Category Archives: Reviews

Looking after my family’s well-being with Vegums (plus giveaway)

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

I was recently invited to become a Mumbasador for Vegums vitamin and mineral supplements. Naturally I said yes, as I know how important the health of our families is to us all. So I received some free samples of their Sugar-Free A-Z Multivitamin gummies to test out myself, enough for 1 adult and 2 younger children for a month.

Vegan Friendly Vegums gummy vitamins

The packaging is certainly different to anything I’ve seen for vitamins before. I’ve been searching the shop shelves since pre-lockdown unsuccessfully for any sold in plastic-free packaging and here lo and behold, these are exactly that. First plus point. The outer tube is cardboard and inside each, I found either 1 or 2 bags of the vitamins along with a nifty storage tin. I’m assuming you only get the tin once, at the start of a subscription, but I’m sure Vegums can clarify that point. The inner bags are made from compostable and biodegradable cellulose, which can go straight in your compost bin.

Vegan Friendly Vegums gummy vitamins

Why 1 or 2 packets? Because each packet contains approximately 30 gummies, which is enough for a child aged 3-12 for a month. However the recommended dose for older children and adults is 2 a day, which means 2 packets required. But please note, they are not to be given to children aged under 3.

As I opened the tamper-proof seal on the tube, I immediately noticed the message that Vegums will plant a tree with moretrees.eco for every review. Second plus point.

Vegan Friendly Vegums gummy vitamins

Since both the boys are now 12+, we decided that it would be mainly son2 and me testing these out, so that we could continue over an extended period, although son1 got to try too on the first day. Note that they do need to be taken with a main meal.

We all liked the fruity raspberry flavour and son2 particularly appreciated the texture. So much nicer particularly for a child compared to the traditional tablet or capsule format. However it did give me a little difficulty with chewing, but this is because I was diagnosed with TMJ disfunction earlier this year, which has been gradually worsening. I’m in the minority of the population there, so not something that should concern the brand too much. Also the teddy bear shape is a very clever touch to make them even more appealing to younger children.

Vegan Friendly Vegums gummy vitamins

The packets detail the nutritional information, so the adult daily dose of 2 gummies gives 50% of the NRV (Nutrient Reference Value) for Vitamin A and Zinc, plus 100% or higher for Vitamins K1, B6, B12, C, D3, Biotin, Folic Acid and Niacin. They are also sugar-free, gluten-free, palm oil free and vegan. And drumroll …. they are carbon negative! Third and best plus point.

When I looked at the Vegums website, I saw that their Sugar-Free A-Z Multivitamin gummies are one of a range. They also do another multivitamin (strawberry flavour containing sugar) plus a “Fish-Free” Omega 3 (orange flavour) and an Iron supplement (blackberry flavour). I haven’t worked out yet if you can take all of these every day in parallel.

Vegan Friendly Vegums gummy vitamins

All the products can be purchased either as a one-off or on a monthly subscription with a 20% saving. As I’d had such a positive favourable reaction from son2, I’ve gone ahead and set up a subscription. I’ve opted for their Complete set, so that he can boost his Omega-3 and iron intake too. The tins and cardboard tubes are both free optional extras, so that answers my question from earlier.

I’m hoping that the third product in the Complete set is indeed the Sugar-Free A-Z Multivitamin since son2 has already given that the thumbs-up. But the website is unclear as it says that variety is included but then talks about strawberry and shows an image of the original. Something that the brand need to tidy up to make clear and consistent.

The shopping experience was easy and I was pleased with the pricing and free postage. It may be a stretch for some with all the recent increases in cost of living. But I really applaud Vegums recent campaign last month to give every primary school child a free month’s supply . That is amazing from a small business. I wish we could see some of the big brands being equally generous to those who could do with a helping hand.

