Category Archives: Reviews

Driven by Dane Cobain – book review and giveaway

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Driven by Dane Cobain to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Driven by Dane Cobain

Here is the book blurb.

Meet private detective James Leipfold, computer whizzkid Maile O’Hara and good-natured cop Jack Cholmondeley in the first book of the Leipfold series. A car strikes in the middle of the night and a young actress lies dead in the road. The police force thinks it’s an accident, but Maile and Leipfold aren’t so sure. Putting their differences aside, and brought together by a shared love of crosswords and busting bad guys, Maile and Leipfold investigate. But not all is as it seems, as they soon find out to their peril…

The story starts by introducing us to Donna Thompson but by the end of chapter 1, she is dead, killed in a hit and run. Then chapter 2 feels slow with random snapshots as we meet private investigator James Leipfold, play director Tom Townsend and computer whizz Maile O’Hara. Chapter 3 was equally slow, this time meeting Detective Inspector Jack Cholmondeley, Sergeant Gary Mogford, Constable Groves and informing Donna’s next of kin, her mother Eleanor, who hasn’t seen Donna in years.

Then with the highlight of chapter 4 initially seeming to be skint Leipfold advertising for an intern and reading the newspaper, which mentions the hit and run, I was about ready to give up on this book. It was just way too slow, however I persevered. Leipfold decides to visit the scene where he bumps into Cholmondely who he knows from way back. From his investigative methods, I started to get the feeling that Leipfold may be the one who can find the mystery driver rather than the police, as he quickly finds a house nearby with CCTV. And by the end of the chapter, we have linked in another of the main characters, Maile is waiting outside Leipfold’s office. She wants to be his intern.

As things start to hot up, I’m glad I kept going with this book, but I would suggest to the author that he needs to hook the reader in sooner. The CCTV appears to indicate that the car has no driver. How can this be? Is the driver hiding out of view? Is the vehicle being controlled remotely? Could it be pre-meditated murder rather than an accidental hit and run?

So in true whodunnit style, potential suspects start to stack up for the crime. And so do alibis.

I loved the way Leipfold shares little clues to the police, then relying on them to do the necessary graft.

Driven is available on Amazon in paperback, audiobook and kindle formats. A modern detective mystery to get you thinking whodunnit. It is the first book in a series, so I’m looking forward to reading more and hoping that now we have been introduced to the sleuths, that the next title will unfold faster.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of Driven to one lucky winner.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

I’d love to hear about your favourite read.

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Vacancy: Viscount Preferred by Tammy Andresen – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Vacancy: Viscount Preferred by Tammy Andresen to review.

Vacancy Viscount Preferred by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Lady Priscilla is in trouble…

When a cousin she didn’t even know existed inherits her father’s title, the new Earl of Purlington wants more than just the earldom, he want’s Priscilla too. Or at least, her dowry. What she needs is a hero. A man to swoop in and save her despite her cousin’s intimidating lurking. Well not an actual hero, not like the one currently being featured in the papers for all his heroic deeds, but perhaps a man willing to stand up to her cousin and marry her despite the odd circumstances. But how does she find a man like that?

The Viscount of Ware stalks the night…

He wears a mask of course. It wouldn’t do as a lord of the realm to also be discovered as a vigilante. And then there’s the issue of the large scar on his face. It’s better hidden under a mask. But the work is dangerous and as his brother so bluntly points out, he has certain obligations to the viscountcy. Like making an heir… It’s a fair point, but what lady would wish to marry him? His life as a lord isn’t exactly normal and neither is his appearance.

That is until he sees an ad in the paper. A woman in need of a hero? A man in need of a baby? It’s a simple transaction. Easy.

Except from the first, Priscilla is nothing that he imagines and the attraction that sizzles between them only complicates everything. His emotions have been frozen for years. Why do they threaten to defrost now?

And worse yet, what will he do if he loses the battle for Priscilla’s hand and heart?

This is the fourth book in the Calling All Rakes series, but works perfectly as a stand-alone read. Here are the links to my reviews of the previous titles.
Wanted: An Earl For Hire
Needed: A Dishonorable Duke
Found: Bare with a Baron

This story begins with Lady Priscilla taking the very unusual scandalous step of placing an ad in the newspaper for a husband, in a desperate bid to avoid marrying her odious distant cousin Eugene. Following Priscilla’s father’s death, Eugene had inherited the earldom, but he greedily wants the money to go with it, namely Priscilla’s large dowry.

