Category Archives: Reviews

As Good as Gold by Patricia Furstenberg

I have received a free copy of the children’s poetry book As Good As Gold: A dog’s life in poems by Patricia Furstenberg for son2 to review.

As Good As Gold by Patricia Furstenberg

Here is the book blurb.

As engaging as a tail wag
Celebrating the simple things in life as seen through the eyes of our old time favourite furry friends, “As Good as Gold” is a volume of poetry revealing the talent and humour we always knew our dogs possessed.
Dogs are full of questions, yet they are famed sellers of innocence especially when it comes to explaining their mishaps and often foolish effervescence through ponderings such as “Why IS a Cat Not Like a Dog”, “As Brown as Chocolate”, “Silver Stars and Puppy Tail” or, best yet, “Dog or Book?”
A book with an enormous heart for readers of all ages, it includes 35 poems and haiku accompanied by expressive portraits of our canine friends.

As Good as Gold by Patricia Furstenberg

My favourite poem is “As Pink as a Puppy’s Tongue” because it has a pug in it and pugs are my favourite dog. This is a very good book.

The two sentences above are what son2 has written for his review.

I also read this book and loved how the 35 poems are arranged in categories. So it starts with a section where the poems are all questions from the dogs. The second section features poems, each based on a particular colour. Then we have musings. And finally Haiku, which are 3 line poems. I remember being taught Haiku at school, but certainly never succeeded in writing any as good as these. And all the poems are beautifully illustrated with dog photographs.

A delightful collection, that you can dip into time after time. Great for reading out loud to younger children or for older children to read themselves. And appealing to adults too, especially dog lovers.

Newly published today, As Good as Gold is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in kindle format. A lovely poetry book. Highly recommended by both son2 and me.

About the author

Patricia Furstenberg came to writing through reading. She always carries a notebook and a pen, although at times she jots down her ideas on the back of till slips or types them on her phone.

Patricia enjoys writing for children because she can take abstract, grown-up concepts and package them in humorous, child-friendly ideas while adding sensitivity and lots of love. What fuels her is an exhilarating need to write and… coffee: “How many cups have had this morning?” “None.” “Plus?” “Five cups.”

Between her books you can find the beloved Joyful Trouble, The Cheetah and the Dog, Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles.

She is a Huffington Post contributor and pens the Sunday Column for MyPuppyclub.net as well as dabbing in freelancing. After completing her Medical Degree in Romania she moved to South Africa where she now lives with her husband, children and their dogs.

Author Website
Pat’s books on Amazon UK
Pat on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.


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

As Good As Gold by Patricia Furstenberg

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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 Carmichaels by Charlotte Penn Clark

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Carmichaels Complete Series by Charlotte Penn Clark to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

The Carmichaels by Charlotte Penn Clark

Here is the book blurb.

The lives and loves of five privileged daughters of a Colorado political family….

Rich. Smart. Beautiful. Talented. And they even get along. Mostly.
The five Carmichael sisters lucked out in the game of life, but their privilege doesn’t protect them from heartbreak. Read all five contemporary romance novellas newly revised and together for the first time!

CORINNE wants her independence, but when tragedy strikes her family she relies on her new French boyfriend for support.
Headstrong DAISY goes after what she wants as a financial journalist, but the guy she wants keeps her at arm’s length.
VALERIE, still shaken by past trauma, is surprised when her feelings for her E.R. doctor grow beyond friendship.
MARIE is just getting started as a sportswriter so she really shouldn’t fall for her first subject, the newly-drafted quarterback.
SAMANTHA has crushed on her college advisor for a year but now that she’s about to graduate maybe she finally has a shot with him.

The box set has just been recently released, but all 5 individual novellas were published a couple of years ago. So far I have read Corinne.

Corinne is the eldest of 5 daughters of senator Roger Carmichael who is considering running for President. She is doing modelling jobs between studying at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) but she is battling against her father who wishes her to stop modelling because of the media interest. She insists on honouring a modelling job she has already secured in Hawaii but overall, feels she is losing her independence.

There she meets Paul, a French photographer, with whom there is a mutual attraction. After flying their separate ways, they text each other regularly and meet up a few months later one weekend in LA. But even then, the media capture some shots of them. They start a long distance relationship and she invites him to meet her family at Thanksgiving. They share an idyllic week in France followed by more family time at Christmas.

