Forbidden by Feather Stone

I have received a free e-copy of the book Forbidden by Feather Stone to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Forbidden by Feather Stone

Here is the book blurb.

Year 2047, City of Samarra, capital of the Republic of Islamic Provinces & Territories

Fifteen American travelers have vanished. Surrendering to Mayor Aamir’s demands, a devout Muslim and police captain becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, Eliza MacKay. Captain Sharif is horrified to discover that if he exposes the cover-up, his family will suffer dire consequences.

The CIA has the lying Sharif in their cross hairs. Sharif’s only hope is to prove his country’s government is free of guilt. Secretly, he hunts forensic evidence. Cryptic messages, backstabbing informants, and corruption threaten Sharif’s resolve to see justice served. When he discovers the shocking truth, he and MacKay become the targets of a ruthless killer.

Sharif is tortured by his attraction to the impetuous Eliza MacKay. In spite of her struggle with PTSD, he’s drawn to her vivacious personality. Islam forbids the intimacy he craves. In desperation to save Eliza, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

The book starts with a couple of flashbacks to 2013 and 2020 to set the scene. We then meet Canadian paramedic Eliza who has just arrived in the Middle East at Samarra airport in RIPT and is waiting for the rest of the volunteer team to arrive from the US. Eliza has suffered with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) for 4 years since being the sole survivor of her family when a tanker crashed into her car.

The team then set off in their bus with a police escort but it is a trap. There is a massacre. Somehow Eliza survives and is then under the police protection of Captain Hashim Sharif. When the Police Chief and Mayor arrive, they insist on a cover-up and Sharif, a devout Muslim, is forced against his will to keep Eliza hidden in his apartment. Over the days they begin to bond.

In his investigations, Sharif discovers that the killers were supposed to have killed him too. But things get worse. With the CIA on their way, Sharif is ordered to execute Eliza, else his family will be in danger. What will Sharif do and who are the killers?

When asked to review this book, I had been initially concerned that it wouldn’t be my kind of thing, as it is set in 2047 and in general, I’m not a huge fan of futuristic reads. But I was proved wrong. I really enjoyed this book.

Forbidden is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.56 in paperback or £2.40 in Kindle format. A gripping read which had me on the edge of my seat.

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

HelloSkin skincare plus giveaway

I was very pleased to be offered the chance to choose a selection of 3 products from HelloSkin free to review. The lady at HelloSkin had seen that I have previously blogged about Flexitol footcare products which is a line they stock.

HelloSkin products

HelloSkin is an online store selling skincare products suitable for those people with psoriasis, eczema, acne and dry skin conditions. The site has been designed so that you can easily shop by need, type or ingredient. Alternatively there is a product finder which is refinable by age group, body part, symptom, need and when to use.

I initially chose the following three products
DermaTherapy Fitted Sheet
Moisturising Cotton Sleep Socks
Neutrogena T/Gel 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner

But as my first choice of socks were out of stock at the time, I swapped to
Jasmine 100% Silk Moisturising Socks for dry and cracked skin

The products were dispatched on a next day service and arrived well-packed. I spotted that they also offer a free standard delivery service, which I always appreciate.

DermaTherapy fitted sheet

So I’ll start with the DermaTherapy Fitted Sheet which is billed as being the first clinically proven Therapeutic Bedding. I chose this in a king size which currently retails for £84.95 but it is also available in single and double sizes. The fabric feels amazingly smooth compared to standard sheets, but to really understand this, you should look at the zoomed in image of the weave. The HelloSkin website focusses on the benefits for those with sensitive skin conditions, but the packaging also indicates that it is ideal for those undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Pity I hadn’t heard about it a few years earlier, as when son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia, I thought I was making the right choice to buy best quality pure Egyptian cotton bedsheets for him.

They also stock duvet covers, pillow case, flat sheets and sleep sacs. I tend to often wake up sweaty in the middle of the night and I found that this sheet is very effective at wicking away heat and moisture. Now I just need the rest of the range, as my ordinary duvet meant I was still sweaty above, although much more comfortable underneath. Significantly more expensive than standard bedding, but definitely worth the investment for those that it helps to a much better night’s sleep in my opinion. It is 50% polyester and 50% polyamide and is so easy to fit on your mattress compared to most sheets. I actually had to double check the packet to make sure I hadn’t accidentally got super-king rather than king size. I washed it on a 60 degree cycle and tumble-dried it on low. It came out almost crease-free, so I didn’t even need to iron. And the packaging indicates that it will withstand washing upto 90 degrees.

