Category Archives: Reviews

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

I have received a free e-copy of the book “The Second Son” by Andy Blackman to review.

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

Here is the book blurb.

As the second son of the Duke of Hampshire, Grenville St John Hampton isn’t likely to inherit his family’s title or estate, leaving him pondering an empty, aimless future. During the summer break from university, he impulsively decides to go backpacking with one of his oldest friends, Johnathan; their destination is Belize.

One sultry night on the Central American coastline, Grenville and Jonathan meet Tom. A game of darts takes a vicious turn. Realising he has nothing to look forward to back at home, Grenville decides to stay on in Belize with Tom, in pursuit of adventure. Together, the new friends establish an import business, and for the first time in his life, Grenville has a sense of purpose.

But back in England all is not well. The sudden death of his brother leaves Grenville with an unexpected – and now unwanted – inheritance, with new consequences and responsibilities. He will return to claim the family’s seat with a dark secret in tow.

I couldn’t wait to start reading this, as I really enjoyed Andy Blackman’s first novel “For the Love of Grace” and could immediately tell from the blurb, that it was a sequel.

I was most impressed how well this story linked in with the original but equally would work very well as a stand-alone book too. In fact, I can say it is the best book I have read in a long while.

The book starts when Grenville has just finished his first year at Cambridge University, but then to set the scene, goes back to his school days at Rayleigh School, where he met his 2 best friends Hugo and Jonathan. We also see his poor relationship with his older brother Stephan and Stephen’s friend Dexter Simon-Smyth.

Grenville and Jonathan head to Belize for the summer backpacking and this is where the story starts interacting with the previous novel. Tom rescues them when Grenville is stabbed in a bar for winning a darts match against the locals. Jonathan flies home but Grenville decides to remain in Belize with Tom where he learns Tom’s unorthodox way of life.

Meanwhile 5 years later back in England, Grenville’s brother Stephen dies in a car crash, whilst fiancée Sara escapes with scrapes and bruises. Jonathan writes to Grenville care of Tom’s PO Box, to pass on his parents request that he return home, with a reminder of the family motto “Duty before honour”.

Grenville returns but continues assisting Tom from afar in their secret dealings, registering Tom’s import business in the UK. He also finds the family estate in dire straits. I can’t say too much more for fear of spoilers, but he reunites with both Jonathan and Hugo, plus forms new relationships. Loads of twists and turns before Tom arrives in London for plenty more interaction with the first story.

The Second Son is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. I loved this story and highly recommend it. A real page turner.


Here is an extract from the book to whet your appetite.

This is where Grenville first meets the two boys who are going to be his closest friends, and later in life help him to achieve his secret with Tom.

Grenville moved towards the waving boy, and as he approached another boy asked him his name, Grenville replied, and the boy told him to stand with the other five boys already there. As Grenville approached, one of the boys smiled and said, “Hi I am Jonathan Spencer,” holding out his hand.

Grenville took the offered hand, and said, “Grenville Hampton, pleased to meet you,” and smiled for the first time since his arrival. Another boy introduced himself as Hugo Thorpe, and the three started to chat while they waited. Eventually there were eight boys standing in the huddle.

The boy with the blue hanky said, “follow me to the Walpole House, where we will meet Mr Raymond, the Walpole House Master.”

Turning, the boy smartly took off followed by the eight boys. Eventually they arrived at Walpole House, and were told to take a seat in the common room and wait for Mr Raymond. Mr Raymond eventually stepped into the middle of the common room and looked about at the eight boys and said, “Welcome to Walpole House, this will be your house and home whilst you are at Raleigh School, until you leave for future endeavours. I am Mr Raymond, the House Master of Walpole House. I am your first point of contact, if you have any problems or concerns whilst you are at Raleigh School or Walpole House, do not hesitate to contact me or if you require my assistance anytime night or day, my house is next door, please do not hesitate to knock. If I am not about, my wife Margret will know where I am at all times.” Smiling, Mr Raymond asked if there were any questions, all eight heads nodded in unison. Mr Raymond went on, “I know for most of you this is the first time you have ever been away from home and all this seems very daunting to you, but I know in a few days this place will seem like home as well.

