STEM Box review and giveaway

It has been a while since we last reviewed a Weekend Box. The boys have had great fun doing the activities from these in the past, but they have now got a bit old for them. However I recently found out that Weekend Box have extended their range to include a STEM box for older children. For those of you don’t know what STEM stands for, it is science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The STEM box sounded right up my boys’ street, as son1 already participates in the YES programme via school. All these acronyms – YES stands for Young Engineers and Scientists. So we were delighted to receive a free STEM Box to review.

STEM box

Son2 was the lucky one who got to put this box to the test.

STEM box

So the first part of the fun is opening the box to find out what exciting activities lie within.

STEM box

Son2 was quick to check out the booklet. He immediately decided that of the three main activities, he wanted to start by making a rocket. Most of the necessary equipment was included in the STEM box, but we would have to provide a plastic bottle. Oh no, there’s a word we didn’t wish to see – plastic! It was son2 who got us started on our journey towards a plastic free future in the first place. I haven’t bought any drinks in plastic bottles at all this year. However I had a rummage in the kitchen cupboard and found a suitable apple drink hiding at the back.

STEM box

So son2 did all the crafting to make his rocket indoors before we headed out into the garden for the scientific action. Add warm water and the effervescent tablets, pop the lid on, give the bottle a shake and put upside down in a mug. Then wait for the rocket to launch.

STEM box

We didn’t manage to capture a photo of the rocket launching.

The other two main activities in our STEM box are making a kite and pinwheels, as this box is on the topic of things that fly. Son2 plans to do those next weekend. Plus the booklet is also packed with plenty of bonus activities on the same theme. There are facts, jokes, puzzles and instructions for making two types of paper planes along with an experiment evaluation table and a “touch down” certificate. And there is even a door hanger to colour on the inside of the box. So lots more fun to be had.

When I had a browse round the Weekend Box website, I was pleased to see that everything contained in a box is either reusable or recyclable and that 95% of each box contents comes from recycled material. So if they are so committed to the environment and sustainability, why ask us to provide a single-use plastic bottle? Could something else have been used to make the rocket instead perhaps?

The STEM Box is a new addition to the Weekend Box range, targeted at older children from age 7-12. It currently retails at £8.95 including free delivery, the same price as a Weekend Box. It is sent out monthly and the one difference is that there are 3 activities, rather than 4. Well worth the price in my opinion for all the educational fun.

We have reviewed the Kids Weekend Activity Box a few times previously. You can see the fun we had before, on the following posts, along with an introduction to the principles of Weekend Box.
A mask and a rainforest
Chinese New Year activities
Cooking Potato Boats and making 3D glasses.
Sand Art and making a bird feeder.

If readers of my blog would like to try out any type of Weekend Box, I have an ongoing unique promo code for you to get your first box for free (including free delivery).

The unique promo code is CLAIRE43 and can be redeemed at www.weekendboxclub.com. If you have any difficulties with the code, try signing up with this direct link www.weekendboxclub.com/main/signup?promocode=CLAIRE43

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a 6 month subscription of STEM Box to one lucky winner. What a fun prize.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what STEM or crafting activities you enjoy.

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

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My journey towards a Plastic Free future – part 5

It has been a little while since I last gave you an update on my progress with reducing plastic and overall waste reduction generally, so here’s my latest news.

No more junk mail

The “no junk mail” sticker on the front door seems to be working very well. The only things we now seem to be getting in addition to our post are the local monthly village magazines. That is if you don’t count items for the previous resident and I’ve been labelling those “moved away, return to sender” for years now! I’ve started considering each piece of post, as to whether we actually do need it or whether we can ask the sender to cancel. I was impressed that National Trust have started using compostable wrappers for their magazines, but even so I decided this fell into the category of unnecessary post. I’ve therefore mostly unsubscribed, although apparently we will still receive the Autumn edition due to it including AGM voting papers. Can’t say I’ve ever looked at the details of their AGM or plan to in the future either, but never mind, I’ve made a step in the right direction. Also it took two attempts to unsubscribe as apparently the request had to come from member 1 and I was member 2 in our household.