Meanwhile, she and her mother are forced to live in the same house as Eugene and he has restricted their daily life so much, that she has no opportunity to meet other suitors, hence her last ditch plan, the ad naming a time and date in Hyde Park, where she and friend Clara plan to hide behind the rose bushes, to assess who might show up.

The ad is seen by Ralph, valet and illegitimate brother to Wyatt, Viscount Ware, secretly a heroic masked battle-scarred mysterious vigilante whose deeds also feature in the paper. Ralph is aways badgering Wyatt to marry, as he has a duty to sire an heir for the viscountcy, so he points out the ad to Wyatt.

How will things pan out when the ladies spot the handsome but scarred lord from their hiding place? And if he comes calling at the house, what might the the enraged Eugene do? Priscilla soon works out that Wyatt’s “footman” Ralph is his brother, but beyond that, Wyatt is very vague in answer to her questions. What might be the mystery?

Vacancy: Viscount Preferred is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. A nice short romantic story with a hint of mystery.


About the author

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

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The Duke and the Debutante by Katherine Ann Madison – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Duke and the Debutante by Katherine Ann Madison to review.

The Duke and the Debutante by Katherine Ann Madison

Here is the book blurb.

What happens when the most eligible bachelor in England mistakes a lady for a servant? Mayhem, of course.

And Lady Elizabeth dislikes anything that draws attention to herself. Which is why she’s hiding in the kitchen when the most distinguished and available guest arrives, The Duke of Wingate. It’s not as though she has a chance no matter how many match making schemes her mother and his aunt can cook up. Why would one of the most powerful men in England want her?

He’s too rough for someone as delicate as her…

As a duke, he’ll have to marry and make an heir. There’s no question about that. But he’s little patience for games and even less for courting. He’s busy and besides, he’ll not allow a few scheming biddies to dictate his future.

Which is why he sneaks into the kitchen of his aunt’s house rather than entering through the front door. He’ll show them… But his attempts to foil their plans send him crashing, literally, into Lady Evelyn.
Yes, she’s beautiful, and sweet, and gentle, and completely wrong for him. Isn’t she? Definitely. Possibly… perhaps a kiss will help him decide.

This is the first title in Katherine Ann Madison’s new sweet Regency Romance series Matchmaking on the Marriage Mart. From previous more steamy book reviews, the author may be more familiar to many of my followers as Tammy Andresen. But she uses the pseudonym Katherine Ann Madison for a sweet innocent read.

The story begins with the Duke of Wingate attempting to sneak into his Aunt’s house, the Countess of Greenburg, via the kitchen to avoid the crowd waiting in front of the house to greet him. There he scares a maid eating a spoonful of bread pudding mixture. But it is no maid, it is Lady Evie Dunstable hiding here to avoid attention and now she is covered in pudding!

Well that is certainly a different start to a story and made me laugh. But within minutes Evie’s mother and Lady Greenburg and other guests are arriving in the kitchen, flustering Evie further. And her mother is already in match-making mode. It seems that Lady Greenburg is too.

How will the Duke and Evie react?

The Duke and the Debutante is available on Amazon in Kindle format. A delightful read from Katherine Ann Madison.

However the blurb needs some proof-reading as it initially refers to Evie incorrectly as Lady Elizabeth and further on, correctly as Lady Evelyn.


About Tammy Andresen

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

Website – http://www.tammyandresen.com

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Her Frozen Cry by Carolyn Arnold – book review

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

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

Her Frozen Cry by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

The moon shines through the open window, bathing the woman in pale light. Blood-red wine from a shattered glass soaks into the cream blanket beside her, and her dull eyes stare vacantly at the framed photograph in her hand.

When beautiful wife and mother Alicia Gordon is found dead in a remote woodland cabin, Detective Amanda Steele is shocked to discover that she knows the husband. Amanda hasn’t spoken to Tony since she lost the love of her own life seven years ago, and seeing tragedy tearing her old friend’s family apart brings back so many painful memories.

