Caffe Chino in Birmingham...

 During our trip to Birmingham (which you can read about here) my sister and I went to Caffe Chino for the first time. It is located in Chinatown and is a beautiful Chinese patisserie. (The pictures aren't the best as it was already getting dark when we went there :( )
Inside the cafe is pink and mint green and fancy and comfortable, The atmosphere is really friendly and welcoming- the staff were lovely. There is so much choice here- there is a selection of beautiful looking desserts and cakes as well as a selection of sweet and savoury buns and baked goods. In terms of drinks they have everything from iced coffee, frappes, hot chocolate, bubble teas, flavoured teas and more!

We decided to choose two desserts and share them and went for the chocolate layered mousse and coffee cake. Both were lovely and light with lots of flavour and the presentation was stunning. Next time I've already decided I am getting the strawberry cake as I bought a slice home for my Mum and it was DELICIOUS! (and the sponge was pink.)
As a coffee fiend I got an iced vanilla coffee which I loved. They are fully sealed so you can buy drinks to take home. My sister went for the peach and honey bubble tea which was pretty good (said by someone who hates tea) and she liked it so much she got a chocolate creamy bubble tea to take home. If you are in the city centre I definitely recommend paying Caffe Chino a visit. We will be going back soon!

A trip to Birmingham...

Last week me and my sister headed into the city centre to have a day of food and shopping. I've lived in Birmingham for over ten years now but this is the first time I have spotted this Fafi graffiti!

The first place we went to was Chinatown. As mentioned above I have lived in Birmingham for years but I'm ashamed to say I've never been to Chinatown (I didn't even know it existed!) Although it isn't as big as Chinatown in London there are still some great shops and food places.

There were two Chinese supermarkets, and we stocked up on lots of delicious snacks. We really had to restrain ourselves as it was tempting to grab one of everything!

If I wouldn't have had to carry it round all day I'd have got tons of drinks. There was a huge selection of sodas and flavoured milks.


We stopped in at Five Guys for lunch and this time instead of a milkshake I decided to sample their soda machine. I am now in love with Peach Fanta!

Of course we went to the Selfridges Food Hall to get some macarons
I got a chocolate, pistachio, salted caramel, coffee and rose. 
We also got some Lindt Lindor pick'n'mix which was crazily expensive but very tasty.
And here is my snack stash from Chinatown! So many delicious goodies including peach soda, pudding choco rolls, Pretz, caramel corn, and coffee candy.

We also went to a cafe in Chinatown that I will post about separately because I loved it! 

Blog Tour: Summary Justice by John Fairfax



'The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He'd said he was innocent. She'd believed him.

Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger's in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson's life. The price of his rehabilitation - and access to the Bar - is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He's an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he's subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It's a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson's first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she's innocent. Tess joins the defence team, determined to help Benson survive. But as Benson follows the twists and turns in the courtroom, Tess embarks upon a secret investigation of her own, determined to uncover the truth behind the death of Paul Harbeton on a lonely night in Soho.'


Summary Justice is a fast paced courtroom drama that is hard to put down. I raced through this book that kept throwing up new twists and turns- there was no filler. 

I was instantly intrigued when I was sent the blurb for this book- although I love a good TV courtroom drama I had never read a book centred around barristers. One of my favourite shows springs to mind after reading this book: Silk, a brilliant show if you haven't seen it that centres on a house of chambers in London and the people that work there. This book goes hand in hand (and is also being adapted to TV, which I am excited for.)

As well as gradually learning about our protagonists Benson who is still living in the shadows of his past and Tess who is unsure whether to trust him and at a crossroads in her own life we also follow the court case they have taken on of a woman accused of murder. She maintains her innocence and Benson fights fiercely in her corner as the murder mystery unfolds.

This book is really well written and highly readable. I particularly enjoyed the scenes within the courtroom as witnesses were interrogated. Author Fairfax (a pen name for William Brodrick) previously practised as a barrister so there is an added authenticity to the book as we get a behind the scenes look at the workings of the law. 

There were so many twists and turns to the murder case that I didn't even come close to guessing and was in suspense for most of the book. The dynamic between Benson and Tess was also something I really enjoyed. The exploration of redemption and guilt and the question of whether someone can escape their past was a recurring theme in this book that gave food for thought . I'm happy to say that this is the first book in a series and the next story was teased at the end of Summary Justice- I can't wait to continue with this series and highly recommend this book if you enjoy fast paced, high quality exciting thrillers.


Summary Justice is available now in Hardback.