National Trust compostable packaging

However I did fail on trying to unsubscribe from the mail shots our local garden centre send out. I have a loyalty card with them and when I asked on my last visit, apparently you can’t have one without the other. She said “it’s only 8 times a year”, but that is 8 unwanted pieces of post. I did try to suggest they move their mail shots to email, and she did say that they would think about that. So I’ll just have to wait and see.

And on the food shopping front, I’m still guilty of bringing more plastic into the home than I wish. Some things we have been going without in the hope that I will soon find a plastic free alternative. But others are key to our regular weekly shop, particularly biscuits, crackers and fruit bread. I’ve been trying to bake these more often, but as I work full-time, sometimes there just isn’t the opportunity. And when I think I’ve baked a large enough box of crackers to last all week, I then find son1 has managed to polish them off in a couple of days. He’s like a bottomless pit when it comes to food. Today I made a large bowl of popcorn and he alone ate almost the entire lot in less than 5 minutes.

I’m gradually finding plastic free alternatives, so I now get yoghurt in glass jars from the milkman, along with my other deliveries. But unfortunately the milkman seems to have reverted to putting things inside plastic bags. It was all paper bags in January so I don’t know why. I keep asking the dairy to tell him that I don’t want the plastic bags, but the message doesn’t seem to have got through. I haven’t actually met him yet, as he usually delivers well before we wake up.

However some of my successes like plastic free butter and houmous have been discovered in other towns rather than my local high street. So this brings into debate, the question of my carbon footprint. I don’t feel I can justify driving over 5 miles just to buy some butter.

Plastic free butter

One trip I do plan to make further afield is to the new zero waste store which has just opened. I need to get all my containers lined up and ready. I’ve heard it even has freezers, which is excellent news as we have run out of some of our staples like frozen peas and sweetcorn. We much prefer the frozen variety to tinned.

I’ve also continued to keep a careful eye on what goes into my food waste bin. We have two of these, a small kerbside bin and an even smaller windowsill one. Previously I would always chuck everything into the windowsill one initially and then transfer it outside every couple of days. But now I’ve started putting anything like chicken bones straight into the outside bin. This way I can choose to tip the windowsill bin into our garden compost bin, along with some of the compostable paper waste I’ve been saving for this purpose. A mixture of green and brown each time, although I’m not sure how long it will take to decompose for use in the garden. But hopefully this will reduce the number of bags of compost we purchase in future.

Also I’ve made my own equivalent of marmalade, out of orange pulp saved from our juicer along with orange peel.

Zero Waste Marmalade

Marmalade

Ingredients

250g orange pulp
40g chopped orange peel
200ml cold water
50g fruit sugar

Method

Chop the orange peel into small strips.
Place orange pulp and peel in a large saucepan.
Cover with water and add sugar.
Bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until it has thickened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile bring another saucepan of water to the boil.
Carefully place jars in the boiling water for about 5 minutes to sterilise.
Remove with tongs.
Spoon marmalade into hot sterilised jars.
Allow to cool.
Serve on buttered toast or bread.
Enjoy.

Zero Waste Marmalade

This made about a jar and a half. Naturally I used jars that I had saved. This marmalade looks a different colour to regular marmalade and I believe that to be due to the pith also being present in the pulp. It also had a much more bitter flavour as I had used less sugar, plus the cooking time is shorter so the peel is a more dominant taste still.

So overall gradually moving in the right direction. And I’d love to hear your eco friendly suggestions and tips please.

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Anna and Evan meet Charles Darwin by Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel

We have received a free e-copy of the book Anna and Evan meet Charles Darwin by Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel for son2 to review.

Anna and Evan meet Charles Darwin by Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel

Here is the book blurb.

Join Anna and Evan on a magical adventure to the Galapagos Islands where they meet Charles Darwin, discover unusual animals and learn some interesting scientific facts.

This engaging and educational book is ideal for young children to encourage curiosity and interest in the natural world and science.

Anna and Evan meet Charles Darwin by Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel

I liked that the book 📚 featured science,🔬 although the story was a bit dodgy, I liked the book 📚 overall.

The comment above is what son2 has written for his review. I quizzed him on what he meant about the story being a bit dodgy, as he had been very pleased to see his favourite penguins on the first page. Apparently it is because he didn’t think the magic was spectacular enough and that Charles Darwin wasn’t at all surprised when 2 children just arrive. You can tell he is older than the target age for the book, looking beyond what he actually sees on the page.

