The Soul’s Expression by Amy Alston

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Soul’s Expression by Amy Alston to review.

The Soul's Expression by Amy Alston

Here is the book blurb.

Katherine did what was expected of her. She married the man her parents deemed suitable. However, she could not do all that was expected of her.

After less than a year of marriage, Katherine is coerced to a doctor’s office, where she must admit the humiliating fact that she hasn’t shared her husband’s bed. She knows what the diagnosis will be and the degrading treatments women with hysteria are subject to. But with a judgemental mother-in-law in tow and an impatient husband at home, the choice is not hers.

Despite herself, she comes to trust the unusual and unconventional man treating her. And, when her increasingly volatile husband threatens to force from her that which she’s unable to give, she feels she must acquiesce to all of her doctor’s recommendations.

Swept up in a surge of self-discovery and sexual awakening, Katherine faces a new reason to be terrified. One she could never have imagined.

This book is set in the late Victorian period. The story starts with Katherine reluctantly being sent to see Dr David Hershaw by her mother-in-law after nearly eight months of marriage, she has not shared her husband’s bed. She knows the alternative is probably the asylum, but she is scared of sexual intimacy. Meanwhile her husband Edward is bedding the maid and has also become addicted to laudanum, which is now affecting his behaviour. Initially he was understanding and willing to wait, but now he is becoming abusive and threatening.

She returns to see the doctor who starts by giving her a diary to record her thoughts in. Later she agrees that he can teach her how to stimulate herself, which although it awakens her sexually, she still does not feel she can be intimate with Edward.

But why is she visiting the doctor so frequently on a daily basis? And can she avoid Edward’s demands? What will happen? Why was she so scared of sexual intimacy in the first place? All this will be revealed.

The Soul’s Expression is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.11 in Kindle format. An interesting literary read, carefully covering sensitive topics.

This book is recommended for adult readers only, due to its graphic content.


About the author

Amy Alston is a British author with a deep interest in history and an even greater fascination in the fact that it never really dies.

She currently lives in East Anglia and works as a teacher. In her free time, she enjoys photography, theatre and music. She is also engaged in a passionate and entirely unreciprocated love affair with William Shakespeare.

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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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Guest post: Top Tips to Help Your Kids to Sleep Through the Night

Getting kids to sleep at sensible times can be a right chore, my nieces and nephews constantly protest with ‘Oh but one more episode pleeaassee!’ and whilst they do eventually do what they’re told, mornings are another story. How on earth kids can be alert at silly o’clock, I will never know! Although some parents dread bedtime…routine needs to be encouraged to help reduce odd sleeping patterns, so their bodies get the proper rest they need. So, as we enter the time of year where it gets lighter earlier, here are some useful tips to get your little ones sleeping sound at and to a suitable time!

Reduce Activity Before Bed

Let's play

Photo Credit: Unsplash

It’s common for children to wind down during the evening by watching TV on the sofa or playing on the computer, however this could be what is preventing them from getting some quality shut eye. Melatonin is a hormone which makes you sleepy and less alert, however the blue and white light that gadget screens emit tricks the brain into thinking its day time. Therefore, it is recommended that screens are avoided at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, why not encourage reading? This is a fabulous way to destress little ones and calm them before bed and ensuring they sleep for longer. Yet Another Blogging Mummy has reviewed some great books with her children here if you need inspiration.

Furthermore, if they lay awake at night there are also some things you could be doing to help them become sleepy. For example, place glow in the dark stars on the ceiling for them to count when laying in bed. Much like counting sheep, this should have them sleepy in no time!

Create the Right Sleeping Environment

sleeping child

Photo Credit: Unsplash

If there are too many distractions in a child’s room, this could be another reason why they aren’t able to go back to sleep when they wake in the morning or even get to sleep in the first place. Try to limit the number of things in your little one’s room and take out all technology! This way they will be discouraged from getting out of bed and playing with their toys at night or in the morning.

