Author Archives: mumjd

Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

I have received a free e-copy of the book Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn to review.

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

Here is the book blurb.

Detective Sergeant Taylor Nick is back and in charge of tracking down a sadistic vigilante, with a penchant for torturing paedophiles, in this unsettling crime thriller by a real-life police sergeant.

High-powered businessmen are turning up tortured, and traumatised, around the city of Edinburgh with one specific thing in common -a sinister double life involving pedophilia. Leaving his ‘victims’ in a disturbing state, the individual responsible calls the police and lays bare the evidence of their targets twisted misdemeanours to discover, along with a special memento of their own troubled past —a chilling calling card.

Once again heading the investigation team is Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks, along with her partner Detective Constable Marcus Black, who are tasked not only with tracking the perpetrator down, but dealing with the unusual scenario of having to arrest the victims for their own barbarous crimes. But with the wounded piling up the predator’s thirst for revenge intensifies and Nicks soon discovers that she is no longer chasing down a sinister attacker but a deadly serial killer.

Inspired by her vast professional experience as a police officer both on the beat and in specialist riot squads in Edinburgh, Porcelain is the second in Lee Cockburn’s DS Taylor Nick’s series.

This book Is very dark. It starts 22 years ago with very young twins Amy and Nathan being abused by their mother and her boyfriend. We then fast forward to the current day to see the police investigating a series of crimes where paedophiles are tortured. And we also follow the investigating officers’ personal lives, which includes explicit lesbian sex scenes. We meet both Amy and Nathan again, who are still troubled by their past.

By chance Amy and Nathan find each other after being separated when they were taken into care. Then a paedophile is murdered rather than tortured. Next a young boy is abducted – it is the son of DC Marcus Black. Can he be found in time? And who is targeting the paedophiles?

Each time a porcelain doll is left at the crime scene. I found this really spooky as I was always scared as a child by the two china dolls that had belonged to my mum and now lived on the bottom shelf of my toy cupboard. I deliberately wouldn’t put any of my toys in there to avoid looking at them.

I won’t say any more about the storyline. but I did sometimes get confused as to whether I was reading about Nathan or Amy.

Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A dark story which is definitely worth a read if you can handle the subject matter.

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


About Lee Cockburn

Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for sixteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for seven years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry. Her first book Devil’s Demise was published by Clink Street Publishing November 2014.

Follow Lee Cockburn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lee_leecockburn


Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

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

And look out this afternoon for a guest post on my blog by Lee.

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

Turkey Escalopes

I think it is long enough since Christmas to share a tasty turkey recipe that is a firm favourite in our household. And if you’re wondering what is the vegetable at the front of the photograph, it is Romanesco, slightly similar to a cauliflower.

turkey escalopes

Turkey Escalopes

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 turkey steaks
2 slices of stale bread
1 egg
25g plain flour
salt and pepper
30ml sunflower oil

Method

Cut the bread into pieces and put in blender.
Use the blender to make bread into crumbs.
Tip the breadcrumbs into a flat dish.
Crack the egg into another flat dish.
Beat egg with a fork.
Season egg with salt and pepper.
Place turkey steaks on a chopping board.
Flatten with a rolling pin.
Spoon the flour into a third flat dish and spread to the edges of the dish.
Place a turkey steak in the flour.
Turn to coat both sides.
Place the turkey in the egg.
Again turn to coat both sides.
Place the turkey in the breadcrumbs.
Again turn to coat both sides.
Repeat for each turkey steak.
Heat oil gently in 2 large frying pans.
Add 2 escalopes to each pan.
Once the escalopes are golden underneath, turn them over to cook the other side.
Serve with your choice of vegetables and enjoy.

Turkey Escalopes

I’d love to hear your favourite turkey recipes.

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The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

My other half was clearing out some of his books and several of them including this one by Robert Goddard took my eye.

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

This is what it says on the back cover.

Paris 1919. The aftermath of the Great War.

With the fate of the world’s nations hanging in the balance, a secret affair ends with the death of a senior British diplomat.

As the authorities try to pass it off as a bizarre accident, ex-RFC flying ace, James ‘Max’ Maxted is convinced otherwise and throws himself headfirst into the dark heart of a seemingly impenetrable mystery – hellbent on uncovering the truth.

With the stakes impossibly high and friends indistinguishable from foes, the only way is to keep pushing … until you can see who’s pushing back!

