Author Archives: mumjd

Sweet Victory Products review and giveaway

For the last 2 or 3 years, I have become more aware of how bad sugar can be for us. It is known to be one of the worst foods for a variety of common diseases like arthritis, cancer and autism. I enjoy cakes and biscuits far too much to eliminate them, but I do try my best now to reduce my sugar intake. I’ve made a few little changes like always having fruit with my porridge instead of sugar and sometimes opting for something like a cheese scone or slice of fruit bread rather than cake.

So I was delighted when Sweet Victory Products contacted me to offer a free hamper of some of their products to review. They had seen my Zollipops review, which is one of the products they stock. Their aim is to help as many people as possible to change their relationship from High Sugar to Sugar-Free and healthier alternatives. This is exactly what I would like to do, if only I had the willpower.

Sweet Victory hamper

It didn’t take long for a beautifully packed basket to arrive which contained all the following goodies.
Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars 130g
Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake 230g
Jim Jams no added sugar milk chocolate spread 350g
Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti 22g
Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix 100g
Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar
2 sugar free cherry lollipops
2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar hot chocolate 11g
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate 11g

Sweet Victory hamper

So focussing on the individual products and starting with the digestive biscuits, which son2 was over the moon to see, as chocolate digestives are his all time favourite type of biscuit. I don’t think any of us had come across a white chocolate version previously. These contain zero sugar, and are sweetened with an ingredient I haven’t heard of called maltitol. We all enjoyed these. I haven’t done a direct price comparison on any of these products but I would certainly be happy to pay more for these sugar free digestives when I consider how quickly we get through a regular pack in our household.

Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars

Next the cake. Once again sugar free and sweetened with maltitol and acesulfame K. I’ve not heard of this sweetener either. However I wished that I hadn’t looked at the ingredient list, as 16 E numbers sounded rather excessive. Luckily I didn’t look until after I had tried it. The boys enjoyed the cake, but I only thought it okay. Like many shop bought cakes, it tasted rather synthetic to me. I’m much more a fan of a homemade cake.

Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake


And the chocolate spread. Jim Jams is a brand that I heard about earlier this year and have been unsuccessfully looking out for, so I was very interested to try this. Again this contains maltitol rather than sugar. Rather than just spreading it on toast, I decided this deserved a recipe.

Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissants)

Ingredients (makes approx 4-5)

250g puff pastry
approx 75g Jim Jams chocolate spread

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 deg C.
Grease baking sheet.
Roll out the pastry.
Cut pastry into similar sized rectangles.
Spread a length of chocolate spread along one edge of each rectangle.
Roll each rectangle up from that edge.
Place on baking sheet.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove from baking sheet immediately and place on cooling rack.
Serve either warm or cold.
Enjoy.

These were delicious warm. We all enjoyed them. For a store cupboard essential like chocolate spread, I definitely plan to switch to the Jim Jams brand in future.
Pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant)

And then there were four types of sweets. Firstly the Sweet Switch chocolate confetti which look very similar to smarties. The product name on the website indicates that these are made from premium Belgian milk chocolate, but this isn’t particularly promoted on the packet, with just a small mention of Sweet Switch address in Belgium. Tasty but again I wished I hadn’t looked at the packet, as I was confronted by 8 E-numbers. No added sugars, but more sweeteners that I hadn’t heard of – maltitol again plus sorbitol and steviol glycosides.

Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti

And then the sugar free Gummy Pick & Mix Sweets with all our favourites like cola bottles. The packaging advises you to refer to their website for ingredients, but as it is a pick & mix product, you would need to look at each sweet type individually. I only looked at the cola bottle page, which does show that they contain pork gelatine, so I feel that this ought to be highlighted on the Pick & Mix webpage itself.

Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix

Wow what a lot of different varieties of sweets in this pick and mix jar. Just looking at it brought back happy memories of visiting the local sweet shop as a child. And just think, these are all sugar free. There are a few familiar brands like Werthers and Mintoes, nether of which I realised did a sugar-free variant. But mostly just dip in for a tasty surprise. Again you would need to refer to individual sweet webpages for ingredients, but you can request for a particular sweet to be excluded. All of Sweet Victory weigh-out sweets can also be purchased in 100g increments. With Halloween round the corner, these would be fab for Trick or Treat.

Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar

And of course lollipops. I didn’t get to try these myself as there were only two and both boys wanted one. However they said they were good. These are sold in packs of 10. Again more unknown sweeteners on the ingredient list – acesulfame K again, plus sucralose and isomalt.

sugar free cherry lollipops

Next for a cup of tea. This was very pleasant and apparently contains an immune boosting blend of beneficial herbs, green tea, fruit and 50% RDA in 9 daily essential vitamins; Vitamin C echinacea and ginseng. I’ve never really thought about tea in the context of free-from but according to the website, this is gluten-free. So does that mean that some teas contain gluten? I never knew. This is sold in boxes of 15 sachets.

2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets

And finally the hot chocolate. This is marketed as a low sugar product, rather than sugar-free and is something I have purchased previously. So I already knew that I liked both flavours. However I just scanned the barcode with my food scanner app and found that they still have 3g (original) or 3.4g (fudge) sugar in an 11g product. That is not really low sugar in my opinion.

Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate

After sampling all the goodies, I had a look round their online store and can certainly see plenty of other tempting products, including some which would make lovely gifts. I think I would like to give the Xylitol a try, to see how that works in baking. And I also noticed that they stock Real Good Tomato Ketchup which is another product that I have previously reviewed. I have looked for this in vain at a couple of local branches of the Co-op, so very pleased to identify an online stockist.

And I was pleased to see that delivery costs are very reasonable, starting at £3.55 for second class. There is also a reward points scheme. I am definitely happy to recommend Sweet Victory Products.

But looks like I need to do some research into sugar substitutes next. Find out a bit about maltitol, acesulfame K, sorbitol, steviol glycosides, sucralose and isomalt.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your first order at Sweet Victory Products with discount code: YABM10

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a hamper of treats from Sweet Victory Products to one lucky winner. What a tempting prize bundle. Contents will be similar to those that I received.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your favourite reduced sugar treats.

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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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Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge ad

So the boys are back at school and as usual the washing pile has grown exponentially. There is all the school uniform and sports kit. I just groan thinking about the sports kit. Why is there so much of it? There are different types of tops for each sport they play, so at least two get worn each week. The boys take it to school in trolley bags, as it would be too heavy to carry.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Luckily neither of the boys are that sporty, so tend to be in either the C or D team. This does generally tend to mean less matches against other schools than for the A or B teams. But even so, my washing machine always seems to be on. And of course, most of it can’t go in the tumble drier. I’m just glad it is still mostly sunny and mild, as once we head into November, I have just one word to say to you – mud!

Mud is the bane of my life when it comes to washing. Even if they haven’t slipped over and sports kit isn’t looking too bad, they need to take their muddy boots off before getting the bus home. And do they remember to put those in their boot bags? Sadly usually not. Instead the boots go loose into their trolley bags right on top of their school uniform. Oh dear!

This all adds to the washing nightmare. All I can say is thank goodness that the blazers are washable. The ones for their last school were dry-clean only. So I immediately signed up, when Britmums challenged bloggers to take part in the #ACEforSchool Challenge. I received a free bottle of ACE for Colours and a free ACE Stain Remover Spray to help tackle the stains.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

But even without the mud, I still needed to put these products to the test straightaway, on the dried-on lunch remnants on son2’s tie. A squirt of the spray in advance of washing, followed by a capful of the bottle in the washing drum did the trick on cleaning it up.

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

Next test will be when the school jumpers go back on after half-term. I know that there are several paint stains on one of them that defeated me week after week last winter. Why do schools use permanent paint these days rather than water paint like they did in my schooldays? Will Ace be up to the challenge?

Britmums #ACEforSchool Challenge

About ACE

  • ACE keeps garments bright, robust and clean meaning clothes last for longer
  • Keep those colours bright and fresh with ACE for Colours
  • Tackle germs, grease and stubborn stains with ACE Stain Remover

I’d love to hear about your washing tips or nightmares.