Routines can also be ‘tweaked’ to help your child adjust to an earlier bedtime, especially when we will be getting lighter evenings with daylight saving happening on 25th March.  I read a great tip from fellow blogger Vic Welton recently advising you to bring your child’s bedtime routine forward by 10 minutes each day. It’s not a huge difference but will help to gradually get them used to a bedtime where it’s perhaps lighter than they have been used to.

Also, consider comfort. Little ones might not be able to tell you if they are too hot, their room is too bright, or their mattress is uncomfortable. 100% Cotton bedsheets are the best option for keeping cool in summer and when choosing a mattress it is important that children sleep with their spine and bones aligned to reduce fidgeting. Ensure the space is properly dark with appropriate blinds or black out curtains so the sunshine, if we ever get it in England, doesn’t encourage an early riser!

There are many great nightlights which can help to teach your child when it is OK to get up. For example, the Gro Clock has a light up sun emblem which only shows at a pre-set time.

Increase Daytime Activities

sun light

Photo Credit: Unsplash

The more daylight your child can take in during the day the better as this will help produce more melatonin throughout the night. Much like cutting screen-time an hour before bedtime, it is recommended that energy drinks and other forms of caffeine should be avoided during the afternoon and evening time. This way your little one might be able to sleep easier and deeper.

Encourage outdoor activities to get them exercising too, maybe a trip to the park or how about a bicycle ride? In Brighton, we have an undercliff where you can walk from the Marina to Ovingdean where you can have a nice cup of tea or an ice cream on a sunny day… definitely an incentive for the little ones! Plus, the sea air has so many health benefits which is great for the whole family.

Sleep is super important for growth and general health for those of all ages, so ensure your little ones are getting that quality shut eye after long day! Do you have any other tips and tricks that could help encourage a good night sleep for kids? Please share in the comments!

Guest post by Nathalie Martin – blogger at http://www.helpimgettingmarried.com

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I of the Hurricane by Kali

I have received a free e-copy of the book I of the Hurricane: Eating Up a Storm
by Kali for son2 to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

I of the Hurricane by Kali

Here is the book blurb.

Instant love takes place between a young pet store employee and a small white puppy. She takes her pup home to meet the household which includes another dog, Prince, and two white cats – Thunder and Lightning. Aptly called Hurricane, the pup lives up to her name by sweeping up the household with her love of food and wisecracking outlook.

“I run and spin and swim and dry.
Mother calls me a bundle of joy. Oh my!”

I of the Hurricane by Kali

This is what son2 had to say about the book.

This book was good. I liked it best when Hurricane is showing off her tricks to Mother’s friends for better treats.

This chapter book is about a white puppy called Hurricane and is written from Hurricane’s viewpoint. This is the first time that I have come across a book narrated by a dog, but it definitely works, as you see her character build. And I would suggest that it is targeted at children age 7-10.

Mother buys the puppy and takes her home where she meets the other members of the household, Prince a Sheltie dog and the cats Thunder and Lightning. We hear how she got the name Hurricane. But the story mainly focusses on Hurricane’s love of food.

I of the Hurricane is available on Amazon, currently priced at £5.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Highly recommended by son2.

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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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Briguella by Vicki Fitzgerald

I have received a free e-copy of the book Briguella by Vicki Fitzgerald to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Briguella by Vicki Fitzgerald

Here is the book blurb.

After seven women fall victim to a serial killer, journalist Kate Rivendale becomes embroiled in the manhunt. The authorities have no suspect, only one forensic link dating way back to the 1930s.

Detective Chief Inspector William Beckley needs to salvage his career; he has too many deaths on his conscience. Beckley entices Kate to go undercover, a decision which backfires with devastating consequences.

While DCI Beckley reaches a horrifying conclusion about the murderer Kate enters a desperate fight for her life… while battling to keep her own secrets buried.

Vicki told me that her novel is the result of her time spent as a Journalist in the South West, UK and is based loosely on real events that she covered involving a serial attacker.