The book starts with a phone call from Max’s mother announcing that his father has been killed. Henry had fallen from a roof-top in Paris and the police have declared it accidental. Lady Maxted requests Max and his brother Ashley go to Paris to bring Sir Henry’s body back home.

Max starts to get suspicious when identifying Sir Henry’s body and visiting the scene of his death and collecting his personal effects from the police. Things don’t quite add up for him. Then he meets Madame Dombreux who lived at the address where Sir Henry died. She was Sir Henry’s lover and also believes him to have been murdered. She shows Max a mysterious list that Sir Henry had written.

Whilst Ashley takes his father’s body home, Max remains in Paris, determined to discover the truth. Plenty of exciting twists to unfold. A real page turner.

The Ways of the World is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.49 in paperback and is also available in hardback or Kindle format. A great book which I highly recommend. It is book 1 in a trilogy and I shall certainly be adding the other two stories to my wishlist. Wondering why my other half never got round to purchasing the other two.

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Caramelised Onion Bruschetta

I like to use onions in some of my recipes for flavour, but neither of the boys are keen on onion and tend to pick the pieces out. So I was quite surprised recently when eating out at Zizzi to see that son1 couldn’t seem to get enough of the caramelised onion bruschetta that was supposed to be my starter.

Was it the sweetness? Did he not realise it was onion? Anyhow I thought I would create my own version at home and see how it went down.

caramelised onion bruschetta

Caramelised Onion Bruschetta

Ingredients (serves 2 as a starter)

2 slices of crusty white bread
1 large onion
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
30g grated cheese
salt and pepper

Method

Peel and chop the onion.
Gently heat oil and butter in a small frying pan.
Add the onion and sugar.
Stir-fry for about 15 minutes until soft and brown.
Meanwhile cut bread into slices and preheat grill.
Heap the caramelised onion onto the bread.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook under grill for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.
Serve and enjoy.

caramelised onion bruschetta

This recipe got the thumbs up. I’d love to hear what dishes your kids have surprised you by eating?

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Trying out daily contact lenses

I’m shortsighted and about this time last year, I swapped my monthly contact lenses for a pair of varifocal glasses. I had previously worn contact lenses since my teens, so it was a very odd experience to adjust to the glasses. But my near vision had started deteriorating and this seemed the best plan.

However there are still occasions when I would prefer to be wearing lenses rather than glasses so I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to try Crystal Hydro daily contact lenses for free.

Crystal Hydro Daily Contact Lenses

The package was delivered very promptly after I provided my prescription details. The lenses were safely packed in a jiffy envelope which fitted through my letterbox and the parcel tape clearly indicated that the package contained contact lenses.

The lenses are individually sealed in a saline solution in boxes of 30. I am very familiar with how to insert a lens into the eye, but if you did wish to read the instructions, you would have to remove all the lenses from the box, as they are written inside.

Crystal Hydro Daily Contact Lenses

I have now trialled the lenses for over a week and have been very happy with them. They are comfortable to wear all day long, no problems with dry eyes and I love how when you take them out, you just throw them away. No more bother with cleaning and storing overnight. And the photos below show them in my eyes. You wouldn’t know I was wearing them if I hadn’t told you.

Crystal Hydro Daily Contact Lenses

Due to my eyesight, I did have to wear reading glasses whilst using the computer, but this is just me. However it was fantastic to be able to go out for a run in the rain again without wearing glasses which I would have had to continually attempt to wipe dry. Daily lenses are definitely the way forward for me, in conjunction with glasses.

These lenses have a diameter of 14.2mm and a base curve of 8.5mm. They also have UVA and UVB protection.

The current RRP is £9.25 for a box of 30 Crystal Hydro daily contact lenses. An amazing price in my opinion, especially as you don’t need to purchase any solution either. I’ve never found lenses at this price ever and I’ve been wearing them since my teens.

I’d be interested to hear your views regarding contact lenses.

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

The Fortress by Faye Carlisle

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Fortress by Faye Carlisle to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

The Fortress by Faye Carlisle

Here is the book blurb.

Nargassus is in trouble from the evil Sinisters. A prophecy says that a boy who is able to control the four elements of earth, fire, air and water will be able to restore peace to the land and defeat evil.

Cameron has these extra-special abilities and is sent on a mission to find the Sinisters with his two friends Anna and Sam. Anna is able to see visions of the future, and Sam has navigating powers.

The children’s search for the Sinisters leads them to a fortress where they meet Electro. Can they win against his lightning powers?

Here is son1’s video review.

