Personalised Cupcakes including giveaway

Now I love cake, so I couldn’t resist when Caketoppers asked me if I would like to review their personalised cupcakes for free. All I had to do was email the images that I would like on the cakes. I chose to have one each of my two handsome boys.

Cake toppers personalised cupcakes

I was very impressed at how quickly the cakes were delivered after sending off the images. Also they were very well packed.

Cake toppers personalised cupcakes

Son1 was on a chocolate sponge whilst son2 was on a classic sponge. Of course I had to offer them to the boys to eat, so long as they still let me have a taste for review purposes.

Cake toppers personalised cupcakes

And the verdict all round was delicious! The quality of both the cakes and edible printed images was excellent. The topping was generous. A single photo cupcake costs £5.95 including postage but unit prices reduce significantly when you buy a batch. I highly recommend these cupcakes.

I’ve been browsing around the Caketoppers website and I see they also sell large cakes and toppers. Wish I’d known this earlier, when son2 requested a Minecraft cake, as I now have loads of leftover coloured fondant icing that I’m wondering what to do with. A topper would have been so much simpler and more reasonable too.

Cupcakes from Caketoppers

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a gift box of 9 standard sized cupcakes to 1 lucky winner. Prize value is £17.49.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers of 10% discount off all purchases at Caketoppers with code YABM10

I’d love to hear about your favourite cake.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Bumper book giveaway – open worldwide

Something a little different for my lovely followers now. Today I have a bumper book giveaway to share with you. The prizes are titles that have been reviewed on my blog earlier this year.

Bumper Book giveaway

Here are the links to the reviews.

Anyone can get an A+ by Geetanjali Mukherjee
Somewhere in the Shallow Sea by Dennis Macaraeg
The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave by Brydie Walker Bain
Happily by Sophie Tanner
Pete and the Persian Bottle by Sarah Jackson
Story of a Secret Heart by Cassi Ellen
Tryouts for Ben by Jean Cogdell
Sign of the Green Dragon by C Lee McKenzie

Please read the details below carefully regarding prize descriptions, as your location may affect whether you can win a paperback or ebook version for some of the prizes. You may win more than one of the 16 prizes available.

Anyone can get an A+ – 5 ebooks
Somewhere in the Shallow Sea – 1 copy (paperback if winner is within UK or US, otherwise an ebook)
“The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave” and “The Ship of Sight and The Hand of Shadow” – a pair of ebooks by Brydie Walker Bain
Happily by Sophie Tanner – 1 ebook
Pete and the Persian Bottle – 1 signed paperback, 1 ebook & bookmark
Pete and the Persian Bottle – 4 more ebooks
Story of a Secret Heart – 1 ebook
Tryouts for Ben – 1 ebook
Sign of the Green Dragon – 1 copy (paperback if winner is within US, otherwise an ebook)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.
Currently I have:-
E:14/9 Win membership to HomeExchange.com worth £100 for a year’s worth of free holidays – open worldwide
E:6/9 Win a copy of the book “The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog Master of Disguise”
E:26/8 Win a case of 12 jelly pots and a lunchbox

I’d love to hear about your favourite books.

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Disclosure.  This post refers to ebooks I was previously sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Spot the puppy

Over the years, I’ve read tales about Spot the puppy many times to my boys. A firm favourite. However they are now beginning to get a bit old for Spot. That didn’t prevent their eyes from lighting up when they saw me open a package containing a Spot book, glove puppet and bag which I had been sent free to review. I think it was mainly due to the puppet, as they are both cuddly toy mad. We have zillions of soft toys in our home.

Spot's lift the flap Peekaboo

I was planning  to pass all these lovely Spot goodies onto my niece, but first I had a bedtime read with son2 whilst he wore the Spot puppet. The book is called Spot’s lift the flap Peekaboo and we found Spot and all his friends hiding behind the flaps ready to play Peekaboo. Result is son2 is hanging on tight to the puppet, so that will be staying with us.

However I did email the Spot activity sheets to my sister and I’ve received some lovely colouring back from my niece and nephew. They had great fun doing it and just look at my nephew’s brilliant dalmatian sheep, who is even spottier than Spot!

Spot the Puppy

Spot the Puppy

This lovely board book is available on Amazon, currently priced at the RRP £7.99 and published by Puffin. I highly recommend it for all young children. It is a delight to watch their faces light up as they look behind the flaps as you read.
And did you know that Spot has a brand new website and has also launched an app this week. These are suitable for all ages from 0+. Loads of fun for just £2.99.