The book starts with the police examining the crime scene where a young woman has been discovered murdered. She is the second body in 10 days, but the police believe there are 2 more undiscovered corpses out there. This is because the killer is taking fingers as trophies, 4 of hers and 3 from the previous victim. DCI Will Beckley is in charge of the case to find the serial killer. Meanwhile Kate Rivendale, journalist from the Southern Chronicle is looking on from beyond the police cordon, here to report on the incident.

A few days later the killer is interrupted and his latest victim Hannah survives in a coma, but dies a few days later without regaining consciousness. Another body is discovered on Christmas Eve badly decomposed with 2 fingers missing who could have been the second to be killed. Meanwhile the killer strikes again. Kate is persistent in trying to get the story and Beckley gives her the scoop in advance of a press conference. Also the police discover their first forensic clue which is fibres of a material not made since the 1930s, perhaps an old blanket is used by the killer to wrap the murder weapon.

The killer reacts to Kate’s exclusive news report by attacking again. But now things are getting personal. It is Louise, a close relative of Kate’s who lies badly injured in hospital, and who blames Kate for her situation. Beckley asks Kate to go undercover for them. She isn’t keen but agrees after seeing Louise.

The story gets even more thrilling, but I’m stopping now to avoid spoilers.

The title of the book is based on the mask the killer wore.

Briguella is available on Amazon, currently priced at £11.99  in paperback or £2.99 in Kindle format. What a page turner. A really gripping read. This is Vicki’s debut novel, so I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

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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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Handmade doll and book giveaway

I do enjoy dabbling in crafts from time to time and last week I made a decoupage Mother’s Day card for my mum. I sometimes dream about the possibility of setting up my own crafting business, but that is all it is, just wishful thinking. However today I would like to introduce you to a talented lady who does have her own crafting business.

Sue Kim makes gorgeous ragdolls and she has now written her first children’s book “Grandma’s Special Birthday Party” featuring her dolls. Along with her daughter Veronica , Sue made all of the dolls, clothes, and even some of the furniture used in the book.

Grandmas special birthday party by Sue Kim

The story is about two twins Abby and Ally, their lovely dogs, and their family. In this story Abby and Ally prepare a special birthday party for their Grandmother! And it celebrates international day and teaches children about many cultures and traditions around the world!

And the dolls aren’t Sue’s first foray into crafting. She is already an established author with 5 sewing / quilting books on Amazon to her name.

You may find out more about Sue on her website Second Avenue. You will also be able to see plenty of her beautiful dolls either there, or on Etsy or Instagram.

Or if sewing is your thing, then there are plenty of downloadable patterns to browse on Sue’s other website ithinksew.

Handmade ragdoll and book giveaway

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway one of Sue’s beautiful handmade dolls (value £87), along with a copy of her children’s book and 6 postcards to one lucky winner. What a lovely prize from Sue.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what crafts you enjoy?

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Disclosure.  Although I am hosting this giveaway, I have not received any products.  All opinions are my own.

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The Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take the #OreoCookieQuest Challenge. And as one of the first 100 to sign up to the challenge, I received two free packets of Oreo cookies, for the family to enjoy a tasty treat.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

I decided that we would have a fun Oreo cookie quest at home. I hid the treats and thought up some clues for the hiding places, then gave the clues to the boys for them to figure out.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Son1 immediately headed to the kitchen and after a false start rummaging through the chiller drawer in the fridge, he discovered his first Oreo in the fruit bowl.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Meanwhile son2 rushed upstairs and found Oreos on my pillow.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

They found most of the Oreos quite quickly, but the final hiding place was a bit more tricky. They were on the right track looking in the freezer, but they needed a little hint to prompt them to look inside the ice cream carton. What a delicious combination of 2 Oreos and ice cream, 2 being the perfect serving size.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Oreo is celebrating The Great Oreo Cookie Quest with a fun and interactive way to win great prizes. Oreo fans have the opportunity to win a once-in-a-lifetime wonder-filled trip to California and the Googleplex through an on-pack promotion. I downloaded the app to try our luck and son2 had great fun scanning for Oreos. He found about 25 in half an hour but this is his favourite below. No points for guessing where he scanned. Certainly not one of the places I would choose to hide an Oreo!