Son2 has already learnt who Charles Darwin is at school but the book is written in a style so that the story flows easily for younger children who haven’t heard of Darwin yet, with a biography about him at back.

The story starts at the zoo where Anna and Evan are curious about the differences between some species. They then whisper the magical words that send them off on their adventure to the Galapagos Islands where they meet Charles Darwin. He does eventually answer their original question but not before sharing lots of other nature facts. I even found out things I didn’t know!

This short picture book has been beautifully illustrated by Karin Eklund and includes helpful labels against the creatures. And there is also a dictionary at the end explaining words used in the book like camouflage.

Anna and Evan meet Charles Darwin is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Suitable for a wide age range. A fascinating book to read out loud to your child or for them to read themselves, which gives a great introduction for children to nature and science.

Writing of this book was supported by the L’Oréal UK and Ireland For Women In Science Fellowship. More details about the book are available here https://www.ch.cam.ac.uk/outreach/anna-evan-meet-charles-darwin

About the authors

As a young girl, Dr. Tanya Hutter couldn’t imagine that she would end up being a leading scientist in nanotechnology and chemical sensing, and a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Currently, she lives in Cambridge with her husband and their two curious children that inspired the book.

Lina Daniel has been always interested in science and medicine, eventually becoming a chemist and a pharmacist, and currently working in the pharmaceutical industry. With her husband, she is raising three enthusiastic boys. They all share a passion for scientific experiences, engineering novelties, fun historical facts, travels and adventures.

Tanya and Lina have been close friends for over two decades. The fact that they are both raising young children enhanced their desire to encourage kids to learn about science, and finally, drew them to write their first illustration book for small children. Hopefully, this will be the first one in a series of books about notable scientists and engineers.


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

Anna and Evan meet Charles Darwin by Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel

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

A duo of vegetarian TVP recipes plus giveaway

Regular readers may remember that I made some delicious healthy chocolate puddings earlier this year using ingredients I received free to review from Buy Whole Foods Online. I have now received some more products free to review from their online shop. This time I received two types of TVP (textured vegetable protein) in the formats of mince and chunks.

TVP (textured Vegetable Protein) or soya

This year I’ve been thinking a lot more about sustainability and one thing I’ve been focussing on, is can our family eat less meat and dairy? As an ex-vegetarian, I’ve easily implemented returning to a vegetarian diet at lunchtimes, either at home alone or in our excellent work canteen. However it isn’t so easy when catering for the whole family. My other half is very resistant to the idea plus we’re also restricted by my youngest son being very fussy about what he will and won’t eat.

I therefore decided to take two of son2’s favourite meals, namely spaghetti bolognaise and chicken nuggets and use the TVP to cook vegetarian equivalents. Last year we successfully swapped using shop-bought jars of bolognaise sauce for passata in an attempt to reduce sugar. What would he think this time?

So firstly here is my recipe for the Bolognaise.

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Vegetarian Bolognaise

Ingredients (serves 4)

100g dried TVP mince
boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
500g passata
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
250g wholewheat spaghetti

Method

Place the dried TVP in a large bowl.
Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Pour sufficient stock over the TVP to cover it.
(Any spare stock can be stored in the fridge once cool for a few days for use in another recipe).
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid.
Once the TVP is ready to use, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
Meanwhile peel garlic and squeeze through garlic press.
Add spaghetti to the saucepan and cook for about 11-13 minutes.
Gently heat oil in a wok.
Add garlic to wok and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in the TVP.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Stir in the passata and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti and serve topped with the bolognaise.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Bolognaise


And secondly the nuggets.

Vegetarian Nuggets

Vegetarian Nuggets

Ingredients (serves 3)

40g dried TVP chunks
250ml boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove of garlic
1 slice of stale bread
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Method

Crumble the stock cube into a jug.
Pour on the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
Squeeze garlic through garlic press and stir into the stock.
Add the TVP chunks to the jug.
Leave to stand for about 20 minutes for the TVP to absorb liquid and double in size.
Meanwhile tear the bread into pieces and put in blender.
Whizz the bread into crumbs.
Tip the breadcrumbs into a flat dish.
Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
After about 20 minutes once the TVP has doubled in size, drain off any liquid which remains.
(This liquid can be stored in the fridge for a few days for use in another recipe).
Dip the chunks in the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are fully coated.
Gently heat oil in a frying pan.
Cook the nuggets for approx 4 minutes on each side, turning once.
Serve with your choice of vegetables or salad.
Enjoy.