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.
This post mentions products I received for free. All opinions are my own. This post is classed as an advert because of the requirement to include the #AceforSchool hashtag.

The Rufford Rose by Margaret Lambert

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Rufford Rose by Margaret Lambert to review.

The Rufford Rose by Margaret Lambert

Here is the book blurb.

When gifted young woodcarver Cuthbert Watts is sent to assist in the building of a new hall in Lancashire in 1530 little does he realise what difficulties lie ahead. The Master builder, Abel, resents his presence, refusing to see his work whilst Abel’s apprentice, Will is a lazy, jealous young man who thwarts Cuthbert at every turn. Supported by his fellow workers Cuthbert perseveres and after saving his life, befriends the young son of the owner, another reason for Abel to hate him. What is the reason behind this animosity? What great secret dominates Abel and Will’s life to the extent that lives are threatened, jealousies grow and violence, arson, kidnap and murder are committed?

Set in the Lancashire countryside in the 16th century this is a story which combines the practical difficulties of building a Tudor Hall with the loves and jealousies of those involved. When will Abel realise the value of Cuthbert’s work, when will Will realise he is not who he believes he is and can Cuthbert win the heart of the girl he loves. Follow Cuthbert through the trials and challenges of his new life and discover whether the hall can finally be completed.

This book is set in Lancashire back in the 1500s. For the first few chapters, the storyline runs in parallel setting the scenes introducing us to the Hesketh family and to Cuthbert, a gifted carpenter. We get to understand why the new Lord Hesketh has commissioned his new home to be built at Rufford. And we follow Cuthbert’s path from Chester, via Whalley Abbey to Rufford.

There at Rufford, the main body of the story takes place, as Rufford Hall is being built. Abel the master builder is resentful of having Cuthbert foisted onto him by Lord Derby. Meanwhile Will, Abel’s lazy apprentice starts by playing petty tricks on Cuthbert, but this spirals out of control. However Cuthbert becomes great friends with everyone else and manages to continue his wood carving. How will it all progress?

I could tell that the author had invested huge effort in the research of Tudor building methods. It was all so detailed and vividly brought the story to life for me. In comparison, I was surprised that we were told Thomas Hesketh had divorced his first wife. I may be wrong but I thought divorce wasn’t invented until Henry VIII wanted a way to get rid of Catherine of Aragon.

Reading about Cuthbert’s time at Whalley Abbey brought back memories from many years ago of visiting the ruins. So of course, I had to look up Rufford and I’ve found that Rufford Old Hall is now in the care of the National Trust. I definitely plan to visit whenever I’m next in that area of the country.

This book is available on Amazon currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A fascinating read. Highly recommended.

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

Soundiculous game including giveaway

Time for a family game and once again we have received a free product from Gamely. Having really enjoyed playing their other two games, we were looking forward to some fun.

Soundiculous game

I was very pleased to see that just like the other two games, Randomise and The Pretender, it comes in a nice small box, the size of two decks of playing cards. Always a plus point for me, as the boys’ possessions seem to be gradually taking over the rest of the house.

The game gets its name Soundiculous from the ridiculous sounds you have to make for the other players to guess. You are only permitted to make sounds, no words, hints or actions. The cards range from easy, through medium to hard, with potential scoring of 1, 2 or 3 points accordingly.

Soundiculous game

So yes I can happily make the sound of a train, but how am I going to convey the sound of a tractor, to distinguish it from any other vehicle. Luckily you are permitted to nod, if someone makes a close guess. And if you get stuck, you can try associated sounds, although the guessers can end up diving down a false trail, as I found when swapping from bird sounds to oinking for a pigeon.

The rules suggest that it is for 3-10 players and suitable for age 8+, with the aim to get the most points. When someone shouts the correct answer, both of you score but if at least half the guessers give up, your turn ends. So plenty of strategy, regarding whether to opt for easy, medium or hard. We certainly had loads of fun playing this game.