Alicia was alone when she died, but she was so young, and Amanda can’t help feeling suspicious. Then she discovers that Alicia’s sleep medication had been tampered with, slowly poisoning her over several days. Amanda wants to trust that the sorrow on Tony’s face is real, but the more she digs into his marriage, the more it seems that he had opportunity, and motive…

Interviewing one of Alicia’s old colleagues, Amanda is shaken to her core when the woman suddenly collapses in her arms, dying in seconds from a lethal dose of the same poison that killed Alicia. But what could link this woman to Tony?

With her partner blaming Amanda for not arresting Tony immediately, she needs to prove that he isn’t the killer, or accept that the second woman’s death could be on her hands. She’s running out of time and leads when she discovers threatening messages sent to both victims. It’s the final clue to unmasking the most twisted killer Amanda has ever come up against, and to stop them she’ll have to risk everything…

This is the fifth title in the Detective Amanda Steele series and here are the links to my reviews of the previous titles.
The Little Grave
Stolen Daughters
The Silent Witness
Black Orchid Girls

The prologue features a suspicious death alone in a locked remote cabin, but how did she die? Murder? Suicide? Accident?

Detective Amanda Steele and partner Trent are investigating the death of Alicia Gordon, a successful entrepreneur business woman in her 30’s, who founded New Belle cosmetic company. But Amanda recognises a face in a family photo found under the victim. It is Tony Bishop, an old friend who she hasn’t seen in years. Or even an old flame?

She discovers that Tony recently married Alicia. Can she continue on the case? Is there a conflict of interest? When will she tell Sergeant Malone?

Family, colleagues, competitors, nanny, ex’s all come under suspicion, although Amanda can’t believe Tony could possibly be guilty.

Hate mail, lies, poison? what else will they unearth?

And then there is another death. What is the connection? Could they have prevented this?

Her Frozen Cry is available on Amazon. An excellent thrilling page turner full of twists and turns. Highly recommended. Some continuity references to earlier stories for those who enjoy reading the whole series but perfect as a stand-alone read too.

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

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

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


About the author

Carolyn Arnold was born in a small Canadian town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower. As an international bestselling and award-winning author, she has several continuing fiction series, including her popular Detective Madison Knight series. She offers readers nearly three dozen published books in genres ranging from crime thrillers and hard-boiled mysteries to cozy mysteries and action adventures. She currently lives north of London, Ontario, with her husband and two beagles.


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

Her Frozen Cry by Carolyn Arnold - Blog Tour

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Grow Your Own Micro-Greens on the Window-Sill plus giveaway

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

I do love the idea of subscription boxes, particularly the element of surprise as to what will be in the next box. There is such a wide selection of themes that there is sure to be something for everyone. Recently I came across a new one – Silly Greens – the grow-your-own micro sized greens club and knew instantly that I just had to try this eco-friendly idea. So I was delighted to be selected to review one of their boxes for free. Plus when you page down, you’ll find details of a giveaway.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

I’ve been dabbling with growing my own vegetables in the garden for a few years now, but had never thought of micro greens, even though they are so tasty. But I can remember one of my first introductions to growing plants as a young child was cress ‘heads’ in empty egg shells on the window sill. Sounds like time to return to my roots if you’ll pardon the pun.

Micro greens are ideal, as anyone can grow them indoors on their window sill all year round, even if you have no outdoor space. So the Silly Greens box fits easily through your letterbox and they have already got you started by sowing the seeds before sending it to you. Bet you’re wondering how that works, via the mail service, and possibly arriving upside down on your door mat. Well the seeds are not sown in soil, but on an Agar mat, which is an organic plant based jelly made from seaweed, which on the whole stickily keeps the seeds in place. No herbicides or pesticides involved and peat-free too. It doesn’t specifically say, but I believe this comes under the umbrella of hydroponic growing methods. Although I have to say the density of mine did vary somewhat across the trays, so I do wonder if they had moved a bit in transit. Since they had already germinated and sprouted, I wasn’t sure whether I should attempt to spread them out a bit, so I decided best to not touch. However the bunching didn’t seem to matter, apart from maybe the aesthetics of my photos.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

The box has a label to warn that it contains perishable products, plus indicates which is the correct way up, so all I had to do on arrival was tear off the lid. There was a very useful booklet inside – The Green Touch, full of useful tips and facts along with a bit more information on the card about the varities included. So I discovered that it was recommended to keep the card covering them until their height pushes it off, that they don’t need the light initially. I also had to be careful with not much watering, as I do find with all gardening that I’m prone to either over or under watering. However Agar is a bonus in that regard, as it keeps the seeds hydrated without needing to be sprayed and the cover helps to maintain the humidity. I just passed that tip onto my Dad as he has been left in charge of making sure some carrot seeds that my niece planted on a sheet of damp kitchen roll don’t dry out whilst they are away on holiday.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