The Fortress is available on Amazon, currently priced at £4.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. It is the first book in the Kodo children’s fantasy series and is aimed at age 7 to 10. Son1 enjoyed this book.

The Fortress by Faye Carlisle

I’ve mentioned previously that fantasy is not one of my favourite genres, but I read it too. Three keys have been stolen from the king and hidden by the Sinisters and young Cameron has been picked to retrieve them where experienced soldiers have previously failed. Two of his school friends, Sam and Anna accompany him on the dangerous mission. Later another child, Jenny who is untrained also joins them.

As the reader, I initially assumed that the book would encompass finding all the keys, but no, it ends shortly after finding the first key, leaving you all fired up to read the next book in the series,

The book is illustrated by Sunil Kalbandi. I always feel it is great for a child’s book to be illustrated but in this instance, I didn’t really care for the style of illustrations.

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

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt to review.

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

Here is the book blurb.

Tragedy and comedy in perfect proportion.

Kim and Flow are the best of friends, living on a council estate, making money selling drugs.

Just around the corner in a smarter part of Fulham is Clea, a well-heeled young woman coping with a violent home life at the hands of her twisted step-father.
The Principal runs a famous college for problem teens. Fostering guilty secrets which distance her from her own children, she resists the advances of a man she sees on the train every day.

When Kim and Clea meet by chance, Kim is smitten but worried about her. Using the anecdote of the frog theory – that it will jump straight out of boiling water and live, but stay in and die if heated slowly from cold – he wakes her up to the dangerous situation she’s in at home.

Serendipity and a cake-fuelled food fight that goes viral will bring Kim, Clea, Flow and The Principal together in weird and wonderful ways in this frenetic, laugh-out-loud story about love, conscience and lion-hearted nerve.

The book starts by introducing the four main characters – Kim, Clate, the principal and Flow. Kim and Flow who live on a council estate in Fulham are best friends, but none of the others have crossed paths yet. Middle-class 18yr old Clate has a violent step-father Hugo and is still at school. We never get to know the name of the principal, but she is a single mother, who is principal at one of the roughest colleges in London.

Clate is grounded but is allowed to go to cleaner Maureen’s 70th birthday. There she meets Kim and Maureen’s grandson Flow. Shortly afterwards when Clate with a split lip, coutesy of Hugo, bumps into Flow, he invites her to go out with them next Friday. However Flow had “forgotten” that it was his and Jackie’s engagement dinner, so asks Kim to go round and let Clate know.

Clate opens up about her home life to Kim and questions herself as to why she doesn’t leave. Kim tells her it is “The Frog Theory” – when you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps out and lives, but if you put it in cold water, then gently heat up, it stays in and dies. They talk for hours and then Clate asks Kim to kiss her, but he is too loyal to Flow.

Shortly afterwards Clate inherits a large sum of money from her biological father. She reverts from her nickname Clate back to her real name Clea and plucks up courage to leave home. Meanwhile Kim has realised that Flow is staying with girlfriend Jackie, so as he doesn’t have Clate’s number, he leaves a note in a beer bottle, hidden in the ivy outside Clate’s bedroom window, not realising she has already left.

Kim’s probation officer suggests he apply for college, and this is how we are introduced to the principal, when he signs up for a business planning course. He and Flow set up their own business.

There is lots more to come in the story, such as how does the principal feature and Flow bumping into Clea when she returns to England and asking her to join him and Kim for dinner. But I shall say no more.

The Frog Theory will be published on 14th February and is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.
Excerpt from The PartyThe moment Kim sees Clea for the first time, known for the moment by her nickname, Clate.