Jasmine Silk Socks

Next the socks, which fit size 3-7. I’ve been planning to get a pair of moisturising socks for ages, but had never got round to it. The idea behind moisturising socks is to apply your usual footcare product and then the socks will help the absorption whilst you sleep. I’m loving these. I can definitely say they work. I’ve blogged before about how dry and cracked my feet are, as per image on left. Well I’ve seen a marked improvement in the mornings since I started wearing the socks, as per image on right. At £7.99 for a pair, they are great value in my opinion. Wish I’d got some sooner. Although the socks are silk, they can still be machine washed on a low 30 degree setting, but I chose to hand-wash them.

Neutrogena T/Gel Dandruff Shampoo

And finally the shampoo. I frequently get a flare up of flaky scalp and have tried many different brands of anti-dandruff shampoo, but this is the first time, I’ve tried this brand. At the time of testing, I only had a very mild case of dandruff (as per top left image), which I’m happy to say it treated. I do prefer using combined shampoo and conditioner like this rather than two separate products. This shampoo lathered up well and also had a nice fragrance and my hair felt soft and tangle-free afterwards. This was the 125ml size which currently retails for £3.99 and it is also available in a 250ml size. More expensive than most shampoo at the supermarket but competitive with salon brands.

So in summary, I was very happy with all three products and will certainly be using this site in the future.

Also I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your next purchase at HelloSkin with discount code: “HELLOCLAIRE”. This offer is valid once per customer.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway HelloSkin products to three lucky winners. The first winner drawn will win a DermaTherapy fitted sheet in their preferred choice of size. The second winner drawn will win a pair of Jasmine Silk Moisturising Socks. And the third winner drawn will win a bottle of  Neutrogena T/Gel 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner.
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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 your top skincare tips.

You can find HelloSkin on social media as follows:-
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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

Spring Reading Week – Addicted to Death by Matthew Redford

I have received a free e-copy of the book Addicted to Death: A Food Related Crime Investigation by Matthew Redford to review, as part of Clink Street Publishing’s #SpringReads Week.

Addicted to Death by Matthew Redford

Here is the book blurb.

Following the murder of Benedict and Darcy Blacktail, two eggs savagely beaten to death outside their home by an unknown, fedora wearing assailant brandishing a large metal spoon, Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, carrot and the leading food detective in the police force, is called in to investigate. When the only food sapiens minister in the Government, Professor Perry Partridge, is murdered at the Strawberry Strip Club, run by the young damson Victoria Plum, DI Wortel suspects that the two cases may somehow be linked. As the Head of the Food Related Crime Division, DI Wortel is ably assisted by his human colleague Sergeant Dorothy Knox. But as their investigation begins, four celebrity chefs are sent death threats. It’s a recipe for disaster as the incarcerated evil genius MadCow McBeef is seeking parole; someone appears to have crumbled Mr Bramley’s apples; and there is an anti-GM food protestor on the prowl. And why do Oranges and Lemons think they owe someone five farthings? DI Wortel and his team must find out who is seemingly addicted to death. It will take all efforts – human, fruit and vegetable – to figure this one out.

This story is crazily silly with half the characters being foods. Most have corny names too based on real-life celebrities, like footballer Wayne Rooster, a potato who plays for Breadenham Hotspuds or pop icon Curly Kale Minogue, plus a smattering of references to well-known nursery rhymes. If you can ignore the corniness and concentrate, the plot is actually quite good.

The book begins with two eggs, Benedict and Darcy Blacktail being murdered with a spoon on their doorstep, as they returned home from a night at the theatre. The Detective Inspector investigating the crime is Willie Wortel, a carrot. Another murder follows, that of government minister for DAFaRT (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Trade), Professor Perry Partridge, a pear. Initial chief suspect is Alex Pine, an anti-GM food protestor. And then Victoria Plum who discovered the dead Perry Partridge, goes missing. Meanwhile four celebrity chefs are sent death threats, so DI Wortel goes to meet the chefs.

Wortel gets lumbered with two new team members, Oranges and Lemons, who tend to mostly be more of a liability than an asset. He also keeps receiving foreign texts, which he ignores as he doesn’t understand them. Looks like a cue for the next story.