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

So try your luck by popping a pack in your trolley on your next shopping trip. And I’ve still got another pack of Oreos left. Think I might try using them to cook a tasty treat for the family. Anyone got a recipe suggestion for me?

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Disclosure. This post mentions a product that I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. This post is an entry for BritMums #OreoCookieQuest, sponsored by Oreo.

The Dog Ate My Homework by Aaron James

I have received a free copy of the book The Dog Ate My Homework and other poems for children by Aaron James for son2 to review.

The Dog Ate My Homework by Aaron James

Here is the book blurb.

The Dog Ate My Homework by Aaron James is a collection of short poems that will capture your imagination. Filled with fun stories that make you think, laugh and tell your friends. Do you remember your first day at school? Or when you tried to convince your teacher you actually done your homework? Or the excitement you felt when you bought your new pair of trainers? In The Dog Ate My Homework you will get a chance to read all these stories and many more!

The Dog Ate My Homework by Aaron James

My favourite poem is The Dog Ate My Homework because it is funny that a dog actually ate his homework and that the teacher didn’t believe him. This is a good book.

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

And you may click on the image below to see a fullsize copy of my son’s favourite poem as it appears in the book.

The Dog Ate My Homework poem

I loved these poems too but I was expecting there to be a lot more than just five poems in the book. The blurb describes three of them plus “many more”. So only two more poems does feel a bit of a let down compared to expectation. And why are there 7 blank pages at the back of the book. Were these for more poems which didn’t materialise?

The Dog Ate My Homework is available on Amazon, currently priced at £5.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Suitable for a wide age range. A lovely illustrated book to read out loud to your children or for them to read themselves. But a shame that there were only 10 pages.

About the author

Born and raised in Tottenham, North London and today living in Bromley, South London with his wife, Aaron James works as a poet and spoken word artist. The Dog Ate My Homework is his first children’s poetry book.


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

The Dog Ate My Homework by Aaron James

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

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A Scot’s Surrender by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book A Scot’s Surrender by Tammy Andresen to review.

A Scots Surrender by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

An innocent debutante and a rogue…

Miss Agnes Burton dreams of a gentleman, a knight in shining armor that sweeps her off her feet. Laird Keiran McKenna is nothing like her dreams. A rogue and sworn bachelor, she finds him irritating, when he isn’t causing her breathless excitement. The more time she spends with him, the more the line between knight and rogue blurs. Not that it matters, because he’d never love her in return would he?

This is the third book in A Laird To Love series, of which I have previously read and reviewed the introductory Christmas novella, the first book and the second.

This historical Scottish romance is set in 1852. Circumstances force Agnes to spend the night alone with Laird Keiran McKenna but he refuses to even kiss her. Eight months later they meet again and she apologises for trying to kiss him. But what is each of them really thinking? Agnes thinks Keiran is a rogue since a gentleman would surely have given the room up for a lady. Whilst Keiran believes he tried to be a gentleman by resisting and sleeping on the floor. Both are lusting after the other but hiding their feelings as Agnes wants a gentleman, whilst meanwhile Keiran feels too dark from the war for someone as pure as Agnes. So what will ensue?

A Scot’s Surrender is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.89 in Kindle format. The third title in A Laird To Love series, but works well as a stand-alone read. Another nice romantic predictable light-hearted read to curl up with, in-between some 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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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 Seven Sorrows by Gregg Kuehn

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Seven Sorrows by Gregg Kuehn to review.

The Seven Sorrows by Gregg Kuehn

Here is the book blurb.

Oh, how they flew from wave to wave, when the devil came to our blessed shore
And with smoke and fire defiled the cave.
The Abyss now bare, spears no more, they lie below her most sweet soul
That, stabbed with seven sorrows.

A set of still-lethal handheld tactical nuclear weapons, stolen from the United States Army during the Cold War, has been hidden deep in a cave on the island of El Fortunato, British West Indies, since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now terrorists are plotting to dig them up. The only clue to their location – a riddle written over fifty years earlier.