But a couple of months later tragedy strikes with a helicopter crash. Corinne relies on Paul during this difficult time. How will things pan out?

A lovely story. I’m about to start reading Daisy next, although I feel I already know a bit about all the family from the first story.

The Carmichaels Complete Series is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.54 in Kindle format and is also available in paperback. Five stories in one book. What a great bargain for lovers of romantic reads.


About the author

Charlotte Penn Clark writes sweet-sexy New Adult and contemporary novellas that take romance seriously. As an avid romance reader, she used to spin love stories in her head until she finally started to write them down two years ago. She has studied English literature and taught college composition, but now she enjoys playing matchmaker to friends and enemies, geeks and nerds, jocks and bookworms.

So far she’s published eight books in two series: the Carmichael series interweaves the lives and loves of five privileged sisters in a political family, while the Extra Credit series tells the stories of three unlikely couples thrown together on a college campus.

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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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An energy boost

I have just started a new job and there is lots to learn during the training period, which I find can be quite exhausting. Especially as I have to juggle it with family commitments.  Plus it is a shift role, so a mixture of early starts, late finishes plus night shifts again, which I’ve recently had a few months break from. So I was very pleased to be offered a free energy boosting goody pack from Pharmaton.

Energy boosting goodies

I received the following products.
75ml thisworks deep sleep pillow spray
Neom Energy Burst On the Go Mist
50g Nutriseed raw Maca powder
Boots £10 gift card (to purchase Pharmaton Vitality Capsules)

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules

So on my next shopping trip, I popped into Boots to buy a bottle of the Pharmaton Vitality Capsules. This contained 30 capsules, currently at an RRP of £9.49, for which the recommended dose is one tablet daily. I decided to take the full packet before telling you what I thought of them. The packet indicates that they are clinically proven against tiredness and lack of energy. Would I find that so?

The first 2 days didn’t go too well with me getting a bad headache overnight. The packet does warn that headaches may be a common side effect. But after that, things improved and although it is difficult to say with any certainty, I feel that overall I was probably more energised. During week 4, I did my first night shifts in several months, and I felt that my body adjusted back better afterwards.

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules contain a special blend of vitamins and minerals, including the unique G115 ginseng extract. The idea is that they work with your body’s natural metabolism to relieve fatigue and restore vitality, and also help keep you stay mentally and physically alert. They can be taken every day for up to 12 weeks. (For the relief of temporary periods of fatigue. Always read the label).

And of course I tried out the other goodies too.

thisworks deep sleep pillow spray

The pillow spray is great. You just spray it on your pillow and the top end of your duvet. Then smell the delightful fragrance of lavender, vetivert and wild camomile as you drift off. Lavender is one of my favourite scents so this was perfect for me.

Neom Energy Burst On the Go Mist

The Neom mist has a lovely fragrance too and is 100% natural, but it comes in a very tiny bottle. I can’t see the size details on the packaging, but I’m guessing 5ml, so it won’t last me long. I’ve already used over half of it. Basically you spritz it above you or on your wrists, then supposedly breathe in through your nose for a count of 7 and out through your mouth for a count of 11. However I found that I couldn’t breathe for anything like this length, so I’m just doing it as slow as I can manage.

And finally the organic maca powder. I had never heard of maca, so I had to do some research. I found that the Incas have been cultivating it for 1000s of years in the high Peruvian Andes, boosting their energy at such a high altitude. More details on Wikipedia. The packet says to add 1-2 teaspoons to your smoothies, shakes, juices and healthy bakes. Well I decided to use it in my not quite so healthy chocolate cookie recipe.

Double choc chip cookies with maca

Double Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients (makes about 13)

200g butter
200g plain flour
50g cocoa
1 heaped teasp maca powder
120g soft brown sugar
1 egg
few drops vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk
100g chocolate chips

Method

Preheat fan oven to 170 degree C.
Grease 2 baking trays.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the egg.
Add the vanilla essence.
Sieve in the cocoa.
Add the maca powder.
Sieve in the flour.
Mix together.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Mix in milk if mixture is too stiff.
Spoon balls of mixture onto the baking trays.
Bake in pre-heated oven for about 12 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve and enjoy.