“In your white envelopes that you are all clutching are the School and House Rules, plus your timetables for your days, evenings and weekends. We at Raleigh School and especially Walpole House expect great things from you freshman boys and I no doubt have the greatest faith in all your abilities to make Rayleigh School and Walpole House proud. That is all for now, I will get Graves here to take you to your new dormitory where your luggage has been delivered, so you can unpack and settle in for the night. I shall meet you all back in here tomorrow morning after breakfast. Graves will be with you in the morning to escort you to the Walpole Dining Hall for breakfast and give you a quick tour of Walpole House, so I will see you all tomorrow morning. Any questions?” And before anyone had a chance to answer, Mr Raymond strolled out of the common room.

Graves stood and said, “Follow me.” Leading the boys up three flights of stairs to the top floor, he opened a door onto eight beds with eight lockers; four on each side of the room. At the bottom was a washroom. “Find a bed and I will see you all at seven in the morning for breakfast,” said Graves before he closed the door on them.

Grenville took the last bed on the right near the washroom; Jonathan took the one next to him and Hugo the one opposite. The room was totally silent as the boys located their luggage from the assembled pile in the middle of the room. Eventually they all started to unpack and placed all their belongings into the lockers and small bedside cabinets. After a time, Grenville lay on his bed and thought of home and his grandfather, but before he had time to wallow, Hugo had come over and said, “Grenville, my dear chap, got any scoff, I am bloody well starving.”

Grenville started to laugh, and that seemed to break the tension in the room and before long, on the table in the middle of the room, a feast had been laid out of all the food the boys had brought with them, and they were all chatting and getting to know each other.


About Andy Blackman

After serving in the British Army for over twenty-five years in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren. His previous novel, For the Love of Grace, was published in 2016.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

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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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The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas to review.

The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas

Here is the book blurb.

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

I found this book quite confusing as the timeline kept swapping between nightmare flashbacks to when Max was imprisoned at a POW camp in Siberia and current 1949 occupied Germany described mainly from Max’s young daughter Netta’s viewpoint.

It is a full household with Max, his wife Erika, Netta, Max’s parents Martha and Karl, invalid Tante Bertel and servant Karin. Things get even more complicated as Karin is dating Roderick, who the reader has already learnt had an affair with Erika whilst Max was a POW. Martha knows about this and warns Karin she will lose her job if she doesn’t stop seeing Roderick.

The reader discovers that Netta seems to have an eating disorder, although her family seem unaware. And she tells her father that someone has been watching her. She also has a bad cough due to pollution. Her parents are just deciding to send her away to the seaside where the air will be better, when police arrive. There has been a murder. Are some of them suspects?

There are more characters to meet including some from Max’s time at the POW camp, but I’m going to stop now as I don’t wish to reveal who was murdered. This happened quite near the start of the story, but as I said before I found it all quite confusing.

The Watcher is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A challenging read and not one that I hugely enjoyed, although okay.

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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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In The Land of Broken Time by Maria Evan & Max Evan

I have received a free e-copy of the book “In the Land of Broken Time” by married couple Maria Evan & Max Evan for son1 to review. To find out more about the authors, you may see their Facebook page here.

In The Land of Broken Time by Maria Evan and Max Evan

Here is the book blurb.

Join the time travel adventures of Christopher, Sophia and their retriever, Duke, as they find themselves in a hot air balloon that flies them to The Fairyland. They meet good and evil scientists, as well as a dubious gnome. Through this book you will learn about measuring time, creatures that never get old and about friendship. You will also learn how to make your own clocks!
This is a story about time travel for children from 8 to 12 years old, but their parents might find it interesting as well.

This is what son1 had to say.

I’m reviewing a book called ‘In the land of broken time’. I thought it good and rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s about a boy called Christopher who sneaks out of his house and into the circus. When someone discovers he doesn’t have a ticket, a girl called Sophie, who doesn’t have a ticket either, distracts everyone else to stop him getting into trouble. They meet a dog called Duke and they ride a hot air balloon 🎈 and land in the land of broken time…

But if you want to know more you’ll have to read the book 📚

In the Land of Broken Time

And I’ll add a few more comments myself. This is a short book at only 48 pages, but it packs in a lot of detail and really brings the adventure to life. Maria is also the illustrator. It focuses on different types of clocks like sun dials and hourglasses and also includes time travel. It features a pair of scientist brothers – one good and one bad. What will happen and will the children get safely home again?

