Malamander by Thomas Taylor – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Malamander by Thomas Taylor. To find out more about the author you may visit his website. I discovered there that he illustrated the original cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Here is the book blurb.

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

This is the first book in the Eerie-on-Sea series.

When you open the book, there is a map of Eerie-on-Sea, a seaside town, which I kept referring back to as I read the story. I do love a map to illustrate a tale.

The story draws you in with fabulous descriptive language right from the start as we get introduced to young Herbie, who is the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. His usual remit is lost luggage but the mysterious girl Violet Parma comes especially to see him, declaring she is lost and wants to be found, although obviously not by the scary Boathook Man from whom she hides.

Mystery, adventure detective story, myth, legend, monster, fantasy – this book has it all. The characters and settings are all portrayed wonderfully.

Malamander is a great book, targeted at readers from about age 9-12. A captivating read. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out what happens in Gargantis, book 2 at Eerie-on-Sea. And the author is currently writing the third title Shadowghast, which will be published later this year.

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How To Be A Boss At Ageing by Anniki Sommerville – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book How To Be A Boss At Ageing by Anniki Sommerville to review via NetGalley. You may find out more about the author on her website.

How to be a boss at ageing by Anniki Sommerville

Here is the book blurb.

Do you find yourself fighting the urge to go to bed at 8pm? Do you look at your laughter lines and wonder what was ever so funny? Do you listen to the charts and not have a clue who’s singing? Do images of celebrities over forty in swimsuits just make you want to drink more wine?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then this is the book for you.

Funny, honest, and packed with advice, this is a must-read for any woman experiencing – and not particularly relishing – the effects of ageing. Anniki Sommerville shares her own experiences with those of other women as well as advice from experts – Sali Hughes, Cariad Lloyd, Meg Mathews, Emma Gannon and Dr Karen Gurney among others – to help you navigate this journey including:

Demystifying the menopause and how to deal with fluctuating moods and hormones.

Breaking the taboo of cosmetic surgery and why we need to start having honest conversations about ageing and beauty.

Exploring the reality of fertility treatment and motherhood including what happens when you’re peri-menopausal and parenting small kids.

How feeling bad about our bodies can often be a barrier to feeling good about sex and tips on how you can change that.

Why ambition is not a dirty word in middle age and how to stop feeling invisible in the workplace.

How to deal with grief and losing loved ones as we age.

How to be a Boss at Ageing will show you how not to give up when ageing creeps up. It’s time to rip up the rule book on what it means to grow older as a woman and embrace midlife. There’s no need to retire into cardigans and comfy slacks just yet.

This isn’t one of my usual genres to read but the blurb made it sound so fun, that I decided to give it a try.

Anniki crams plenty of topics into this book including physical ageing, tiredness, infertility, older parent, work, Botox, moods, menopause, anxiety, booze, sex, grief, social media.

She compares her views at age 18 versus now at age 47 plus predicted view at age 85. Also internal voice 1 talking at odds with internal voice 2. And plenty of fab lists like 10 things to do before you’re 50 plus a great alphabet of ageing.

This book was written during the Coronavirus pandemic, so of course that gets a mention too.

How To Be A Boss At Ageing is available on Amazon in paperback, audiobook or Kindle format. A really fun read, but with good advice as well. I must check out Anniki’s podcast next.

The hashtag for this title is #HowtoBeaBossatAgeing

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Duke of Dishonor by Tammy Andresen – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Duke of Dishonor by Tammy Andresen to review.

Duke of Dishonor by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

A hero in disguise…

When a mystery man saves her from bandits, Emily Carrington cannot deny that she’s intrigued. Perhaps infatuated is the better word. But she’s got no time for such fancies. She has to marry quickly before her family’s secrets are exposed and she is ruined. The problem is that no matter how hard she attempts to pay attention to her parade of suitors, one set of glittering dark eyes haunts both her waking and sleeping hours. Who is Emily’s hero and will she ever get to see him again?

A lady in need…

Lord Brandon Winthrop, Duke of Lancaster, fell in love with Emily Carrington the moment he first laid eyes on her. She’s everything he’d ever dreamed of and the one woman he can never have. The daughter to his missing business partner, he’s sworn to protect her from the very forces attempting to take his livelihood and his life. For her sake, he has to stay away.

But fate has other plans.

Duke of Dishonor is book 11 in the ongoing Lords of Scandal series.