Double choc chip cookies with maca

Delicious. Everyone gave these the thumbs up.


And here are some more simple tips to help you make the most of your day and get your energy levels back.

  1. Stay Hydrated

It seems obvious but make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. According to the Natural Hydration Council, dehydration can reduce the ability to concentrate and impact cognitive and physical performance. NHS choices recommend that you drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid a day which is roughly 6-8 glasses of water. The best way to remind yourself is to keep a glass or bottle on your desk and set yourself a target amount to drink by the end of the day.

  1. Eat right

Make sure that you eat the right foods at the right time. It is tempting to reach for high fat, high sugar products when you are tired but these will leave your energy levels crashing, making you feel irritable and still hungry. Keep a pot of nuts such as almonds or cashews at your desk for when you need an energy boost.

  1. Get a good sleep

According to the national Sleep Council, your bedroom should not be an extension of the house. So don’t use the bedroom to eat, watch TV, work or talk in – the bedroom should be used for sleeping. Plan a consistent sleeping schedule by trying to get the same amount of sleep every night and at similar times. Move all screens out of the bedroom and try to avoid staring a bright screen an hour before bed, as the light keeps your brain awake leaving you struggling to drift off.

  1. Move it

If you feel your concentration failing, don’t reach for another coffee or sugary snack – get moving! Even low intensity exercise like a brisk walk around the block at lunch can help reduce the feeling of fatigue.

I’d be interested to hear your top energy boosting tips.

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

My Duke’s Seduction by Tammy Andresen

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

My Duke's Seduction by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Can her gentle tenacity unlock a duke’s heart?

Lady Tricia Riley is the sweet daughter of a duke until her family’s ailments force her to breech societies’ dictates and go where no lady should… the docklands. When a tall, strong and handsome stranger helps to keep her safe, she agrees to keep their meeting, secret. She’s no interest in marrying a tall and darkly handsome stranger. Actually, she has no intention of marrying at all. Instead, she plans to dedicate herself to charitable pursuits.

Ryker Pembroke, Duke of Landon, will marry eventually, as duty requires him to do. But it is a fate, he regards with a certain amount of dread. That is, until an auburn haired minx bursts into his life. Her warmth, charm and giving nature draws him to her even as he attempts to maintain a safe distance. She is entirely wrong for him with her impulsive nature and blatant disregard for her own safety makes her a terrible choice for a wife… doesn’t it?

This is a stand-alone romance with a lovely HEA! The heroine does appear in the Earl of Sussex: Wicked Earls’ Club. And the books that follow will all be connected with the Earl of Sussex and his lovely bride, Tabbie.

This is the first book in the Wicked Lords of London series set in 1816. However Lady Tricia did briefly appear in The Earl of Sussex which I had read a few months ago. Her sister was the heroine in that book.

The story starts with Lady Tricia Riley alone at night in the London docklands, not a great place for a respectable young lady to be. She is searching for her cousin Fenton, who she is worried will die in the opium dens. But she is scared as some drunks emerge from a pub, leering and grabbing at her arm. Thankfully she is rescued by the mysterious Ryker, a gentleman who we later discover to be the Duke of Landon.

However she foolishly wishes to continue her search rather than be escorted to safety. So Ryker suggests that he will send someone to look for Fenton tomorrow instead. As they walk to where Ryker’s carriage is waiting, they hear a baby crying and Tricia picks up the abandoned infant. Another rescue. They take the foundling to an orphanage that her sister had opened, before they part ways close to Tricia’s home.

The next day she realises that she doesn’t know who Ryker is, so how will she know if Fenton has been found. She decides she will have to find Ryker to ask, but the only place that she knows to look for him is the docklands.

So having already narrowly escaped ruin once, she plans yet another night time escapade. What will happen this time?

My Duke’s Seduction is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format. This is a nice romantic story, when you want a light read between thrillers.


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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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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Captain of my Heart by Danelle Harmon

I have received a free e-copy of the book Captain of my Heart by Danelle Harmon to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Captain of my Heart by Danelle Harmon

Here is the book blurb.

He wanted no woman, except one made of sails and wood and wind …

Handsome, wily Irish privateer Captain Brendan Jay Merrick is running from a painful past — and fighting for a new nation’s future when he arrives in the colonial town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, with plans for shipwright Ephraim Ashton to build his magnificent new schooner. Brendan’s daring sea battles against His Majesty’s fleet have made him a legend in his adopted country — but one look at the dashing stranger and Ashton’s daughter Mira starts making plans of her own. . . .