This is the first children’s book by married couple Maria & Max Evan, originally written in Russian for their own son, but expertly translated. And the paperback version has been beautifully illustrated by Maria too.

In The Land of Broken Time is available on Amazon, currently priced at £4.77 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Highly recommended by both son1 and me.

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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.

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The Tyler Files #1: Smarty Pants! by Brian Rock plus giveaway

I have received a free e-copy of the book Smarty Pants! by Brian Rock for son2 to review. This is the first title in The Tyler Files series. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Tyler Files - Smarty Pants

Here is the book blurb.

Wimpy Kid meets Gravity Falls!

Tyler has a big problem. His pants won’t stop talking! How will he make it through the day without becoming the school laughing stock? And how will Tyler survive his pants’ “off the cuff” remarks to the school bully (and to his secret crush?) With a little help from his best friend, Tyler gives a first-hand account of the mysterious, improbable and occasionally funny events that are so strange they can only be found in THE TYLER FILES.
In addition, THE TYLER FILES breaks new ground in the chapter book genre by adding interactive backmatter to the end of the story. Tyler poses questions to stimulate creative thinking in readers. He introduces and give examples of idioms related to the story. He gives 10 fun facts about pants, and even tells some jokes!

This is what son2 had to say about the book.
I love this book because it is funny especially when Rob’s trousers split open.
The Tyler Files - Smarty Pants

To put son2’s comment into context, Rob is the school bully Rhino, so it is extra-funny when his trousers split open, when he bends down to try to punch Tyler, who had just lay down on floor, at his own talking trousers’ suggestion. It is an American book, so trousers are referred to as pants throughout. Of course this made it all the more funny in my son’s opinion. The story centres around the bizarre theme of a talking pair of trousers, but as far-fetched as this sounds, it works very well as a children’s title.

The Tyler Files series are written by Brian Rock and illustrated by Joshua Dawson. Smarty Pants! is the first book in the series and books 2 and 3 will be published later this month. These books are targeted at children age 7-10. After the story, there is some interactive material, so I tried asking son2 what everyday object he would choose to bring to life. He couldn’t think of anything but when I posed the same question to son1, he said a mushroom. He hates mushrooms, so we had some interesting answers to all the follow-up questions. There were also jokes, idioms and fun facts, although most of the facts were aimed at an older age bracket than the story.

Smarty Pants! is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Highly recommended by son2.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what everyday object you would choose to bring to life and why?

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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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Songmics Storage Ottoman review plus giveaway

Now I don’t know about you, but in our household, the boys seem to amass new possessions much more quickly than I can persuade them to filter things that they have really grown out of to either the charity shop or their younger cousins. So it is a continual struggle to keep on top of the mess and clutter that goes hand in hand with them. So I was delighted to be offered the chance to review a Fabric Folding Storage Ottoman Bench from Songmics for free.

Songmics Ottoman

The ottoman arrived flat-packed and you literally unfold the base to assemble in seconds. Couldn’t be simpler. Plenty of storage space inside for some of the boys’ toys and a comfortable padded seat on top. We’ve chosen to put it in the boys’ play area and they are now using it as a seat when playing video games. It is wide enough for both of them to sit together. A definite improvement rather than just sitting on the floor.

This product retails on Amazon, currently priced at £26.99 and comes in a choice of three colours, dark brown, grey and light grey. I opted for the brown which looks very nice against our terracotta carpet. A good quality sturdy product and very good value in my opinion.

According to the packaging, it has a maximum weight capacity of up to 300 kg. It does have a strange odour on the interior when new, but this wears off in a few days.

Songmics Ottoman

Do take a look at the Songmics UK Facebook page. They have a wide range of household products including interlocking storage units fairly similar to the one we purchased and assembled recently for our shoes. Wish I’d heard of this brand sooner.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a Fabric Folding Storage Ottoman to one lucky winner.
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A Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your top storage tips. I’m thinking another of these would be ideal for spare bedding.

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

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The White House Files by Sara Cobb

I have received a free e-copy of the book The White House Files by Sara Cobb to review. To find out more about the author you may see her website here.

The White House Files by Sara Cobb

Here is the book blurb.

