Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts by David Ahern

I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Madam Tulip, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to receive a free e-copy of the second book in the series “Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts” by David Ahern to review.

Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts by David Ahern

Here is the book blurb.

When out-of-work actress Derry O’Donnell moonlights as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip in an English Stately home, she’s trying to make some cash. Instead, she is drawn into an alien world of wealth, titled privilege and family secrets.

A countess once a chorus girl, a gambling earl and his daughters, a cultured and handsome art expert—all caught in a terrifying web of ghastly threats, murder and abduction. As an aristocratic engagement party turns into a nightmare, Derry and her friend Bruce face the prospect of a gruesome and infamous death.

Madame Tulip and the Knave of Hearts is the second in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

Derry, an actress is once again unemployed, due to the proscenium arch falling down at the Palace Theatre. She organises a fund-raising art auction at which she bumps into Marlene again, who persuades her to come over to Sorley Hall in England as Madam Tulip for another fortune-telling role at her friend Charlotte’s engagement party. Charlotte and her sister Bryony are the daughters of the Earl of Berkshire and great nieces of the Dowager Countess Octavia.

However the party gets postponed for a week due to the shock of receiving a severed limb in the post. It has been sent as a threat but why and who did it belong to? Things go from bad to worse, but I’m not going to reveal why.

Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. A far-fetched mystery. Highly recommended. I am looking forward to when book 3 is finished.


About the author

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. The second in the Madam Tulip mystery series, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, was published in autumn 2016. He is now writing the third Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

You can learn more about David Ahern and Madam Tulip on his website www.davidahern.info

Connect with David Ahern on Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidahernwriter
and Twitter: www.twitter.com/daveahernwriter

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

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The Earl of Sussex by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Earl of Sussex by Tammy Andresen to review.

The Earl of Sussex by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Wickedly sinful, the Earl of Sussex, is an unrepentant rake. The Wicked Earls’ Club is the perfect place for a man of his station to indulge. That is until his parents force a match that threatens to rob him of his freedom. Unwilling to be tamed, he travels to meet his bride and demand she put a stop to this farce. Except Lady Tabitha is nothing he expected, and everything he never knew he wanted. Too bad this fiery wallflower is equally bent on ending their engagement.

Lady Tabitha, daughter of a duke, will not be betrothed to a rake no matter what her father thinks of his social connections. As long as she doesn’t stare into the depths of his green eyes, or linger on the strong lines of his jaw, she should be able to scheme her way out of this engagement. That is, if her intended groom would just cooperate with her plans.

This is the first title in the Wicked Earls Club series, where 12 different authors each write a story about one of the 12 Wicked Regency Earls.

Luke, the Earl of Sussex is irritated because his parents are arranging a marriage for him to Lady Tabitha, daughter of the Duke of Waverly. She is known as being a wallflower at every ball, so he, a renowned rake, imagines he will die of boredom. Tabbie is equally put out when her father tells her the plan. She doesn’t want to marry a rake and gambler.

How can they get out of this plan and do they both still want to when they meet?

The Earl of Sussex is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format. The first title in Wicked Regency Romance (Wicked Earls’ Club) series. This is a short light romantic read, but I did feel that it ended rather abruptly.


About the author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Tammy Andresen lives with her husband and three children just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up on the Seacoast of Maine, where she spent countless days dreaming up stories in blueberry fields and among the scrub pines that line the coast. Her mother loved to spin a yarn and Tammy filled many hours listening to her mother retell the classics. It was inevitable that at the age of 18, she headed off to Simmons College, where she studied English literature and education. She never left Massachusetts but some of her heart still resides in Maine and her family visits often.

Website – http://www.tammyandresen.com

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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.

The Burgas Affair by Ellis Schuman

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Burgas Affair by Ellis Schuman to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Burgas Affair by Ellis Schuman

Here is the book blurb.

She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.

The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack.

It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.

Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.

Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.