We’re out of shot in this video, to convey how it is the sounds that are key to this game. You’re even supposed to sit on your hands whilst playing, to avoid making gestures.

Soundiculous currently retails at £11.99 on Amazon and John Lewis. Great value in my opinion, especially if you are starting to think about stocking fillers. I highly recommend this game.

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

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear 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.

Preserving Photographic Memories ad

So the end of summer is now upon us. We’ve been away on two holidays to Spain and Edinburgh, plus had plenty of fun days out.

Throughout it all, I’ve been snapping happy memories with my phone. I always upload my pictures to my computer, but what happens after? A few get shared on Facebook or Instagram. Some get chosen to be made into Christmas cards or fridge magnets to be sent to other family members. And of course, I have my own selection on my fridge, along with our photo table mats and mugs. I even used to have a fab photo phone case, but haven’t got around to ordering a new one since it wore out.

What about the rest of the images that did not make the cut? Will these photographic memories never get the chance to see the light of day again, languishing on the hard drive or a USB stick? You might have a lovely picture of little Johnny at school sports day, but you couldn’t share it on Facebook for relatives to see because there are other kids in the picture, what with all the privacy rules.

So I was delighted to be contacted by Nixplay, who offered me the opportunity to review one of their digital photo frames for free. This could be just the answer.

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

Nixplay sent me one of their Seed frames and it arrived in just 4 days. I was pleased to see that it comes in a sturdy box, and that it is available in a choice of 4 colours and 4 sizes.

I received the 8 inch blue frame. It comes with an attached USB cable, a remote control and a two-part power plug that allows the user to switch between UK 3-pin or European 2-pin.

However once I started the set-up process, the frame kept switching off at inconvenient moments. In the end, I put the USB cable into a different plug which worked perfectly, so the plug must have been faulty. Luckily I encountered no such issues with the frame itself. The instructions were simple to follow, with the main points being to give it access to my Wi-Fi and to set up a Nixplay account to link my frame to.

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

I’ve only tested it with a few photos so far, most of which were downloaded from my computer. I also tried downloading one directly from my phone using the Nixplay app. I soon realised it was better to keep portrait and landscape photos in separate playlists, so as to fill the entire frame. The frame is easily turned between portrait and landscape as it only uses the cable for balance, no additional back support required.

Aside from the infrared sensor between the frame and the remote, the frame also has a motion sensor that enables it to switch off when nobody is in the room. You can set the time-lag on this, as well as the time periods. I set it off between 23:00 and 07:00 hrs. I couldn’t see any details on the instructions regarding the type of battery in the remote or how to replace that when necessary.

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

The best part is the frame’s scope. A single playlist can contain up to 1000 photos. You can link multiple frames to the one account, so you could buy frames for other family members like your grandparents. Think of the benefit of a frame like this if someone were away from home for a long period, like when one of my sons was an in-patient at the hospital back in 2013 after his leukaemia diagnosis. Everything can be managed remotely, so all they have to do is watch. It’s great for keeping them up to date with the children’s progress, especially when they don’t tend to see them very often.

I could even use it for long-term projects like scanning my old pre-digital photos before the colours deteriorate further and loading those into playlists. It would be nice to show the boys some of the countries we visited on holiday before they were born.

Also, when I was a child, my Dad took all his photos on slides, but he has now gotten rid of his projector and large screen, which we used for viewing his images. So another long-term project could be to send those slides somewhere to be converted into a digital format and saved onto a memory stick. I can then upload these into playlists, which I can display on my Nixplay frame. There are lots of photographic memories that my parents would like to see again. We’ve even got some old family photos from the 1800s – just imagine watching those on a Nixplay frame!

Nixplay Seed Digital Frame

The Nixplay 8 inch Seed Frame currently retails at £129.99 / $139.99. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, a 1-year warranty and free shipping. A great way to view your memories, in my opinion, as well as a fabulous gift idea!

Now I just have to work out what other functionalities it has. I’ll try uploading videos onto my frame next. I’ve even heard that you can ask Alexa to manage your frame, too Wow!