SPOILER ALERT – if you haven’t read Duke of Decadence (book 9) and Marquis of Menace (book 10) yet and are planning to do so, stop reading this review now.

The prologue is a flashback to six weeks ago, when Emily was rescued by a mystery man in book 9. This is Brandon, business partner of missing Lucas Carrington, father of Emily and her sisters.

This story begins with Brandon undercover tracking the ring of thieves, before rushing to the Den of Sins to warn the Duke of Devonhall that there is a plot afoot to kidnap either Emily or Abigail. But putting the money first, he is almost too late!

A rather tangled tale, but a good read.

I do have one controversial issue with this particular story, the spelling of Dishonor rather than Dishonour in the title. In my opinion, when writing fiction set in Regency London, I consider that it would be more appropriate to use British spelling rather than American spelling, especially in the title. I’ve now read over 40 titles by Tammy Andresen and have noticed a number of American spellings like math from time to time.

Duke of Dishonor is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. As per usual a nice light short romantic story from Tammy.


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.

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Foul Play is afoot After Dark – review and giveaway

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

There seems to have been a trend in my recent posts of what we’ve been doing for entertainment during lockdown, so games have been interspersed amongst my many book reviews. We’ve also been digging the jigsaws out of the cupboard, but they are more of a long term project that we just do a few pieces at a time. This is the especially the case with the 2000 piece one we’re working on at the moment, which is very difficult with lots of sky, water and rock.

Foul Play Game by After Dark

But today I’m sticking with the game theme, as we have received another game free to review. This time it is Foul Play, The Manor House Murder Mystery Card Game from After Dark. Now regular followers of my blog will know that I love to read a good murder mystery story, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how much I enjoy seeing a murder mystery on stage or being involved in a murder mystery game. Whether it is solving or actually being the murderer, which I’ve done twice. The first occasion was at a party but the second time, one of the amdram groups that I used to belong to, had been booked as the entertainment for a murder mystery night. Yes people actually paid to try and guess and if I recall, none of them worked out that I was indeed the culprit. And guess how many versions of Cluedo we have here, not one, not two, not three but four. We have the original version, Super Cluedo, Harry Potter and Doctor Who versions.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

Murder Mystery events are the bread and butter business for After Dark and of course the pandemic has kept actors out of work for the time being, although they do hope to be back performing soon. But they extended their business model to come up with the Foul Play card game.

Dispatch was super speedy and I was very pleased to see how small the box was, just the size of a pack of playing cards. The boys have so many games that rattle around in big empty boxes, that we are almost running out of shelf space. But as the cards fitted so snugly in their box, I really didn’t see the need for the plastic around the cards inside. Hopefully they will reconsider that.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

This is a game for 2-5 players and is suitable for age 8+. It is set in Edwardian England and the Lord of the Manor is dead. You have to work out which suspect killed him. There are two versions of the game, one where you play as Good Cop and the other as Bad Cop.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

We tried the Good Cop version first, where you need to uncover the three pieces of evidence to track down the killer. My youngest got really into the swing of things by having several magnifying glasses as props and writing his suspicions and clues in a notebook. Although other players along with the fish seemed to be his prime suspects rather than those on the cards. The fish being the Red Herring of course! And his detective bear joined in the fun too.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

However props and notebooks are just window dressing for extra fun. All that is needed is the Foul Play deck of cards. But beware of other players stealing your cards, as I became a target. The boys kindly left me with one card rather than eliminating me from the game, so I had to steal a card back in order to have enough cards to revisit the crime scene.

The next day we played again but as Bad Cops this time. With 15 pieces of evidence in play, we found this to be a much faster game, as you’re trying to pin the crime on any suspect. Although Good Cop would have been quicker if my son had realised that watches didn’t have to be worn on wrists, He had the killer card, but swapped it at the crime scene.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

Until you have played the game a few times and become more familiar with the suspects, I did initially feel one of the pieces of evidence was slightly unfair. It said the killer is not related to any other suspect. I subsequently discovered that there are some extra downloadable resources on the website, so we could have printed a full list of suspects. And read a handy synopsis on each suspect, although the formatting needs to be improved to prevent text wrapping over other text.

The instructions were very comprehensive. The only things we felt unsure of were whether to shuffle the discard pile before restarting it again as the Evidence Locker, and should both players get to pick a card when swapping on Fair Play or only the player who played the card.

