Category Archives: Reviews

Tom Thorneval by Cornelius Addison

I have received a free e-copy of the childrens’ book Tom Thorneval by Cornelius Addison for son1 to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his blog.

Tom Thorneval by Cornelius Addison

Here is the book blurb.

This rippingly entertaining anti-fairytale follows the misadventures of a half-fairy Dreammaker hoping to make it big in the world of men. Unfortunately, Tom Thorneval’s plan has drawn the ire of Fate, and the little merchant is robbed of all his dreams shortly after setting out on his grand adventure. With his loyal (if slightly insane) stoat Wix, a devastated Tom battles on through a series of horrifically funny misfortunes as he makes his way towards what he hopes is the Grand Goblin Fair, only to draw farther away from it in the process. This innovative literary event that races middle-schoolers through a Pythonesque world of music, color and wild adventure. Readers are invited to listen to the three songs from the tale with their smartphones and can even learn the author-composed melodies at the Addison’s Tales channel on MuseScore.com. With its philosophical turns, innovative digital additions and fable-like qualities, Tom Thorneval is a modern twist on what it’s like to be a little dreamer in a very big world.

Tom Thorneval

Son1 decided to write his review this time, rather than his usual video style. This is what he had to say.

I’m reviewing a book called Tom Thorneval
I didn’t actually like the book but you might like it. I rate it ⭐️⭐️
It’s all about a half-fairy called Tom Thorneval who sets off on a journey to sell his dreams at the Grand Goblin Fair. But he suffers a lot of trouble while he tries to get there. It comes with music 🎶. If you get it on IBooks or Kindle then it comes with music 🎶 but if you buy the paperback then you have to scan the QR code to get music 🎶.

Tom Thorneval is published by Wivern Digital and is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. Son1 didn’t like this book, but it is a prize-winning tale, so just not to his taste.

I had a read of it as well, to try to determine why it didn’t hit the spot for son1. Tom has plenty of adventures on his journey involving trolls, a male witch, a goat-man, a toad, fairies and other creatures. The reader also gets to make a choice at one point as to whether takes the left or right path at a fork. All sounds good so far for a young boy to enjoy, but what may have put him off, is that Tom often mentions Mary, his true love. And this is where the book featured music. I really enjoyed listening to the music, but boys of my son’s age tend to dislike anything to do with love. So I feel although a nice story in my opinion, Tom talks about his true love too much for some of the target readership.

And finally here’s a fun link aimed at the children to interactively discover more about Tom Thorneval and other Cornelius Addison characters.

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

Guest Post: Doing More with Less: Organizational Learning and the OLSET tool

My other half recently received a free e-copy of the study guide “Doing More with Less: Organizational Learning and the OLSET tool” by Anthi Theiopoulou.

Doing More With Less; Organizational Learning and the OLSET tool

Here is the book blurb.

A sustainable learning organization always has a competitive advantage, and organizational-learning tools can provide businesses of any size with the ability to achieve more with less. This innovation in management is based in science and backed by numerous successful applications.

Author Anthi Theiopoulou, MSc, conducted breakthrough research in organizational learning (OL) best practices and the operationalization of OL principles. As a leading international expert, she offers this guide for applying OL to any business and measuring the outcome.

This overview is for leaders and researchers from a range of backgrounds. It begins by reviewing management strategies and the most current research on OL. Part two covers each component of OL in greater depth to allow leaders to design and implement their own systems. Part three is a sample OL management system, which is highly customizable, uniquely scalable, and it includes the organizational learning self-evaluation tool—or OLSET—developed by the author at the University of Liverpool. This unique element of the methodology allows leaders to conduct an OL capacity audit.

The result of years of experience and research, Doing More with Less turns science into practice. These empirically based guidelines and techniques have the power to make organizations successful in any future.

And this is what my other half had to say about Doing More with Less.

An interesting accessible book on organisational learning read in about a week.

Some really interesting and insightful material in Part III – Managing Organisational Learning, particularly Chapter 14.

Doing More with Less is on Amazon, currently priced at £16.65 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format.

You can find out more about the author Anthi Theiopoulou and her book on her website here.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book we were sent for free.  All opinions are our own.

Hannah’s Moon by John A Heldt

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I really enjoyed a couple of books by John Heldt last year. You may see my reviews of The Mine here and Indiana Belle here. So I was pleased when John asked me to review his latest book, Hannah’s Moon. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Hannah's Moon by John A Heldt

 

Here is the book blurb.

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel.

Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival.

Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

This book starts in the present day (or a few months hence to be precise) when Claire and Ron’s son is stillborn. A couple of months later they decide to try to adopt, but discover the average wait time is 6 years and that they will need a hefty loan to afford the fee.