Silly Greens have a wide range of micro greens listed on their website, but my box contained the following three crops – radish, rocket and turnip. Initially I knew which was which, due to the labelling on the card but I have to admit I got into a muddle, when I carried the individual trays to the sink for watering. I’m sure they didn’t realise how spot on their name choice would be in this regard, but apologies if I seem silly and green, talking about the  wrong crop now. The box was marked with the date of sowing, so you can easily keep track of progress. I decided it was time to start harvesting on day 10 as I think the ‘radish’ was starting to get a bit leggy. I cut all the ‘radish’ but only some of the other two, allowing them to continue to grow for longer.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

Now hopefully you will appreciate some inspiration of how to serve these nutritious healthy sprouting seeds. Apart from a quick taste-test, my first harvest went in a salad I was making to take for my lunch at work. I don’t follow a particular recipe when making salad, but I usually do some prep in advance, for instance roasting some veggies in the oven, whilst cooking dinner. So this particular salad contained the following other ingredients along with the micro-greens.
Roasted sweet potato, parsnip and onion
Very slightly steamed broccoli (only because I prefer it that way to raw)
Shredded iceberg lettuce and red cabbage
Carrot, cucucmber and tomato
Several genererous spoonfuls of natural yoghurt

Silly Greens micro-greens as salad garnish

I harvested some more of the ‘rocket’ and ‘turnip’ micro-greens on day 14, this time to garnish a soup I was making. Who would like to guess the flavour from the image? I’ll tell you at the bottom of this blog post. The booklet indicates that most micro-greens are at their best at 3-4 inches tall. At this point, mine are probably still between 2-3 inches in height.

Nettle soup

Once the crop is over, the Agar jelly and roots can go in either home compost or food waste. All other packaging is recyclable at home, plus the plastic trays can be washed and repurposed. However I decided to try and see if any seeds were still yet to germinate by popping them outside in a planter.

Composting Silly Greens

So each box of 3 greens currently costs £5 including postage and you can set up a subscription on a 1, 2, 4 or 6 weekly basis, depending how frequently you want your greens. It is very flexible too as you may pause or reschedule your delivery. That is such a bargain in my opinion and of course so fresh, as farmed micro-greens typically have such a short shelf life in comparison. Excellent value for money, sustainable and environmentally friendly too. Ideal as a gift too.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Silly Greens to give away a 6 month subscription of micro green boxes to one lucky winner. For clarity, this will be on a monthly basis, so the prize is 6 boxes in total.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Now let me tell you the flavour of my soup. It is nettle and the microgreens certainly gave a delicious tasty boost to both my salad and soup. Tell me in the comments if you guessed the soup flavour correctly. Here is the link to my recipe.

I’d love to hear what are your favourite micro greens?

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Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

They’re back! Julian and Rome are taking their show on the road. This time to lovely, old England in search of Camelot. While there, the Knight and Dragon will be trying to solve the mystery of the Talismans, the mystery of their shadowy stalker, and the mystery of sibling rivalry. Prepare to meet some new faces and, of course, some new Darkbrands as the two further their adventures across the pond.

This is the second title in the Talisman series. It works okay as a stand-alone read due to the initial recap, but it is better in my opinion if you have read the first title The Search For Synergy in advance, as then you will have better knowledge of Julian and Rome bonding as knight and fire dragon to defend Earth.

The story begins with boys Julian and Rome flying to England on a school trip to Bridgewater in Somerset. However their main reason for going is to try to find clues about Camelot, to see if they can find a link to the dark monsters who are trying to take over the world. Coincidentally Julian’s hated younger sister Camela is at the same boarding school where they will be staying.

Also why does principal Mrs Case seem to be staring at them so much? Does she know something about their secret? Could she be an ally or an enemy?

The author has chosen to assume that Bridgewater is the location of mythical Camelot. I’ve heard of a few possible sites for Camelot previously, but first time I’ve come across the idea of it being Bridgewater. He also describes the town centre as covering 15 square miles, but it is only a small market town really!