Foul Play Game from After Dark

As per all of my game reviews during the pandemic, we didn’t just limit it to playing in out household, we also tried it out over Zoom, which worked fine too. Great for mental health and wellbeing, to be able to involve those that the pandemic has forced into a lonely isolated lifestyle.

Foul Play currently retails at £8.95. Excellent value in my opinion and so much fun. The official case file reference for solving this crime is #foulplaygame and I’m delighted to see that a second game Once Upon A Crime will soon be hitting the shelves. Any suggestions for what other versions you would like to see?

Foul Play Game from After Dark

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of After Dark to giveaway a Foul Play card game 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 your favourite game or idea for a new game.

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15 Minute Parenting The Teenage Years by Joanna Fortune – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an ebook I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book 15 Minute Parenting The Teenage Years by Joanna Fortune to review via NetGalley.

15 minute parenting the tennage years by Joanna Fortune

Here is the book blurb.

Parenting through the teenage years can be challenging and overwhelming. With over twenty years of clinical practice, psychotherapist and parenting expert Joanna Fortune has devised a simple and proven 15-Minute parenting model packed with practical, playful and creative communication techniques to strengthen your relationship with your teenager.

Is it really possible to play with your teenager? Well, the answer is yes. Not only is it possible, it is a crucial to nurturing the surge in growth and brain development in this stage of childhood.
Combining neurological insights into the key stages of adolescence with a road map for playful connection, Joanna shows you how to navigate your way through the teenage years and adolescent behaviour including how to:
Build self-esteem and confidence
Establish a relationship of trust and respect
Encourage emotional resilience
Deal with mental illness including anxiety
Handle teenage friendships and when they turn toxic
Brave conversations about sex, gender and sexuality
Tackle the dark side of social media

15-Minute Parenting The Teenage Years is a vital toolkit that will enable you to better understand your relationship with your children as they grow and ensure that your parenting is growing with them.

This is the third book in The Language of Play series. The first is targeted at parents of children age 0-7 and the second for those with children age 8-12. You may also read my review of the second title here.

I found this was a book to dip into a bit at a time, so it took me longer to read than I had originally expected. Like the previous title it is full of ideas of what to do with your teenage children in 15 minutes. This time it is primarily focussing on how to stay connected with your teenager, something I find vital now that so often my eldest is on headphones behind a closed door.

The book has also made me think back to my own teenage years, but apart from the similarity of not getting up until lunchtime on non-school days, things are very different now, particularly as regards phones and computers.

There are plenty of ideas and case studies. And as well as what you may encounter every day, it also encompasses other topics topics such as 24/7 social media, cyber-bullying, sexuality, porn, mental illness, self harm, eating disorders, alcohol, drugs, delinquency and stealing.

15 Minute Parenting The Teenage Years is available on Amazon in Kindle format, paperback and audiobook. A useful resource book with plenty of advice.

The hashtag for this title is #15MinuteParentingTheTeenageYears

You may find out more about the author Joanna Fortune and her books on her website.

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Stolen Daughters by Carolyn Arnold – book review

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

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

Stolen Daughters by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

The girl looked so peaceful, she could have been asleep. Except her eyes were open, blankly reflecting the flickering flames spreading towards her…

When firefighters discover the body of a teenage girl at an abandoned house, Detective Amanda Steele hurries to the scene. Dumfries, Virginia is a small town, yet no one seems to have any idea who the dead girl is until Amanda finds a dragonfly pin with the name Crystal engraved on it.

Working tirelessly, Amanda traces the pin to Crystal Foster, a thirteen-year-old who disappeared three years ago from her wealthy parents’ home. Breaking the news to the distraught parents won’t be easy, but the loss of her own daughter still haunts Amanda, and she knows this will bring them closure. But when Amanda goes to see the Fosters, they do not recognize the girl. She isn’t Crystal.

Before Amanda can react to this new development, she gets an urgent call. A fire has consumed another vacant house, and the remains of two more girls have been found. Who are these girls, and why are they being picked off? Amanda must stop this killer before the pattern continues, and the death toll climbs.

When Amanda receives a taunting note from the killer, she realizes that she holds the missing piece of this puzzle. The victims are connected to Amanda’s past, to a case she can never forget, and which almost claimed her life. As she follows the clues to their deadly conclusion, can she save more innocent lives… even if it risks her own?

This is the second title in the Detective Amanda Steele series and you may see my review of the first title The Little Grave here.

