An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt – 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 An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

An Unexpected Exploit by Kandi J Wyatt

Here is the book blurb.

Protect a mythical realm or his family? Sixteen-year-old Franklin follows a Sasquatch through a portal to the realm of Shinwano and discovers a world full of mythical creatures he never expected to actually exist. Upon returning to Myrtle Beach, Oregon, he vows to protect the land, not realizing how difficult it will be to keep his promise, especially when a poacher, a NSA agent, and his friends are interested in the portal—and all for different reasons. When the poacher threatens his family, Franklin must reconsider his vow to protect this new world to keep his family safe. The consequences of his decision reach further than just a rift in the space-time continuum. Can Franklin live up to the trust placed on him and save this new world from an even greater danger?

This is the third title in the Myth Coast Adventures trilogy, set in the small town of Myrtle Beach in Oregon. They can be read as stand alone reads, but I found them better to read in sequence as they do refer to happenings in earlier books. However the main protagonist Franklin is a new character.

Here are the links to my reviews of the first two titles.
An Unexpected Adventure
An Unexpected Escapade

The story starts with Franklin out hunting in the forest when he spots a creature larger than a bear but with a human-like face, which almost immediately disappears. Could it be a sasquatch, bigfoot or yeti? Franklin investigates and discovers a portal. Throwing caution to the wind, he steps through but Ladaku is waiting and knocks him out. When he awakes he finds he is in an alternate world Shinwano full of mythological creatures.

Whilst the dhoka (portal) is closed, Franklin agrees to train as a keta-manisa to protect the dhoka from other humans. Meanwhile back in our world he has been declared missing and teams including Will, Ana, Harley, Cherise and Winston from earlier books, are out searching for him, worried because bad guy poacher Jack Collins is hanging round town again.

When the dhoka finally reopens, Franklin reluctantly leaves his new friends to come back home. But soon he faces a difficult situation when he discovers Jack Collins has tied up his mum and brother Jeremy and is giving them electric shocks.

How will Franklin react and what will ensue? Certainly a page turner and my only small complaint is that the series titles are too similar.

The book also contains a glossary of Shinwano words.

An Unexpected Exploit is available on Amazon in Kindle format or paperback. A great adventure fantasy read for older children and teens.

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Screamcatcher: Web World by Christy Breedlove – 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 Screamcatcher: Web World by Christy J Breedlove to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Screamcatcher Web World by Christy J Breedlove

Here is the book blurb.

When seventeen-year-old Jory Pike cannot shake the hellish nightmares of her parent’s deaths, she turns to an old family heirloom, a dream catcher. Even though she’s half blood Chippewa, Jory thinks old Indian lore is so yesterday, but she’s willing to give it a try. However, the dream catcher has had its fill of nightmares from an ancient and violent past. After a sleepover party, and during one of Jory’s most horrific dream episodes, the dream catcher implodes, sucking Jory and her three friends into its own world of trapped nightmares. They’re in an alternate universe-locked inside of an insane web world. How can they find the center of the web, where all good things are allowed to pass?

I’m doing things in reverse here, as last year I read and reviewed book 2 in the Screamcatcher YA series. Having enjoyed that, I’ve now gone back to read the first title.

The story starts in the normal everyday world where we are introduced to four teenage friends Jory, Choice, Lander and Darcy, all aged 16-18, along with Jory’s Chippewa grandfather Albert. Choice has purchased the most ancient dreamcatcher from Albert’s shop as a gift for Jory. This is believed to have been passed down the generations since the dawn of time filtering good dreams from nightmares which get caught in it.

Jory’s parents had died a few months earlier in a car crash and her friends are staying for a sleepover so she is not alone overnight, but her inevitable nightmare of the car falling into the canyon causes the dreamcatcher to implode and the four teens are dragged into the web world which is full of trapped nightmares that they have to navigate.

Are they able to work as a team to reach the centre to escape? Can Jory draw on her Chippewa folklore to help? Will they all make it? Many challenges, scary creatures and a riddle.

A gripping read indeed, which you never know may include your own worst nightmare too.

Screamcatcher: Web World is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. A good dystopian fantasy read, targeted at young adult readers. Highly recommended.

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How Green Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets?

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

Early last year I was introduced to Reco toothtabs, which I’ve been purchasing on subscription since reviewing them as they are my favourite plastic-free toothpaste that I’ve tried to date.