I gave this book 4/5 on Goodreads

Thanks to Grace at Little, Brown Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

New comics I'm loving at the moment...


I haven't written a comic post in a while so thought I'd share the comics I'm loving at the moment. This list is pretty much all of the comics on my pull list right now...


Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth & Megan Levens 
"Three young witches are robbed of their magical items, and they’ll have to hit the road to track down the mysterious thief before he does any damage to—or with—their possessions."
This definitely has a Buffy/ The Craft vibe going on. I love that the three main characters are well fleshed out and interesting in their own way and I'm really excited to see where this story goes.


Kill or be Killed by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser
"the twisted story of a young man who is forced to kill bad people, and how he struggles to keep his secret as it slowly ruins his life and the lives of his friends and loved ones. Both a thriller and a deconstruction of vigilantism"
I'm a big fan of Brubaker's work on Catwoman so always pick up anything he writes. I'm really enjoying this one- if you like dark crime thrillers that have depth then this one is highly recommended. It also has an interesting twist that has left me on the edge of my seat!


Glitterbomb by Jim Zub & Djibril Morissette-Phan
"Farrah Durante is a middle-aged actress hunting for her next gig in an industry where youth trumps experience. Her frustrations become an emotional lure for something horrifying out beyond the water… something ready to exact revenge on the shallow celebrity-obsessed culture that's led her astray. Glitterbomb tears into the heart of Hollywood, a dramatic horror story about fame and failure."
This is a quite graphic horror story set in Hollywood that is different from any comic I've read. I love the dark and creepy artwork and enjoy the dark humour running through this. At the centre is a woman who is struggling to make ends meet and jaded, she has a lot of depth and gives the story a lot of heart. There are also interesting essays at the end of each issue about the reality of working in Hollywood.
 

Motor Crush by Babs Tarr, Brenden Fletcher & Cameron Stewart
"By day, Domino Swift competes for fame and fortune in a worldwide motorcycle racing league. By night, she cracks heads of rival gangs in brutal bike wars to gain possession of a rare, valuable contraband: an engine-boosting “machine narcotic” known as Crush."
The team behind the revamped Batgirl of Burnside this is their first original series. Babs Tarr's artwork is as usual beautiful and this is a relateable series about a women trying to prove herself and get somewhere no matter what. 


Gwenpool by Christopher Hastings & Gurihiru
"Gwen Poole used to be a comic book reader just like you...until she woke up in a world where the characters she read about seemed to be real! But they can’t be, right? This must all be fake, or a dream or something, right? And you know what that means...NO CONSEQUENCES! Could Gwenpool truly be Marvel’s least responsible and least role-modely character to date? She can if she tries!"
Gwenpool is essentially a female Deadpool. This comic is fun, in your face and doesn't take itself seriously at all. Gwen constantly breaks the fourth wall and is often messing up or getting herself into trouble. She is also a total badass and this is my favourite Marvel series right now.


Jonesy by Sam Humphries & Caitlin Rose Boyle
"Jonesy is a self-described “cool dork” who spends her time making zines nobody reads, watching anime, and listening to riot grrrl bands and 1D simultaneously. But she has a secret nobody knows. She has the power to make people fall in love! Anyone. With anything. She’s a cupid in plaid. With a Tumblr. There’s only one catch—it doesn’t work on herself. She’s gonna have to find love the old-fashioned way, and in the meantime, figure out how to distract herself from the real emotions she inevitably has to face when her powers go wrong…"
I love Jonesy. This is such a fun feel good comic it always cheers me up with its bright colours, bold art and adorable story. There's a lot of humour in this as well as LGBQT themes, loneliness, friendship and famdoms. Perfect for younger ages too.


 Zodiac Star Force
"They're an elite group of teenage girls with magical powers who have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren't just combating math tests. They're also battling monsters--not your typical afterschool activity! But when an evil force from another dimension infects team leader Emma, she must work with her team of magically powered friends to save herself--and the world--from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions!"
Although the first arc of this series finished some time ago I wanted to give it a mention as it has just been announced that it will be coming back yay! Firstly the art and pastel colours are stunning but also the story is a smart and fun cross between Sailor Moon and Buffy that involves a diverse group of magical girls going through the usual teen problems as well as having to fight monsters.

ZBOX February 2017: Super Heroines...

When Z Box announced the theme of their February subscription box was 'super heroines' it was an instant buy for me. The description promised three exclusive items and that one of them would be a DC Bombshells figure worth £25. The box itself cost me £17.99 so I couldn't wait to see what arrived... 


