If you read my blog this summer then you may have heard me mention that I've been a very busy bee - as well as writing an annual report for my work (which is now complete and thousands have been printed - no pressure!), launching a new publicity campaign, and organising seven different events, I have bought my first flat with my boyfriend!

I didn't want to mention it until now because we have been paranoid that something would go wrong, but our moving day has finally arrived. I am easing myself in with tea and Disney songs in bed, but we'll be collecting our keys soon and then the chaos of the removal van can begin! I am really looking forward to unpacking everything we spent all weekend packing...

I have big ideas for tartanmouth, despite falling off the blogger wagon spectacularly this summer. If you're still around this autumn (once we finally get internet connected in our new flat), then I'm so excited to share my new posts with you.

See you soon ish!

Disney themed charity day

I've posted about my love of Disney and my love of colourful, girly tattoos before, so I'm sure you can imagine I did a little bit of a happy dance when I found out about the Disney themed charity day which Rachel Baldwin is hosting this weekend. Rachel is one of artists I featured in my tattoo blog post and I have a massive soft spot for her. As well as being an incredible artist, she got married in Las Vegas and had her honeymoon in Disney World, which I just think is ah-may-zing! *girl crush alert*

This Saturday Rachel is teaming up with other amazing artists to host a Disney themed day of tattoos, jewellery, original art, cakes, prints, clothes and manicures, all to raise money for Alder Hey Childrens Hospital in Liverpool. The event is to celebrate Rachel's shop, Bold as Brass Tattoos, turning one, and everyone is encouraged to dress up in Disney fancy dress - the best costume wins a goodie bag!

I'm getting excited just writing about it. Seriously. 

The photographs above are of just some of the flash you can choose from on the day. The artists will be doing walk-in tattoos from 12pm - 10pm. You can see more of the designs which have been revealed on Rachel's Instagram or the Facebook event page.

If you're not in the market for a new tattoo, but would still like a Disney treat, then you can browse the art, jewellery or get your nails done! I actually had to show the nail art to some of the women in my office - cue an excited conversation about which nails are our favourites (I think mine are the Snow White and Cinderella nails, FYI).

This incredible Levis jacket which Rachel painted will be available to view on the day and will be placed on eBay, with bidding starting at £50, after the event.

This is such a wonderful event for an incredible cause. 100% of the money will go to Alder Hey Childrens Hospital and I'm delighted to see so many incredible artists donate their time, energy and work to support this cause.

I unfortunately won't be able to make it to the event on Saturday but I did manage to buy some beautiful Disney prints by Charlotte Timmons in advance - if you like the look of these, you can snap up your own copies on Saturday from Bold as Brass Tattoos!

Imaginary poolside reads

But, seriously, though - how is it the first of September already?! I didn't take any annual leave this summer and I'm cursing myself because it is now officially autumn and I've missed out on long summer afternoons spent away from my desk. So I'm doing what any self-respecting bookworm would do and consoling myself with books. Specifically books which are perfect for reading by the side of the pool on holiday, when reading a book from cover-to-cover and drinking cocktails is pretty much your entire plan for the day.

I bought these books in WHSmith when I was in the mood for stories which suck you in for hours and you can't stop reading - I didn't read any of these books by the side of a pool (sadly) but they provided a little bit of escapism around my 9-5. If you're feeling a little gloomy now that we're hurtling towards shorter days and colder nights, then I recommend these for a bit of summer make believe.

"'Kiss me,' he breathes into her clavicle. The car turns into the driveway. He increases the pressure of his hand but it remains fixed, like a clasp, keeping her stitched up, held together. Still in control; but how badly she wants to let go. A yelp seems to rear up from her guts. It is not release or ecstasy, but mercy, soaking through her pants to meet the sweat-hot cradle of his palm. The slap of a car door. Only one. Where is Emma? Footsteps on the terrace. His hand drops away, leaving her wide open, bereft. The cool sweep of the air conditioning breezes across the damp of her face; her soaking briefs. He hastens to the couch; picks up her book. She is still standing in the archway, dazed, when Greg comes in."

Jenn and her husband, Greg, return to DeiĆ , on Mallorca's west coast, every summer. This summer, Jenn's stepdaughter, Emma, and her new boyfriend, Nathan, tag along, spoiling the peace and Jenn's mood. With an already fraught relationship with Emma, Jenn dreads a summer spent in close proximity with her and her new beau - until she meets Nathan, and finds herself irresistibly drawn to this cocky, beautiful youth. 

I read The Lemon Grove in one sitting, in a matter of hours. I lay down on my bed one Saturday afternoon, with a mountain of housework waiting for me, promising myself I'd "only read a chapter or two" - fast-forward a few hours and, while the dishes were still piled in the sink, I was turning to the last page, completely enthralled. 

I was worried that The Lemon Grove would be a little bit Fifty Shades, with lots of indulgent sex scenes and not so hot when it came to the writing. I was happily wrong. While the book grabbed a lot of attention for its sex scenes, I actually feel like Walsh's talent for writing erotica stood out when the characters weren't having sex. The tension is some of the scenes was incredible - literary foreplay at its best. 