KC Jameson, a 33 year old marine biologist, is living a fairly care-free life on the West Indies island. That is until his boss, an exotic weapons collector, orders him to find the nuclear weapons. KC and his reluctant assistant, Nikki Colt, a squad of rogue Russian commandos, and a special operations unit from U.S. Military under orders from a corrupt politician finds themselves in a race to retrieve the weapons. Can KC and Nikki decipher the one clue to the missles whereabouts before they fall into the wrong hands? And exactly whose hands are the wrong hands?

The book starts in Moscow where elderly Alexei is about to die. But before he does, he tells his nephew Pyotr about how he stole and hid nuclear weapons back in 1962. Pyotr thinks this could be his ticket to America, and he passes the sketchy information to Colin Farthington, an American weapons collector, who puts an escape plan in place for Pyotr. However the plan to escape Russia goes wrong and Pyotr is captured and tortured for the information and then killed by Chuikov. Additionally Colin and Pyotr’s conversation was intercepted by ISA (the US Army Intelligence Support Activity) who work for Vice President Gordon.

Colin works out that the weapons are on the island of El Fortunato, where it just so happens that he already has an employee, KC Jameson. KC teams up with visiting climber Nikki.

The race is on for the weapons between KC and Nikki, the Russians and VP Gordon’s team. But whereabouts on the island are they? So many twists and turns, plus lots of double-crossing.

The Seven Sorrows is available on Amazon, currently priced at £11.28 in paperback or £5.32 in Kindle format. A gripping storyline that really has you on the edge of your seat. Highly recommended.

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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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Bulk cooking chicken

I sometimes find it makes sense to buy a larger volume of meat and bulk cook two meals at the same time. This is what I did recently with chicken thighs. I cooked pesto chicken and potato at the same time as a chicken casserole. So no cooking required the next day.

Chicken Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings

Chicken Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings

Chicken Casserole with cheesy dumplings

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken thighs
2tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp olive oil
350g jar of pasta sauce
100g self raising flour
50g cheese
50g suet
pinch of salt
5tbsp cold water

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degree C.
Spread the 2tbsp plain flour across a chopping board.
Place the chicken on the board and turn several times to coat in the flour.
Heat the oil gently in a large ovenproof casserole pot on the hob.
Add the chicken and brown slightly for about 5 minutes, turning halfway.
Pour over the sauce.
Place lid on casserole pot.
Put the casserole pot on middle shelf of preheated oven and cook for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile grate the cheese.
Mix, flour, salt, suet and grated cheese in a bowl.
Add the cold water and mix to a dough.
Form into 8 dumpling balls.
Remove lid from casserole pot.
Place dumplings on top of casserole and return to oven for a further 20 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.

Chicken Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings


Pesto chicken and potato

Pesto chicken and potato

Pesto Chicken and Potato

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 – 6 chicken thighs (depending on size)
2tbsp plain flour
700g potatoes
4 small onions
50g basil
1 clove of garlic
30g pine nuts
30g parmesan
3 tbsp olive oil

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degree C.
Grate the parmesan.
Freshly pick the basil and wash leaves.
Place basil, garlic, pine nuts, grated parmesan and 2 tbsp oil in blender.
Blend pesto for a couple of minutes, until happy with texture.
Add extra oil if desired.
Peel and chop the potatoes.
Peel and top and tail the onions.
Spread the 2tbsp plain flour across a chopping board.
Place the chicken on the board and turn several times to coat in the flour.
Heat 1 tbsp oil gently in a deep baking tray on the hob.
Add the chicken and brown slightly for about 5 minutes, turning halfway.
Spoon pesto generously onto the chicken.
Add the potatoes and onions.
Turn a few times to coat with oil.
Spoon any remaining pesto over the potatoes and onions.
Cook on top shelf of preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.

Pesto chicken and potato

I only used 2 onions in this dish, as the boys won’t eat onions, but I recommend 1 small onion per person.

I’d love to hear what food you bulk cook.

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