he tries to foil your plans to foil his plans to foil my plans?”

“Don’t worry, sir. I have a plan to foil his plans to foil my plans to foil his plans to foil your plans.”

“Good. I like people who think ahead.”

It is witty in parts, and can positively make you groan in others, there is plenty to make you smile especially about how English Blotto is, which perhaps gives weight to the period of this novel. However if you have never read any Simon Brett before now, I would recommend you start with any of the Fethering Mysteries and come back to these at a later date.

I picked this book up in the library, when I was browsing and spotted the name Simon Brett first. Having read all but three of his Fethering Mysteries I wanted to see what this one was like, and always a fan of crime in the comedic and cosy sort I decided I would not lose anything by checking it out the library. 

I started it whilst waiting for the bus back home (bus stop conveniently outside library and it was raining) and finished it a day later, but I think really at around 186 pages it took me only a few hours to read. It was not gripping enough for me to carrying on reading it and not do anything else.

They are currently on offer on Amazon Kindle for 99p (as I write this post) and I had dithered over trying one out, but something made me resist. Having read the book I now know why. How can you say that you do not want to read the next in the series of books, but at the same time you also want to? I think what perhaps I am getting at is, I would not part with money for these books even 99p but would happily pick them up if they appeared in the library? How fickle is that? 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Jottings #4 – Legends,Books & Links

The beauty of being off, is more time to waste time on the internet, reading links and just randomly surfing! It also means that I am more on top of things and not behind them in terms of sharing. So shall I get on with it? Yes!

J.K. Rowling has announced title of her first adult novel – The Casual Vacancy. Published worldwide on September 27. I confess I have already done the pre-order thing on Amazon and wait to see its place in all the pre-order charts shortly.

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. 

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. 

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. 

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? 

In some ways, I feel for J.K. Rowling so much focus is going to be on this book. Will she deliver? Will she be able to cross that divide of children’s book to adult fiction? Will she ever break away from the boy wizard? I suppose we will have to wait and see. What are your thoughts?

Again more pressure is out there in the book world with the announcement that William Boyd, is going to write the next James Bond novel. Having never read any of Boyd’s books but seen much about them, I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing? I have read Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks and actually really enjoyed it and surprised myself into the bargain by that. Since then Jeffery Deaver took up the challenge with Carte Blanche and now Boyd is entrusted with the pen and the character of Bond, James Bond. (Sorry could not resist!)

Thinking about a Kindle? I know there are some non-ebook readers out there. But I have found that both ebooks and actual books live very happily in my flat. However, I came across this good review of ebooks and thought it was worth sharing if only for the purposes of information.

As the days are now longer, with much more light, and the weather is getting better (well in fiction perhaps not in reality)  it may be time to look at what you are going to read in the coming summer months. Perhaps this link will help you. Or if like me you have just bought more books that I really probably did not need, but just had to have, you will be reading from the books on the shelf, on the floor, etc. Can you tell the guilt is setting in?

I generally only read a newspaper at a weekend, but I get The Telegraph daily onto my iPad, and after chatting with my mum she pushed me in the direction of the obituaries, in particular Dora Saint. She recognised the name I did not. Then she said Miss Read and I immediately knew who. Sad news that she has died, but what a wonderful life she had and at 98 she will have seen many things. It was my mum who gave me a couple of Miss Read’s to read when I was younger, I have no idea which ones but I do remember the gentleness of the village tales. I will now have to look out for them again or at least raid the ones my mum no doubt has somewhere.

For something completely different, and which is indicative of my degree in history I refer you to this link. You do know it is illegal to eat Mince Pies on Christmas Day? And that you must not die in Parliament and if they send a card of condolence to your family if you do have the unfortunate death in the wrong place they will be put in prison for treason, because the stamp was on upside down? Well actually all of that could be bunkum. The link blows open the myths. Feel free to die where you want and eat as many mince pies as you want on Christmas Day. As for the upside down stamps – well no one will be able to afford them soon anyway, so what does it matter, which way they face.

And finally a book. In fact a book about people in book shops. Not us. But I am sure those that very rarely go in book shops and have no idea.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell arrived via Amazon just before Easter. It is a great book for just dipping in and out of and reminding you about human nature. Two I would like to share:

From the back cover of the said book.

“Do you have this children’s book I’ve heard about?”

“It’s supposed to be very good.”

“It’s called Lionel Richie and the Wardrobe.”

and a gem from inside

Customer:If my daughter wants to buy books from the teenage section do you need to see some form of ID? It was her thirteenth birthday this weekend. I can show you pictures of the cake. You can count the candles. 

Do pick up this book for yourself and your friends, it will make you laugh out loud. I have linked to Jen’s blog if you want to find out more.

And so back to work, hopefully I will keep a bit more up to date with sharing things!