Addicted to Death is Matthew Redford’s debut novel and is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. and is published by Clink Street Publishing. I usually love food related stories, but this one was just too over the top for me with all the silliness. Even though it had a good plot, I think I’ll be giving his next book “Who Killed The Mince Spy” which also features DI Wortel, a miss.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.
Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, carrot and head of the Food Related Crime Team is trying to find out who is sending death threats to celebrity chefs, when a chocolate bomb cake is placed at Goodeatery, the restaurant of famous chef, Scottie Rodgers.

A startled Wortel was pushed aside by Scottie Rodgers who bounded towards the restaurant at full speed. Wortel turned and started to run after the celebrity chef who was surprisingly fleet of foot. When Wortel caught up with Rodgers he was already at the site of the bomb, spatula in one hand, whipped cream being vigorously shaken in the other.

The timer read 2:15.

Rodgers spoke first without looking up.

“It’s more complex than I thought Wortel. This wiring is intertwined, one wrong swish of this spatula and we’re goners. Take the whipped cream and keep shaking it. I’m going to cut a wire and then you need to spray that cream on it quick. That’ll prevent the bomb from detonating accidently.”

Wortel looked unconvinced.

“Trust me.”

Wortel took the whipped cream and carried on shaking the can as Rodgers separated the wires using the spatula.

The timer read 1:45.

“Blast,” said Rodgers, “oh sorry, wrong word at this time I guess.”

“What’s wrong?”

“If I cut the blue wire, that’ll trip the green wire. And if I cut the green wire that’ll trip the red wire.”

“So cut the red wire first then.”

“My god, I know you’re a carrot but are you just plain raving bonkers? Cutting the red wire is suicide.”

“Then what?”

“We need to divert the red wire and make the bomb think it’s still connected before I cut it. Don’t you see?”

“Actually no, and you’re talking about the bomb as though it has a brain and can think for itself.”

Rodgers looked quite disappointedly at Wortel. “You really know nothing about bombs do you. Of course they can think for themselves once armed. That’s why we have to trick it.”

“Not the time for a lecture Mr Rodgers. What do you need?”

The timer read 60 seconds.

“Something thin and wire like. Any thoughts?”

Wortel scanned the kitchen, all the time shaking the whipped cream violently in one hand. He looked across left at the suet chef’s station and saw nothing. He turned to the right and scanned the soup chef’s station and saw something which looked like salvation.

“Will noodles do?”

“Jolly good show Wortel. Yes, noodles are great.”

Wortel lunged forward and grabbed the noodles, turning in one fluid movement and throwing them to Rodgers who had briefly put down the spatula.

The timer read 30 seconds.

Rodgers grabbed plain flour from the suet chef’s station, patted some onto his hands to dry his nervous sweaty palms, and went to work. Wortel moved to his side and looked on as the celebrity chef who held a degree in physics and engineering began to trick the bomb into thinking it still had a red wire, which was now nothing more than a noodle.

The time timer read 15 seconds.

Rodgers put down the noodles and raised the spatula. “I have to say DI Wortel that it’s been a pleasure. Do you think we’ve enough time to take a selfie?”

“Not now Mr Rodgers.”

“Fair point. It’s now or never old bean.”

The timer read 7 seconds.

“Mr Rodgers.”

“Yes.”

“Cut that wire – FAST.”

The spatula came down and swiped through the wires, red followed by blue followed by green. As the wires were separated Wortel sprayed the whipped cream covering the bomb in a coating of white froth.

The timer came to a stop with just two seconds remaining.


About the author

Born in 1980, Matthew Redford grew up with his parents and elder brother on a council estate in Bermondsey, south-east London. He now lives in Longfield, Kent, takes masochistic pleasure in watching his favourite football team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, is a keen chess player and is planning future food related crime novels. To counterbalance the quirkiness of his crime fiction Redford is an accountant. His unconventional debut crime thriller, Addicted to Death: A Food Related Crime Investigation was published by Clink Street Publishing last summer.

Website – http://www.matthewredford.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/matthew_redford


I’m participating in the Clink Street Spring Reading Week book tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of reading tastes.