When Claire’s brother David comes to visit, he brings far-fetched news from their Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Geoffrey Bell. They have a time-travel tunnel in their basement and David has been through it back to 2001 and retrieved Claire’s lost diary. The Bells are offering Claire and Ron the chance to time-travel back to 1945, when it should be easy to adopt.

So a few weeks later with falsified documents, Claire, Ron and David head back to 1945 at the same time as the Bells, Uncle Geoffrey has set them up with a $10,000 savings account and rented them a house. They say their goodbyes to the Bells who are heading to Latin America and board a train to Tennessee.

There they get very friendly with neighbour Margaret and begin the process to adopt 10 month old Hannah. They are on a 3 month parent probation period before the adoption will be finalised, so can’t return to the modern day as soon as they hoped. But when Ron intervenes to save a black man from a beating, things start to get more tricky initially and then very scary indeed.

That’s all I’m going to say about the storyline. However it is interesting to note that this is the final story in the American Journey series, as I saw scope for at least a couple more books featuring Geoffrey Bell. I’ve only read two out of the five, but I liked how those two are linked by his character, yet they work brilliantly as stand-alone stories.

Hannah’s Moon is available on Amazon, currently priced at £4.10 in Kindle format. I loved this book. A really great read which certainly lived up to my expectations of a John Heldt novel, As always I highly recommend this author.

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

How to relieve sleep disturbances, plus giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may have heard me mention previously that I am a shiftworker. This means that I have to adjust my body clock whenever I work nights. I usually find it okay adapting from day to night, but very hard adjusting back to days afterwards, feeling tired and irritable. So I was delighted to be given a chance to try out some sleep goodies for free.

Sleep goodies including wake-up light

I received the following products.
Lumie Bodyclock
Whittard Dreamtime Hot Chocolate
Baylis & Harding french lavender relaxing bath foam
Pack of 2 Moleskine ruled journals

First up is the Lumie Bodyclock, a wake-up light. My other half used to use something similar by another brand, but it broke about a year ago. He really misses it, so we were both very keen to try this one out. It was well packed and all I needed to do was install the light bulb, plug in, set the time and alarm.

Lumie Bodyclock Wake-up light

It does both a gradual 30 minute sunrise and sunset, with an optional audible alarm. The sunrise and sunset features were great but I didn’t like the alarm sound. It was too harsh for me with no choice to change to a gentler sound. Although I’m sure some people appreciate a loud alarm in the morning. Our previous wake-up light had a range of natural sounds like bird song. However on the positive side, the Lumie Bodyclock was a lot simpler to operate than our old one.

Then the Hot Chocolate. This is a malted variant including Barley malt extract on the ingredients. You just need to add hot milk. We all found it to be a very yummy drink. Malted drinks are ideal at bedtime. For a good night’s sleep, you certainly want to avoid stimulants like caffeine. I try to only drink decaffeinated tea and coffee anyhow.

Whittard Hot Chocolate

Next the bath foam. It felt so lovely relaxing in a bath with this and smelt divine. I was very chilled and ready for bed after my bath. I’ve always known that lavender is reputed to have calming and relaxing properties. Years ago I used to make lavender bags, primarily aimed at putting in my clothes drawers, but I used to scatter them round the bedroom too.

And lastly the mini journals. At just 6.5 x 10.5cm, there is plenty of space on my bedside table for one of these to jot down any thoughts or worries I may have whilst trying to go to sleep. A great idea that I’ve never thought of previously.


One in three people suffer from poor sleep and it’s often identified by feelings of tiredness, low energy and irritability. However, worryingly, it can also lead to impaired judgement, reduced memory, and even a reduction in life expectancy.
It’s no surprise that sleep deprivation can have a considerable negative impact on quality of life and a good night’s sleep is essential to allow us to feel refreshed and ready to perform at our best every day. See here for why lack of sleep is bad for your health.

Here’s a list of 10 Things to Relieve Sleep Disturbances.

Try these lifestyle changes and you might find a good night’s sleep a lot less elusive. For some people it could be enough to fully address their sleeping problems. There’s certainly quite a few that I ought to address myself, particularly the no smart phone in the bedroom.

  • Always get up at the same time – even at the weekend.
    It might seem like you need a lie in to make up for the sleep you haven’t got, but to break a cycle of sleeping problems you need to train your body into a good sleeping pattern.
  • Avoid catnaps during the day.
    It’ll only make it harder to get into good sleeping habits.
  • Replace caffeine and alcohol with hot milky drinks.
    Alcohol won’t help you sleep properly. If you are having trouble cutting out caffeine, set yourself a time in the day past which you don’t have it.
  • Unwind with a hot bath and lavender bubbles.
    Both will aid sleep by helping you feel more relaxed.
  • Exercise during the day.
    Exercising at night will actually make you more awake and you’ll find it harder to get to sleep.
  • Get to bed at the same time every night.
    It’ll help your body prepare itself for sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a shrine to sleep.
    No TV, no smart phones!
  • Alleviate your worries.
    Try writing them down before you go to bed.
  • Don’t lie there frustrated.
    If you can’t sleep, get up and do something (non-strenuous) for a while.

