Author Archives: mumjd

The Morgans and the Jewel of Bar-Ran by K T Dady

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Morgans and the Jewel of Bar-Ran by K T Dady for son2 to review. To find out more about the author, you may see her website here.

The Morgans and the Jewel of Bar-Ran by Karen Dady

Here is the book blurb.

Your world isn’t the only one that exists. There is another, a magical place called Bar-Ran, and it’s about to be destroyed unless the Morgan children can find the royal dragon and replace its heart. They are five siblings who are magically transported to a strange land during the night. All they want to do is go home, but a wizard sends them on a journey to rescue the powerful Jewel, and it is a journey that changes their lives forever. This book is suitable for Harry Potter fans and those who enjoy discovering new places like Neverland, Wonderland, and Narnia. This is the first book in the series.

The Morgans and the Jewel of Bar-Ran by Karen Dady

This is what son2 had to say about the book.

I liked this book, it was very interesting, with twist and turns all around and ending on a cliffhanger.

Short and to the point. As I also read the book, I’ll give you a bit more. The five orphaned Morgan children aged 7 to 13 were on holiday visiting their grandmother Nana Hats who lives in a castle, near the town of Peasmore. Unfortunately they can’t live there, as they are in the custody of their horrible mean uncles who make them do all the chores on their pig farm.

But there are some very odd things going on like floating upto the ceiling and glowing red rain. When the children investigate further in the castles’s South Tower in the middle of the night, they end up being transported to the magical land of Bar-Ran in their pyjamas. They want to go home but discover they have first have to complete a mission to save Bar-Ran by recovering the Jewel and returning it to the dragon.

Their mission takes them on journey through many lands, meeting all sorts of magical characters, some good and some bad. We get to see the different personalities of each of the siblings. And son2 is correct about it ending on a cliffhanger, all ready for a new adventure in the second book – The Morgans and the Legend of Blood-Beard.

The Morgans and the Jewel of Bar-Ran is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. A great children’s chapter book which son2 really enjoyed. Highly recommended.

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


Organic Cacao Butter Buttons recipes plus giveaway

Cocoa butter (also known as cacao butter) is well known in skincare for its moisturising properties but did you know that it can also be used in the kitchen. I didn’t so I was intrigued when I saw it listed as one of the products that Indigo Herbs were looking for bloggers to review.

Once I realised that it is a raw by-product in the cocoa Industry which can be used to make my own sugar-free chocolate, I immediately applied. I’ve always loved chocolate and I have tried to convince myself that it is good for me, due to the iron content, as I easily get anaemic. However over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to reduce my processed sugar intake, but chocolate is one of the areas I’ve particularly failed to reduce. Nearly every visit to my local Co-op, I still come back with a bar, patting myself on the back because it is fair-trade and wrapped in foil and paper, ignoring the high sugar content.

Cacao butter buttons

So I was very pleased to receive a 500g packet of Indigo Herbs Organic Cacao Butter Buttons free to review.

Cacao has been harvested from the bean for centuries and dates back at least to the days of the Mayan, Inca and Aztec cultures. It has many health benefits. Cacao is the highest wholefood source of the mineral magnesium, an important mineral for heart health, which is rather lacking in most modern diets. It is also a valuable source of iron and an extremely antioxidant-rich superfood. Plus raw cacao is a great mood enhancer due to the abundance of feel good phytonutrients it contains.

The packet states that these organic buttons are 100% vegan, a natural source of healthy fats and an excellent source of essential fatty acids. On opening the packet, the aroma was absolutely divine, like a rich dark chocolate. And here is a birds-eye view into the packet. You can see that they look very similar in appearance to white chocolate chips, but that is where the similarity ends as these buttons are sugar-free. They are smooth to the touch, and melt easily over hot water.

organic cacao butter buttons

I currently have lots of apples and blackberries to put to good use, so I decided to come up with a recipe using these.

Apple and Blackberry Traybake

Apple and Blackberry Traybake

Ingredients (makes 16 slices)

100g cacao butter buttons
300g cooking apples
100g blackberries
250g almond flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
25g date sugar
200ml oat milk


Preheat fan oven to 160 degrees C.
Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Boil a saucepan of water and then turn off.
Melt the cacao butter buttons in a bowl placed in the pan of hot water.
Meanwhile peel, core and dice the apples.
Stir the almond flour, baking powder and date sugar into the melted cacao butter.
Mix in the oat milk.
Stir in the blackberries and chopped apples.
Spoon the mixture into the baking tin.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 40 minutes, (until a skewer comes out clean).
Cool on cooling rack.
Cut into 16 pieces.
Serve and enjoy.