You may see more details about Nixplay on their website. The Nixplay digital photo frame range is available to purchase from their online shop or from Amazon.

I’d love to hear what you do with your favourite photographs.

There is a version of this post on the Nixplay blog here.

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.
This post is classed as an advert because my content has been checked by Nixplay.

Pluto the Dwarf Planet

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I recently reviewed the fabulous WonderKid Space Bumper Pack and ran a very popular giveaway for one.

Wonderkid Space subscription box

I am delighted to say that Anneka is the lucky winner. She correctly answered the following question.

In 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided that Pluto could no longer be classified as a planet. What is Pluto now classified as?

And the answer is that Pluto is now classified as a Dwarf Planet.

And here are some facts provided by WonderKid about Pluto, the Dwarf Planet.

Pluto was considered a planet for 76 years. First discovered in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona, the planet is named after the Roman God of the underworld. Wait a minute! Isn’t that Hades? No; Hades was the Greek God of the underworld. The name Pluto was proposed by an eleven year old schoolgirl from Oxford, England called Venetia Burney.

“I think Pluto would be a good name for it.” said the young Venetia at the breakfast table after her grandfather had read out the news of the planet’s discovery from The London Times on 14 March 1930. Venetia was familiar with Greek and Roman mythology and the name was apt as Pluto (the Roman God of the underworld) could make himself invisible and dwelt in a cold dark place where the sunlight did not reach.

The former planet Pluto orbits our Sun far out in an icy region of the Solar System called the Kuiper Belt. In the 1990s scientists began to find many similar sized objects in the Kuiper Belt. Some of the newly discovered objects were even bigger than Pluto. One such object, called Eris, was discovered in 2005. Astronomers had to make a decision on whether all of the newly discovered objects would become planets or whether they would have to create a new, narrower definition of a planet. They went with the latter.

In 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) got together to decide what the definition of a planet should be. The IAU came up with a new three step test for whether an object could be classified as a planet in our Solar System:

1. Does it orbit our Sun?
2. Does it have enough mass to make it (almost) round?
3. Has it removed other small objects from around its orbit? (unlike asteroids)

Only if an object (which is not a satellite to a planet e.g. a moon) meets all three of these criteria can it be called a planet. Unfortunately for Pluto, and its fans, it only passed the first two criteria of the test and was no longer classified as a planet! However, in a way the Solar System became a more interesting place; now there was yet another type of object discovered spinning around the Sun – which astronomers called ‘dwarf planets’!

Let me remind you that I have a special offer to share with my readers. 20% off your first WonderKid box when you use the code BLOGGINGMUMMY20 at checkout. The code is valid for the first 10 people who take up the offer and is limited to one per person.

I’d love to hear about your favourite space facts or your ideas for themes to feature in future boxes.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

The Duke’s Scottish Lass by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Duke’s Scottish Lass by Tammy Andresen to review.

The Duke's Scottish Lass by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Lady Delia Alban absolutely cannot marry the handsome rake, Roderick Maddox, fourth Duke of Manchester, despite her brother Stone’s insistence she do just that. Though he has long reformed his ways, he steals her breath away every time their eyes meet and she simply doesn’t deserve that kind of happiness. Not after the death of her brother, Reginald. She must pay penance, because, if not for her, he would still be alive.

Roderick Maddox, has known for years he would marry Delia. Before Reginald’s death, he made a promise to his friend, not only would he care for Reginald’s sister, but he would reform himself into the type of man Delia deserved. He never expected Delia to ignite such passion or to be so resistant to him. Nor did he realize he held the secret about Reginald’s death that could crush their budding feelings forever.

Six siblings unite after the death of their parents around their eldest brother, Stone. They consider blood to be a binding oath and vow to protect one another. They all must face their own demons as they find love and their places in the world.

This story was formerly published as Taming a Lady Wolf. Delia’s brother’s decided their stories needed to be told as well. This is now the prequel novella to the series, Brethren of Stone.