The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive rocked a tourist bus at Burgas Airport, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. The terrorists responsible for this murderous attack have never been brought to justice.

This story is based around a real terrorist attack which took place on 18 July 2012 at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, when an Israeli tourist bus was blown up.

Detective Boyko is one of the team investigating the terrorist attack. An Israeli team fly over to join the investigation and Boyko is partnered with Ayala, who insists it was the work of Hezbollah. Their initial assignment is to look for accomplices of the dead bomber, but Boyko is not happy to be partnered with a female and they clash.

However Boyko is also receiving warnings from the Hunter, a crime boss he had helped to put behind bars.

They head south to speak to a hotel owner who believes the bomber and accomplices may have stayed there. She gives them a tip that they may be taking today’s train from Plovdiv to Turkey. Ayala wants to phone the lead in, but Boyko insists they follow it up alone. They end up boarding the train on a wild goose chase following the wrong men and have to stay overnight near the Turkish border, sharing the last room at the hotel.

Here gunfire shatters the window. Is it the terrorists or is it another warning for Boyko from the Hunter? Lots more twists and turns to follow, in both Bulgaria and Israel.

The Burgas Affair is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.77 in Kindle format. This story keeps you wondering throughout. An intriguing thriller.

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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.

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My Enemy, My Earl by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book My Enemy, My Earl by Tammy Andresen to review.

My Enemy, My Earl by Tammy Andresen

 

Here is the book blurb.

Fleeing London, and scandal, Lady Clarissa Burton runs directly into the wife-hunting Earl of Dumfries while travelling on a rutted Scottish road. She wanted peace in Scotland, not a tall and brooding laird who makes her forget that handsome lords are nothing but trouble.

Having spent years of his life fighting English wars, Ewan McDougal, Earl of Dumfries, wants nothing to do with England, or its people, for as long as he lives. He wants a nice Scottish lass to warm his bed and raise a family. So why can’t Ewan stop thinking about Lady Clarissa’s pouty lips or her curves made for a man’s hands? And what happened to her in London that has her running scared?

This is the first book in A Laird To Love series, of which I recently read the introductory Christmas novella.

This historical Scottish romance starts with Ewan, Earl of Dumfries and his friend Kieran en-route to meet his prospective bride Fiona whom he hasn’t seen since they were children, 10 years ago. He stops to assist with the repairs of a carriage wheel in which English Lady Clarissa is travelling with her cousin Agnes and Agnes’ mother. Clarissa finds Ewan’s remarks about the English offensive and also considers him a rake.

Turns out they are all heading to Castle Ravenscraig, as Clarissa is also cousin to Fiona and her sisters. Clarissa takes a very hostile attitude against Ewan, whilst he dislikes her for being English. However they both sense a spark. Meanwhile Fiona finds Ewan boring in comparison to neighbour Colin to whom she is secretly attracted to. Out on a ride, Ewan rescues Clarissa when her horse bolts. And Fiona accidentally refers to Ewan as “her intended” to rile Colin.

So things are starting to get complicated. Who will end up with who?

My Enemy, My Earl is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.24 in Kindle format. The first title in A Laird To Love series. This is a nice romantic read, when you are after something light and easy.


About the author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Tammy Andresen lives with her husband and three children just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up on the Seacoast of Maine, where she spent countless days dreaming up stories in blueberry fields and among the scrub pines that line the coast. Her mother loved to spin a yarn and Tammy filled many hours listening to her mother retell the classics. It was inevitable that at the age of 18, she headed off to Simmons College, where she studied English literature and education. She never left Massachusetts but some of her heart still resides in Maine and her family visits often.

Visit Yet Another Blogging Mummy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

MamaMummyMum

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

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Silent Fear by Lance & James Morcan – book review and giveaway

I have received a free e-copy of the book Silent Fear by Lance & James Morcan to review. You may find out more about the authors on their website.

Silent Fear by Lance & James Morcan

Here is the book blurb.