This was very tasty and shows how cacao butter can be used in a non-chocolate recipe. However the texture was rather soft, so it would probably have been better to serve this as a pudding rather than as cake. I’ve deliberately kept the recipe vegan and gluten-free, but you could easily adapt it.

Apple and Blackberry Traybake

And of course, I wanted to try my hand at making my own homemade chocolates. Having been tempted to taste one of the buttons straight from the packet, I knew I was going to have to sweeten the cacao somewhat, but to keep it reasonably healthy, I wanted to add as little of the date syrup as possible, so I gradually added 5g at a time, until discovering that 20g was optimal.

Homemade Chocolates

Homemade Chocolates


50g cacao butter buttons
35g cacao powder
20g date syrup


Boil a saucepan of water and then turn off.
Melt the cacao butter buttons in a bowl placed in the pan of hot water.
Mix in the cacao powder.
Stir in the date syrup.
Spoon the mixture into moulds.
Place moulds in fridge for an hour.
Gently press chocolates out of moulds.
Serve and enjoy.

Homemade Chocolates

Wow. Thumbs up. These yummy treats both tasted and looked amazing. A nice slightly bitter dark chocolate flavour. I shall definitely be making these on a regular basis. I used moulds which I had repurposed from advent calendars and Easter, but you could alternatively make a bar.

A 500g packet of Indigo Herbs Organic Cacao Butter Buttons currently retails at £12.99 and is also available in 250g or 1kg sizes. They have a long shelf life being dated best before December 2020, although mine will be long gone before then. Unfortunately there is no mention of the cacao being fairtrade. Perhaps that is something that could be looked into.

I also want to talk about the packaging. Regular followers of my blog will know that I began this year with the aim of reducing my household waste, in particular plastic. I’ve gradually broadened this to think of the whole carbon footprint in terms of my purchases and trying to buy more organic and more local products with low food miles. So the buttons get a big tick for being organic. I know the cocoa bean doesn’t grow in the UK, so can’t do much about the fact of the cacao coming from Peru. Just got to accept that. It is the same with other products that I intend to continue purchasing like bananas. One of the things I plan to look into going forwards is how I personally can offset my carbon footprint of these products having been flown halfway across the world for my consumption, with a view to contributing to some environmental projects.

So back to the packaging. Unfortunately there is no mention on the packet of how to dispose of it, which is information I would like to see all food packaging display. I think it looks like either a plastic or a mixed material, probably not easily recycled. It seems reasonably robust, so I will probably be able to repurpose it temporarily as a freezer bag. But what about after that? How about selling them in glass jars instead, or even better loose though refill stores.

I couldn’t actually work out where my nearest stockist is as there seems to be a glitch with that page. Every store on the map seems to currently be listed with a Bristol address.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a 500g pack of cacao buttons courtesy of Indigo Herbs to one lucky winner. Think of all the tempting treats you could make with this.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Right I’m off to browse the Indigo Herbs website to see what other products they sell. It is thanks to them that I previously discovered my love of chia seeds, something that I now use almost daily. You may check out my chia seed review here.

I’d love to hear your recipes using cacao.

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

The Fate of a Highland Rake by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Fate of a Highland Rake by Tammy Andresen to review.

The Fate of a Highland Rake by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Reginald Sinclair’s family had thought him dead. He may as well have been. When an accident swept him out to sea and wiped his memory clean, he began a new life. Actually, new wasn’t the correct word, it implied better. His second existence was full of filth and ruin. It made him a lesser man. And now that he had his memory back, how could he resume that old life? He was no longer worthy. When he meets the beautiful gypsy, Rihanna, he is certain he doesn’t deserve her either. He’ll deny the temptation she poses, even as he helps her. But he isn’t all good anymore and she is far too beautiful to be ignored.

Rihanna is certain that Reginald Sinclair is either a wolf in disguise or an angel sent from Heaven. When the cards encourage her to travel to Scotland with him, she listens. Is she traveling with a handsome devil or an angel? Will he be her savior or her ruin?