When you browse round the Reco webshop, you will see they also sell a good range of eco-friendly products from other trusted brands. But they are now about to launch their second own product and they sent me a trial pack to test out in advance for free. And no it is not a dental item this time. May I present …..

….. Reco Laundry Detergent Strips

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

I certainly haven’t seen or heard of anything remotely similar, so was only too happy to put these to the test.

First the packaging is cardboard and according to their website, it has already been recycled. You can either recycle or compost this. Plus it easily fits through the letterbox. No plastic bottle or capsule. Did you know that it is estimated that only about 9% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

Moving onto the information displayed on the packaging or website, I immediately felt confused when I read the composition. A lot of chemical sounding words plus warnings of skin irritation. This didn’t sound as eco as I hoped, although the website does say safe for the environment – OECD 301B certified biodegradable. More jargon that I don’t understand. Hopefully when they launch they can make this side of things clearer for the consumer.

My personal wishlist in this regard for an eco laundry product would be to see clear bullet points along the following lines.

Natural Ingredients
No chemicals
Cruelty free

So I would be very interested to hear which of these it ticks. I totally get its plus points over a liquid detergent as regards plastic and carbon cost. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate now and ask what are its plus points over a powder detergent, besides less cardboard? I hope its not a case of greenwashing!

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The product itself comes in lightweight perforated sheets of two strips which are simple to split. The instructions indicate that one strip will be sufficient unless you live in a hard water area and your washing load is heavily soiled, in which case two strips are recommended. I have soft water here.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

The directions tell you to put the strip in the back of the washing machine drum before loading your laundry. It has a strong pleasant fragrance before use and I found my laundry to have a hint of this after they had dried on the line. As regards effectiveness, it was great on general soiling like food stains but didn’t really impact long-term stains like armpits at 40 degrees, which it is fair to say is on a par with most products. And it dissolved perfectly. In fact the website indicates that they dissolve instantly in cold or hot water.

I couldn’t see any mention of whether they expected you to use them in conjunction with fabric conditioner or not. However this is a product I stopped using a couple of years ago, and in my opinion the Reco laundry sheets worked fine without the use of fabric conditioner.

Reco Laundry Detergent Sheets

So to summarise, an effective laundry product which is definitely more environmentally friendly than a liquid detergent or capsule, but I would like more clarity on the rest of its eco-credentials. In the meantime I’ll be sticking to using horse chestnuts or soap nuts for my laundry.

And if you can’t wait until the product launches to give it a try, how about seeing if you get lucky in their giveaway to win a year’s supply of Reco Laundry Detergent Strips worth £100!

I’d love to hear what is your favourite product from Reco or your suggestions for additions to the range. And don’t forget to check out the Reco blog too, where I see they are on the same wavelength as me, when it comes to cleaning with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

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Viscount of Vanity 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 Viscount of Vanity by Tammy Andresen to review.

Viscount of Vanity by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

She’s a woman in need of a dashing rescue…

Miss Gabriella Winston finds herself on the auction block, about to be sold into marriage. That is until a stunning stranger swoops in and saves her. He’s kind and handsome and her relief would be complete if he didn’t propose rules along with marriage… He’ll need one heir and then they’ll go their separate ways. It’s a tempting offer but no one in her life has ever really loved her. If she accepts, she’s giving up any hope of ever having her own happily ever after.

He’s broken inside…

The Viscount of Vanity has a secret. He spent his youth fighting a disease he was certain would consume him. Only by the most disciplined of behavior has he overcome his childhood illness, but not the heartache that came with it. No matter how tempting her beauty, he can’t allow his control to slip and fall in love with Gabriella. Losing his heart could mean risking his life.

But when she is threatened by the very family that should love her, he can’t help but rush to her rescue. And the discipline that’s always kept his life in order, it’s slowly slipping away.

This is book 13 in the ongoing Lords of Scandal series. The connection this time is that Austin, the Viscount of Vanity is one of the co-owners of the gaming Den of Sins. And of course some of the other characters from previous titles feature too.

Currently, Austin is staying at his friend Chad’s, (the Baron of Blasphemy from book 12), country estate, where he has been persuaded to save the beautiful Miss Gabriella Winston from her father’s abhorrent plan to sell her in a marriage auction to clear his drinking and gambling debts.