It turns out I should know by now not to trust Zavvi because they had exaggerated hugely! The DC Bombshells figure turned out to be one of the Lil Bombshells figures that they themselves sell for £9.99. Everyone got a variant of Wonder Woman (the variant being her hair scarf is blue instead of yellow...!) She is cute but definitely not worth £25. 

My favourite item of the box of course involved Catwoman. This is a felt banner featuring the Bombshells style Catwoman. It is huge and really nice quality. I've seen Wonder Woman and Poison Ivy versions of this sold on geeky sites for £12.99.

The T shirt for this box is Wonder Woman inspired and I'm not sure about it, the viewpoint is kind of weird... *shrugs* also in the box was a Captain Marvel issue 1 comic with a nice variant cover and the Z Box booklet (which laughably has a price of £4.99 on- it's a leaflet basically saying whats in the box ffs!) 

Overall despite the lies about the figure the box was still pretty decent and I make a value of around £36 ish which is still good. My favourite item is the banner. Although I love Marvel I lean slightly more towards DC so this box was good for me in that respect but they could have had more of a varied selection. I'm still not a fan of Zavvi though and am currently sorting out an issue with them as they have charged me for a March box so whether it was worth the hassle I don't know.

Inspirational woman for International Womans Day...


Every year I try to write a post for International Woman's Day, the last one I wrote was to share some music picks. This year I thought I would do something a little different and talk about some inspirational woman. So here is a list of some woman that I personally find inspiring for various reasons and wanted to share.



Patti Smith
Patti is an American punk rock singer/songwriter, poet and writer. She released her debut album Horses in 1975 and simply put it is a masterpiece. She has gone on to release 10 more albums, many poetry collections and the acclaimed Just Kids which is a memoir of her younger years as an artist in New York. A huge amount of my favourite bands and singers cited her as an inspiration which is how I first found and fell in love with her music. Listen to one of my favourite of her songs here and marvel at the raw power of it.



Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda is an award winning Nigerian writer of fiction and non fiction. She has written three novels including Americanah about a young Nigerian woman who moves to America to study. She is also very vocal about race and feminism and gave an inspiring TEDx talk entitled We Should All Be Feminists which has also been released in a book that I highly recommend or you can watch the talk here.



Celeste Ng
Celeste is a novelist who wrote one of my favourite books l read last year: Everything I Never Told You centred around grief and gave a portrait of what it was like living as a mixed raced family in 1970s America. Her writing is beautiful and the book has stuck with me all this time after reading it. I also follow Ng on Twitter and she is an inspiring and important voice on politics, race, feminism and LGBT. 



Kay Redfield Jamison
Kay is a clinical psychologist and award winning writer whose work primarily focuses on bipolar disorder of which she also has. She is seen as one of the leading experts on the illness and her book An Unquiet Mind, a memoir of her professional and personal experiences is highly regarded amongst those with the illness. She was chosen by Time as 'a hero of medicine' as well as being named one of the 'best Doctors in the United States'. She is a somewhat hero of mine and a huge inspiration as someone who not only has bipolar but wants to be a clinical psychologist too!



Melissa McCarthy
Melissa is an American actress, comedian, writer and fashion designer. Aside from the fact I find her hilarious I also find her inspiring in the fact she is one of the few 'plus size' women in the limelight that has been able to shed the token big girl friend stereotype and prove her talent as a fearless and talented comedian, a brilliant actress and also an advocate for body positivity and feminism. I love most of her films but her debut as a writer Tammy showed great promise, and Spy proved her worth as a badass female Bond. Also she was a god damn Ghostbuster! If you haven't already I highly recommend watching her SNL skits on Youtube, they are all hilarious but this is one of my favourites oh and this one.


Shirley Manson
Shirley is the Scottish lead singer of the band Garbage and an actor, musician and songwriter. I will always include Shirley in posts like these as she is the closest thing I have to a hero. As an awkward teen I looked up to her immensely (still do) and her outspoken, forthright attitude helped me overcome my meekness. As well as being an amazing singer she is also very outspoken on feminism, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, self harm and LGBT rights. Here's a great recent interview with her.

Notable mentions that I didn't have space to include... Carrie Fisher, Laura Bates, Michelle Obama, Tori Amos, Sylvia Plath, Gail Simone, Bjork, Malala Yousafzai, Carol Ann Duffy, Babs Tarr, Amy Poehler, Skin, Caitlin Moran, Tatiana Maslany, Kristen Wiig, Miranda July, Grimes, Laverne Cox, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dusty Springfield, Gillian Anderson, Kate Bush, Noomi Rapace.