The Fate of a Highland Rake is the final story in the Brethren of Stone series which I have been enjoying reading. It is set in the Scottish highlands in the late 1700’s.

The story starts with Rihanna, a gypsy fortune-teller racing through the docks, being accused of theft. Not looking where she is going, she runs slap bang into Reginald Sinclair. She is trying to scrape enough pennies together to feed herself and her 5 year old sister Rosella.

Reginald has recently regained his past memories from before a near drowning incident 13 years ago. Before then he was a kind generous caring person, but he has been a changed man since, leading a bad life. He now wishes to become good again, but how?

He starts by helping her away from the man who was chasing her, having not been satisfied with the fortune she told, and then providing food. He follows that up with an offer for Rihanna and Rosella to sail on his ship to Scotland for a new start. Rihanna doesn’t know if he is an angel or a devil who will later demand payment.

She reads her own tarot cards. They indicate a compass, a woman and child, a ship. Sounds pretty clear guidance from the cards. What will she decide and what will ensue?

The Fate of a Highland Rake is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format. Another nice short romantic story from Tammy, drawing this series to a satisfying conclusion.

And apparently this title is also book 8 in the Fortunes of Fate series. I’ve never come across one book being part of two series before. Clever idea, although I haven’t read any other titles from the Fortunes of Fate series yet.

Here are the links to my reviews of the previous titles in this series.
The Duke’s Scottish Lass
Scottish Devil
Wicked Laird
Kilted Sin
Rogue Scot

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

Guest post: How does the Ketogenic diet work?

Guest post by Ricard Ponsi of Workout-Temple

Nutritional ketosis is a dietary protocol whose objective is to improve our metabolic flexibility when using fatty acids as the main energy substrate. For this, the intake of carbohydrates is limited, depending on the individual, approximately 50 g net per day.

With this we generate low levels of insulin in plasma and, subsequently, a reduction of glycogen levels in muscular and hepatic reserves. In the absence of the main fuel of our body (glucose) the ketogenesis process is activated, where the liver will produce ketone bodies to feed the different tissues and cells.

KETOSIS is a NATURAL state that human beings have experienced since the beginning of time. Therefore, we are evolutionarily adapted to use both energy substrates (ketone bodies and glucose), which means that past civilization may have consciously sought a state of fasting or induced ketosis. This is why, evolutionarily speaking our physiology seeks an alternative mechanism to glucose as it is the only source of energy.

ketogenic diet

Photo source:

Nutritional ketosis and metabolic flexibility

We can define the metabolic flexibility as the efficiency of our body when using energy substrates depending on demand such as walking, running or sprinting. Remember that, although our glycogen reserves (both muscular and hepatic) are limited, the same is not true of our fat stores, the latter being able to represent a much greater amount than the former. So… Why doesn’t our body use fats? What happens is that in a traditional diet based on hydrates (and not always from the best sources) our body always finds plasma glucose and glycogen stores full. Therefore, it does not need to look for any other energy source. Our body has simply ‘forgotten’ how to use fats as energy. It is here when the ‘low carb’ or ‘ketogenic’ guidelines are an interesting tool.

Adaptation to a new fuel

It is the process called Ketoadaptation, which we could define as the process through which human metabolism adapts to the use of fats optimally as the main source of energy. In the beginning a drastic change it can condition sports performance and your daily life, but in most of the cases the symptoms are diluted after the first week.

Symptoms of Keto-adaptation:

– Fatigue
– Worse sports performance
– Dizziness
– Cramps
– Constipation
– Palpitations

Once past the moment of adaptation we will see how the symptoms disappear, signal that our metabolism works optimally and achieving efficiency in both our sports and personal performance.

Very important considerations

Ketosis is NOT a pathological state. And I must emphasize this because, in a still very widespread way, nutritional ketosis is often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis.

Many symptoms may be due to a lack of electrolytes during the beginning of the ketosis process. There is a reduction in glycogen levels and, as a consequence, also a loss of water associated with this glycogen. With this loss of water there will be a ‘drag’ of electrolytes that we should know and replace, with special emphasis on 3 of them.