So the boys go to meet Camela and her best friend Krysta in the school library and then start their research for clues. Rome is surprised to see how anti-dragon Camela is. She and Julian are like chalk and cheese. Camela talks in Olde English, with phrases like methinks and silly knave.

They get a shock when they try to phone their elderly mentor Mr Jones. He hangs up on them and transports himself there to hear about the clues. Will the boys get to try that trick?

And who is the shadowy figure stalking them? Not everyone is quite as they seem?

Once again lots of magic, talismans, monsters and portals. Throw in some sibling rivaltry plus a nutcase and plenty of mystery and danger. Can they prevail?

Riders of Fire and Ice is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. A great follow-up read to The Search for Synergy. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

However I did feel the author could have done more research on Somerset. He had made it sound very American.

And am I reading too much into how similar Camela’s name is to Camelot? Possibly since Julian’s middle name is Pellinore, another character from Arthurian legend.

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Baron of Clubs by Tammy Andresen – book review

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

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

Baron of Clubs by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Mysterious and larger than life, this baron might not have been the best choice for elopement…

Lady Elizabeth Stanton needed to wed quickly in order to save her brother but running away with a rakehell of a baron…. Cryptically quiet, the Baron of Clubs is the definition of the strong and silent sort of fellow. As frightening as he is handsome, he steals her breath with every penetrating glance from his hazel gaze.

There’s no turning back, however, once she leaves London with her new fiancé. Besides, he’s already protected her once, even she can attest to that. But as she leaves the security of her family and heads off on a larger-than-life adventure with a complete stranger, she has to wonder if this mad journey to Scotland was the largest mistake of her life or her first step toward becoming a woman all her own.

And as her fear heats into passion, she must also wonder about the man who’s swept into her life, carried her off from her home, and rewritten her entire world. Because, if she’s not careful, he might just steal her heart too.

We’re now upto book 19 in the Lords of Scandal series and the covers are continuing to get even more risque. I always read the kindle version so not an issue for me, but I have to say I don’t think I would sit on a train holding this one as a paperback. However the storyline is good and just like all the others, it works perfectly as a stand-alone read too.

The story starts by re-enacting a scene from the previous book, Queen of Hearts when Bella overpowered an intruder in her home, but this time from Lizzie’s viewpoint. Lizzie, Lady Elizabeth Stanton is the sister of Edge, hero of the last book and she is scared. But her brother and Clubs, Baron Purewater have just arrived. The Baron gives Lizzie his card, saying if anyone attacks again or she needs anything, he will help her.

So Lizzie comes up with a mad self-sacrificing plan to ask Clubs to elope, so that her brother wouldn’t have to marry for money in order to fund a dowry for Lizzie, but instead he could marry for love.

When she knocks on his door after midnight, what will Colton, the Baron of Clubs say to her proposal? She is dumb-founded by the immediate answer of yes and within an hour, is heading from London to Gretna Green in a carriage with the Baron, a total stranger. Has she made a big mistake? And what will Edge do, when he finds his sister gone?

Baron of Clubs is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. Another nice short light romantic story from Tammy Andresen.


About the author

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

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The Rescue of Vincent by Bob Doerr – book review

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

Earlier this year I reviewed The Enchanted Coin by Bob Doerr and I have now received a free e-copy of The Rescue of Vincent, the second title in the series to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Rescue of Vincent by Bob Doerr

Here is the book blurb.

Fourteen year old Ricky Street discovers a magical coin in a small creek near his parent’s Florida home. The coin has his name inscribed on it along with directions that he toss it into the fountain by the Tree of Life. He does so and suddenly finds himself transported to a strange world where he encounters two other teen agers from two separate worlds who had also been transported there by magical coins that they had found. The three soon meet Vincent Wollitzer, whom they save from drowning in quicksand, and learn that if Vincent doesn’t reach civilization soon his world will be thrust into a terrible war. The exciting adventures the four experience in their efforts to get Vincent back to civilization include surviving attacks by dragons, sea monsters, and other strange creatures.

Adventure and tossing a magical coin into the fountain by the Tree of Life at Disney World is the link between this book and The Enchanted Coin, the first title in the series. But all the characters are different.

So the story starts with 14 year old Ricky finding a coin during a storm. Just like in the first book, the coin is engraved with a personalised message “Ricky Street, throw this coin into the fountain in front of the Tree of Life!”. He shows it to his Mom and together they plan a trip to Disney World. But when he tosses the coin into the fountain, everything goes dark.