The story starts with a murder and arson in a vacant property. Who is the dead teenage girl? Detective Amanda Steele and partner Trent are assigned to the case. Meanwhile Sergeant Malone warns Amanda to tread carefully as Lieutenant Hill hates her and is trying to get her demoted.

A tattoo on the girl’s body reveals she was a victim of sex trafficking before she was a murder victim, linking this to Amanda’s earlier case. Then Amanda finds a note from the killer on her daughter’s grave. This is getting too close for comfort. More deaths follow and a false identification.

How can Amanda solve this case? What clues are there? How can she stop the reporters interfering?

Stolen Daughters is available on Amazon. A gripping page turner which i couldn’t put down. Highly recommended.

Detective Amanda Steele Series by Carolyn Arnold

About the Detective Amanda Steele Series
Gritty. Raw. Unapologetic.

Immersive crime fiction for fans who love their mysteries set in a small town and hard-boiled to perfection. From the murder scene to the morgue, interrogation of suspects and following down leads, you’ll feel like you’re part of the investigation. Realistic and complex characters, accurate police procedures and forensics paired with tight, serious writing make these books read more like true crime than fiction. Meet Homicide Detective Amanda Steele with the Prince William County Police Department in Woodbridge, Virginia. She’s smart, motivated, and real. Her tragic past has her claiming to be no one’s mentor, but she’s more hero than she thinks.

Here are the links to my reviews of other books by Carolyn Arnold.
Remnants
Power Struggle
The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
On the Count of Three
Shades of Justice
Exercise is Murder
Past Deeds
The Legend of Gasparilla and his Treasure
What We Bury


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

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Marquess of Menace by Tammy Andresen – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Marquess of Menace by Tammy Andresen to review.

Marquess of Menace by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

He’s a rake beyond redemption…

The Marquess of Milton was the sort of handsome that made women swoon at his feet. Which suited him just fine. Of course, no mother would allow him near her daughter, which worked even better. Who wanted to tangle with a woman he might have to marry? But when his path crosses with Miss Eliza Carrington, a woman who is both strikingly beautiful and as fiery as they come, he knows he has to have her. And when he realizes there is no marriage minded mama to contend with… it’s time to be wicked.

She has no time for games…

The Marquess of Menace? That’s what they called him? Eliza rejects the name from the first. It implies there is something dangerous about this man when really he’s just an overgrown child. One who wanted to play at sin and dance away from the consequences of life. She’ll have none of it. And if he thinks his cute lines and his handsome face will have her falling in his bed, he’s got another thing coming. She’ll teach him a few lessons about playing with a woman’s affection that he’ll never forget.

But when danger comes knocking at her door, it’s Menace who is there to fend it off. And when his arm slips about her in comfort, she has to confess that’s it’s as strong as it is comforting.

And the reckless beating of her heart. Surely, that’s a mistake.

The Lords of Scandal series just keeps going. This is book 10. Last time in the Duke of Decadence, Tammy Andresen broke away from her usual style of writing to leave a number of unanswered questions, so I was very eager to read this next instalment.

The story begins with Dylan, Marquess of Milton, known as Marquess of Menace reluctantly attending a society party as he needs a wealthy bride because his estate is in significant debt, but he is not really keen to be there as he is a rake through and through.

Impoverished Eliza Carrington is also attending the ball along with the pretend Aunt Mildred and two of her sisters, Abigail and Emily. Although she thinks him a cad, she goes onto the terrace to speak to Menace in order to escape her scheming uncle and the odious Mr Taber. They negotiate a deal whereby Eliza will point out rich eligible young women to Menace in exchange for any information regarding her missing father, her uncle or the elusive mystery man.

Talk of the devil, Mr Mystery turns up at the party and arranges to meet Eliza at dawn. Eliza knows this is not wise and in the end goes with both Menace and her new brother-in-law Bash.

So who does Mr Mystery reveal he is and what other knowledge does he have to share? What impact does this have on Eliza? How does Menace react? And what about when Eliza accidentally puts herself in danger? Then a curve-ball from Eliza’s cousin Avery. And finally yet another cliffhanger ending!

Marquess of Menace is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. As always a nice light short romantic story from Tammy. But what it is it with these cliffhanger endings? I can’t wait for the next book in the series.


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.

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The Judas Robe by Larry Rodness – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Judas Robe by Larry Rodness to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Judas Robe by Larry Rodness

Here is the book blurb.