Spot's lift the flap Peekaboo

Eric Hill’s loveable puppy, Spot, has been an integral part of early childhood since he first appeared in the classic lift-the-flap storybook Where’s Spot? in 1980. A firm favourite with parents and pre-schoolers, Spot’s toddler-like behaviour introduces children to new experiences through friendship and play.

Spot is truly international and his adventures have been published in over 50 languages (including sign language and Braille editions) selling over 60 million books. 

I’d love to hear about your child’s favourite book.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Home Exchange including giveaway worth £100

So what do you usually do for holidays? Hands up who has ever tried a house swap. Here’s son1 outside one of the lovely homes we swapped to.

House swap

We had a couple of fantastic holidays via this method four years ago before son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia. He has now just finished chemotherapy last month, and hopefully by next year, will have completed other associated medical interventions. So I have my fingers crossed that we may be able to arrange a similar type holiday again next summer. We didn’t feel we could do one whilst he was on chemo, as if he ended up in hospital, it wouldn’t have just been our holiday at risk of cancellation, but potentially another family’s too which just wouldn’t be fair.

Therefore it felt a very good omen when HomeExchange.com contacted me offering a year’s free membership. And an even better bonus when they kindly suggested deferring the membership to next year.

HomeExchange.com is a global community of 65,000 like-minded people around the world across 150 countries. Members’ homes come in all shapes and sizes, from cosy apartments to sprawling estates and everything in between.

It means that other than the cost of getting there, a holiday anywhere in the world doesn’t have to cost anymore than staying at home, and the benefits of exchanging with a family are numerous.

It’s incredibly fun and cheap and means you can go anywhere, live like a local, and stay for free. Over half of the homes on HomeExchange.com are also family friendly, so there’s plenty to choose from and nearly 90% say they will accept children. Plus plenty of the listings have baby items available too.

Let me share 10 of the top benefits for families we discovered when we did house swaps.

PACKING IS EASIER as there will be linen, lots of toys and equipment waiting for you, so you don’t have to take it all with you.

AVOID LAST MINUTE WORRIES as everything is in one place and ready for you; the same as when you visit the grandparents.

ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY and stay for free knowing you can keep to your family’s usual routine, just the same as if you were at home.

SLEEP WELL AND RELAX without the concerns of staying in a hotel where your loud and boisterous children may annoy other guests.

GET MORE SPACE as children and parents have their own rooms; no more stays in a cramped hotel room.

AVOID TIME PRESSURES as there’s no need to rush downstairs to catch the hotel breakfast.

HAVE A WELL-DESERVED BREAK and enjoy meeting new friends by venturing beyond your neighbourhood, your exchange partner may even introduce you to their own friends with kids.

SHOP AHEAD by organising an online grocery shop to be delivered on arrival.

GET INSIDER TIPS from your exchange partner on the best child friendly activities and venues.

PEACE OF MIND knowing your own home should be more secure since it is occupied whilst you are away.

home exchange.com

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a year’s membership to HomeExchange.com worth £100 for free holidays to 1 lucky winner. Open worldwide.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your ideal holiday.

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Disclosure. This post mentions a membership I will receive for free next year. All opinions are my own.

Oatly Foamable – an oat drink

I have received a carton of Oatly Foamable oat drink, free to review.

Oatly foamable oat drink

Having never been a barista, I wasn’t quite sure how to foam either milk or Oatly Foamable, or how foamy it should be. However I gave it my best shot, warming the Oatly Foamable in the microwave and then hand whisking it before pouring it into my coffee. The result was delicious. I really loved the oaty flavour and the best bonus was I didn’t need to add my normal half a spoon of sugar. The usual bitterness of coffee had disappeared. I have to say I preferred it to a coffee made with cow’s milk.

making coffee with Oatly Foamable

making coffee with Oatly Foamable

I also tried making a bowl of porridge with the Oatly Foamable. And I know what you’re saying. That porridge is oats anyhow, but I thought it would be a good pairing. And yes it was nice, but not a huge taste difference from using cow’s milk.

making porridge with Oatly Foamable

Now let me share some facts I’ve learnt about the Oatly Foamable oat drink.