Sodium DRI = 5000 – 7000 mg
Potassium DRI = 1000 – 3500 mg
Magnesium DRI = 300 – 500mg

I must emphasize that nutritional ketosis is NOT a hyperproteic diet, but moderate or protein-adjusted. The amount of protein is maintained at constant values depending on the objectives of the subject, and can range between 1.4 to 2.0 g / kg body weight.

Ketosis and sports performance

Resistance discipline: In this type of activities there are promising investigations and cases of ketoadapted athletes where the fat / glycogen use ratio is optimized, which positions as a great tool to maximize performance. Nutritional ketosis improves fat oxidation and metabolic flexibility, which is vital in long-term efforts where the main energy system is aerobic.

Discipline of strength: In disciplines where the main component is strength and power, the dominant energy substrate is the path of phosphogens, which is not impacted by a nutritional ketosis.

Hypertrophy training: This modality seeks to increase the total volume (series and repetitions) so the glycolytic pathway is a very important metabolic pathway. Since nutritional ketosis reduces muscle glycogen levels and also circulating insulin, it makes sense to think that it is not the optimal state to build muscle mass.

Conclusion on keto diet

In my opinion, the ketogenic diet can be an interesting strategy to introduce in periods of 6 to 10 weeks (a couple times a year) and benefit greatly from its effects.

During the intervention time there are very notable improvements in fat loss (extensive benefits proven), while maintaining the muscle mass and keeping performance levels measured through RM in different exercises.

Guest post by Ricard Ponsi and Pere Coll
Originally posted on the Workout-Temple website here.

The Perfect Spinster by Annabelle Anders

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Perfect Spinster by Annabelle Anders to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

The Perfect Spinster by Annabelle Anders

Here is the book blurb.

Miss Olivia Redfield labors under no misapprehension that anything other than spinsterhood lies in her future. Not for lack of dowry, or breeding, or education, but because of one tiny flaw…. one might even call it… a curse. Removed from society for this ill-fated defect, she’s resigned herself to caring for others in a somewhat dreary existence. Until, that is, she falls for the charming but unattainable, Lord Kingsley.

Gabriel Fellowes, Earl of Kingsley is doing a favor for a friend by overseeing the dangerous–– but promising––mine on the border of Viscount Hallowell’s property. With time to spare, he finds himself irresistibly intrigued by the viscount’s daughter, Miss Olivia Redfield, and delights himself in their mutual provocation. In no position to promise more than a dalliance, but unable to stay away, Gabriel takes the unprecedented step of befriending a woman.

Their flirtatious attachment threatens to erupt in passion, but duty and honor forbid anything more. Will love be defeated when tragedy strikes, or can Olivia and Gabriel overcome Society’s dictates and put the notion of Olivia’s curse to rest once and for all?

The Perfect Spinster is book 2 in The Not So Saintly Sisters series, but works fine as a stand-alone read too.

I was drawn into this book from the bizarre scene described in the first chapter. Olivia and Gabriel, Lord Kingsley meet again in the most unusual of circumstances on the eve of Olivia’s sister Louella’s wedding to Lord Stanton, having not seen each other for about 10 years. Gabriel initially seems to have forgotten Olivia, who he used to taunt with the derogatory nickname “Lazy-eyed Livvy”.

Olivia has been banished with her maid Mary to the Dower house by her parents, just because they believe her lazy eye to be a devil’s eye curse, even though they made the condition worse, by making her wear a patch on her bad eye instead of the good eye. She has resigned herself to spinsterhood and has been occupying herself by being a good neighbour, currently helping out with the 4 motherless children of local miner, Luke Smith. But should the daughter of a viscount accept lowly Luke’s marriage proposal?

Gabriel and Olivia become friends, but is that all they want to be?

The Perfect Spinster is available on Amazon, currently priced at £4.13 in Kindle format and is also available in paperback. A delightful romantic read, which has been sensitively written. I’m certainly adding book 1, which is about Olivia’s sister Louella to my wishlist.

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

An eco holiday at Owl Barn Retreat

In line with trying to become more eco-focussed this year, we decided that we wanted our holiday to follow the same principles, so we chose to stay at Owl Barn Retreat. This is a delightful barn conversion in a rural location about a mile from the village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant in Wales. It is a sustainable and eco-friendly holiday cottage which has achieved a gold award from the Green Business Tourist Scheme. This was how we discovered the cottage. I’m particularly impressed with the kitchen work surfaces having been constructed from recycled glass bottles.