She wanted no man — but him.

Brash, hot-tempered, and born at sea in a raging gale, Mira Ashton is more than most men can manage. Disguising herself as a crew member and sneaking aboard Brendan’s newly-built Kestrel, she becomes the schooner’s finest gunner . . . and the captain’s most outrageous distraction. As desire ignites between them, Mira finds herself competing against Kestrel for Brendan’s love. But when tragedy strikes, Mira must join forces with her mighty rival in a daring adventure that turns the tide of battle and brings glorious victory to the colonists, the captain . . . and the lady who has captured his heart.

The book is set in Massachusetts in 1778-79, only a couple of years after the American colonies had declared independence from Britain. This is not a period of history that I am at all familiar with.

Irish Captain Brendan Merrick had been in the Royal Navy back in the prologue in 1775, but is now captain of an American privateer. He seems to be making a habit of falling overboard and surviving, usually at the hands of his arch-enemy British Captain Richard Crichton. This time he is rescued by Matt Ashton, who ironically is the son of shipbuilder Ephraim, whom Brendan was going to have build his new ship, from the drafts which have suffered a soggy fate in his pocket.

Matt takes him home, where he meets Matt’s unconventional sister Mira, who prefers to dress as a boy and is a dreadful cook. Mira and Brendan are attracted to each other. The ship Kestrel is built and Brendan brings his sister Eveleen to stay with the Ashtons too. Mira initially doesn’t take to Eveleen and to avoid being left at home with her, sneaks aboard Kestrel as a gunner for the maiden voyage.

It took me quite a while to get into this story but was definitely worth persevering. The different strands of the story are woven together excellently. Sea battles, romance, confusion, there’s lot more excitement to come.

Captain of my Heart is available on Amazon, currently priced at £10.99 in paperback and is also in Kindle format. A nice read once you get into it.


About the author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Danelle Harmon has written seventeen critically acclaimed and award-winning books, with many being published all over the world. A Massachusetts native, she has lived in Great Britain, though these days she and her English husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including five dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and a flock of pet chickens. Danelle enjoys reading, spending time with family, friends and her animals, dog showing, plane-spotting, and sailing her reproduction 19th century skiff, Kestrel II. She welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at Danelle@danelleharmon.com.

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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 Wicked Marquis by Mary Lancaster

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Wicked Marquis by Mary Lancaster to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

The Wicked Marquis by Mary Lancaster

Here is the book blurb.

The lady meets her match – and he’s hopelessly ineligible.

Poverty stricken marquis, Lord Tamar, is regarded in Blackhaven as an amiable eccentric and a gifted painter, rather than as a wicked man. But Tamar has secrets that he dare not reveal to anyone, let alone to the delightful Lady Serena, the Earl of Braithwaite’s sister, who suddenly lights up his world.

To Serena, fed up with London etiquette and sent home to her family castle in disgrace after her engagement is broken, the fascinating Tamar is a breath of fresh air. Accepting his help with the mystery of the strange barrels in the castle cellar, she is soon in the midst of danger involving smugglers and spies and a friend’s broken heart.

But it is her own heart which is in most danger, as she falls swiftly and desperately in love. And neither her family nor Tamar himself would ever countenance a marriage between them. Moreover, the marquis turns out to have committed a far more shocking crime than mere poverty.

This is the fifth book in the Blackhaven Brides series. I haven’t read any of the previous titles, but found that this worked well as a stand-alone read.

This historical Regency read begins with Lady Serena having been sent back in disgrace from London, after the break off of her engagement, to the family country estate Braithwaite Castle on the Cumbrian coast. With only her younger sisters and their governess for company, she is bored. Supposedly not even allowed out of the castle, she dashes into the orchard, where she encounters a trespassing artist, who asks her to stop whilst he paints her picture. He then kisses her.

She wakes in the middle of the night to spot smugglers with a barrel in the courtyard. Up early the next morning, she disturbs the smugglers brazenly still there. She gives chase and then panics when she realises one is threatening her with a knife. Luckily she escapes, running slap bang into the mysterious artist.