This book is set in 1795 with a prologue back in 1790 when Roderick, Duke of Manchester catches 13 year old Lady Delia Alban on his ship as she jumps from a crumbling cliff face. However, her brother Reginald, Roderick’s best friend dies that day falling onto the rocks below. Five years later, Roderick returns with the intention of marrying Lady Delia, but she has no intention of marrying someone so handsome. Nor does she know that, he was her rescuer that fateful day, for which she blames herself for Reginald’s death.

But when another suitor, the undesirable Earl of Sunderland turns up, will the tables turn? And was Delia really to blame for Reginald’s death?

The Duke’s Scottish Lass is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format. This is a nice short romantic story, when you want a light read. I always look forward to reading Tammy’s books interspersed between something heavier.


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.

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Gangster School – The Brotherhood of Brimstone by Kate Wiseman – book review and giveaway

Regular followers of my blog may remember that son1 recently reviewed Gangster School and loved it. I have now received a free copy of the second book Gangster School – The Brotherhood of Brimstone by Kate Wiseman for him to review.

Gangster School - The Brotherhood of Brimstone by Kate Wiseman

Here is the book blurb.

Trouble is brewing at Blaggard’s School for Tomorrow’s Tyrants. Sir Byron’s Brain, a priceless legendary diamond, has gone missing. If it leaves the school grounds, Blaggard’s will be destroyed forever and the head teacher obliterated! Could the evil Brotherhood of Brimstone – an ancient secret society – have anything to do with it? Best friends Milly and Charlie embark on an adventure to find out. They discover a web of evil plots involving Gruffles, Charlie’s stinky dog, and Wolfie, the robot dog turned invisible superhero. On top of this, Blaggard’s is expecting a school inspection from the mysterious Dr X – Chief Inspector of Criminal Schools. He could turn up at any time, and no one knows what he looks like. Time is running out for Milly and Charlie. Will Dr X appear? And can our heroes defeat the evil Brotherhood, rescue their canine companions and save the day? The rollicking second instalment in Kate Wiseman’s Gangster School series.

This is what son1 had to say about the book.

I thought Gangster School: Brotherhood of Brimstone was good because it was exciting and adventurous. I rate it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Gangster School - The Brotherhood of Brimstone by Kate Wiseman

A bit of background for those of you who haven’t seen our previous review of book 1. This series is set in Blaggards, a boarding school for children of criminals, where the uniform is a mask and stripy top. The teachers are master criminals, lessons are in subjects like fabrication and thievery and the houses are named after famous criminals.

Am I allowed to admit that I too was really looking forward to reading this children’s book. I’m hooked on this series just like I was with Harry Potter. It is set only 2 months after book 1, so allowing plenty of scope for future titles.

Book 2 starts with our heroes Millie and Charlie breaking into the headmistress’s safe to check that Sir Byron’s brain has really vanished. It must be still somewhere within Blaggards, as there is a curse that the school will immediately collapse and the head teacher die, if the brain leaves Blaggards. Can they come up with a plan to find the brain, a priceless diamond.

Meanwhile the school is getting geared up for Founders Day and awaiting a surprise visit from Doctor X, the mysterious Chief Inspector of Criminal Schools. Also there is a new teacher of Criminal Disguise and Deception.

Who has the brain? Where is it hidden? What will ensue?

Gangster School – The Brotherhood of Brimstone, newly published today, is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback. Another fantastic children’s book, which certainly was up to expectation. Son1 may have said 4*, but definitely 5* in my opinion.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of this book to 1 lucky winner.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

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MamaMummyMum

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

The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning to review. For more information on the author, you may see his website.

The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning

Here is the book blurb.

A peculiar explorer and downtrodden acrobat span the globe on a building-sized hot air balloon, in search of a precious artifact and the murderous treasure hunter who seeks it.

Beatrix, a spirited but abused acrobat in a traveling circus, seeks more than her prison-like employment offers. More than anything, she wants to know her place in the world of the halcyon 19th century, a time when the last dark corners of the map were being sketched out and travel still possessed a kind of magic.