Vegan Friendly Vegums gummy vitamins

And I was amazed how quickly my order arrived. Although bizarrely I’m still getting emails saying I’ve left something in my basket which I haven’t. Placed the order late on Thursday evening and delivered Saturday lunchtime in a compact slim box this time. Seeing this made me think that the large cardboard tubes are superfluous really in my opinion, although can understand that some people may prefer to store them in the tubes rather than the tins. You’ll see from the photo that we did indeed receive the “green” bag of strawberry flavour original multivitamins this time.

A quick update to the post before I publish it, to say we like all of these too. Just got to decide which of the two multivitamin options to continue with going forwards.

I’ve already talked about the eco-credentials of the packaging, but I was pleased to read on their website that Vegums only use natural ethical sustainably sourced ingredients.

Plus I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 20% off Vegums with discount code: MUMJD20.

Vegan Friendly Vegums gummy vitamins

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Vegums to give away a month’s supply of their A-Z multivitamins to one lucky winner.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter

Another great fact I read on the Vegums website is that Vitamin D absorption is greater from gummies. And lets face it, we need all the help we can get on that front, particularly as we head towards winter.

I’d love to hear your top tips regarding supplements and/or healthy eating.

Finally do remember that supplements are not a substitute for a balanced varied diet.

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Last Seen Alive by Carolyn Arnold – book review

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

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

Last Seen Alive by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

The woman lies so still as her blood soaks into the soft bedcovers beneath her. A tear runs down her face as she looks at the wedding band on her finger. She had loved her husband so much…

When Detective Amanda Steele unexpectedly reconnects with an old boyfriend, the last thing she expects to see lying on his bed is the dead body of his wife, Claire, who walked out on him four years ago.

Logan begs Amanda to believe he’s innocent. But she doesn’t miss the gun on a nearby table, and she’s torn when forensics reveal that not only was this the murder weapon, but Logan’s fingerprints are all over it… Could he have been framed? Or is he using his connection to Amanda to get away with murder?

Determined to uncover the truth, Amanda retraces Claire’s last steps and finds that she visited her best friend the day before her death. But Amanda is devastated to discover that the friend died in a car accident just hours after meeting with Claire. What deadly secret connected them, and could more women be in danger?

But the killer is closer than Amanda realises, and when her beloved daughter, Zoe, is threatened, she’s suddenly in a race to find the final clue before the person she loves most pays the price…

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

Being a fan of this series, I was immediately hooked in by the prologue set a few days after the murder. The killer is spying on Amanda and he thinks she will drop the case if he threatens her daughter Zoe.

Rewind and the story begins with Amanda unexpectedly meeting up with former boyfriend Logan. They head back to his place, but there is a dead woman on his bed, wearing just lingerie. It is Logan’s ex-wife Claire who he claims he hasn’t seen since she left 4 years ago.

Is Logan innocent or being framed?

Sergeant Graves tries to keep Amanda off the case, but she goes to the top to get this over-ruled. Amanda and partner Trent then start following the clues.

Why did Claire have a false driving licence? Where had she been the last 4 years? What about before she married Logan?

So many twists to uncover before we reach that prologue point. And then, can Amanda keep Zoe safe and catch the killer?

Last Seen Alive is available on Amazon. A highly recommended exciting page turner. I didn’t want to put this book down.

Includes continuity references to earlier stories for those who enjoy reading the whole series but works well as a stand-alone read too.

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

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

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


About the author

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


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

Last Seen Alive by Carolyn Arnold

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Desperate Tides Desperate Measures by Brett Salter – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Desperate Tides Desperate Measures by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

Looks like our heroes can finally put an end to the nightmare that was Scarabadon, The Juggernaut. And it seems everyone’s favorite Synergist Knight and Master Dragon have fixed their Talisman issue too. Having thwarted every attack The Tyrant King has thrown at them to this point, The Alliance believes that they can endure any challenge as long as they remain together. Now, having the upper hand seems like the perfect opportunity to seek out more allies and even more of the realm’s mystical Talismans. Could this be a “happily ever after” for our ensemble of motley heroes? Or is this peace just a fool’s hope and just as temporary as the changing tides?