The complex relationship between Jenn, Greg and Emma was by far my favourite part of the story, with steamy sex scenes (even the one involving Serrano ham) quickly skimmed over in pursuit of more details on why the relationship between Jenn and Emma is so fraught. This wasn't a typical 'bratty stepdaughter and uptight step-mum' story and I was eventually grew to really care about Jenn and Emma - three cheers for three-dimensional, interesting female characters!  

"As for Robert, Gretta cannot begin to think. His absence is beyond understand. She is so used to him being there, being around, that she can't quite accept he has disappeared. She finds herself almost on the verge of speaking to him: this morning, she got two teacups down from the shelf. They have been together for so many years that they are no longer like two people but one strange four-legged creature."

It's summer 1976 and the people of London are struggling through a heatwave which has lasted for weeks. Retired Irishman Robert Riordan tells his wife, Gretta, that he's popping out to buy a newspaper, the same as every morning, but this time he doesn't come back. With his passport missing and money taken from their joint account, it's clear that Robert has 'taken off', but it's not clear why.

In the search for their father, siblings Michael Francis, Aoife and Monica come back to their childhood home as adults, reopening old wounds and scratching at secrets buried long ago. Aoife and Monica haven't spoken in years. Michael Francis can feel his marriage slipping through his fingers like cupped water. Gretta is hiding a secret that not even her children could ever suspect.

O'Farrell writes about the dynamics of family beautifully: I felt like I had been dropped into the centre of the Riordan's universe and I didn't want to leave. Every character in Instructions for a Heatwave felt genuine - I had a particular soft-spot for Irish mammy Gretta as she reminded me of my own mum! The plot jumps seamlessly from character to character, but I never felt confused or irritated by the change in point-of-view, instead I enjoyed the unravelling of the family history, pieced together by the memories of each sibling and their mother. 

While the personal histories of the Riordan family were my favourite part, I also loved the insight into the experience of Irish immigrants moving to England at the beginning of last century - while I know prejudice was a problem, I hadn't read personal experiences of Irish discrimination before. As O'Farrell moved to Scotland with her Irish parents, I assume most of the anecdotes in Instructions for a Heatwave are taken from her and her parents' personal experiences, and, while it was really sad, it was interesting to read about how the Irish used to be widely viewed in the UK.

As the story moves forward and the family travel home to track down Robert, I guarantee you will fall a little in love with Ireland and a little in love with the Riordan family.

"Roughly half an hour after I'd picked him up, we pulled into the overgrow tree-lined drive of a long-abandoned farm. 'It's safe here,' I announced. He nodded back at me, eyes filled with eager uncertainty, looking briefly out his car window into the pitch-blackness surrounding us as if to scan for predators. 'No-one's going to interrupt us,' I stressed, my voice a honeyed invitation. "We're in the middle of nowhere.'"

Celeste is a beautiful twenty-six year woman, with a gorgeous husband, a nice car, and a new job as a high school English teacher. She is also a paedophile. With an insatiable lust for young teenage boys, Celeste can barely have sex with her own husband, and has taken a job in a high school as an opportunity to get closer to her students.

I had seen Tampa pop up over and over again in newspapers, magazines and online and I had to see what all the fuss was about - unfortunately I still don't. 

While at first I was happy that Nutting had made Celeste beautiful (it would have been so easy to write a perverted female character so undesirable that she had turned to preying on children), but after a while I was... well, bored, over how bland Celeste is. It seems strange to be describing a book about a seductive paedophile as boring - but when her only attribute seems to be that she's sexy (so sexy in fact that even the father of one of her victims seems to overlook the fact his son is being abused because, well, if he ignores it then he might be able to sleep with her too...) I couldn't help but roll my eyes. 

As well as making Celeste dull, her preposterous good looks killed any suspense in the book. I had assumed the compulsion to keep reading Tampa would be the risk of Celeste being caught - but every man in the book appeared to become such a slack-jawed moron at the mere sight of her that she could have been caught rolling around naked with the entire high school football team and people still wouldn't suspect her of any ill-doing. 

While the premise of the book is original, I also felt let down by how repetitive the storyline became - when I first started reading, I did laugh at how graphic and colourful the writing is ("I spent the night before my first day of teaching in an excited loop of hushed masturbation on my side of the mattress, never falling asleep" is the first line of the book), I started to feel exasperated with just how much sex there is in Tampa. I obviously didn't expect a book about this topic to be 'vanilla', but explicit sex and masturbation scenes started to lose their impact when they were peppered through every chapter. I would like liked less sex with adolescences and a bit more insight into Celeste. 

The bad taste in my mouth after reading Tampa might have been intentional on Nutting's part, especially considering the unsavoury topic, but I had hoped for more from a book with such an original premise. 

Did you read any books which you couldn't put down this summer? Please leave any recommendations for books to dive into (geddit?) this September in the comments.
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