When you can’t hear…death comes silently.

Scotland Yard detective Valerie Crowther is assigned to investigate the murder of a student at a university for the Deaf in London, England. The murder investigation coincides with a deadly flu virus outbreak, resulting in the university being quarantined from the outside world.

When more Deaf students are murdered, it becomes clear there is a serial killer operating within the sealed-off university. A chilling cat-and-mouse game evolves as the unknown killer targets Valerie and the virus claims more lives.

A stunning, claustrophobic, “whodunit” murder mystery, Silent Fear (A novel inspired by true crimes) is the eighth novel by father-and-son writing team Lance & James Morcan. Included is a commentary by Deaf filmmaker Brent Macpherson on the unique aspects of Deaf culture the story covers. Together, the Morcans and Macpherson are currently developing a feature film adaptation of Silent Fear.

This book is set during a summer heatwave in Wandsworth University for the deaf, at the same time as the deadly monkey flu epidemic is spreading worldwide. Britain has closed its borders and so far has no cases of monkey flu. A cure has not yet been found.

The murderer sneaks into deaf student Jamie’s room, knocks him unconscious before disabling the smoke alarm and burning him to death. Detective Superintendent Valerie Crowther is sent to investigate as she knows BSL (British Sign Language). Meanwhile the first case of Monkey Flu is confirmed at the lab from a swab belonging to student Carol, who is currently in the university sick bay. The PM quarantines the university with Valerie, 2 reporters and other non-university personnel trapped inside.

The police are also following up other leads outside, but when the murders continue, they realise that the serial killer is still inside. Valerie is thwarted by lack of clues. And lives are also being claimed by Monkey Flu as the deadly virus spreads. One claustrophobic student tries to escape, but is shot dead.

Are they all going to die either from the virus or at the hand of the unknown serial killer?

Silent Fear is available on Amazon, currently priced at £17.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. This is a really gripping story which I think will be amazing as a film.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of Silent Fear to one lucky winner. Open worldwide.comper friendly badge

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 book.

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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.

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When is a Gingerbread Man, not a Gingerbread Man?

When it is a Reindeer!

Now I can’t take the credit for this idea as I’ve seen multiple images on the internet of a gingerbread man cutter being used upside down to create reindeer biscuits. I thought this was a great idea that my boys would love, so I decided to give it a try. I made my standard gingerbread recipe and then decorated them all as Rudolph.

Reindeer gingerbread biscuits

Reindeer Gingerbread Biscuits

Ingredients (makes about 30 biscuits)

350g plain flour
1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
2 teasp ginger
1/2 teasp cinnamon
125g butter
100g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup

Black writing icing
Few drops of red food colouring
50g ready to roll white icing

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Grease and line baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring.
Add the dry ingredients.
Mix to form a stiff dough.
Roll a ball of dough to 5mm thickness, then use gingerbread man cutter to cut out biscuits.
Place on the lined baking sheets.
Continue to cut out until all dough used. (Number will vary according to size of your cutter).
Bake the biscuits in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then move to a wire rack.
Once cool, they can be decorated.
Use the writing icing to give each reindeer biscuit 2 eyes.
Place ready to roll icing in a small bowl.
Use your hands to squeeze it to make malleable.
Add enough food colouring to mix to a red ball.
Form into small balls, approx 1cm wide.
Then press an icing ball onto each reindeer for the nose.
Serve and enjoy.

Reindeer gingerbread men

Son2 said that only one should have had a red nose and that I should have made Dasher, Prancer, Dancer, Cupid, Comet, Donner, Vixen and Blitzen too. However we all agreed they were a tasty seasonal Christmas treat.

I’d love to hear what Christmas goodies you enjoy baking or eating?

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Appy Kids Co Juice Drinks review and giveaway

Appy Kids Co is a new multi-award winning start-up brand producing drinks and snacks aimed at children, using goodness from nature. Their mission is to be the number 1 healthier choice for families and their vision is to empower families to make healthier choices everyday.