Spring Reads Blogival Calendar

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

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold

I have received a free e-copy of the book Remnants by bestselling author Carolyn Arnold to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

All that remains are whispers of the past…

When multiple body parts are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, local law enforcement calls in FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team to investigate. But with the remains pointing to three separate victims, this isn’t proving to be an open-and-shut case.

With no quick means of identifying the deceased, building a profile of this serial killer is more challenging than usual. How are these targets being selected? Why are their limbs being severed and their bodies mutilated? And what is it about them that is triggering this person to murder?

The questions compound as the body count continues to rise, and when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found, the case takes an even darker turn. But this is only the beginning, and these new leads draw the FBI into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though: The killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…

This is book 6 in the series featuring FBI agent Brandon Fisher. I had worried whether it would work as a stand-alone book, as a few of my recent reads have left me confused as to what happened in previous books. But no such problem this time, although there were hints like one of the agents having almost been killed last summer. I’m sure that must have featured in an earlier book.

The FBI agents leave loved ones behind on Valentine’s day to fly to Savannah to investigate where human limb remains have been discovered in the river from three victims. A phone is found nearby. DNA will take far too long, so they start by interviewing those who found the remains. First suspect on their list is ex-plantation employee Jesse Holt who was sacked for using an outbuilding for gutting fish. The phone is identified as belonging to Stanley Gilbert whose wife has reported him missing yesterday. Potential victim or suspect? And is there a link to old crimes in Michigan? More remains are found in the river, this time a torso painted blue and missing its heart and a skull. Very creepy.

Meanwhile we see the killer torturing his next victim, by cutting out his tongue. How are the FBI going to find out who is the killer? And that’s all I’m going to say.

Remnants is available on Amazon, currently priced at £13.04 in paperback or £4.45 in Kindle format. A very dark read but certainly gripping. And you may download a sample here.

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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 Embers of Enchantment by S D Davieson

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Embers of Enchantment Destinies Entwined Part I by S D Davieson for son1 to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Embers of Enchantment by S D Davieson

Here is the book blurb.

Darkness has awoken once again within the shadows. Three unlikely Welsh teenagers and a young dragon fall mysteriously into each other’s lives as destiny is forced to intervene. Lizzie-Ann the white witch of Mwmbwls is already aware of the impending threat they face, but even she doesn’t have all the answers. Dylan attempts to train his dragon Heulwen. Seren receives a gift from nature that no other magical being has received in centuries and Emyr uncovers a dark secret that has been kept from him his whole life. Let’s just hope they have enough time to prepare for what is to come. We all now depend on them! Including you!

The Embers of Enchantment by S D Davieson

This is what son1 had to say.

I’m reviewing a book called the ‘Embers of Enchantment’.
I quite liked the book and rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
It’s quite a multi mix of characters and so there isn’t really a main character.
The main characters are:
-Dylan and his pet dragon, Heulwen
-Emyr, son of Lord Deheubarth
There are other main characters but none more main than them.

Short and to the point, but I also read this book, so I’ll add my comments. This book is set in the Mumbles, Swansea area of South Wales. 14yr old Dylan has his own baby pet dragon, Heulwen, hatched from an egg who he is trying to teach to fly. Then we meet 15 yr old Emyr who lives in Oystermouth Castle. Also white witch Lizzie Ann with her large dragon Ysbryd. And Seren whose father has forbidden her to practice magic, but who has just received a wand whilst hiding in a bush. Versus Bartholomew, captain of the pirates searching for treasure in Oystermouth Bay.

An eclectic collection of characters who have just begun interacting when we reach the end of part I, with Emyr in a secret chamber he never knew existed in the castle. The reader is definitely left wanting to jump straight into part II, which was published last month. The book is being released in 4 parts, so you’ll have to wait for parts III and IV.

The Embers of Enchantment Destinies Entwined Part I is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. Both son1 and I enjoyed this book. We have also received a free copy of Part II, so son1 will start reading that soon.