Kim looked Clate up and down. She was medium height and dying of embarrassment. She had long, blondish hair, which was covering most of her face, and she was wearing a shapeless dress, which didn’t give any clue as to what her future might be like.
‘You look like Cousin Itt off The Munsters under all that hair,’ said Kim, as an ill-chosen icebreaker.
‘I think you’ll find that Cousin Itt featured in The Addams Family, actually,’ she replied tartly.
La di da! Thought Kim, Jackie and Flow simultaneously.
‘He was only kidding,’ said Flow, trying to save the day ‘Can I get you a drink?’
‘Sauvignon blanc, please,’ said Clate, without thinking much. It was the only white wine she had heard of.
‘Errrrr…’ said Flow, exchanging glances with Kim. ‘I’m not sure they’ll feature any of that at this bar! It’s a white wine, isn’t it?’
‘Actually, I’ll have whatever you’re drinking,’ she said, eager to get the attention away from herself as soon as possible.
‘A pint of lager?’
‘No… not that…’ She looked at Jackie’s drink. ‘What are you drinking?’ she asked shyly, in a glazed millisecond taking in Jackie’s dark good looks and beautifully fitted top and skirt combo, complementing her curly, compact figure. Her bra strap was showing and it was red. Clate had never owned red underwear.
‘Vodka and lemonade,’ said Jackie, still looking her up and down.
‘I’ll have one of those, then,’ she said, going red again as Flow beckoned for the barman.
They stood in embarrassed silence and Clate stared downwards at Jackie’s shapely legs, black strappy high sandals wrapped around neat feet sporting immaculately polished red toenails, Flow’s well-worn trainers that looked loved and comfortable below some sort of dark trousers.
‘So… What brings you here?’ said Jackie at last. Clate look up, flicking her hair out of her face.
Kim couldn’t work out whether she was beautiful or ugly; she had the kind of looks that needed a second opinion.


About the author

After attending school for model-making, Mordaunt started Image Casting in 1998, specialising in customised body castings. Over the course of 13 years, she worked on such films as Atonement and The Wildest Dream, as well as for personal clients like Lionel Richie. In 2012, she relocated to Botswana with her husband and daughter where she currently resides.

http://www.fionamordaunt.com/


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

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

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

A selection of Primula Light Cheese recipes plus giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I have created a number of recipes using Primula Cheese for various occasions. Well I’ve now come up with another selection, this time using Primula Light Cheese, which is 40% less fat than Primula Cheese Original. I received 3 free tubes of Primula Light for this purpose.

Primula Light Cheese


First up, we have a warming soup, just right for this time of year. I’ve kept the proportion of Primula fairly low in this recipe, to give it a more delicate flavour, as I do find that some cheese soups like broccoli and stilton can be rather overpowering. So if you prefer it cheesier, then do increase the amount of Primula.

Cheese and Onion Soup

Cheese and Onion Soup

Ingredients (serves 3)

350g onions
1 beef stock cube
30ml sunflower oil
1000ml boiling water
1 tbsp cornflour
Approx 50g tube of Primula Light

Method

Peel and chop the onions.
Crumble the stock cube into a jug and add boiling water.
Stir until dissolved.
Gently hear the oil in a large saucepan.
Add the onions and fry until lightly browned.
Mix in the cornflour and cook for 1 minute.
Gradually add the stock, stirring continually.
Stir in the Primula.
Simmer for a further 15 minutes, stirring continually.
Tip soup into bowls.
Carefully float cheesy bites (see recipe below) on the top of each bowl.
Serve and enjoy.

Cheese and Onion Soup


And I also made some Cheesy Bites to float on the top of the soup. Alternatively these can be served as appetisers.

Cheesy Bites

Cheesy Bites

Ingredients (makes 10)

2 slices of bread
Approx 75g tube of Primula Light

Method

Leave bread to dry out before use.
Preheat fan oven to 200 deg C.
Using a cutter, cut fluted shapes in the bread.
Spread all over with Primula.
Carefully press out shapes from underneath.
Place on a greased baking tray and cook for about 5 minutes.
Serve with soup and enjoy.

Cheesy Bites


And finally, when I blogged about my jam pinwheels last month, one of my readers suggested that I try making some cheese and marmite ones. I thought this an excellent idea and great for Primula. Since not everyone in the family likes marmite, I did half with Primula alone and half with Primula and marmite. I liked the ones with marmite best.

Cheesy Pinwheels

Cheesy Pinwheels

Ingredients (makes approx 14)

1 sheet puff pastry
Approx 100g tube of Primula Light
1 tsp marmite

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 deg C.
Unroll the pastry
Spread all over with Primula.
Dot one half of the pastry with marmite.
Roll the pastry up.
Cut into slices, approx 1cm wide.
Place on greased baking sheets.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from baking sheets immediately and place on cooling rack.
Best served warm, but can also be served cold.
Enjoy.

Cheesy Pinwheels

A 150g tube of Primula Light Cheese currently retails at £1.45 at Tesco which I believe is a fairly consistent price with other cheese spreads. It contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

And if you wish to see more Primula recipes, you may check out my Cheesy Chicken BreastsSummer sides, Easter or Christmas recipes.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a tube of Primula Light Cheese 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.

I’d love to hear your ideas for a recipe using Primula.