He can’t see anything. Where is he? Where is his Mom? A girl speaks to him in the darkness. She is Lexus and she too has just thrown a coin into a lake. Then a scream and another boy, Bebo arrives, who also tossed a coin into a river. They have all been transported to this dark cave, but why?

When they reach daylight, they observe how different they all look. Lexus has blue skin and hair, whilst Bebo is hairless and very short. They are all from different worlds. Soon they also start coming across dangerous creatures and poisonous plants, but they use their varied abilities to work togther as a team.

When they hear a call for help, is that why they have all been brought here? They discover  another boy trapped in quicksand. This is Vincent who was in a plane crash, enroute to becoming leader of his world. Vincent lloks different too, being very furry. If he doesn’t get there, a terrible war may ensue. Can they all pull together overcoming the challenges, to get Vincent there in time? And will the others be able to return to their own worlds?

I really loved how this story celebrates the diversity and teamwork of the 4 main characters. But I would have preferred a bit more variation between the covers of both this book and the previous title.

The Rescue of Vincent is another brilliant fantasy adventure read, which I highly recommend to teens and children aged 9+.

And for those of you like me, who hadn’t heard of it, here is some information regarding the Tree of Life at Disney World. Sounds an amazing sculpture with over 300 carvings of species including some extinct, plus a theatre at the base.

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Circle of Betrayal by Ruth O’Neill – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Circle of Betrayal by Ruth O’Neill to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Circle of Betrayal by Ruth O'Neill

Here is the book blurb.

Lena Farnham has it all: a job she loves, a wonderful husband, a huge house, and a baby about to arrive. She’s the happiest she’s ever been, and she can’t believe how lucky she is.

Unfortunately, Lena’s luck is about to run out.

Someone is following her, and not only that – they’re leaving frightening messages, and threatening her perfect life. Even worse? Her husband Sean doesn’t believe any of it.

When the baby finally arrives, however, Lena’s follower is the least of her worries. Everything in her life is about to change, but why? What did she do to deserve this? And what isn’t Sean telling her?

Lena embarks on a journey to uncover the lies, deceit, and betrayal from the one person she loves and trusts the most… her husband.

Even the most perfect people can have dark pasts – and even darker secrets.

Different chapters are told from the perspective of different characters with some overlap, so the story set in Portsmouth, starts with Lena, the main protagonist. Lena, a teacher is married to doting Sean and expecting her first child. But she is upset by an incident at school when one of the students threatens and hurts her, which results in him being expelled.

Then chapter 2 is from Sean’s view and although he is a caring husband, we discover he has a dark secretive past, which is rearing its head again.

Meanwhile in chapter 3, Lena is getting paranoid by a shadow following and watching her. Is there someone there? More things continue to scare her, but they always disappear before Sean sees, so he doesn’t believe her.

And so the story progresses. We also get chapters from the mysterious stalker. Lena tries to be proactive about the situation setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group, making a new friend with her neighbour Tracy. But we soon discover Tracy isn’t quite as she seems. And nor is the midwife.

Events continue to spiral in this psychological thriller after baby Charlie is born, as all the strands of the story are woven together. Who to trust? What to believe? Why are certain people behaving the way they are? What does a photo reveal? It was easy to guess who the stalker was but not why.

Circle of Betrayal is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats. A very intense read with plenty of twists.

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Fun flying a Remote Control Helicopter

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

The boys have really enjoyed playing with childrens’ basic remote control car toys in the past, but now that they are older, these only get played with very occasionally, mostly sitting neglected on the shelf, whilst video games now dominate. So when Carrie from Syma Toys approached me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing one of their more sophisticated remote control vehicles which are aimed at all ages, also advising me that Syma products are designed to be as eco friendly as possible and are constructed to minimize material waste and ensure high quality, I immediately said yes. An ideal chance to get the boys outside and interested in something non-screen based.