The Embers of Enchantment by S D Davieson

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

Lemon Drizzle Cake

When it was my turn for baking and serving at the teahouse, I decided to make a couple of Lemon Drizzle Cakes as half of my contribution.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

200g margarine
200g caster sugar
2 lemons
3 eggs
200g self raising flour
milk to mix (optional)
75g granulated sugar

Method

Preheat fan oven to 160 deg C.
Line a 21 x 8cm loaf tin.
Grate the zest from the lemons.
Cream margarine and caster sugar together.
Mix in lemon zest.
Beat the eggs in a jug.
Gradually beat in the egg.
Fold in the flour.
The mixture should be a dropping consistency. If it is too stiff, add a little milk to mix.
Spoon into prepared tin.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 45-50 minutes.
Test with a skewer. It will come out clean when the cake is ready.
Leave in tin.
Meanwhile squeeze the lemons.
Mix granulated sugar into lemon juice.
Make lots of holes in top of cake with a skewer.
Gradually pour over the warm cake.
Leave to cool before removing from the tin.
Cut into slices.
Serve and enjoy.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle is one of my favourite cakes. I’d love to hear your favourite?

Lemon Drizzle Cake

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Chewy Moon snack box review and giveaway

I have received a free sample Chewy Moon healthy snack box via Talk To Mums. The box size is designed to fit through your letterbox.

Chewy Moon snacks

These boxes are aimed at children from age 3 upwards and son2 was really excited when he saw the pug on the outside of the box. Even though he is fairly dog-phobic, he has recently started asking if we can get a pug. Whilst son1 who is equally wary round dogs wants a labrador. But no need for them to argue over breeds, as a puppy is not on the agenda since I work full-time.

These boxes contain 5 individual snack portions along with some fun activities and a page of nutrition facts. Our activitites were a pop-out frog, a short comic story and facts about ants.

Chewy Moon snacks

The 5 snacks we received were:-
Snacko Italiano (Tuscany cashews and baked cheese)
Happy BBQ (smokey almonds and coconut chips)
Crazy Crunch (smoothie bites)
Cherry Cola (cola raisins, cherry, cranberry)
Freaky Fruits (blackcurrant drops, apricot sticks, cherry cubes, peach cubes, raspberry strips)

Chewy Moon snacks

Son1 chose the Snacko Italiano first whilst son2 opted for the Cherry Cola. He did insist that son1 give him the empty Snacko Italiano pug box afterwards though. Son1 loved the pieces of toasted cheese, but only liked the Italian herby cashews. He let me try a couple of the cashews and I thought they were delicious. Meanwhile son2 quickly scoffed the Cherry Cola.

Chewy Moon snacks

The next time son2 selected Freaky Fruits whilst son1 went for Crazy Crunch. Once again son2’s snack vanished very quickly and he gave both a resounding thumbs up. Although son1 is a huge smoothie fan, he wasn’t convinced by the Crazy Crunch flavour, so offered them to the rest of us. We all enjoyed them but none of us guessed the flavour correctly which was blueberry and red beet.

Chewy Moon snacks

And to avoid arguments, I got the fifth pack, the Happy BBQ, which was right up my street, as I love almonds and coconut. Very yummy indeed.

Chewy Moon snacks

These packs are ideal for an after school snack. But if your children attend a school that has a nut-free policy like my boys’ school, then you wouldn’t be able to send either Snacko Italiano or Happy BBQ in as a playground snack. However there is a “no nuts” option when ordering.

You get to rate the snacks, to build up a profile of which your child does and doesn’t like for future boxes. Each box currently costs £4.93 including 98p P&P, but you can get your first box free. You select between fruit box, variety box or savoury box and you can order for multiple children. The boxes are delivered weekly and you may cancel your subscription at any time. A competitive price in my opinion.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a month’s Chewy Moon subscription of 4 boxes to one lucky winner. What a tasty prize.
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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 favourite snack ideas.

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

The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne to review.

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

Here is the book blurb.

Patrick Phelan is an ageing artist who has never made it big but who somehow manages to live on air in a North London suburb.

When not running art classes for amateurs, Patrick wrestles in the shed at the bottom of his garden with his life’s work: a series of visionary canvases of The Seven Seals.

When his wheeler-dealer son Marty turns up with a commission from a rich client for some copies of paintings by modern masters, Phelan reluctantly agrees; it means money for his ex-wife Moira. However the deal with Marty is, typically, not what it seems.

What follows is a complex chain of events involving fakery, fraud, kidnapping, murder, the Russian Mafia and a cast of dubious art world characters. A contemporary spin on Joyce Cary’s classic satire The Horse’s Mouth, The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne is a crime thriller-cum-comic-fable that poses the serious question: where does art go from here?