Regular followers of my blog may recognise this cover from when I did the cover reveal for this book earlier this year. I had only read the first title in the series at that point, but I’ve been gradually working my way through these great tales. So now here I am with my review of the fifth book in the Talisman series.

Once again it works perfectly as a stand-alone read but I am definitely more invested in it as an ongoing series. I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading them out of order as they are scattered with spoilers to earlier titles, the prologue being one such, as it is a recap mainly of the events in volume 4.

So trying to navigate through what I can tell you without dropping any spoilers, Rome, Julian and all the team are back fighting more Darkbrand monsters and Nocturns, meeting more allies and maybe locating another Talisman. However I love how the author manages to throw a new dimension into each book. This time it is Elementals. I just going to leave that there as a hook for you, as I can’t possibly say what or who Elementals might be. And this time Julian’s Dad, Mr Rider has more of a role in the story.

I also love how the Minotaur monsters have been categorised into types. So this time our heroes encounter Hydrotaurs and Glaciataurs. Yes think water and ice for these two. And we have previously also met Florotaurs, Pyrotaurs and Terrataurs.

Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. Another fabulous fantastical installment in this series and now that I’ve caught up, I’ll have to wait patiently along with everyone else for volume 6 to be released. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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The Welsh Dragon by K M Butler – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Welsh Dragon by K M Butler to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Welsh Dragon by K M Butler

Here is the book blurb.

England, AD 1471. Henry Tudor’s drop of royal blood had never mattered, considering the scores of noblemen with stronger claims to the throne. But when Edward IV becomes king during the Wars of the Roses, that drop threatens Henry’s life and forces him into exile.

Though his mother labors to restore his position, Henry would rather spend his days with his beloved Jehane, a quick-witted Breton widow, than reclaim a title that promises only further hardship. Content with humble pleasures far from the dangers of court, Henry enjoys a simple life of anonymity.

Yet, his enemies continue to conspire against him. Survival may require embracing the very birthright that drove him into exile, though it threatens his happiness with Jehane. The path to safety is littered with tangled conspiracies, narrow escapes, and a Welsh dragon banner fluttering over an English battlefield.

Bosworth earned Henry Tudor a crown, but the trials of a forgotten fourteen-year exile transformed a penniless fugitive into the man who ended the Wars of the Roses.

Years ago before I started my blog, I used to read a fair amount of historical fiction from both the 12th and 16th centuries before drifting onto other genres, so I was looking forward to reading this book set in-between during the late 15th century, about Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII.

The story begins in 1471 when 14 year old Henry and his uncle Jasper and the Earl of Oxford flee after the news that Edward IV has defeated and captured Henry VI and executed the prince. Henry’s life is in danger due to a tiny drop of Royal blood. They head to France via Wales where Henry sees his mother Margaret Beaufort. However she refuses to come too, saying she can be more useful to their Lancastrian cause by remaining at court. But bad weather at sea means Henry and Jasper have to berth in Brittany, where Duke Francis detains them as his “guests”, under his protection.

We then follow the story in several parts over many years exiled, whilst Henry develops a relationship with Jehane, a widowed tailor. But enemies follow him even in exile.

Plenty of the chapters are also from Margaret’s viewpoint and it is interesting how they communicate, when their letters are probably intercepted.

The tale  concludes at the battle of Bosworth. But the epilogue a few years later adds another quirk to the tale.

All the major events of the time are covered including the death of the princes in the Tower of London, with a different fictional twist. I knew the broad details of this era  but after I finished reading the book I had a look online and it was fascinating to see which parts of the story had been based on actual history. Henry in the book seemed quite a different character to what I imagined before I started reading this.

The Welsh Dragon, newly published today is available on Amazon in kindle format. A brilliant historical read.

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The Baron and the Bluestocking by Katherine Ann Madison – book review

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

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

The Baron and the Bluestocking by Katherine Ann Madison

Here is the book blurb.

She’ll do anything to avoid marriage…anything…

Even climb from a second story balcony and onto the top of a trellis. All right. Perhaps that was a bit too far, especially considering Lady Matilda winds up stuck. But why does it have to be him that rescues her? Her brother’s best friend the Baron Greenburg has always disapproved of her behavior. This is just one more example of how imperfect she truly is.