Owl Barn Retreat

Owl Barn Retreat

From here, we were able to do several walks to the nearby villages of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant and Penybontfawr, plus most magnificent of all, a longer walk from the cottage all the way to Pistyll Rhaeadr, the tallest waterfall in Wales which is in a remote area of the Berwyn Mountains. And of course we had to take a trip to CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology, my third time there. We also enjoyed a walk from Lake Vyrnwy to a nearby smaller waterfall.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

Centre for Alternative Technology


Stepping Stones near Lake Vyrnwy

We were provided with Faith in Nature toiletries and Ecover, Ecoleaf and Method cleaning products, along with a tasty welcome pack of local food. We continued to try to buy locally with produce from the village butcher, Oswestry market, Llynclys Hall farm shop, plus Honeysuckle whole foods shop in Oswestry and Down to Earth in Llanfyllin. Zero trips to the supermarket on this holiday.

Recycling and composting are key at the cottage with separate clearly labelled bins for each type of recycling. I’m already aware how recycling varies from county to county. Here in Powys, there appears to be no recycling of tetra packs or metal jar lids. We did consider the possibility of bringing those back home but decided there probably wasn’t space in the car. But we did head home with an eco brick half filled.


Owl Barn Retreat

And I loved relaxing in the wildlife garden watching the butterflies and listening to the birds. We’ve also seen rabbits, squirrels and a fox. Son2 has enjoyed using the telescope when it has been less cloudy and has spotted Arcturus. He also loved playing in the maze, which is another great area for wildlife with all the long grass and bracken.

Owl Barn Retreat

It was a great feeling to be on the same wavelength as the owners. Anne phoned me a few days in advance of our holiday and told me things like there being a fishmonger at Oswestry market on Wednesdays. Just like I do here at home, Anne takes her own boxes to the butcher and fishmonger to avoid plastic. She was quite happy to leave me a supply of boxes to use, so we didn’t have to pack those.

We loved it so much at Owl Barn Retreat, that we have already booked two future stays there.

I’d love to hear your eco friendly holiday suggestions and tips please.

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Chicago Town Cheesy Stuffed Crust pizza review

I was recently asked if I would like to review the newest variety of Chicago Town pizza. Now I had to think hard about this request, as this is one of my favourite brands of frozen pizza, but I’ve been avoiding buying frozen pizzas this year, instead either making homemade pizzas or enjoying one at a restaurant.

But in the end, I decided my blog would be a great way to highlight why I’ve been avoiding buying something that all the family enjoy. It is all because of what is hiding between the cardboard box and the pizza – namely plastic! And not just any plastic, but a single-use film which is not recyclable. If frozen fishfingers can be sold loose in a cardboard box, then why not pizzas? Come on Chicago Town. I hope you’re reading this. Let’s lose that unnecessary plastic please. The pizza will be just fine loose in the box.

Chicago Town pizza

So I received five £2 money off vouchers to try out the new Chicago Town Cheesy Stuffed Crust pizza along with any others from the range. I headed off to one of the large superstore branches of Sainsburys. But luck was not on my side. Surprisingly that branch didn’t seem to stock the new variety. And since I had already told the boys that it was pizza for tea, I bought the following varieties.

Tomato Stuffed Crust Cheese pizza – £2.50 (special offer)
Tomato Stuffed Crust Pepperoni pizza – £2.50 (special offer)
Deep Dish Four Cheese – £2

Chicago Town pizza

The first two for tea and the latter reserved for my next 12 hour shift at work, since the Deep Dish range are suitable for microwave. This used to be one of my regular night shift dinners before trying to reduce plastic. And the Tomato Stuffed Crust pizzas were a huge success. Not only very tasty, but son2 who never eats his pizza crusts, actually cleared his plate for the Tomato Stuffed Crust Cheese pizza and gave it the thumbs up.

Chicago Town pizza

A few days later and it was back to the shops for another go at buying the Chicago Town Cheesy Stuffed Crust pizza. After unsuccessfully trying at Co-op, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and at a second branch of Sainsburys, I finally hit the jackpot at a second branch of Tesco. There it was, the elusive Chicago Town Cheesy Stuffed Crust pizza, although wrongly labelled on the shelf.