Appy Kids Co values families before profit, so all their wholesome products are created using ethically sourced premium ingredients, to ensure that they are always affordable, approved by the family, and loved by kids. They are on parents’ side, and believe that parents should have the freedom of choice when choosing better produce for their family. They have spent many years developing their own formulations and flavours to have lower sugar and calories without compromising on taste or quality. With no added sugar, GMOs or artificial preservatives, their products are kinder to teeth and a healthier option for children. In addition they are gluten free and Vegan Approved by the Vegetarian Society, as well as dentist and nutritionist recommended. They only favour renewable resources for their packaging. And not only use recyclable materials but give back by replanting trees.

Although I never purchase the likes of coke and lemonade, my kids seem to have developed a taste for them, so I’m always on the lookout for more healthy drinks to take out and about with us. So I was very pleased to be offered a selection of free Appy Kids Co drinks to review.

Appy drinks

The parcel had experienced a misfortune en-route even though it was clearly packed with fragile tape. Obviously it had been stacked under something heavy at the depot and unfortunately, two drinks had burst, causing rather soggy packaging. Even though I still had 28 drinks, Appy Kids Co kindly sent a replacement package.

So the contents of each parcel was as follows…

6 boxes containing 5 drink pouches each, which were:-
Paw Patrol 200ml apple juice drink (2)
Paw Patrol 200ml orange juice drink (2)
Minions 200ml tropical juice drink
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) 200ml multifruit juice drink

Wow 58 free drinks in total.

Appy drinks

The boys started by trying the Paw Patrol apple juice drinks and we immediately ran into difficulties. The straws were almost impossible to insert into the pouch. None of us could do it and I eventually had to use a cocktail stick to make a hole in the pouch first. Not very good if you were planning on putting the drink in your child’s lunchbox.

Moving onto the taste, son2 said it was good, whilst son1 voted it okay. I thought it fine too.

Appy drinks

Next the boys tried the TMNT multifruit juice drinks. This time I had better success with getting the straws in, although the boys still failed. I thought I found it easier due to the hole position being in the corner rather than the middle like the apple.

Son1 thought this tasted better than the apple, whilst son2 preferred the apple.

The tropical flavour was son1’s favourite although son2 wasn’t particularly keen on this one. And neither of them cared for the orange flavour. Personally I thought all the flavours were fine.

Appy drinks

Following a change in contact person, an unexpected third parcel arrived, although similarly to the first parcel, one drink had burst in transit. So I do recommend that they use stronger packaging. But this shouldn’t be an issue when buying these drinks at the shops.

Update – now 77 free drinks in total.

This parcel of 4 more boxes introduced us to yet another flavour. This time Dora The Explorer mixed berries. However the boys both refused to be photographed holding this pink pouch. But they did agree to taste it, so long as I poured the pouch into a beaker. And actually it turned out to be son1’s favourite flavour. So perhaps consideration should be given to offering all flavours in all designs, as the character is just as important as the flavour to a child.

The boys’ favourite packaging design was the Minions, but it is good to see that thought has gone into including a range of characters that appeal to different age children. In addition to the ones we received, they also have Peppa Pig and Roald Dahl in their range and those have no added sugar. And they also sell dried fruit too.

I have to say that I gradually improved on the opening technique with practice, although the boys didn’t. So I would suggest that it would be better for the pouches to incorporate lids instead. Also less likely to get spills that way, although the pouches do balance upright well.

The outer boxes have Appy fun puzzles for the kids and they can also try out the app. Here son2 has converted me into Mrs Pineapple.

Appy Kids app

A great selection of healthy drinks in my opinion. 100% natural, lower in sugar and fortified with vitamins A, C and E. So thumbs up from me.

These drinks are sold in major UK retailers including Tesco, Ocado, B&M, Wholefoods, Toys ‘R’ Us and Spar.