Vegetarian Nuggets

So verdict on the recipes. Son2 was happy with the Vegetarian Bolognaise but the Nuggets did not hit the spot for him. Son1 liked both though as did I. In fact I found the nuggets delicious with my salad. The boys have agreed going forward that we will alternate between a traditional meat bolognaise and a vegetarian version.

In fact, both these recipes are not only vegetarian, they are actually vegan, so long as you don’t serve grated cheese with the bolognaise.

Here are the links to the two products I received. They come in a range of sizes from 500g to the bulk 15kg.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Chunks (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

Textured Vegetable Protein – Plain Mince (TVP) 500g – made from 100% soya beans.

I was pleased with both these products and am now thinking up my next recipe. I did ask the boys for recipe suggestions. I wasn’t too convinced when son2 said how about in a banana milkshake but son1’s idea was to put some of the mince on a pizza. I’ll certainly give that a try as I usually make him a pepperoni pizza, whilst son2’s pizzas are already vegetarian as he won’t try anything except Margarita.

I can’t comment on cost comparison, as I haven’t seen these products elsewhere previously. It is great how versatile these can be. It is like having a blank canvas as the TVP absorbs the flavour of whatever you choose to cook it in.

And one other point to note. Don’t misread the chunks pack like I did initially. I thought it was implying that one cup of chunks would need 7 to 8 cups of water. It actually meant seven eighths of a cup, so in the end I decided it was simplest to do a 1 to 1 ratio. However that was after deciding to only rehydrate a small quantity of chunks, as I assumed they were going to massively increase in size. In fact they hardly increase at all.

Finally a mention about the packaging. As it hasn’t been that long since my earlier post, I wasn’t expecting any change yet. And true enough both of these products were again in plastic, even if it is BPA free plastic. I’m still hoping Buy Whole Foods Online will review their product packaging and switch to a paper-based solution.

I do recommend that you take a look at the Buy Whole Foods Online store. There is a huge amount to choose from.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a pack of both TVP products from Buy Whole Foods Online to one lucky winner. You’ll certainly be able to get creative in the kitchen with these.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions using either of these products.

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

The Secret Life of Moles by Liz Burgess

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Secret Life of Moles (and their friends) by Liz Burgess for son2 to review.

The Secret Live of Moles by Liz Burgess

Here is the book blurb.

Liz Burgess has always held a keen interest in nature, especially small furry mammals!

Long fascinated by their secret activities at home in her own back garden, and the fields surrounding it, she decided to explore this special underground world, and find out more about moles and their other little friends. Liz Burgess lives in South Yorkshire and The Secret Life of Moles is her first book for children.

The Secret Live of Moles by Liz Burgess

I liked this book because at first I thought it would be a non-fiction book, but it was actually a story about moles that had facts in. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

The above sentence is what son2 has written for his review. I’ve also read the book, so let me give you a bit more insight into the book. It is a short 40 page chapter book with some very nice illustrations drawn by the author.

The expanding mole family are running out of space in their field, so young Ragwort decides to tunnel under a wall into unknown territory. He emerges in a much smaller tidier “field” with beautiful flowers, waterfall and pond which he decides will be the ideal place to move to. But things don’t go according to plan due to a rather cross Hbean, as moles refer to us humans.  He asks for advice from wise Hogknows, the hedgehog, who in turn asks the Wingthings (birds) and Climbing Fox (squirrel). All the animals get involved and vote on a plan.

A lovely tale from the viewpoint of the creatures involved. And the naming of everyone is just great.

The Secret Life of Moles 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 delightful book to read out loud to your child or for them to read themselves.