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

VicksTricks for coughs and colds

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take part in the #VicksTricks Campaign. I received a free goody pack comprising a bedtime book, finger puppets, magic tricks videos and Vicks First Defence nasal spray.

#VicksTricks goody pack

Regular readers of my blog will know that son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia back in 2013 and was on chemotherapy for over 3 years which he completed last summer. During this period, the chemotherapy drugs suppressed his immune system, so he was much more prone to catching the bugs going round school. We had to follow a protocol of checking his temperature several times every day and if it spiked above 38 degrees, he was admitted to hospital for a course of intravenous antibiotics for at least 48 hours. He was always confined to an individual cubicle and not permitted to leave it for risk of catching infections from other children, so he never got to see the fantastic playroom in the ward.

in hospital

Instead my number one tip distraction was down to Mum and Dad. Short bursts of tv, games, WiiU, iPad, reading to keep him entertained but not overtire him between resting.

Secondly regular trips by Mum or Dad to Costa to fetch him smoothies and a panini, as needless to say, he didn’t like the hospital food.

Favourite cuddly toys must be there.

And finally making sure I didn’t succumb to any bugs myself. In particular, I remember son1 getting admitted to hospital on Boxing Day 2015. I was the only member of the household who avoided the vomitting bug, which I put down to zealous hand washing. And I’ve always been a big fan of Vicks First Defence even before son1 got cancer, using it whenever I feel the slightest tickle in my throat.

#VicksTricks finger puppets

Nobody is ill at the moment, but we’ve been having fun, reading the book, playing with the puppets and watching the magic tricks videos. Son1 has a magic set which he enjoys. And as a child myself, I went through a phase of telling everyone that I was going to be a magician when I grew up. Never materialised along with other equally bizarre planned occupations of farmer or spy. I used to put on magic shows for the babysitter, poor lady.

I’ve attempted the sliced banana trick, but I need to practise it more, as I hadn’t sliced it that well.

Here are the key findings from Vicks consumer research:

  • Over half (52%) of parents said that rest was the most important thing for making children feel better
  • This was followed by ‘medicine’, which 40% of parents rely on
  • More than a third of parents (36%) believe in the power of TLC

And when it comes to keeping children entertained:

  • Three out of four (75%) British parents put on the TV or a DVD
  • Over a quarter (27%) read to their children
  • 1 in 10 parents get really creative; either telling jokes (8%) or even do magic tricks (2%)

I’d love to hear what tricks you have up your sleeve, to make your children feel better when they are unwell.

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Disclosure. This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign.  This post mentions products I received for free. All opinions are my own.

STEAM AHEAD! DIY FOR KIDS by Sumita Mukherjee

I have received a free e-copy of the book STEAM AHEAD! DIY FOR KIDS by Sumita Mukherjee to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Steam Ahead DIY for kids by Sumita Mukherjee

Here is the book blurb.

STEAM AHEAD! DIY FOR KIDS is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step instruction book for parents and children. It introduces kids between the ages of four and twelve to the magic of electronics, game and toy designing, printing, understanding basic scientific principles and most importantly, they’ll have a blast making them. Inside this book you will find projects on LED cards, dance pads, handmade soaps, bubble blowers, Play-Doh circuits, cloud lanterns, scribbling bots and more!

Created by NASA STEM certified leader, Sumita Mukherjee, this book is jam packed with projects that will engage any bored child. The hands-on projects are broken into areas of practical implementation: Party, Build, Toys and Art. They have also been sorted according to levels of difficultly and STEAM relevance. Adding one or two experiments per week can get your child excited about science, inventions, science fair projects and overall classroom performance.

This book is full of fun science activity projects. Son1 chose to make a lava pen. We had most of the things needed for it apart from the tubing, so I bought some on eBay. The book didn’t indicate what internal and external dimensions so I guessed at 5x8mm. Also I don’t have a hot glue gun, so we used fabric glue.

lava pen

We did find it rather tricky as initially it leaked when we filled it, so we had to start again. This time we used more glue and pushed the pen further into the tube, before leaving it to dry overnight. But our perseverance was rewarded and son1 was able to carefully fill it. He did end up overshooting how much coloured water to use, but we were able to shake a few drops out to allow space for the glitter and oil. He is very proud of his creation.

Here is son1’s video review.

STEAM AHEAD! DIY FOR KIDS is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.87 in paperback or £3.27 in Kindle format. I do recommend this book for all its fun scientific projects that you can do at home with your children.

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