Although enjoyable, I found the first few chapters very disjointed as the scene gets set. The book starts with Pat in the shed at the bottom of his garden, painting a copy of a Degas. We then meet Pat’s son Martin with art dealer James Duval who is researching for a lost painting. Pat also teaches an amateur art class called the Blue Orangers in his shed. What a lovely name. Pat then earns another £3000 copying a Derain in between working on his own series The Seven Seals.

There were lots of other characters to come to grips with from the art world and I kept getting confused. Gallery directors, auctioneers, art journalists, art critics, even a police art expert, etc. But the story packs a lot in besides the fake paintings – burglary, murder, kidnapping, romance between Daniel and Yasmin who are on the trail to work out what is going on.

The Horse’s Arse is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story, but you do need to concentrate, as it is so busy.


An extract from Chapter XXXII of The Horse’s Arse, where art magazine editor Fay Lacey-Piggott has just discovered that her young intern Daniel Colvin has made a sensational scoop.  

“By 7pm the preview for RDV’s Boegemann sale would be in full swing, but Fay Lacey-Piggott – the woman known in the trade as Network Southeast for her dedication to social linkage – was still at her desk. The joke was unfair on Fay, who was a lot more punctual, although tonight she’d be missing the speeches and perhaps, in these times of austerity, even the champagne.

To be perfectly honest, she wasn’t that bothered. She’d seen it all where Boegemann was concerned – there were only so many shades of grey a girl could take – and any VIPs who turned up to this evening’s reception would have been at the State exhibition a few months before.

Been there, done that. So the little black dress she had collected from the dry cleaners that morning was still hanging on the back of her office door, its plastic cover bloating in the air from the fan heater she had switched on against the autumn chill.

Outside Fay’s office window it was spitting with rain. Inside, the editor’s mouse scurried over the face of her hot pink Marilyn mouse mat, whiskers twitching with unusual nervous excitement.

She’d been right about Daniel. This was dynamite. Suddenly it all made sense; the story held water. But could Marquette run it? That was the question.”


About Laura Gascoigne

Currently living in Hampstead, North London, Laura Gascoigne has worked as an art journalist for over twenty years, editing Artists & Illustrators (1994-1999) before going freelance. Laura was born in Cairo in 1950, the daughter of a bookseller and an Italian teacher, and grew up in Brussels and Cambridge before studying Classics at Oxford University. Her sister is the writer Marina Warner. Surrounded as a child by the paintings her father collected, she has always had a passion for art and when not writing about it, she paints.


I’m participating in the blog tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

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

#ThankGoodness for two quick tasty Bolognaise recipes

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take the Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge to create a nutritious mid-week family meal. And as one of the first 100 to sign upto the challenge, I received a bundle of groceries from Tesco.

Tesco Dolmio hamper

When it comes to cooking on a school night, a jar of sauce like Dolmio, is a great bonus for a speedy meal. And son2 prefers the flavour of it, compared to when I do make a tomato sauce from scratch.

What Is In A Jar of Dolmio

A jar of Dolmio Bolognese sauce contains no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners. Always a plus point as far as I’m concerned. And a jar provides 1 of your 5 a day portions of fruit and veg for a family of 4.

What a lot of food in the delivery. Certainly more than enough for two meals, which is what I’m going to share with you now. The first night I decided to make a Chicken Bolognaise with Char-grilled vegetables.

Chicken Bolognaise with Char-grilled vegetables

Chicken Bolognaise with Char-grilled vegetables

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken fillets
1 500g jar of Dolmio Bolognaise Sauce
1 aubergine
1 green pepper
1 courgette
1 large carrot
1 medium onion
2-4 tbsp olive oil

Method

Peel the onion and carrot.
Deseed the pepper.
Prepare the vegetables, chopping the aubergine and onions into discs and the other vegetables lengthways.
Cover the wire rack in your grill pan with foil.
Preheat grill to a moderate heat, using combined grill / fan setting if you have that functionality.
Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil to a wok and heat gently.
Add chicken to wok and cook for about 25-30 minutes, turning regularly.
Meanwhile place carrots on the foil and drizzle with olive oil, brushing the oil over them.
Place under the grill.
After about 5 minutes, add the aubergine, again drizzling and brushing with oil.
After about another 5 minutes, add the onion, again drizzling and brushing with oil.
After about another 5 minutes, add the courgette, again drizzling and brushing with oil.
After about another 5 minutes, add the pepper, again drizzling and brushing with oil.
Throughout this, keep turning vegetables as required to avoid burning.
If necessary, cover those vegetables that are more well cooked with those that are less cooked.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, pour jar of Dolmio Bolognaise Sauce over the chicken.
Allow sauce to heat fully.
Serve and enjoy.