She’ll do anything to unearth the secrets.
They’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

Hundreds of years after WWIII, Smithsonian archeologist Roslin Williams has uncovered an old Air Force One plane containing human remains. It is the greatest historical discovery of her lifetime, one that raises more questions than answers. Roslin is determined to dig up any information about the plane that she can and unravel the secrets behind it.

However, the dangerous powers behind this age-old scandal have plans of their own. Keeping facts buried is their number one priority and Roslin is getting in their way. With an assassin closing in to silence her once and for all, Roslin teams up with Special Agent Mark Appleton to unravel this ancient conspiracy. But with time running out, will they unearth the truth before they’re the next buried fatalities?

Even the best kept secrets can’t stay buried forever.

This book is set in the future, hundreds of years after WWIII, although we don’t get to know which century. Roslin is part of the archaeological team who are working on the dig of the century at the site where the White House once stood. On live camera feed, they uncover a door with the presidential seal and Martin, her annoying boss who has a tendancy to ignore protocol, tugs the door handle which breaks off and causes the door to jamb halfway open. He orders Roslin to squeeze through the gap and she falls face first onto skeletal remains. As she orientates herself, she realises she is in Air Force One.

The live feed has been watched by those who don’t want Air Force One found. They know secrets that have been handed down through many generations and it is their responsibility that those secrets remain secret. The discovery of Air Force One jeopardises the secrets. What will they do? Loads of twists and turns follow, as Roslin tries to piece together the mystery of what happened to Air Force One and who was on board. She struggles to read old documents found on the plane, as written English is now a dead language.

I normally avoid futuristic novels as they tend not to appeal. But I loved this one, as instead of focussing on the technology of future, Roslin is much more interested in the past. So her home was full of things that nobody else has heard of like a television and a combination safe hidden behind a painting. Her security system is a piece of masking tape placed on top of the door, and her roll of tape is running very low, but she doesn’t know where to obtain a new roll, since again it is an obsolete item. Similarly she has a battery operated flashlight keyring for emergencies but of course replacement batteries are obsolete too. And when she finds an artefact which she can’t identify, it turns out to be a USB stick. I just found all these touches that the author had included so appealing.

The White House Files is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.32 in Kindle format. A great read that kept me on the edge of my seat although I was disappointed that it ended so suddenly. The author is already writing the next in the series, so I’ll just have to wait. Highly recommended.

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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.

Guest post – Tangled jigsaw review and giveaway

I was recently offered the chance of reviewing a 100 piece children’s Disney Tangled jigsaw puzzle, but my boys took one look at the picture featuring Rapunzel and said “no way”. However I passed the opportunity onto my delighted niece.

Ravensburger Disney Tangled Jigsaw Puzzle

This is what my sister had to say.

My four year old daughter was excited when the jigsaw arrived, even though she didn’t know the movie, Tangled. Her six year old brother didn’t want to do it as he thought it was girly. She needed help with the jigsaw, so we did it together and then big brother decided he was interested and joined in about half way through. It was at the right level for him and they both enjoyed doing it. I thought the picture was fun, bright and lended itself well to a jisgaw for 6 year olds. 

Ravensburger Disney Tangled Jigsaw Puzzle

Ravensburger Disney Tangled Jigsaw Puzzle

Ravensburger Disney Tangled Jigsaw Puzzle

We don’t have Disney Channel on our tv, but I’m sure those of you with young children who do, will know that Tangled: The Series, a spin-off from the movie, launched on the Disney Channel earlier this year.

This lovely jigsaw made by Ravensburger features an image from Tangled: The Series, and with its 100 XXL size pieces, is targeted at children age 6+.

Ravensburger Disney Tangled Jigsaw Puzzle

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a Disney Tangled jigsaw puzzle 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 about your favourite jigsaw ever. Mine was a 500 piece circular one from York Castle museum that I did over and over again as a child. I can’t remember who gave it to me, as I’ve never actually visited the museum.

Or what about your favourite Disney film? I really can’t decide as I loved so many of them.

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Disclosure.  This is a review of a product my sister received for free.  All opinions are her own.

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Dating Daisy by Daisy Mae

I have received a free e-copy of the book Dating Daisy by Daisy Mae to review.

Dating Daisy by Daisy Mae

Here is the book blurb.