Appy Kids drinks

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a bundle of 40 Appy Kids Co drinks (4 x 5-pack TMNT and 4 x 5-pack Dora and Friends) 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.

I’d love to hear what is your favourite soft drink?

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

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Lemon Bars

My goto recipe for lemons when baking is always a lemon drizzle cake. So I decided it was time to try something different.

lemon bars

Lemon Bars

Ingredients (makes 12)

125g plain flour
100g butter
50g icing sugar
2 eggs
1 lemon
200g granulated sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
icing sugar to decorate

Method

Preheat fan oven to 170 degree C.
Grease a 20cm square baking tin.
Mix the 125g flour, butter and icing sugar together, to form a dough.
Press dough into tin and bake for about 20 minutes until starting to turn golden.
Meanwhile grate the zest of the lemon and squeeze the juice.
Tip zest and juice into a mixing bowl.
Add eggs, granulated sugar and 2 tbsp flour.
Beat together.
Pour over hot base and return to oven for about 25 minutes until set and golden.
Cool on a wire rack.
Dust the top with icing sugar.
Cut into slices.
Serve and enjoy.

lemon bars

lemon bars

Delicious. Now to find a few more tasty lemon recipes. I’d love to hear what you bake using lemon?

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The Many Journeys to Different Worlds by Adam Monk-Daschke

I have received a free copy of the book The Many Journeys to Different Worlds by Adam Monk-Daschke for son2 to review.

The Many Journeys to Different Worlds by Adam Monk-Daschke

Here is the book blurb.

When a group of magical crystals break free they weren’t to know that they would be flung to far away unknown lands and wake up in unimaginable places — this happened to one such crystal, let’s call them Purple. On waking, Purple embarks on an adventurous journey and meets strange and wonderful creatures and friends —from a family of tall and entangled Roots to the terrifying but friendly Bones and the clumsy and confused new arrival who they call Egg-Kid— all of whom he hopes to protect from the one knowns only as the Evil Waker. 
 
Complimented by unique and psychedelic illustrations The Many Journeys to Different Worlds is an original new addition to children’s fiction. 

The Many Journeys to Different Worlds by Adam Monk-Daschke

I liked this book. My favourite character was egg kid.
Though when I looked at the book on amazon it had a baby panda and this book didn’t.

This is what son2 has written for his review. Let me explain the reference to the baby panda. I believe this is a character in another book in The Unknown Crystals series. However we can no longer find that particular book on Amazon.

I read the book too and I have to say it seems very unique in concept with quite wacky illustrations. The subject matter seemed aimed at older children, with references to Evil Wakers and the pictures of the character Bones, a skeleton. However the amount of text was more at the level of an early reader. Also it appeared to end mid-story, so I assume it will carry on in the next book in the series. Overall, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this storyline, even after re-reading several times. Maybe I am just too old to appreciate it fully, as son2 was quite taken with it.

The Many Journeys to Different Worlds is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback. Also in kindle format. An unusual book.

You may find out more about The Unknown Crystals series on the author’s facebook page.

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MamaMummyMum

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

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Bedford Biscuits

This is a recipe that I remember my mum baking every week. During school holidays, I would love to help her make these. She used to make them very small and very thin, so I’ve adapted the recipe to make bigger thicker biscuits.

Bedford Biscuits

Bedford Biscuits

Ingredients (makes about 15)

75g butter
75g granulated sugar
75g) plain flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g oats

Method

Preheat fan oven to 170 degree C.
Grease 2 baking sheets.
Cream together butter and sugar.
Mix in the flour.
Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in the hot water.
Add syrup, vanilla essence and soda.
Mix in the oats.
Roll out the mixture to 1/2 cm thickness.
Cut into circles.
Place on greased baking sheets and bake in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes until golden.
Serve and enjoy.

Bedford Biscuits

Very tasty but I have no idea how these biscuits got there name. I assume they originated in Bedford. If anyone knows, then please do tell me.

Do you have a recipe handed down through the generations?

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