It doesn’t take many more encounters for them to fall in love, but Tamar hasn’t yet revealed that he is an impoverished Marquis. Is he a fortune hunter? And is Serena still in danger from the smugglers?

The Wicked Marquis is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.13 in Kindle format. The fifth book in the Blackhaven Brides series. This is a great romantic read, with plenty of other strands to the storyline.

You’ll see in the interview with the author below, that the sixth Blackhaven Bride book is due out this month. Having had a quick look at who are the heroines of the previous titles, I’m guessing that the sixth book may be about Miss Grey, the governess although I think that Serena’s friend Catherine would make a good heroine for another title.


About the author

Mary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids and a small, crazy dog.

Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler.

Her most recent books are light, fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.


Interview with Mary Lancaster – Author Journey and Writing Career

1. In your bio, you state that your first literary love was historical fiction. Was there a specific book that started that love?

I suppose, looking back, that it might have been LM Alcott’s Little Women! But I can only have been 8 or 9 years old and it was the characters who obsessed me rather than the historical setting. I think it was more reading several very different historical novels that focused my love of the genre. Lorna Doone and The Count of Monte Cristo among the classics, and then I discovered Georgette Heyer and the great Dorothy Dunnett.

2. At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve written stories almost since I could hold a pencil. I was certainly still at primary school when I realized I wanted to be a published author. Of course, real life and self-doubt kept me writing in secret for my own entertainment for years. Then a desire to escape a job I disliked and a somewhat optimistic notion of being able to write at home while I brought up children, made me look seriously at getting published.

3. What does your average writing day look like?

I wake up early, about 6am and drink coffee in bed while writing until I have to get my daughter up for school and rouse anyone else who needs to be up and out. Then I cram in another hour of writing, take the dog for a walk and return to write until my daughter comes home from school.

I’m trying to adjust the balance, because this schedule doesn’t leave much time for housework (which I hate in any case!) but if I’m on a roll, I can’t bring myself to stop until I’m forced to 😊

4. Where can we find you writing? At home, in a coffee shop? With or without music?

I prefer privacy to write, so usually at home. Sometimes I write with music, sometimes without. It depends on my mood and the mood of the book, and what’s going on around me.

I have a pleasant room (known as Mum’s library) where I like to work, surrounded by books and a few favourite knick-knacks we’ve picked up on our travels over the years. And the dog often joins me there on a nearby cushion 😊. Unfortunately, the kids also use this room in the evenings if they have friends in – which at least one of them nearly always does – so sometimes I’m driven away by the mess they leave behind until they’re forced to clear it up!

5. Where do you get the ideas for your books from? Dreams? Real life?

Anything can set me off! A line in a book, an item on the news, the atmosphere of a particular place, a face glimpsed on a train. The whole story of A World to Win was inspired by a man on a Romanian train when I was traveling as a student. An Endless Exile, A Prince to be Feared and Rebel of Ross, were all inspired by sentences read in books when I was researching other things.

Often, it’s the history itself that inspires me initially, but the story waits in the background to be told because the right character or some other spark hasn’t quite brought it alive in my imagination.

6. Do you outline your stories or just start writing and see where the story takes you?

I usually make a brief (and often vague!) outline of the plot and the motivation of the characters, and the first scene or two. After that, I tend to go wherever the story leads!

7. What’s the most discouraging thing about being an author, and how did you get over it?

Rejection. I think most authors would say that! Most of us have been rejected multiple times by several publishers, agencies etc., until you wonder why you bother carrying on. You have to be determined to wade through all of that and keep going. An encouraging letter or a single acceptance works wonders, though!

Nowadays, with so much self-publishing, it’s not always necessary to put yourself through that, but then there’s the difficulty of being seen in such a crowded market place, and lack of sales can be seen as the rejection of readers! As can a poor review. Self-doubts never really go away, but I suppose I get over the tough times by remembering the positives – a reader’s appreciation, or an editor’s praise mean the world!

8. Do you have a favorite book of your own work? Which one is it, and why?

I don’t know that I do have one favourite! I’m aware none of them are perfect and yet I’ve been totally immersed in all of them and like different things about each. I love to make historical figures come alive and if I believe I’ve succeeded, it makes me proud. For those reasons, I like An Endless Exile (about Hereward the Wake) and A Prince to be Feared (Vlad Dracula). But my main aim is always to entertain and I’ve been really thrilled with reader reactions to the lighter Regency romances – the Imperial Season series and especially Blackhaven Brides. I think they’re fun, and I have great fun writing them.