Chicken Bolognaise with Char-grilled vegetables

A really tasty meal. The next night I went traditional with a Spaghetti Bolognaise with the addition of some more of the fresh vegetables for the adults. The boys prefer theirs just as it comes.

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

500g beef mince
1 500g jar Dolmio Bolognaise Sauce
250g spaghetti
1 onion
1 courgette
1 yellow pepper
200g mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
50g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Method

Peel the onion and deseed the pepper.
Chop the vegetables.
Add a few drops of olive oil to a pan of water and bring to the boil.
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a wok and heat gently.
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan and heat gently.
Add the mince to the wok, turning regularly.
Add the spaghetti to the saucepan and cook for 8 – 10 minutes.
Add the onion to the frying pan.
After a couple of minutes, add the rest of the vegetables to the onion. stirring regularly.
Grate the cheese.
Once the mince is fully cooked, pour jar of Dolmio Bolognaise Sauce over the mince.
Allow sauce to heat fully.
Drain the spaghetti.
Tip spaghetti onto dishes.
Cover two portions of spaghetti with the bolognaise.
Stir vegetables into the bolognaise before serving the other two portions.
Serve with grated cheese and black pepper.
Enjoy.

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Yummy bolognaise and some leftover for me to take to work tomorrow.

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Spaghetti Bolognaise

We all enjoyed both these meals. And I’ve still got plenty of the groceries left to use.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.
This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness.

Tom Thorneval by Cornelius Addison

I have received a free e-copy of the childrens’ book Tom Thorneval by Cornelius Addison for son1 to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his blog.

Tom Thorneval by Cornelius Addison

Here is the book blurb.

This rippingly entertaining anti-fairytale follows the misadventures of a half-fairy Dreammaker hoping to make it big in the world of men. Unfortunately, Tom Thorneval’s plan has drawn the ire of Fate, and the little merchant is robbed of all his dreams shortly after setting out on his grand adventure. With his loyal (if slightly insane) stoat Wix, a devastated Tom battles on through a series of horrifically funny misfortunes as he makes his way towards what he hopes is the Grand Goblin Fair, only to draw farther away from it in the process. This innovative literary event that races middle-schoolers through a Pythonesque world of music, color and wild adventure. Readers are invited to listen to the three songs from the tale with their smartphones and can even learn the author-composed melodies at the Addison’s Tales channel on MuseScore.com. With its philosophical turns, innovative digital additions and fable-like qualities, Tom Thorneval is a modern twist on what it’s like to be a little dreamer in a very big world.

Tom Thorneval

Son1 decided to write his review this time, rather than his usual video style. This is what he had to say.

I’m reviewing a book called Tom Thorneval
I didn’t actually like the book but you might like it. I rate it ⭐️⭐️
It’s all about a half-fairy called Tom Thorneval who sets off on a journey to sell his dreams at the Grand Goblin Fair. But he suffers a lot of trouble while he tries to get there. It comes with music 🎶. If you get it on IBooks or Kindle then it comes with music 🎶 but if you buy the paperback then you have to scan the QR code to get music 🎶.

Tom Thorneval is published by Wivern Digital and is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. Son1 didn’t like this book, but it is a prize-winning tale, so just not to his taste.

I had a read of it as well, to try to determine why it didn’t hit the spot for son1. Tom has plenty of adventures on his journey involving trolls, a male witch, a goat-man, a toad, fairies and other creatures. The reader also gets to make a choice at one point as to whether takes the left or right path at a fork. All sounds good so far for a young boy to enjoy, but what may have put him off, is that Tom often mentions Mary, his true love. And this is where the book featured music. I really enjoyed listening to the music, but boys of my son’s age tend to dislike anything to do with love. So I feel although a nice story in my opinion, Tom talks about his true love too much for some of the target readership.

And finally here’s a fun link aimed at the children to interactively discover more about Tom Thorneval and other Cornelius Addison characters.

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