So I put the last 2 vouchers towards the cost of that plus a Classic Crust Chicken and Bacon Melt, which were both on special offer at 2 pizzas for £6. The boys would be overjoyed at getting pizza twice in less than a week.

Chicago Town Cheesy Stuffed Crust pizza

And the big question. Would son2 eat the pizza crust this time too?

Chicago Town pizza

Unfortunately not, but he did still enjoy the rest of the pizza. And I have to say that I found the cheese in the crust tastes quite different to the cheese on top, as it is a cheese sauce, which is something else he won’t eat. He is a very fussy eater and the only cheese he eats at all is mozzarella, but only the pizza type, not the mozzarella balls. So hush, he quite happily ate mozzarella, monterey jack, mature cheddar and emmental on this, assuming it was just mozzarella.

This is another area where I haven’t been able to find a plastic-free solution yet. I always feel guilty buying the bags of grated mozzarella or packs of mozzarella slices for him so if anyone knows where to buy plastic-free mozzarella, then please do let me know. I can’t even seem to find a block of mozzarella, which should be marginally less plastic than buying grated or sliced.

Chicago Town pizza

However the rest of the family all enjoyed our Cheesy Stuffed Crust, plus the Chicken & Bacon Melt too. So I can recommend these pizzas for being great tasty and excellent value for money. But as said above, please please lose the inner plastic. In my opinion, a frozen product is fine loose in a cardboard box.

And for those who are interested, here are some more Chicago Town posts from my archive a few years back.
Chicago Town Takeaway pizza review
Chicago Town Deep Dish pizza review

I’d love to hear what is your favourite pizza?

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

Taming a Defiant Duke by Tammy Andresen

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

Taming a Defiant Duke by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

A surly duke and a desperate lady….

Can one difficult duke ruin all her future plans? The answer is most decidedly yes.

Emily Mayweather is desperate to provide a future for herself after her father’s death. But she hasn’t lost her pride and she won’t be ordered around by a surly arrogant duke no matter how much he blusters. Nor will she feel sorry for disrupting his perfect orderly life. Soon enough he can go back to being his grumpy self and besides, he’s the one who inserted himself into her affairs. Then there’s the issue of his handsomeness. It’s a problem. He goes around looking all dark and alluring until she can barely remember her own name, let alone properly set him in his place. But she has to remember because she’s already learned her lesson once. He doesn’t want her and he never will.

Future Duke of Manchfield, Lord Barret Maddox, is up to his eye sockets in reports, plans, and papers. Bar was determined to be the perfect duke in his father’s absence or bury himself trying. He’s already chosen the lady who would stand by his side, so that was a start. His bride to be would make the perfect duchess, not only that but she saw his worth, which was more than he could say for Miss Emily Mayweather. One unpleasant run-in years ago and she seems to think he’s solely responsible for all her troubles. That’s how she acts, anyhow. So why is it that every time Emily steps near him, all he can see is her? The answer was simple enough. She’s always had been too beautiful for his liking…and now she’s in trouble. Even though she doesn’t want his help, he can’t leave her to fend for herself. He’ll just have to keep his hands in check. And his heart? Well, that might be another matter…

This is book 8 of 9 in the Taming a Duke’s Heart series. These books are all suitable to be read as stand-alone reads. This is the second time that I have dipped into this series, having previously read and enjoyed book 5, Taming a Savage Gentleman.

Bar, Lord Barrett Maddox is trying to manage the family’s dukedom whilst his parents are in America, but the stack of paperwork is just growing and growing. In the meantime, he has put his plan to propose to Lady Elizabeth Anders on hold. He opens a letter dated 3 months ago from Miss Emily Mayweather to discover his father’s distant cousin, Vicar Mayweather had died leaving debts. He hasn’t spoken to Emily who he had a crush on, for about 5 years. A vicar’s daughter did not fit his vision of the future, but he can’t leave her to lose her cottage, so he sets off to Dover.

Meanwhile, 3 months having passed, Emily has made a plan to sell the cottage at auction the very next day and then seek herself a position. However there is a problem, her hateful cousin Reginald Crotchet has purchased several of her father’s debts and she now owes him £1000 or he will consider it a dowry to become his wife. She can’t let Bar know, in case he insists upon her marrying Reginald.

What will happen at the auction? Reginald has also turned up there. And should Emily consider Bar’s employment offer.