About the author

Liz Burgess lives in South Yorkshire has enjoyed a varied career, including working for a UK Environmental Charity, the latter 10 years as a Director. She had always had a keen interest in nature especially small mammals, activities in her own back garden and the surrounding fields inspired her to write the Secret Life of Moles. Any reference to a moles natural behaviour in The Secret Life of Moles is correct according to Liz’s small amount of research. All the drawings were been done by Liz in pencil and ink.
At the age of 68, Liz enjoys hiking, birdwatching anything to do with wildlife. She has done quite a bit of foreign travel, including rain forests, jungles and was fortunate to see a ‘tiger’ in the wild. Liz retired at 60, previous to this she worked for an environmental charity for 28 years. Mainly involved with operational developments but she does have a background in Human Resources and Employment Law.


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

The Secret Live of Moles by Liz Burgess

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

Armour Piercing by Peter Aengenheister plus giveaway

I have received a free e-copy of the book Armour Piercing by Peter Aengenheister to review. This is Peter’s debut novel.

Armour Piercing by Peter Aengenheister

Here is the book blurb.

A defecting Russian space scientist, awaiting debrief, is in a Warwickshire safe house that comes under attack by an assassination squad. He escapes with plans for a conspiracy involving key members of secret services across the Western world. The only person he knows in the UK, or could possibly trust, is Pete Armour, the man who was to be his de-briefer. Killed before he can reach safety, he has hidden the secret papers where only Armour could ever find them. Armour becomes the target when he and a female newspaper reporter find themselves thrust together and on the run from at least two secret service agencies and British Intelligence, who seem more hell bent on killing him than helping him. And there is a price to pay. There’s always a price to pay. This is the first of the Armour trilogy. A gripping read. Fast-paced, a thriller packed with action, twists and turns.

It is set in 1978 when Vasilli, a scientist defecting from Russia has just arrived at the safe house in Warwickshire. The only person he knows in the UK is Pete Armour, who has remained a good friend since Vasilli came on a cultural exchange to Oxford back in 1961 in their university days. And by coincidence, Pete is going to be his debriefer and has advised Vasilli of an emergency backup plan.

He is looking forward to seeing Pete again, when things go wrong as a KGB hitman enters the room. Vasilli suffers a bullet shoulder injury before the secret service agents manage to take the hitman down. Whilst gunfire continues, he hides in another room, where he finds secret documents abandoned on the table. He grabs them and escapes after reading of a major conspiracy. He needs to get to Pete, as now MI5 will be after him too.

Indeed they are. Several different secret service teams and I did get confused as to who was working for who. Every so often, I had to go back and re-read parts of the story. And less than a quarter of the way through the book, Vasilli is killed, but he had succeeded in hiding the papers first. Now Pete along with Clare, a newspaper reporter, whom Vasilli had dropped a cryptic message for Pete in her bag, become the lead characters. Suddenly they find they are now the targets. Can Pete decipher the message and keep one step ahead?

After a slightly slow start, this turns into a real page-turner with loads of twists and turns, although some of it is rather far-fetched.

This book will be published tomorrow and is available for pre-order on Amazon currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A gripping read. Highly recommended. I’m certainly looking forward to book two.

About the author

Peter Aengenheister was born in Amersham, Bucks. At the age of 18, Peter became a trainee reporter at weekly The Bucks Herald in Aylesbury and the Buckingham Advertiser. Over the next three decades, Peter worked as a reporter, News Editor, Sub Editor and Editor. He worked at The Chronicle and Echo for nine years, and edited the Daventry Express and Rugby Advertiser for nine years a piece.
He then left journalism to work as a fully trained clinical hypno-therapist. Since then, with one of his colleagues, he set up a business selling LED lighting to the industrial and commercial sector. Despite writing stories on a daily basis during his 36 years in journalism, ARMOUR PIERCING is his debut novel.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeterAengenheis

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of this book to one lucky winner. Open to anyone in the UK, US or Canada.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.


The book tour kicks off today, so you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

Armour Piercing by Peter Aengenheister

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

My Wicked Earl by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book My Wicked Earl by Tammy Andresen to review.

My Wicked Earl by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Lord Rex Abelman, Earl of Casterly, has no intention of marrying. His life is that of an adventurer. But he cannot deny that Lady Daffodil is as sweet and funny as she is beautiful. Nor can help but wonder what life might be like if he were a better man.

Rex is a rake and a rogue who has sworn off marriage. He is the last man Daffodil should give her attention. So why do her eyes drift to him at every opportunity?