  1. It is completely plant-based, so can be enjoyed by those with milk allergies as well as vegans. Also suitable for those with nut allergies.
  2. Production of this drink creates 69% fewer green house gas emissions than cow’s milk and 79% less land usage and 60% less energy usage.
  3. A long-life product which keeps in the refrigerator for upto 5 days after opening.

Oatly Foamable is available at Tesco, Waitrose, Ocado, Booths and independents, currently priced at an RRP of £1.79 for a 1 litre carton.

And take a look at the Oatly website, to see some of their other products. I’ve got my eye on trying the Orange Mango Oat Drink next.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Traya’s Quest by Paulette Agnew

I have received a free e-copy of the book “Traya’s Quest” by Paulette Agnew to review.

Traya's Quest by Paulette Agnew

Here is the book blurb.

In the great Rift Valley of Kenya lives Traya, the boy from a poor Indian family with the most astonishing gift: he can speak to everything that has ever been brought into existence. Setting out to seek his purpose and true nature – or dharma – Traya begins using his power to speak to the great teachers whose wisdom is often overlooked. His hope is that understanding their purposes and reflecting upon them will prove to be the key to discovering his very own.

This is a journey you will recognise, a guide book to life presented with childlike clarity. Surya the Sun teaches him about shining equally on all beings, and Varuna the Ocean about the deep quiet that lies below the wilds storms of the mind. The Spider shows him how to create the world around him from within, the Fire helps him overcome the sadness of the spark inside him not being seen, and from the Bees he learns to take only a little nectar. Prepare to be enthralled, delighted, and transformed as you follow the young adventurer’s encounters with twenty-four animals, elements and celestial beings, each one helping Traya to steer his thoughts away from confusion and guide himself throughout the depths of his inner being.

Traya’s Quest: The Journey Begins is a series of timeless teachings about the great eternal moral and spiritual laws and the condensed knowledge of the ancient masters, making it a story for young and old alike. Paulette Agnew simplifies complex truths and translates many experiences, visions, and perceptions of universal appeal through the eyes of her main character, all packed with sacred knowledge hidden in all the great scriptures.

I was originally planning to let one of the boys review this book, but as it had been waiting for a while and they are now busy with the library summer reading challenge, I decided that I had better read it instead.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book, but I was bowled over with what I got. 11 year old Traya can communicate with other species and the book starts with the flamingos asking Traya what his Dharma (purpose) is. The title Traya’s Quest refers to his quest to find out his purpose. Us readers join in as he journeys with Surya the Sun and Chandra the Moon or communicates with other species and elements, discovering their purposes, until he ultimately finds his own.

On the way he discovered the purposes of 24 others, some of whom he invited home, like Pythagoras the Python and Papilio the Butterfly.

Traya’s Quest is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback or £4.61 on Kindle, and is published by Clink Street Publishing. A beautifully illustrated inspirational story for either children or adults.

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Wibble wobble jelly on the plate including giveaway

Wibble wobble jelly on the plate. Wibble wobble jelly off the plate. The boys learnt this when they were tiny and we still often say it when we are enjoying our jelly.

Regular readers may remember that I recently blogged about Hartley’s glitter jelly. Well I’ve now received some more jelly free from Hartley’s to review.

Hartley's Strawberry Jelly Pots

This time, I received 12 “no added sugar” strawberry jelly pots, a lunchbox and some stickers.

Hartley's Strawberry Jelly Pots

The boys decorated the lunchbox with some of the stickers and then tucked into their jelly. And with so many pots, us adults could get a taste too. I found it perfectly pleasant whilst son2 commented that it was the best ever. And dare I mention it in the middle of the summer holiday, but it will be ideal for school lunch boxes, since it doesn’t need refrigerating. Plus extra good for your little ones, as it contains no added sugar. It also has no artificial colours and flavours and is fat and gluten free.

Hartley's Jelly Pots

Hartley’s “no added sugar” jelly pots also come in 5 other flavours – raspberry, blackcurrant, orange, apple and tropical and are available from most supermarkets. It is currently priced at around 49p for a 115g pot. A very competitive price with other desserts and as I mentioned above, especially suitable for school lunch boxes because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Hartley's Jelly lunchbox

Here we have a photo of a quick simple healthy nutritious lunchbox, ideal for #BackToSchool with Hartley’s “no added sugar” jelly pot, along with 50/50 sandwich, cheese and fruit. And top tip – don’t forget to include a spoon! Oops it’s not in the photo!