Daisy Mae has finally left her horrible husband after decades of unfulfilling marriage. Ready to embark on a new liberated life of adventure and fun, it dawns on Daisy that the last time she was asked out on a date was in the 80s, long before Whatsapp, Tinder, Happn and Bumble arrived; all meaningless words to Daisy’s frankly middle-aged ears.

As a sexual health doctor Daisy Mae, more than most, has reason to be cautious about throwing herself headfirst into 21st century dating. With guidance and encouragement from her seventeen-year-old daughter Imogen, her surrogate parents with a swanky house and swimming pool known fondly as The Amigos, and her friends Pinky and Jeannie, a nonagenarian who sends her insightful relationship tips from her nursing home, Daisy joins an online dating site in the hope that romance will swiftly follow.

But dating in the age of selfies and social media isn’t easy, and what begins as an innocent foray soon unravels in spectacular fashion. Daisy had not expected that she’d have to decode tech-speak (did you know 531 meant sex?), endure mortifying first dates with men who look nothing like their profiles, and be on the receiving end of an unwanted barrage of explicit photographs.

Is the price of finding love online too high? Or can Daisy Mae swipe her way to success?

This book is set in 2014, when 52 year old Daisy signs on to an internet dating site after one divorce and another 18 month relationship, because she wants to find a lifetime mate. Daisy lives with her 17 year old daughter Imogen, but we hear how she refers to her ex-husband as Voldemort.

She puts a lot of effort into how she portrays herself in her profile and photo and is disappointed to find not one wink, smile or email the next day. So instead she does a search on the site for non-smoking men aged 50-60 within 20 miles of Brighton but there are only 3 matches. Even expanding to a 50 mile radius, it only increases to 12 and about a third of them haven’t included a photo.

We then follow Daisy’s online chats, her first dates which often turn out to be a complete disaster, especially when men are nothing like their profile. She signs on to more sites. And the story is interspersed with Daisy recounting comical tales from her career as a sexual health doctor, plus advice from the Amigos, her best friends.

How many dates will Daisy have and can she find true love? And how does Imogen react?

Dating Daisy is available on Amazon, currently priced at £10.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A funny light-hearted read, although I did get a bit fed up with the over-use of the phrase “Here’s the thing” throughout the book.

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

More fun with Snappertime plus giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may remember the fun the boys had back in June doing the Time Lord Challenge and the Soap Ships Challenge from Snappertime.

So they were very pleased when Snappertime sent us a new bundle of goodies.

Snappertime is a website full of lots of fun screen-free activities for children, spread across five categories, namely Super Science, Great Outdoors, Tasty Tasks, Arty Farty and Super Hero.

Snappertime goody bundle

The bundle comprised the following goodies:-
A selection of Snappertime Challenge cards
Mr Men on the Farm book
The Stick Book
Danger Mouse Mission Improbable DVD
Swallows and Amazons DVD
Wooden Sailboat Kits
Swallows and Amazons badges and stickers

Plenty of fun to be had with all of these, although I was surprised that it included DVDs, since Snappertime does focus on screen-free activity. But I’m very happy with the choices since I loved the Swallows and Amazons book as a child and remember how this series inspired some of my playtime. I had a vintage copy carefully wrapped in brown paper which belonged to my Dad.

After watching some of the Danger Mouse episodes, the boys decided it was time to tackle some more challenges.

Watching Danger Mouse

Son2 updated our doodlebot and then chose to do the Fizzy Foam Challenge from the Super Science category, which is based on the Roald Dahl book “George’s Marvellous Medicine”. This is a story that we enjoyed reading together a while ago. He loved mixing his potion together and he used a couple of different food colourings, so that his went from pink to purple. He compared it to a volcano as it bubbled and frothed up the beaker. He had to bear in mind that it contained washing up liquid, as it almost looked good enough to drink.

Fizzy Foam Challenge

And son1 opted for a Tasty Tasks challenge, namely to cook some Choc Dollops. A nice simple recipe for children to cook which only needs chocolate and cream plus some decoration. Son1 decided to use white chocolate and decorated half with chocolate curls and the other half with honeycomb pieces. These were delicious and son2 has decided he wants to make some too. See here for the recipe.

Cooking Chocolate Dollops

Afterwards we uploaded photos of their projects for them to earn another DoodleCoin each. And once you have 8 coins, you can claim a free reward. There is a great selection of rewards to choose from, some of which are worth upto £25, most are for free, although a few request £5 postage.