At the height of the Spanish Inquisition a ruthless inquisitor by the name of Bishop Promane tortures a fellow priest, Father Sanchez, for information about the whereabouts of a relic known as the Judas Robe, rumored to be the only piece of physical evidence of God on earth. Promane succeeds in recovering the robe only to lose it to Sanchez’s saviors, knights belonging to The Order of Christ.
In the Present Day, Joel Gardiner, a pre-med student, is attacked by a group of religious zealots after leaving a campus pub. A young woman calling herself Sophia rescues Joel and reveals that he is descended from of the Order of Christ who still has the Judas Robe in their possession. Joel dismisses it as a hoax or farce, but zealots renew their efforts to seize the robe. Joel and Sophia embark on a quest to verify the existence of the so-called relic while trying to elude the murderous cabal.

The story starts back in history at the time of the Spanish Inquisition when Bishop Promane is torturing Father Sanchez in an attempt to discover where the Judas Robe relic is. Father Sanchez gives in when the Bishop releases him and ties one of his young charges to the rack instead. But the Bishop only gets his hands on the precious relic for minutes before he sees his men slain by knights of The Order of Christ. The captain saves Father Sanchez and his young charge but takes the relic and departs.

In chapter 2, we fast forward to the present day, where Joel a medical student, is juggling his time between his studies and a part-time intern research job at the Biopharm lab. But on his way home one evening from the lab he is mugged, however a young woman Sophia nearby tazers the thugs and rescues Joel, driving him to a pharmacy and patching up his cuts. She reveals she has been tracking the thugs who are religious zealots after The Judas Robe, the one physical proof of God on earth.

(Proof reading appears to have skipped the blurb. which says pub rather than lab).

Joel is nonplussed by this, what does it have to do with him? And who is Sophia really? But when his girlfriend Lisa is also intimidated by thugs, he puts two and two together. Is it anything to do with his mother Natalie, a religious fanatic who now lives in a convent?

We get to meet plenty more characters as the story progresses. A real page turner as more is revealed and I certainly couldn’t have predicted the ending.

The Judas Robe is available on Amazon in both kindle format and paperback. A good thriller, with some great twists.

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Duke of Decadence by Tammy Andresen – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Duke of Decadence by Tammy Andresen to review.

Duke of Decadence by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

The Duke of Decadence has a secret…

Well, to be honest, Bash has several. His father, the Demon Duke, might have been the cruelest man in all of England. Bash hates his own title, the very one he inherited and all the trappings that come with it. And most secret of all, he hopes never to marry and carry on that family legacy. Which is downright scandalous for a duke to even think.

Miss Isabella Carrington is trying not to be seen…

When a young lady of a certain age sneaks into a gaming hell, dressed as a man, she doesn’t wish to be discovered. While her and her sisters need the money, and she could win with her ability to count cards, it would be best if no one discovered she was there. With no male protector and no financial means, this high-stakes game of cards was their last hope.

But of course, the shrewd Duke of Decadence learns all of it in the course of a single evening. And when he comes to her with a proposition…work at the Den of Sins in exchange for his protection and her sisters’ launch into society, she isn’t certain how she can refuse. But Isabella doesn’t want to accept either. The man is everything she hates with his lavish life and decadent ways.

And worse still, he manages to steal her breath each and every time they meet…

This is book 9 in the Lords of Scandal series. Bash, the Duke of Devonhall, alias the Duke of Decadence is one of the new owners of the gaming club, Den of Sins that has featured in previous titles. He is also the brother of the Earl of Baxter from book 8.

Meanwhile we are introduced to the four Carrington sisters – Eliza, Isabella, Abigail and Emily. Their mother is dead, their father is abroad and hasn’t been heard from in months and their obnoxious Uncle Malcolm is trying to evict them.

So they come up with a plan to dress Isabella, who has an amazing memory, up as a man and sneak her into the gaming den to win some money on the cards. But Bash guesses that Isabella is not a man and proposes she puts her memory to use by working for him at the Den of Sins in exchange for protection for her and her sisters.

Why has Bash offered this? Will the plan work? What has Bash let himself in for? How does Isabella feel about it? Where is the girls’ father? Why is Uncle Malcolm being so horrible?

And finally who is the mystery donor – a question left unanswered in this book. Most unusual for Tammy to leave a cliffhanger between books.

Duke of Decadence is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. Another nice light short romantic story from Tammy. But with unanswered questions, I have no choice but to read the next title.