This is the fifth book in the Wicked Lords of London series, a set that I have been enjoying. This one continues where the previous title My Duke’s Desire ended, but would also work well as a stand-alone read.

It begins with Lady Daffodil trying to cook a meal for herself and her 15 year old brother Jacob, as the only servant left, their housekeeper Mrs Fields is now bedridden due to a fall. Their family is in a financial crisis due to her late father’s debts. They are alone as their mother and sister Violette have left to meet several potential suitors. But all Daffodil has succeeded in, is burning the meat and filling the kitchen with smoke, when a strange handsome man enters and carries her upstairs with Jacob following. Who is this rogue taking liberties?

It is Rex, the Earl of Casterly who has been sent by his best friend Theo, the Duke of Waverly to escort Daffodil and Jacob to attend their sister Violette’s marriage to Theo, since their mother has now fallen ill and cannot travel. But they can’t go yet, as who will look after Mrs Fields?

It will take a few days to put a plan into place, so having been thrown together by circumstances, each learns about the other. You can sense the attraction buzzing. What will ensue?

My Wicked Earl is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.27 in Kindle format. As usual, Tammy has delivered another nice short romantic story.

Here are the links to my reviews of the previous four titles.
My Duke’s Seduction
My Duke’s Deception
My Earl’s Entrapment
My Duke’s Desire


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.

Meatballs with Mozzarella

Regular readers may remember that I hosted a ketogenic guest post from Sarah Peterson last year. I didn’t really know much myself about this style of eating previously, so did some reading up around the topic. Basically in a nutshell, it seems to be following a low carbohydrate, high fat, adequate protein diet. This inspired me to come up with the following recipe for Meatballs with Mozzarella, although I may have overdone the protein element, so not strictly keto. The recipe was mainly targeted at my other half who has been trying to avoid eating pasta. And since I regularly cook either Spaghetti and Meatballs or Spaghetti Bolognaise because the boys both love these, the no pasta request can prove quite tricky.


Meatballs with Mozzarella

Meatballs with Mozzarella

Ingredients (serves 4)

800g pork mince
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 egg
50g breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic
500g passata
1 400g tin of plum tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
150g mozzarella

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degree C.
Beat the egg in a large bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add mince, breadcrumbs and half of the oregano.
Stir together.
Form into 12 large meatballs.
Squeeze garlic through garlic press.
Cut the mozzarella into 12 slices.
Gently heat oil in wok.
Brown the meatballs in batches in the wok, removing them to a plate.
Add garlic to wok.
After 1 minute, add passata and plum tomatoes to the wok.
Roughly chop the plum tomatoes in the wok.
Add balsamic vinegar and rest of the oregano.
Season with salt and pepper.
Return the meatballs to the wok.
Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens.
Spoon into a baking dish.
Top each meatball with a slice of mozzarella.
Bake on middle shelf of preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.

Meatballs with Mozzarella

So verdict on these. They hit the spot for my other half, but the tomato was too dominant really for the boys. Looks like we will need to cook some spaghetti too in order to soak up some of the sauce for the children, in which case I would probably reduce the meat content.

Meatballs with Mozzarella

I’d love to hear your ideas for meals where pasta can be added at the end to some portions only. And how you then bulk out those portions without pasta?

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Dark Inheritance by P B Lawson – book review and giveaway

I have received a free e-copy of the book Dark Inheritance by P B Lawson to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Dark Inheritance by P B Lawson

Here is the book blurb.

A serial killer is on the loose and a prominent doctor discovers she is not the person she grew up believing herself to be. These seemingly unrelated characters find themselves drawn together by an ancient lineage.

Detective Doug McKenna is baffled by a series of bizarre killings that have shocked the city of Toronto. All the victims have had their throats brutally slashed, yet there is little blood at any of the crime scenes.

Dark Inheritance questions the concept of good and evil and looks at how an ancient predisposition for evil might be genetically passed from generation to generation.

This story, mainly set in Toronto starts with a few short chapters introducing the mysterious killer and detective Doug McKenna. The killer has murdered a prostitute on a path between 2 houses in a residential area. We are then introduced to journalist Jodie Sommers, who is after a scoop, and the residents, who are now suspects.