He just wants a simple life…

And Lady Matilda is anything but simple. Tillie brims over with life, love, and intelligence. In fact, she’s been making a fool of him since childhood. But this time around, it’s her who looks silly and him that manages the dashing rescue. And when he holds her in his arms…

Is it possible that their many battles were a prelude to romance?

Katherine Ann Madison is a pseudonym of prolific author Tammy Andresen and this is the third title in her sweet Regency Romance series Matchmaking on the Marriage Mart. The story works perfectly as a stand-alone read, but is linked to earlier titles through some of the characters. In particular, I am already acquainted with the heroine of this book, Tille, Lady Matilda Crosby, through her much smaller appearances in the earlier two titles The Duke and the Debutante and The Earl and the Incomparable.

The story begins with Tillie annoyed because her mother is trying to make a match for her, although she won’t tell Tillie who. She wants to preferably remain a spinster and study insects or at the least, marry on her own terms. Surely her mother can’t mean the dreadful Viscount Bancroft?

Meanwhile Baron Alex Greenburg is late to the party and he simply must set up his telescope first as Venus is due to pass in front of Jupiter any day now, for the first time in 300 years. But as he heads past the pergola, he spots someone stuck on the top. It is Tillie, desperate to escape from the ballroom. She needs rescuing, but she would rather it had not been by Alex, her brother’s best friend, who always used to call her a hoyden as a child. She didn’t even realise he was at the party and he is surprised to discover that she knows about the occultation.

So childhood friends or enemies? science interests, scheming mothers plus the odious Lord Bancroft. How will this pan out?

I hadn’t previously come across the term occultation, but as one of my sons is very keen on astronomy, I thought I would look this up. It also encompasses solar eclipses, but indeed the author is correct that the Venus / Jupiter occultations are few and far between. The next one is forecast to be in 2065 but too near the sun to be visible. I loved how she wove this into the tale.

The Baron and the Bluestocking is available on Amazon in Kindle format. A nice light sweet romantic read from Katherine Ann Madison.


About Tammy Andresen

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

Website – http://www.tammyandresen.com

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King of Thieves by Tammy Andresen – book review

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

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

King of Thieves by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Pippa Bancroft knows that trouble is circling. Between her brother’s odd behavior, the whispers of massive debts, and the old and awful man her brother keeps thrusting at her, she assumes things are very bad. But just how awful… there is only one way to find out. She’s going to have to do some good old-fashioned spying.

The problem? When she positions herself to eavesdrop, she’s not the only one! A large and ornery Scot is also listening in on her brother’s conversation. And when Laird Lockton offers her an exchange of favors to benefit them both, she’s left to wonder, can she trust this giant of a man? Is he the devil or a grumpy angel in disguise?

Laird Lockton has a life waiting for him in Scotland. Granted, that life is full of boring drudgery, the sort he never wished for himself. Which is why he decides one last adventure is in order. He’ll help his friends with an investigation into the thefts plaguing their gaming hell, secure his future, and then return to Scotland.

But he didn’t count on one pretty wallflower inserting herself into his life and his final adventure. Nor did he plan on finding her quite so irresistible. And as her own situation grows more desperate, Lockton knows he has to help. What sort of man would he be if he didn’t?

But the more time he spends with her the more he wonders…does that mean he has to lose his heart too?

This is book 21 in the Lords of Scandal series, which keeps going and going, but it works fine as a stand-alone read too.

The story begins with Pippa and her faithful dog Trixie taking a walk in the public gardens. She is hoping to eavesdrop a conversation between her debt-ridden brother James, Baron Bancroft and the odious Cornelius Blackpalm. She hears that he wants to marry her, but that is not all. Trixie has led her to a stranger, who is also spying on James and Cornelius.

This is Lord Angus Lockton, one of the owners of The Den of Sins gaming club, who has been following the Governor (Blackpalm) because the Governor stole from the club. He wants to see the Governor put in prison, and then return to Scotland.