February reading round up...


The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer
"Eve Singer needs death. With her career as a TV crime reporter flagging, she’ll do anything to satisfy her ghoulish audience.
The killer needs death too. He even advertises his macabre public performances, where he hopes to show the whole world the beauty of dying.
When he contacts Eve, she welcomes the chance to be first with the news from every gory scene. Until she realises that the killer has two obsessions.
One is public murder.
And the other one is her . . .
 "
A predictable and over the top genre thriller that felt like about a million other books I'd read. Just a great big meh. 2.5/5
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"A personal and powerful essay from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, based on her 2013 TEDx Talk of the same name."
This was a brilliantly argued speech about what modern feminism means and why it benefits everybody that included personal experiences of Adichie growing up in Nigeria. Highly recommend. 4/5

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
"Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.
This is what happens next..."
This was my first 1 star read of the year. Marketed as a thriller it read more like a trashy soap opera full of family drama and over the top plot. I skim read the second half just to see how it ended and I wished I hadn't bothered to be honest. 1/5


The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
"She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

TWELVE CONTESTANTS
When Zoo agrees to take part in a new reality TV show, In The Dark, she knows that she will be tested to the limits of her endurance. Beating eleven competitors in a series of survival tasks deep in the forest will be the ultimate challenge before she returns home to start a family.

A GAME WITH NO END
As the contestants are overcome by hunger, injury and psychological breakdown, the mind games to which Zoo is subjected grow dark beyond belief. This isn't what she signed up for: the deserted towns and gruesome props. Is this a game with no end? alone and disoriented, Zoo must summon all her survival skills - and learn new ones as she goes . . ."

I LOVED this! I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through this book- if you enjoy post apocalyptic reads definitely pick this up. A thrilling story of survival and the inner strength of Zoo as well as a dark, satirical look at reality TV. I also recommend this if you like Sarah Lotz. At times eerie this was such a vivid read. 4/5 

Patience by Daniel Clowes
"Patience is a psychedelic science-fiction love story, veering with uncanny precision from violent destruction to deeply personal tenderness in a way that is both quintessentially “Clowesian” and utterly unique in the author’s body of work. This 180-page, full-color original graphic novel affords Clowes the opportunity to draw some of the most exuberant and breathtaking pages of his life, and to tell his most suspenseful, surprising and affecting story yet. "
This is Clowes most recent release, and I don't know why it has taken me so long to get round to reading it as I of course loved it. The story goes back and forth in time and we get to see beautiful psychedelic and futuristic artwork from Clowes as we follow a typical Clowes protagonist (slightly weird, loser, outsider) as he desperately tries to solve and stop the murder of Patience. We also get to see the life events that shaped Patience, and although the book at its heart was a story of love and loss there was also lots of humour. 4.5/5   
Kill or Be Killed Volume 1 by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
"The twisted story of a young man forced to kill bad people, and how he struggles to keep his secret from destroying his life. 

Both a thriller and a deconstruction of vigilantism, Kill or Be Killed is unlike anything Brubaker and Phillips have ever done."

This was, as you'd expect from Brubaker and Phillips a dark, noir thriller but it felt very modern. You are constantly forced to question the protagonist and whether he is actually seeing the supernatural beings or whether it is a psychotic episode. The first arc ended on a brilliant cliff hanger and I look forward to picking the story back up again. 4/5


Jonesy Volume 2 by Sam Humphries & Caitlin Rose Boyle
"Jonesy has the power to make people fall in love! Anyone. With anything.There’s only one catch—it doesn’t work on herself!

She doesn’t sling arrows, only attitude! The adventures of Jonesy, the teenage cupid with a penchant for plaid, continue here. Stuff still rules, High School still sucks, and getting anyone to fall in love with her is still impossible! "
This is a pure joy to read. Fun, full of bold, colourful artwork and loveable characters. Although I feel the story wasn't quite as strong as the first volume (it seemed to loose it's way a little) I still loved it and can't wait for more! 4/5

Spell on Wheels Volume 1 by Kate Leth & Megan Levens
"Three young witches head out on an East Coast road trip to retrieve their stolen belongings and track down the mysterious thief before he can do any damage to—or with—their possessions."
I really wanted to love this book but it just fell short for me. I felt like there wasn't enough story to carry it and so kept using filler to pad it out. I also felt like the dialogue at times was just too unnatural and cheesy. On the plus side I did love the concept and the characters- I think the artwork was stunning and I especially enjoyed the guest covers as well. 3/5