Snappertime doodlecoins

I would definitely recommend you sign your children up for this fab website with its great freebies. So much fun.

I’m really looking forward to introducing the boys to Swallows and Amazons via the dvd next.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a fabulous kids goody bundle to one lucky winner, courtesy of Snappertime, just like the bundle 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 what screen-free activities your children enjoy.

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

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The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp to review.

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

Here is the book blurb.

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

The book starts when 15 year old Pat’s school is evacuated to Leatherhead in September 1939. Pat, Janet and Becky end up at Givons House, where they are under-fed, but get rehomed after complaints from their parents. Pat misses her new best friend Becky but has to leave her next billet when relatives are due and ends up in a bed far too short for her.

She goes back home to Brixton for Christmas, where her childhood friend Bill now wants her to be his sweetheart. But Pat doesn’t want to be anyone’s girl, she dreams of going to sixth form, then training to become a teacher.

Shortly after returning to Leatherhead, the short bed fails an inspection and Pat is rehomed again, this time in a small flat with Mr & Mrs Grice. When Mr Grice is called up, Mrs Grice moves to a larger bungalow and finally Becky is able to lodge with Pat again. But it is not just Leatherhead where she keeps moving, as her grandmother forces the family to move from Brixton to West Norwood due to a rent dispute, just before she goes back for May half-term.

Whilst home, she heads into London for a visit to the National Gallery and en-route pops into the Beaver Club, where her mother works. But she accidentally collides into one of the Canadian servicemen, Group Captain James Bonar, who was about to do some sightseeing before returning to duties. She ends up acting as an unofficial tour guide and James then asks her to be a pen pal.

A couple of weeks later, Pat turns 16 and with her school friends, goes for a cycle ride picnic where they inadvertently end up amidst a military training exercise on Esher Common. The officer in charge forbids them to speak of it to anyone, so she can’t include it in her pen pal news. Meanwhile James asks if she will show him more of London when he next gets leave, so she uses a visit to Becky as a cover excuse. And a week later they go to a dance and kiss. Several months pass before James next has leave and this time they sleep together and James proposes. Pat turns him down saying she wishes she was 10 years older. James had mistakenly assumed she was 21. But disaster intervenes when a week later, James’ plane is shot down.

We then move into part 2 of the book, where we continue to follow Pat, who is now blaming herself for James’ death and bottling up her biggest secret. Bill alternates between trying to cheer her up and feeling jealous that somebody else had been keen on Pat. She then meets Bill’s friend Jon whom she becomes keen on. Of course Bill starts resenting that Jon likes Pat. There’s lots more to come in the story, but I’m going to stop now.

The Keeping of Secrets is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story which I recommend.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.

Pat has taken James, a Canadian airman, on a whistle stop tour of London’s attractions:

‘No tour guide worth her salt could allow a tour to end without a cup of tea at a Lyons Corner House,’ I declared grandly, and James inclined his head for me to lead on. I took him to the one on the opposite corner to Charing Cross Station and we were placed at a table at one side of the room towards the back. James extracted a cigarette packet as we waited for our tea, a quirk of an eyebrow as I refused the proffered cigarette, but he made no comment, dragging deeply before blowing the smoke out of his flared nostrils. He said, ‘It’s been a very pleasant afternoon. You’ve been kind to a stranger in a foreign land and made me feel at home. Could I ask one more thing of you?’

At that moment the waitress arrived and we were busy for a few minutes with the flurry of activity. Once cups of tea were in front of us, unable to contain my curiosity, I asked, ‘What’s the one more thing you’d like me to do?’

James was in no hurry to reply, sipping his tea and helping himself to a small gingerbread cake, which he ate slowly, his even white teeth flashing as he bit into its soft brown depths, his lips meeting firmly, a slight lift to the side of his mouth as he chewed and watched me watching him. I blushed a little as if I had caught him in some kind of personal ritual and he swallowed and nodded slightly, as if coming to a decision, smiling more broadly now, the crow’s feet crinkling, and I felt a melting inside me, and I thought, I’d like to draw him, and, blushing again, busied myself with cutting up my scone and butter.

James leaned forward and spoke quietly so as to not be overheard.


About the author

Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.

Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/


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The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

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