He hatches a plan with Pippa so that he can continue to spy on the next meeting between James and Blackpalm in the house. Where will she hide him? Can he help her avoid marrying Blackpalm? How will things turn out?

I particularly enjoyed the Scottish connection to this tale, meeting Lockton’s family. It reminded me of an excellent earlier series of Tammy’s, Brethren of Stone. I’m not keen on the cover though; so glad that I read these books on my phone, as no way would I sit on a train reading a paperback with a cover like this.

King of Thieves is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. Once again another light short romantic story from Tammy Andresen.


About the author

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

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The Tower Hill Terror by Dane Cobain – book review and giveaway

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

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

The Tower Hill Terror by Dane Cobain

Here is the book blurb.

Unorthodox PI James Leipfold and his technophile assistant Maile O’Hara are back with a brand new case…
The Tower Hill Terror is on the loose, a serial killer with a grisly M.O., and Maile and Leipfold must work fast to take him down before another body is found. But while the duo are chasing clues on social networking sites and the police are waiting for forensics, the Terror sends a message to the journalists at the Tribune. A message written in blood.
Can Leipfold, Maile and Cholmondeley catch the killer before it’s too late? Or will the Tower Hill Terror claim one final, familiar victim?

This is the second book in the Leipfold Mysteries series and I was looking forward to reading it, having eventually got hooked into book one Driven. You may see my review of that title here.

The story begins with Private Investigator James Leipfold and assistant Maile O’Hara following up on a suspect Jayne Lipton from the previous book, but too late, she has been mutilated and killed.

James has already taken on some new cases, but he soon gets embroiled into investigating Jayne’s death following a request from his old friend Detective Inspector Jack Cholmondeley.

The police get sent an anonymous grisly package. And then Maile discovers another similar killing via social media, Abu Adewali, before the police are even aware. Is there a link between the two murders? Is it a serial killer? Another grisly parcel, this time to the press, with a message hinting at yet another victim. How many more? Suspects! Alibis! Missing Persons! Links in the Chain!

James’s old school methods along with Maile’s technical wizardry make for a great combination. Plus the comparison between their techniques and those of the police.

However I did feel it was a bit of a loose end to have a suspect from the previous book murdered by an unrelated killer. That just seemed to muddy the water in wondering if the two cases were linked.

The Tower Hill Terror is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats. A great twist on the murder mystery genre.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of The Tower Hill Terror to one lucky winner. Open worldwide.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

I’d love to hear about your favourite read.

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The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter

Here is the book blurb.

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.

This is the fourth book in the Talisman series but works perfectly as a stand-alone read. However I definitely think they are more enjoyable read sequentially, particularly as you would get spoilers, if you were then to subsequently go back and read earlier titles. Also I note that the blurb really seems aimed at existing fans, with its references to “our favourite heroes” or the boys without naming Rome and Julian. I feel the synopsis could do with some attention to better invite new readers to the series.

My review is a bit more sketchy than for previous titles as I wish to circumvent around those potential spoiler scenes. So after a short prologue, Rome, Julian and the latest recruits are on their way to return to Beacon, who also featured previously. But in chapter 2, before they even rendezvous, they already encounter a hideous Garm. Then using Beacon technology they start to plan their next trip to a remote area in the Pacific Northwest, which appears to be a hotspot of Darkbrand activity. They are hoping to find another Talisman there. But whilst planning they are interrupted by another Garm and a Minotaur followed by a curse bearing Nocturn.

But things don’t quite go to plan when they reach the remote forest in the Pacific Northwest. What happens next? Who do they encounter here in the Den of Verdana? So near and yet so far? Can they make a deal? Where and what next? Do they find any Talismans?

I’m still not sold on the covers. They really don’t say grab this book to me, which is a shame as it is a great read.

The Battle for Verdana is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, targeted at young adult readers. Once again a good fantasy tale. Suitable from age 11 upwards in my opinion.