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a case of 12 jelly pots and a lunchbox courtesy of Hartley’s to 1 lucky winner. comper friendly badge

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.
Currently I have:-
E:21/9 Win books (various titles for 16 prizewinners) – open worldwide
E:14/9 Win membership to HomeExchange.com worth £100 for a year’s worth of free holidays – open worldwide
E:6/9 Win a copy of the book “The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog Master of Disguise”

If you don’t win, watch out for selected retailers selling the pots at 25p throughout September. And Hartley’s are gearing up for the Back to School season with an on pack collector scheme offer. By collecting 12 promotional Hartley’s Jelly Pot lids, you can get the special edition Hartley’s lunchbox just like mine along with an assortment of the fun stickers.

I’d love to hear your favourite jelly.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.
And this post is an entry for BritMums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Hartley’s Jelly http://www.hartleysfruit.co.uk/.

The Dali Deception by Adam Maxwell

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Dali Deception by Adam Maxwell to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Dali Deception by Adam Maxwell

Here is the book blurb.

Violet Winters—a professional thief born of a good, honest thief-and-con-artist stock— has been offered the heist of a lifetime. Steal a priceless Salvador Dali from the security-obsessed chairman of the Kilchester Bank and replace it with a forgery.

The fact that the “painting” is a signed, blank canvas doesn’t matter. It’s the challenge that gives Violet that familiar, addicting rush of adrenaline. Her quarry rests in a converted underground Cold War bunker. One way in, one way out. No margin for error.

But the reason Violet fled Kilchester is waiting right where she left him—an ex-lover with a murderous method for dumping a girlfriend. If her heist is to be a success, there will have to be a reckoning, or everything could go spinning out of control.

Her team of talented misfits assembled, Violet sets out to re-stake her claim on her reputation, exorcise some demons, and claim the prize. That is, if her masterpiece of a plan isn’t derailed by a pissed-off crime boss—or betrayal from within her own ranks.

I wasn’t sure why chapter one with Violet and Katie procuring blank canvas was out of chronological order, but the story then progresses with Fegan asking Violet to steal a blank Dali from a highly secure underground location. We then meet the other 3 members of Violet’s team as she recruits them in very individual styles, Zoe, Lucas and Barry. And Damien is lined up to create the forgery.

But Violet’s ex Percy soon hears she is back in town. And crime honcho Big Terry finds out his henchmen have bought a fake X-ray of Marilyn Monroe. He traces it back to Lucas. Uh oh.

The odds seems to be changing against them as timescales change, a car chase ensues, critical items are lost. You need to read the book to see whether they can get back on track.

The Dali Deception is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback or £2.99 in Kindle format. A great read with a fab twist at the end. Highly recommended. And I see from Amazon that this is book one of The Kilchester Caper. I shall certainly be keeping my eye out for book two.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

S5 Uncovered by James Durose-Rayner

I have received a free e-copy of the book S5 Uncovered by James Durose-Rayner to review.

S5 Uncovered by James Durose-Rayner

Here is the book blurb.

Based around a series of true events. The BBC’s current affairs programme ‘Panorama’ undertook a sixty minute documentary / exposé surrounding an elite government task force that went undercover in Sheffield over a period of twelve months. Their remit was to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to fill up the police federations coffers using illegally gained intelligence, on one hand overlooking – and in some cases encouraging – major criminal activity such as murder, kidnap and torture; whilst on the other, surreptitiously acquiring pre-bargained guilty pleas from defendants then reneging on deals, which culminated in some of the heaviest sentences ever handed out in the UK. But the programme was never aired.

As I read this book, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t a story, but based on true events. I found this really hard to believe, with everything going on. I certainly didn’t know that there was such a seedy underworld in Sheffield, a city I have visited occasionally. And I thought it had a clever title based on the postcode area S5.

Don Chaps of SOCA (Senior Organised Crime Agency) sets up an under-cover team to tackle certain elements of crime in Sheffield. They use unorthodox methods like bugging devices to monitor their primary markers. Conversations that they listen to lead them to intercepting other criminals, in particular busting some huge drugs hauls. They even bug other police officials, overhearing some of the conversations with grasses. A very interesting read from both sides of the coin. And staggering to find out the operation raked in over a billion pounds.