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.

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Game Off Celebrities – a Head to Head Battle – review and giveaway

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

We love playing games in our household, but during this winter lockdown, I’ve frequently been heard calling out “Shall we play a game?” It helps give the boys a break from their screens, which they would be reluctant to do otherwise, when most of the activities they enjoy are off limits. And although we have our favourites that we play again and again, we really like trying something new. So I was delighted to be offered the chance to try out the new Celebrities version of Game Off for free.

Game Off Celebrities

Gosh I’ve never compared games to buses before but it had been a while since I’d reviewed a game and now this is the second one our family have put to the test in a matter of weeks!

Dispatch was very quick and it was good to see how small the box was. No wasted empty space in a large box. A win win all round as it will take up less space on the shelf, plus portable too, which will be a bonus once we can finally start going on holidays again. But putting on my “Reduce Plastic Pollution” hat, did it really need two layers of plastic, one round the box and then a second one inside round the pack of cards. Ideally I would like to see none, but can understand the need for some method of sealing the new product. Perhaps something the company can review before their next production run.

Game Off Celebrities

Moving onto the game itself, I loved the chatty friendly style that the instructions are written in, with a cheeky way of deciding who goes first. It says that it is suitable for ages 8-118. We joked here about having to stop playing when we reach 119. Of course we’re a long long way off that upper age limit, so with technology advances, who knows what humans life span may be in the future.

There are five types of cards – Body, Mind, Skill, Courage and Luck. The object of the game is to be the first person to collect one of each category. You win the cards via head-to-head battles with the other players acting as judges, so it needs a minimum of 3 players.

Game Off Celebrities

So each card describes a challenge based on a named celebrity, who range from current right back into the depths of history like Pythagoras. Some of the challenges are verbal, others require pen and paper and a few you need to improvise with props. It certainly makes it funny being the judges and the rules have cleverly thought out what to do in a draw scenario.

There is an additional rule which permits players to swap three of one type of card for another. This could prove useful in changing the dynamics of the game.

Game Off Celebrities

As we played, one thing became quite apparent quickly. Not everyone had necessarily heard of all the “famous” people or fully understood the particular challenge. For instance, my youngest son could not get the concept of “sharpest cheekbones” for a Keira Knightley Off. This did tend to take the edge off the boys enjoyment of the game somewhat. I haven’t played any of the other versions of Game Off, but I’m sure the Family version would have suited them both much better, although this Celebrities one does suggest from age 8 up, so should have been fine. I did think this would work excellently as a party game for adults though once parties are back on the agenda.

We certainly had lots of giggles with it and some ideas were very tongue in cheek. All us judges abstained when the boys went head to head in a Greta Thunberg Off. We were supposed to be voting on which of their letters would make the world a better place. Neither would and son1 was advocating to destroy the world entirely!

Game Off Celebrities

Afterwards the boys took a look at a few more of the cards, and I have to say it would be very hard for the games designers to guess which “famous” people to include for older children. For instance I was very surprised when I realised that neither of them had heard of Nelson! He is obviously not on the history school curriculum these days. But my youngest is an avid reader of history genre books and still hadn’t come across him. Yes really!! Maybe a testing panel of say age 8-16 would be useful in determining which “famous” people to include or exclude.

And we didn’t just limit it to playing in out household, we also tried it out over Zoom. Great for mental health and wellbeing, to be able to involve those that lockdown has forced into a lonely isolated lifestyle. We did have to adapt slightly, so that someone else rolled for him, as this was the first time any of us had ever seen a Left / Right dice, so obviously he didn’t have one of those. There were some of the challenges that wouldn’t have really worked remotely, but luckily those didn’t come up for him, but if they had it wouldn’t have been a problem, as we could have just redrawn a different challenge card.

Game Off Celebrities

According to the website, there are several other versions of Game Off. The original family version is suitable from age 3 up, then there is the sequel, Game Off 2 suitable from age 5 up plus an 18+ adult only version, so something for everyone. Plus this Celebrities version also comes in Spanish and German editions.

Any suggestions for what other versions you would like to see?

Game Off Celebrities currently retails at £12.99 and is sold via Amazon. Good value in my opinion and plenty of fun. I love its hashtag #EverythingIsAGame

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Captain Fats to giveaway a Game Off Celebrities to not one, not two, but three lucky winners!

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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 favourite game or idea for a new game.

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