Syma toys Remote Control S37 raptor helicopter

I showed my younger son the pictures of the three choices on offer and he selected the remote control helicopter drone, which was sent via Amazon. Dispatch was very prompt and it was a good job that Syma had packaged the product well, as at some point during delivery, a hole had been torn through the Amazon box, which went right through the Syma cardboard too. I have no idea how that happened, but actions in the supply chain like that can be so frustrating for both the customer and the vendor, particularly small businesses like Syma.

yma toys RC S37 raptor helicopter

Moving onto the product itself, the package contains the RC helicopter itself, the RC transmitter, along with a spare rechargeable battery for the helicopter, a USB charging cable, a spare tail blade, screwdriver and instruction manual. I’m unsure why a spare tail blade is included as standard, but other spare parts can be purchased via the Syma website. And if you prefer visual instructions, videos are available to view. I knew in advance that I would need to provide batteries for the remote control transmitter, so I purchased those at the same time. Amazon indicates that you need 6 AA batteries, but actually it is only 4. However I’m pretty sure most customers would prefer for the batteries to be included too. Maybe something Syma could consider in the future.

yma toys Remote Control S37 raptor helicopter

The instructions indicated a 150 minute duration for a full battery charge, which should give about 7 minutes flight time, so I set to with that as the first activity, getting both batteries charged up. It is easy to know when they are ready as the charger changes from red to blue light. Always best to stop charging at that point, as over-charging would degrade the life of a battery.

Charging RC helicopter battery

We don’t have space inside our home for flying it, so we had to wait for a wind-free day to fly outside. The instructions advise wind conditions of Force 1 or less. Finally we were good to go. My younger son and I had both read the instructions and watched the videos to make sure we knew what we needed to do. It all sounded reasonably straight-forward but this was where things started to go awry. We couldn’t seem to get the helicopter and transmitter to pair together, even though we following the correct logic sequence of plugging the power lead from the battery into the helicopter, swtiching on so the helicopter light started flashing. Then switching on the transmitter, so it started flashing too, pushing the left joystick up, then pressing back down. At this point both devices should have a constant light, but we were only achieving that on the transmitter, whilst the helicopter light was continuing to flash.

yma toys Remote Control S37 raptor helicopter

But Syma customer service to the rescue. We sent them a video showing how we couldn’t seem to pair the helicopter and transmitter and they sent us another. So 5 stars for helpful support. This time we were in business. A piece of cake to easily pair the two this time. And even more of a bonus, it arrived on a beautifully sunny calm day. Ideal flying conditions.

yma toys Remote Control S37 raptor helicopter

yma toys Remote Control S37 raptor helicopter

Our first flights were in the garden, but with an inexperienced pilot at the controls, we soon realised the lack of space, between walls, fences and other obstacles, with a few minor crashes. So we decided to drive to somewhere with a big open space. We opted for a large meadow, but another difficulty became apparent. It is not so easy to take off in long grass. And an even more challenging problem, was locating it when it landed at a distance away. Also we were slightly worried that it was going to fly off on its own, as my son said it wasn’t always responding to his joystick directions. The instructions do indicate that the operating range is 30m.

So in hindsight, when learning to fly, it would probably be best to start in a large indoor area, if you have access to somewhere like a church hall or scout hut. And failing that, a large open outdoor space with easier terrain like tarmac or paved. However, all told my son had a bundle of fun and will certainly be practising his flying technique. Otherwise we may be checking out their spare parts store sooner than anticipated.

This helicopter is the deluxe top of the range S37 raptor model which currently retails on Amazon for just under £120, so excellent as a gift or special treat to yourself. Syma also sell much cheaper budget aircraft. This toy appeals to children and adults alike, although children aged under 8 will require adult supervision. Plenty of fun to play with.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 5% off at Amazon with discount code: NZOJLDUU.

Do take a look at the Syma store. If you prefer you may purchase directly from them rather than via Amazon. They also sell some great looking camera drones, boats and tanks.

Regular followers of my blog will know that I always check out the sustainability angle of products, so this is what I found out on their website. The majority of their product lines are ethically made in China. Symatoys products are designed to be as eco friendly as possible and are constructed to minimize material waste and ensure high quality – exactly what Carrie told me.

And from the circular economy viewpoint I discovered they have a Reuse Program where they will send you free RC products which they cannot sell due to open packaging, to avoid plastic pollution of the warehouse wastefully disposing of them. An excellent idea in my opinion.

I also read that you may apply for an extra free battery to enjoy a longer flight time. A very kind offer. Plus once you register the product for 2 year warranty, most spare parts will be free of charge.

So to summarise, a great fun product and excellent customer service.

I’d love to hear about your favourite remote control toy.

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