One night in Switzerland, the mysterious Colonel James Bacchus attends Beatrix’s show. This larger-than-life English gentleman, reputed to have a voracious appetite for female conquests, is most notable for traveling the world in a four-story hot air balloon called The Ox.

Beatrix flees that night to join the Colonel, and the two of them make a narrow escape—Beatrix from her abusive ringleader, the Colonel from a freshly-made cuckold. Beatrix, feeling the Colonel may have the answers to her problems, pledges to help him catch the criminal he seeks in exchange for passage on his magnificent balloon.

The criminal seeks a precious figurine, The Blue Star Sphinx, but he’s not alone. The Sphinx’s immense value has also drawn the attention of the world’s most deadly treasure hunters. A murder in Antwerp begins a path of mystery that leads all the way to the most isolated island on Earth.

What dangers await the Colonel and the acrobat?

Well this is certainly a unique storyline like no other. The book starts in 19th century Switzerland where “The Amazing Beatrix” is an acrobat in Ziro’s touring circus. After the performance in the Big Top, Ziro takes her to perform at a private dinner at Chartish Manor. Here she meets the Colonel James Bacchus, a jolly character with flowers in his hat, who travels the world in a multi-storey hot air balloon. My mind boggled at how many rooms were under this colossal balloon.

Beatrix makes up her mind to escape the circus from Ziro’s whippings and flees with the Colonel in his balloon, who is also running from an enraged Lord Chartish, having just slept with his wife. But he only permits her to stay one night, as he is on a mission to find a dangerous criminal. Bee persuades him that she can help.

From Switzerland, they follow a lead to Antwerp, where they meet the Colonel’s friends, Thelma and George, but too late. They find a murdered man and a clue. The trail leads through Spain, Gibraltar, Britain, Africa and on and on, meeting friends, foes and treasure hunters along the way. What will the outcome be?

I salute this author for his inspired creativity with this storyline. So far-fetched that this book stands in a genre of its own. I wasn’t sure what to think when I first read the blurb, but I definitely liked it.

The Colonel and the Bee is available on Amazon, currently priced at £12.95 in paperback or £3.99 in Kindle format. A fantastical adventure.

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

Initiated to Kill by Sharlene Almond – Book review and giveaway

I have received a free e-copy of the book Initiated to Kill by Sharlene Almond to review. For more information on the author, you may see her website.

Initiated to Kill by Sharlene Almond

Here is the book blurb.

Two men from two different generations, both initiated into a powerful organization that throughout history has sought control and uses their power for destruction. They leave behind a wake of murder, manipulation and ancient secrets. The first man wreaks havoc in and around the Whitechapel district of London, England in the 19th century. While the other stalks his victims in the cosmopolitan city of Seville, Spain in the 21st century; knowing that only he could uncover the true motives of one of the world’s most infamous serial killers—Jack the Ripper.

Most of the story takes place in Seville in 2010 but it also includes flashbacks to Annabella’s childhood and to earlier incidents featuring the bad guys. Plus the tale of Jack the Ripper is another main element and Freemasonary plays a part too.

Annabella is deaf due to a childhood injury, but she is able to read body and facial expressions. Her flatmate Celestina is the first girl to disappear, which she reports to the police.

Meanwhile the police start receiving anonymous gruesome packages. Detective Valero is called back in from sabbatical leave to work on the case with Detective Rivero. As more girls disappear, the link appears to be that they all attend Seville University. The detectives call upon Annabella’s skills in reading people and hide her behind the glass when interviewing their first suspect.

Lots of twists to come in this story.

Although I’m a huge thriller fan, I did find this one rather too graphic, in its descriptions of dismembering victims’ organs.

After finishing reading the book, I did feel compelled to look up the tale of Jack The Ripper and I saw that the name mentioned in this story was one of the possible suspects for the unidentified serial killer.

Initiated To Kill is available on Amazon, currently priced at £11.18 in paperback or £2.99 in Kindle format. A thrilling mysterious read with an interesting weaving of the storylines.

This book is recommended for adult readers only, due to its graphic content.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of this book to 1 lucky winner, who may choose whether they wish for their prize to be signed by the author or not.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

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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.