9. How do you come up with the titles for your books?

Various ways! Sometimes, they just pop into my head as I’m writing them, or when I’m writing a summary for submission – inspired by an event or a character or a line in the book itself. Vienna Waltz just seemed to suit the shenanigans of my first story set at the Congress of Vienna, and of course my heroine falls in love during a waltz! The Wicked in the Blackhaven Brides titles is Regency society’s perception of certain heroes or heroines.

When I can’t think of a title, I look for inspiration in quotations – like A Word to Win (Marx) and A Prince to be Feared (Machiavelli).

10. What’s your least favorite part about writing? Writers block, research, etc.?

I love writing (and research!) so it’s hard to think what I don’t like! I suppose it’s when I feel a story might be lagging a bit and I’m not sure whether to push on in this direction and see if I change my mind, or to scrap that part and try something else. I know from experience the same answer isn’t always right!

11. What’s your favorite part of the publishing process? Picking/making the cover, release day, etc.?

I do love seeing a good cover and knowing it’s right! But there’s always a special excitement about a release day celebrations – especially a good release day when you can chat with readers, the first reviews are quick and positive, and you see the sales numbers/rankings begin to climb 😊

12. Any advice for aspiring authors?

I think every author makes their own journey in different ways, but I think it’s always good to keep reading, and not just in the genre you wish to write in. And to write constantly and listen to constructive criticism. Most of all, don’t give up!

13. What are some of your other hobbies, or things you enjoy that’s not writing related?
I love spending time with my family and friends, enjoying good conversation, food and wine. And I love reading for its own sake, and a good film or binge watching a tv series that’s grabbed me. I also like to visit new places and soak up different cultures and different history.

14. Currently, what are some of your favorite books and authors?
I like to read a mixture of genres and both old and new books. I’ve been reading a bit of Gothic romance, recently, by Eve Silver, and have got heavily into Jennifer Ashley’s historical detective series about Captain Lacey. I was also blown away recently when I read Daphne du Maurier’s The King’s General – so brilliant and moving! I also love Toni Anderson’s romantic suspense. And Christopher Brookmyre who writes clever and hilarious Scottish thrillers – I am in awe 😊.

15. What are your short term and long term goals as an author?

Short term, I’d like to keep readers happy with more Blackhaven Brides stories, and expand my readership there – so recommendations greatly appreciated 😊. Longer term, I suppose I’d like to be a recognized bestseller – who wouldn’t? But mainly, I want to keep entertaining with my books.

16. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

Next is the 6th Blackhaven Brides book, The Wicked Governess, which should release some time in April.

I’ve also written a novella in the multi-author Marriage Maker series, which should be out later on in the year.

Looking further ahead, there will be at least 3 more Blackhaven Brides books! And I have another book I want to write following on from my medieval Scottish “Ross” series – these are still romantic but veer slightly more towards historical fiction than historical romance.

Honestly, I have more stories in my head than I have time to write them!


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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 Outcast Son by Jacobo Priegue

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Outcast Son by Jacobo Priegue to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Outcast Son by Jacobo Priegue

Here is the book blurb.

Laura Costa, a charity worker settled in London, tries to escape from her dark past by travelling to Cusco, Peru, where she hopes to find the redemption she seeks. When she discovers Jaime, an abandoned two-year-old boy injured and on the verge of starvation, Laura thinks she has finally found a purpose, and decides to devote herself to saving the child. However, what looks like a case of neglect turns out to be something much darker, and Laura finds out very soon that to save Jaime she will have to fight ignorance and superstition, not only in the slum in Cusco but also back in England. In her search of happiness for her and her family, Laura’s life becomes an eternal struggle against prejudice and ignorance that makes her doubt about everything she knows, only to discover that the greatest obstacle in her way is none other than she herself.

The book starts with Laura encountering a neglected injured malnourished toddler in the market square in Cusco, Peru. The superstitious locals have abandoned him, fearing that he is a reincarnated witch. He is near death and with the help of her boss Mark, she takes him to the hospital and subsequently adopts him. The timeline of the story moves back and forth many times, so we discover that Laura is in Peru escaping from her past in Spain. After another time-jump, we realise she is now married to Mark.