We then seem to go off at a tangent, as we meet Doctor Stephanie Salkind who has just discovered via paperwork in an old suitcase that she is adopted. From this point onwards, I realised there were several stories entwining with more main characters yet to be introduced. Plus it includes narrative from the fourteenth century, which blends in surprisingly well.

Lots more twists and turns to come in this tale including further deaths.

Dark Inheritance is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.93 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A gripping thrilling plot.

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of this book to 1 lucky winner.
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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Her Deceptive Duke by Scarlett Scott

I have received a free e-copy of the book Her Deceptive Duke by Scarlett Scott to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Her Deceptive Duke by Scarlett Scott

Here is the book blurb.

Georgiana, Duchess of Leeds, hasn’t seen her husband since he left her on their wedding day for an extended hunting expedition and never returned. But she isn’t the sort to wait around pining for an arrogant oaf who can’t bother to recall he has a wife, no matter how sinfully handsome he may be.

She finds all the fulfillment she requires in caring for the stray cats and dogs of London’s streets. Until, that is, the duke returns, and she uncovers the truth about where he’s been…

Kit, Duke of Leeds, never wanted to be duke. He was content with his life as one of Her Majesty’s most dedicated spies until his brother’s unexpected demise left him forced to marry an American heiress to save the family estate from ruin. The day he married her, he left for a secret assignment in America, with no intention of returning.

Seriously wounded and his cover ruined, Kit’s forced back to London where he finds a townhouse brimming with creatures and a wife who can’t bear the sight of him.

With husband and wife beneath the same roof at last, their marriage of convenience sparks into a passion that’s as undeniable as it is unexpected. But is desire enough to bring two wary hearts together? And once Kit’s wounds are healed, will Georgiana’s love be enough to make him stay?

Her Deceptive Duke is the fourth book in the Wicked Husbands series and can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel or read as part of the series.

If you love steamy Regency and Victorian romance and second chance love stories, don’t miss the Wicked Husbands.

Fiercely independent, dazzlingly beautiful, and married to handsome scoundrels, these American heiresses are ready to turn the tables on the insufferable English lords they’ve wed.

What happens when their wicked husbands start falling for the wives they never thought they wanted?

Corsets come off, bed chambers ignite, the passion sizzles,and more than one stubborn English rake gets reformed by love.

This is the fourth book in the Wicked Husbands series. I haven’t read any of the previous titles, but I did find that this worked well as a stand-alone read. It is set in 1880/81.

It starts with a prologue where American heiress Georgiana and impoverished Kit, Duke of Leeds have just married. But it is a marriage of convenience. Kit needs her dowry and Georgiana’s father wants into the aristocracy. Kit is leaving the country straight after the ceremony, supposedly on a hunting expedition. Georgiana can’t persuade him otherwise, so she tells him not to bother returning.

But 6 months later Kit is back in London, severely injured from a gunshot wound, double-crossed, his cover as a spy ruined, and the new butler Ludlow tries to deny him entrance. The house is now full of animals as Georgiana is caring for all the stray cats and dogs she finds, even mice and a squirrel too. He collapses unconscious into Georgiana’s arms. The doctor’s treatment does not seem to be helping, so Georgiana summons the vet instead. She wants him better before she plans to demand a divorce.

Meanwhile Ludlow does not seem like a typical butler. And then the Duke of Carlisle turns up demanding an audience with Kit, even though he is still on his sick bed. What is going on? As Kit convalesces, a spark of attraction is flaring between him and Georgiana, even though he alternates between being very rude to her, or formally addressing her as Duchess. Will he stay or go?

Warning there is very strong explicit language throughout this book, plus steamy sex scenes.

Her Deceptive Duke is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.10 in Kindle format and is also available in paperback. The fourth book in the Wicked Husbands series. Plenty of danger and intrigue in this romantic story.


About the author

Amazon bestselling author Scarlett Scott writes steamy Victorian and Regency historical romances with strong, intelligent heroines and sexy alpha heroes. She lives in Pennsylvania with her Canadian husband, their adorable identical twins, and one TV-loving dog.

A self-professed literary junkie and nerd, she loves reading anything but especially romance novels, poetry, and Middle English verse. When she’s not reading, writing, wrangling toddlers, or camping, you can catch up with her on her website. Hearing from readers never fails to make her day.


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