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My Gypsy War Diary by Shawn D Brink – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book My Gypsy War Diary by Shawn D Brink to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

My Gypsy War Diary by Shawn D Brink

Here is the book blurb.

Where is Milo’s Bible, the intruders demanded. They came under cover of darkness, their guns pointed at my elderly neighbor and only friend. And with the break in, an old story came out–young love, betrayal, blackmail, a treasure stolen and stolen again, a tale of vengeance and a life lived in secret. I was just a kid in the 70s, unable to sit still in school, living in my imaginary world of TV and movies. And now this betrayal from half a century ago threatened my life, as I found myself caught between hidden treasure and a band of gypsies who would stop at nothing to get it.

This story set in Norfolk, Nebraska is written in the format of a diary of memories and begins with a very exciting adventure as our hero retrieves an old book from a remote attic but almost gets caught by two people who are after the same book. At the end of chapter 1, you realise this is a flash forward to an event later in the book.

In Chapter 2 we head back to 1978 when our hero aged 7 had just moved to Norfolk and makes best friends with the elderly lady next door, Mrs Scholes. I feel the author made a wise move giving the reader an exciting opening to the book, as the next few chapters are slow mainly describing how he likes to help Mrs Scholes and continually trying to persuade her to attend church, with occasional tantalising mentions of either gypsies or unexplained happenings. Mrs Scholes marks these down to a mysterious guardian angel.

About a third of the way through the book, the story starts to hot up. It is now 1986 and our hero wakes up in the middle of the night to hear two gypsies have broken in next door and are threatening Mrs Scholes with a gun. He thwarts their attempt and the next day hears a jaw-dropping tale from Mrs Scholes, which sets him on the path to what happened in chapter 1. From this point on, the story continues apace with plenty of twists and turns.

I liked how it portrayed a friendship across the generations. And it was inclusive from the point of view as describing ADHD symptoms for the young protagonist. Plus an old tale retold incorporated a history of the Great Depression.

However I did think it strange that the hero was never given a name. I also found the repetition of him trying to persuade Mrs Scholes to attend church rather tiresome, as it seems as if the author is attempting to convey the same message to the reader.

And although the story did incorporate a couple of good gypsies, I was uncomfortable with how on the whole, they were portrayed in aggregate as bad. It did feel as verging towards an ethnic racial sterotype bias.

My Gypsy War Diary is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats. A good mystery targetted at YA, but suitable from age 10 up in my opinion..

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Whispers of Innocence by Natasha Simmons – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Whispers of Innocence by Natasha Simmons to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Whispers of Innocence by Natasha Simmons

Here is the book blurb.

When Madeline checks on her seven-month-old daughter, she discovers the reason for the baby’s silence. Abigail is dead. Madeline is soon living every mother’s worst nightmare amid a cacophony of sirens and police interrogations.

Accusations and old resentments can’t stay contained under the pressure of guilt, tears, and the horror of picking out a baby-sized coffin. A line is drawn through Madeline and Brian’s marriage, and a battle begins.

But defining heroes and villains is as difficult as untangling the truth from the web Madeline and Brian have created to protect themselves. Abigail’s killer isn’t the only monster hiding in the shadows. And among the dark secrets, everyone will crumble under the consequences.

It is too quiet, as the story begins at night with the awful death of baby Abigail. But as if that is not enough tragedy both her parents Madeline and Brian are under suspicion of murdering their beloved daughter.

They are interrogated separately and Madeline reveals a dark secret. Where does this leave her and Brian? And who is following her now? Who is on her side and who is not? Is she going crazy? And what about when her estranged mother turns up?

The story is told in 4 parts, firstly by Madeline, then by Declan, a friend of Brian’s, then by Brian and finally by Odette, Madeline’s mother.

The emotive subject matter of this psychological thriller makes it difficult to read. But at the same time, it is hard to put down, plus has a very unexpected surprise ending.

Whispers of Innocence is available on Amazon in paperback, audiobook and kindle formats. A dark suspenseful intense read with plenty of twists and turns.

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