Kalms Night and Kalms Night One-A-Night are traditional herbal medicinal products used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances, exclusively based on long standing use as a traditional herbal remedy – Contains Valerian Root. Always read the leaflet.

To offer assurance that Kalms Night meets the Traditional Herbal registration (THR) requirements, the Certification Mark can be found on the product packaging.

Kalms Night tablets
Kalms Night tablets are available to purchase online at www.kalmsrange.com and supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide.
Kalms Night RRP: £4.89 for 50 tablets, Kalms One-A-Night RRP £5.19 for 21 tablets.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a hamper of sleep goodies to one lucky winner.  The prize comprises a Lumie Bodyclock, Whittard Dreamtime Hot Chocolate, Baylis & Harding french lavender relaxing bath foam and a pack of 2 Moleskine ruled journals. What a great prize.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

The prize is one hamper as detailed above to be sent to the winner directly from the prize sponsor. Available to UK residents over 18. The winner will be chosen wthin 5 days of the competition ending and has 28 days to acknowledge their win. Please allow 28 days for delivery. Should any issues arise I will do my utmost to help resolve this. the competition will run until the 08/04/17. Please make sure to enter options carefully and fully, any incorrect entries will be void, I do check.

I’d love to hear your sleep tips.

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Disclosure. I am working in collaboration with Kalms and I was provided with the #wakeupready sleep hamper to assist with writing this post and hosting the giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Head of State by Andrew Marr

Head of State written by Andrew Marr, the television presenter is another book I rescued from the box that my other half was getting rid of. I normally avoid anything political, but I thought I’d give this one a chance. I was attracted to it, as although published back in 2014, it is a Brexit storyline.

Head of State by Andrew Marr

This is what it says on the back cover.

A young reporter found dead on the streets of London.

A headless body washed up on the banks of the Thames.

A conspiracy so bold it would make Machiavelli wince.

There are three days to go until the referendum, and the future of the United Kingdom in Europe hangs in the balance. Behind the scenes a group of ruthlessly determined individuals will stop at nothing – including murder – to make sure the result tips in their favour…

Making full use of his unrivalled inside knowledge, Andrew Marr’s wickedly clever thriller is a gleefully twisted spin through the corridors of power.

The book starts with a dead body being discovered 3 days before the referendum vote regarding whether Britain should stay or leave the EU. How and why did he die? We are then introduced to some of the other characters before moving back in time to referendum day minus 5. We continue to move back and forth a couple of days or so throughout the book, meeting more new characters, including senior politicians and the king. There is certainly plenty for the reader to try to digest.

At the morgue, there is another unidentified dead body, this time headless and handless. Meanwhile about a third of the way through the book, the reader starts to find out what some of the characters don’t know. We continue to be fed information piecemeal, enough to keep me to the edge of my seat, with all the secrets, plots and intrigues. And that is all I’m going to say.

Head of State is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in hardback or Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.

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Combogesic pain relief

I recently received a free £5 Boots gift card to purchase Combogesic, a new type of pain relief product. These tablets are a little different to your usual painkiller, in that they contain both paracetamol and ibuprofen. Unfortunately I am currently not supposed to take ibuprofen, following discovery of duodenal ulcers last year, so this review is mainly based on my other half’s opinions of Combogesic.

I have to mention that the packet was very clear in mentioning that the product should not be taken with my recent duodenal ulcer history.

Combogesic pain relief

The combined dose in one tablet is so much simpler than interspersing separate doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen, which could involve taking medication every 2 hours resulting in a lot of tablets. In comparison you may take 1-2 Combogesic tablets every 6 hours, upto a maximum of 6 tablets in a day, which equates to 30% more pain relief.

My other half first took one tablet on a day he was suffering from both a headache and bad pain in his foot. He said that just the one pill cleared the headache. It did also ease his foot pain somewhat, but did not cure it. The foot pain is still ongoing, so he has continued to take one or two Combogesic tablets each day. He would happily buy this product in the future.

Each tablet contains 500mg paracetamol and 150mg ibuprofen.

The current price for a packet of 16 Combogesic tablets is £3.99 and it is available at Boots, Rowlands or Lloyds Pharmacy. No prescription necessary. Not recommended for children.

Always remember to read the packet fully before taking any medication.

I’d be interested to hear your top tips for pain relief.

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

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 you may see a guest post by Lee, detailing her Inspiration for the book on my blog here.

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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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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.