Taming a Defiant Duke is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.28 in Kindle format. This is a nice light romantic story.

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 and Instagram


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

Jibbergiggle game including giveaway

A rainy day in the long school summer holiday and what better way to spend it than trying out our latest free game Jibbergiggle from Gamely. We have had great fun playing their other three games, so we were certainly looking forward to testing this one out too.


Also just like the other three games, Randomise, Soundiculous and The Pretender, it comes in a nice small box, the size of two decks of playing cards. This has always been a plus point for me, as the boys’ possessions seem to be gradually taking over the rest of the house. And I’m even more focussed on minimal packaging this year, so I would add that perhaps they could lose a layer of cellophane to reduce waste. Currently the cards are wrapped in cellophane and then the external box is wrapped again.

Moving onto the game itself, the boys were delighted by the rule of how to choose who plays first, this being the player with the longest tongue. Son1 was voted the winner on this count, but who would become the ultimate Jibbergiggle champion.


Once the rules are mastered, it is fairly simple to play but lots of fun. 9 possible scenario cards are laid out, the player then looks at their nonsense sound card and secretly chooses which scenario they wish to perform. But you have to sit on your hands and only perform the scenario using your sound and facial expressions. For example cast a spell using only the phrase “piggle wiggle”. The other players try to guess, but have to shout Jibbergiggle before making their guess. We had quite a few instances initially where the Jibbergiggle shout was forgotten allowing another player an opportunity.


I do have one question for clarification though. We were playing as a 3 person game and both boys guessed wrongly for one of my scenarios, so they were out of the round. We misinterpreted this as just out of the turn and it was only when I re-read the rules that I realised it should have been out of the round. Doe that mean since I was the only one left, with nobody remaining to guess, that we should have discarded the remaining round 1 cards and moved onto round 2?

And as you can see from the photo below, hands did not remain sat upon for long.


Our game went to a tiebreak between son1 and son2, with me trailing in third place. My reactions just weren’t quick enough.

The rules indicate that it is for 3-8 players and suitable for age 8+, so good for a party. What a lot of fun for a load of nonsense.

Jibbergiggle currently retails at £12.99 on Amazon and John Lewis. Great value in my opinion. I can certainly highly recommend this game.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a Jibbergiggle game to one lucky winner. What a fun prize. Open worldwide.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your idea for a new game.

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

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

I have received a free e-copy of the book Lady in the Lake by best-selling author Laura Lippman to review. To find out more about the author, you may see her website here.

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Here is the book blurb.

Cleo Sherwood disappeared eight months ago. Aside from her parents and the two sons she left behind, no one seems to have noticed. It isn’t hard to understand why: it’s 1964 and neither the police, the public nor the papers care much when Negro women go missing.

Maddie Schwartz – recently separated from her husband, working her first job as an assistant at the Baltimore Sun- wants one thing: a byline. When she hears about an unidentified body that’s been pulled out of the fountain in Druid Hill Park, Maddie thinks she is about to uncover a story that will finally get her name in print. What she can’t imagine is how much trouble she will cause by chasing a story that no-one wants her to tell.

The story, set in Baltimore in 1964-66 alternates between being narrated by Maddie Schwartz and missing Cleo Sherwood, also known as the Lady in the Lake, plus chapters by other minor characters.

Maddie leaves her husband Milton after nearly 20 years but teenage son Seth refuses to come with her. To make ends meet, she fakes a robbery of her diamond engagement ring, at which point she meets black patrolman Ferdie Platt. She starts to move in different circles with new friend Judith Weinstein, who is cultivating Maddie as a means to an end. And she also starts an affair with Ferdie.

Meanwhile  Cleo had disappeared on New Year’s Eve. The story then flits to 11 year old Tessie Fine disappearing. Maggie and Judith discover Tessie’s body. And subsequently Maggie bizarrely writes to the person suspected of Tessie’s murder, who writes back to her. She used this correspondence to try to get a job at The Star newspaper.

And so it goes on. I have to say this book did nothing for me. It wasn’t interesting and I found the narration by minor characters disjointed. And I didn’t feel any empathy with the characters. It did get a bit better later, but by then I had already switched off.

Lady in the Lake, published by Faber & Faber is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Sadly I didn’t enjoy this book.

I’m participating in the blog tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts. Hopefully they enjoyed the book more than I did.

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

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