They return to England, but Jaime frequently gets into serious trouble at school, even getting expelled. When he was 7, they took him back for a visit to Peru, but Laura gets freaked out by a family who keep pointing at them in the airport, and then by a scary tale that Mark’s friend in Peru, Patrick tells them.

Their family is complete when Laura has a baby. Jaime loves his baby brother Marcus, but his misbehaviour at school is escalating. Mark gives an ultimatum, but that is all I’m going to say.

Plenty more excitement to come in the story. However I did find all the jumps in the timeline very confusing.

The Outcast Son is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99  in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. An interesting read with some unexpected twists and turns.

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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 Secret of the Lost Pharaoh by Carolyn Arnold

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh by bestselling author Carolyn Arnold to review. This is the third of Carolyn’s titles for me, so I was very much looking forward to reading this one. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

In Egypt’s Western Desert lies the tomb of an unnamed pharaoh that hides a secret so powerful, it could destroy the world as we know it.
 
Archaeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor has made a career of finding legends the world has all but forgotten. Though there’s one in particular that has fascinated him for years—the Emerald Tablets. Myth says that they possess the knowledge of the universe, allowing humankind to traverse Heaven and Earth, and have the power to bestow wealth and wisdom upon whomever possesses them. But if they fall into evil hands, it could cause a global disaster.

So when a former colleague stumbles across an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic map that promises to lead to a pharaoh’s tomb and the Emerald Tablets, there’s no way he’s turning down her invitation to join the dig. He only has one stipulation: his best friends Robyn Garcia and Cal Myers come with him.
 
The road ahead isn’t going to be an easy one, and their shared dream of recovering the Emerald Tablets is being crushed at every turn. And just when they think it’s all over, they learn there are a few clues they have overlooked. But they’re no longer the only ones searching for the Tablets. Now, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and soon they’ll find out that when it comes to hunting legends, they can’t trust anyone.

This is the second title in the Matthew Connor action-adventure series and works perfectly as a stand-alone read.

The story starts with archaeologists Alex and Jasper looking at the hieroglyphics in a tunnel they have just discovered under the Egyptian desert which they decipher as meaning that a pharaoh son of Khufu is buried nearby, although we are about 200 miles away from the Great Pyramid. And that is not all, it also points to the Emerald Tablets, which from legend are rumoured to turn base metal into gold. Just the sort of thing you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands. The fate of the world could be at stake.

Alex invites “myth chaser” Matthew to join the team, who insists that he will only come if his friends Robyn and Cal are included too. Tensions run high and then the tunnel caves in behind them, so with no escape the only way is forward in the dark including swimming and snakes.

What do they and don’t they find? Who are the good guys and who are the baddies? I would compare this thrilling adventure to a modern-day Indiana Jones.

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh is available on Amazon, currently priced at £10.99 in paperback or £4.57 in Kindle format. A different genre to her other titles that I’ve read but still a gripping story full of twists and turns. I’ve now added City of Gold, the previous Matthew Connor story to my wishlist and hope there will be more of these adventures to follow.

Here are the links to my reviews of other books by Carolyn Arnold.
Remnants
Power Struggle

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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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Self care for pain relief plus giveaway

Between work and family, I have a busy lifestyle with not much “me” time squeezed in, so I was pleased to be offered a free self-care package from Combogesic.

The package included the following goodies aimed at helping me to relax, unwind, and relieve stress – the perfect combination for a much needed self-care routine from my hectic schedule.

Spa at Home Candle (cedarwood & vetivert)
Bath Bomb
Tea Tree moisturising Korean face mask
Boots £10 gift card

Self care from Combogesic

Whether you struggle to overcome back pain, headaches, period pain or muscular pain, here is some expert advice from GP Dr Dawn Harper on effective pain relief and self-care techniques to help ease the symptoms:

BACK PAIN:It might seem obvious but poor posture is one of the most common causes of back pain. That said, most of us don’t know what good posture is or how to correct bad posture. Over time bad posture generates an increasing amount of pressure on your back which can lead to persistent aches and pains. The trick is to try and not stay in the same position for too long.  Whether you’re sat in a chair at home or at your desk in the office, it’s important to keep re-positioning yourself, taking frequent breaks and moving around to prevent your back becoming stiff.”