S5 Uncovered is available on Amazon, currently priced at £19.99 in paperback and is published by Clink Street Publishing. It is a very long book at 908 pages so took me quite a while to read. I did enjoy reading it but would have preferred the strong language to be toned down somewhat. There is very frequent use of both the F and C words. I can understand why, since it is based on true events and the characters would have been speaking like that, but I don’t like to read those words.


Here is an extract from Episode 10 of the book. (Language warning – does include B word).

We were monitoring the Pakistani heroin dealers, but heroin was different from other drugs and rather than gain intelligence from a long drawn out surveillance, we decided that it would be best all-around if we hit them with immediate effect, which pleased Mad Tony immensely, as he was going absolutely ‘squirrels’ monitoring all the phone activity, but that was not to say he didn’t like it, as it put him in pole position on a lot of intelligence, especially on the link with the Singh Brothers over in Scunthorpe.

The Singhs were apparently headed up by a Harjminder Singh, or ‘Jammy’ to his friends. Unlike most Asians, Harjminder was an imposing man, around 6’ 5”, smartly-cut and who wore tinted rims. His ‘family’ comprised a series of brothers, cousins and the odd mate, none of whom were really cut from the same stuff as the main man. If you watch the film ‘American Gangster’ with Denzil Washington, you could possibly see where I am coming from. The Singh Brothers were Harjminder Singh full-stop. All we knew is that Harjminder ran a hash ring that served his immediate area, which he had locked-down as the sole operator. You wanted hash or cannabis in that area, ninety-nine per cent of the time you had to go through the Singh Brothers. The surveillance on him was complex though, as although they spoke in English, they communicated mainly in some poxy Sikh dialect, which I for one couldn’t understand. I never gave a rat’s-ass about hash or cannabis, and to be honest neither did the police, unless of course it was imported en-masse or indeed mass cultivated, which meant large denominations of currency and something for us to seize. I nearly fell over when I got wind that these guys turned over around one million pounds a month on hash alone, I mean the guy lived in a terraced house at the back of Frodingham Road and even counted up coppers to pay for a lamb kebab. He certainly wasn’t anything like the flash bastards that most Asian dealers were. A twelve million pounds per annum drug ring meant big business and a massive amount of credit for us, as these boys were sailing under the radar of both the HU2 satellite office and the regional police force.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

S5 Uncovered blogtour


About James Durose-Rayner

James Durose-Rayner has over twenty years’ experience in journalism. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild and the editor of NATM, the UK’s leading specialist civil engineering journal. His writing has been featured in over 210 magazines and his debut indie-novel, S63: Made in Thurnscoe, published in 2001, received positive reviews. In 2015, I Am Sam (Clink Street Publishing) and itv Seven (New Generation Publishing) followed to more affirmative acclaim. Durose-Rayner currently divides his time between the UK and Cyprus.

For more information please visit james-durose-rayner.co.uk or follow him on Twitter at @natm_mag.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog Master of Disguise – book review and giveaway

Jeremy Strong is a very popular author in our household for both the boys, with My Brother’s Famous Bottom series being their favourites, so they were very pleased when we received a free copy of The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog Master of Disguise to review.

The 100 Mile An Hour Dog

This is what it says on the back cover.

Streaker, the fastest dog in the world, is on the run again!
There’s a mysterious pet-napper at large, Dad wants to send Streaker to behaviour boot camp and Trevor and Tina think they can save her with hair extensions and dye! No wonder Streaker’s desperate to escape.

Son2 read this book first and we’re passing it over to son1 next. He really enjoyed this book and is hoping to find some more from the series in our local library, as both boys are participating in the library’s Summer Reading Challenge. He was also really pleased to spot an overlap with the characters from My Brother’s Famous Bottom series.

The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog

The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog: Master of Disguise is currently retailing on Amazon at the RRP of £5.99 and is also available in Kindle format. Written by Jeremy Strong and published by Puffin. Targeted at children aged 6-11. We highly recommend this book.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a copy of The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog Master of Disguise to one lucky winner.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.
E:21/9 Win books (various titles for 16 prizewinners) – open worldwide
E:14/9 Win membership to HomeExchange.com worth £100 for a year’s worth of free holidays – open worldwide
E:26/8 Win a case of 12 jelly pots and a lunchbox

Plus there is a fun creative competition on Jeremy Strong’s website to design a disguise for Streaker. Here is son2’s disguise, but we’re not entering it into the competition.

The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog

I’d love to hear about your child’s favourite book.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.