HEADACHES:Dehydration is a common trigger for migraines.  With busy lives, it can be difficult to remember to keep drinking fluids, so try drinking a glass after every bathroom break as a regular prompt.  Drinking between two and two and half litres a day might help reduce the frequency, severity and duration of your migraine attacks.

PERIOD PAIN:A light, circular massage around your lower abdomen can help reduce pain.  Alternatively, try some stretches aimed at easing the pain.  For instance, lie on your back with your legs straight out, bend one knee and pull it up to your chin. Hug your knee with both hands and hold the position, then repeat on the other side.”

MUSCULAR PAIN:Use a foam roller, you often see these at the gym, but they can easily be used at home and are very affordable. A foam roller is what can only be described as a padded log. You use it by laying the roller underneath the sore or tender muscle and you simply roll on top of it, allowing the pad to press against the sore or tender muscle. The rolling movement is good for local blood circulation and applies pressure, helping reduce muscle stiffness.

I do always try to drink plenty of water, but I don’t think I manage as much as 2 litres. I had better try harder, as I’ve always suffered from lots of headaches. And I know I’m guilty as regards posture, since after a day at work mainly on screens, my favourite form of relaxation is sitting with my laptop, writing a blog post.

But a foam roller is something I must get myself. I’ve been having physio recently, due to tearing a muscle in my foot and it is something that my physiotherapist has particularly recommended. Pity there wasn’t one included in my self care package along with the other goodies.

I really must focus more on taking time to look after myself, from the inside, out!

Combogesic pain relief

And if you do need some pain relief, then Combogesic is an innovative pain relief product that combines paracetamol and ibuprofen into one convenient tablet, to deliver over 30% more pain relief than taking either ingredient on their own.

Furthermore, its double action formula works faster than the maximum dose of over the counter ibuprofen alone. Combogesic has a much simpler dosing routine, requiring consumers to take 1-2 tablets up to 3 times a day. Visit www.combogesic.co.uk to find out more.

Combogesic comes in packs of 16s (RRP £3.99) and is available to purchase at the pharmacy counter in Boots.

You may see a review here from my other half, when he tried Combogesic last year.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a self care goody bundle to one lucky winner. It will be fairly similar to the goodies that I received, although the face mask and candle may possibly be different brands. What a nice pampering 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 be interested to hear your top tips for self care and pain relief.

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

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Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

I loved reading the first two Madam Tulip titles, so I was very pleased to receive a free e-copy of the third book in the series “Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance” by David Ahern to review.

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

Here is the book blurb.

A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands. But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion. Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.

A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager – each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.
      
As Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.

This is the third in the series of thrilling and hilarious Madam Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

The story starts with actress Derry being unemployed again but a movie opportunity comes up in Scotland where they want her to play Madam Tulip with no audition. She doesn’t wish to do this but agrees to play a gypsy fortune-teller instead. Her friend Bruce also gets a role in the movie.

Meanwhile her artist dad Jacko has purchased a ruined castle and her gallery owner mum Vanessa is opening a new a gallery in Edinburgh.

Derry arrives on set to be asked by Jessica, PA to executive producer Jim Carson if she would come and tell his wife’s and daughter’s fortunes that evening. She is annoyed but can hardly say no, since he is funding the movie. Rab, the very charming estate manager drives her there and Sally, Carson’s wife begins by asking Derry if Hamish who has disappeared is dead.

Also millionaire Alex Dunbar keeps inviting Derry out and then cancelling. And then Derry gets harassed by the press, who are accusing Madam Tulip of being a fraud.

So lots of different threads to this story to which the reader keeps asking why? But they are all drawn together as the story progresses and things heat up.

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.87 in kindle format. Another far-fetched mystery. It didn’t hit the spot for me quite as much as the first two titles, but still a great read which I am happy to recommend. I am certainly looking forward to book 4.

Here are the links to my reviews of the previous two Madam Tulip titles.
Madam Tulip
Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts


About the author

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’s ever had with a computer. He is now writing the fourth Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

You can learn more about David Ahern and Madam Tulip on his website www.davidahern.info

Connect with David Ahern on Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidahernwriter
and Twitter: www.twitter.com/daveahernwriter

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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.