They are total strangers so how he is going to achieve that? By offering a much higher price than anyone would be able to bid and marrying Gabriella himself.

Is this a good plan or not? What about his health? What does Gabriella think to the rules he imposes? And will Gabriella’s father agree and leave Gabriella be?

An interesting forward where Tammy describes her personal reasons for creating a hero who has previously suffered life-threatening asthma attacks.

Viscount of Vanity is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. Another nice light short romantic story from Tammy.


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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Everything I’ve Learned About Motherhood by Zeena Moolla- book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book Everything I’ve Learned About Motherhood From My Single-Parent Dad by Zeena Moolla to review via NetGalley. You may find out more about the author on her blog.

Everything I've Learned about Motherhood by Zeena Moolla

Here is the book blurb.

Motherhood is amazing and the devotion you encounter is staggeringly strong. But when you’re in the eye of the shitstorm, veering between love and lunacy, wondering how this tiny, adorable human can wreak so much bedlam in your life, I believe you need a robust sense of humour to help save your sanity.

For Zeena Moolla, the early days of being a new mum were a heady cocktail of sleepless nights, acid reflux and aching boobs. But finding the funny in the chaos buffered so much of the stress. And she has her dad to thank…

Being brought up solely by a single dad, one of a foreign, Muslim background, exemplified beautifully that parenting and families come in all different shapes and sizes. His massive-hearted parenting shaped the kind of mother Zeena is, and as the funniest person she knows, he can also turn any situation around with warmth, wit and a cheese sandwich. If that’s not a vital skill in parenting, then what is?

With top tips for surviving sleep deprivation (spoiler alert: embrace a cantankerous mood and don’t buy crap coffee) to dealing with judgy idiots, getting to grips with shitty mum-guilt and returning to work, Zeena will show you that motherhood won’t just get better, it’ll be incredible.

Laugh-out-loud funny, honest, tender and packed with real life advice – this is essential reading for every new mother not cherishing every moment, feeling like a misfit or simply finding this parenting lark all too much.

I just knew this was going to be a fun read from the opening sentence and I was correct. Let me share that opener with you, it is a quote from Zeena’s beloved papa, a South African-Indian Muslim who brought her and her siblings up as a single parent, juggling working and parenting.

‘You know Zeena, I raised THREE children without any “fancy-pants” book!’

The book skips back and forth between when Zeena was a new mum and the parenting style of her papa, interspersed with motherhood now that Zeena’s children are aged 8 and 6.

It is both humorous and doesn’t leave out the swear words. Never mind the parenting manuals, this is the book for new mums to read. It encompasses plenty of top tips plus a chapter addressing racism in the world of Instagram mumfluencers.

Everything I’ve Learned About Motherhood is available on Amazon in paperback, audiobook or Kindle format. Such a fun parenting book.

The hashtag for this title is #EverythingIveLearnedaboutMotherhoodFromMySingleParentDad

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Sea Spray by John A Heldt – book review

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

Those who regularly discuss favourite books with me will be aware that I really love John Heldt’s time travel stories, so I was very happy when John asked me to review his latest book, Sea Spray. And to find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Sea Spray by John A Heldt

Here is the book blurb.

From the author of THE LANE BETRAYAL and THE FAIR comes the third novel in the Time Box saga.

Months after stealing two time machines from a madman who wants them back, the Lanes, a family of seven, seek peace and safety in 1927, the latest stop on a journey through time. For a while, each succeeds.

Parents Mark and Mary find housing in affluent East Hampton, New York, where a gracious elderly couple offers use of their mansion. Son Jordan and his new wife, Jessie, plan a family. Siblings Laura, Jeremy, and Ashley pursue fun and adventure. All form strong friendships with the Prices, a mysterious mirror-image family that lives next door.

Billionaire Robert Devereaux could not care less. Reeling from the theft of his million-dollar devices, he sends a hit man to the past to retrieve his property and rid the world of his former business partner and his troublesome clan.

Randy Taylor, who programs the machines, is determined to stop him. He tries to undermine his boss and save the Lanes, even as he tries to help his mother beat a deadly illness. He pines for the day he can join his fugitive friends and rekindle a promising relationship with Laura Lane.

Filled with romance, humor, and heartbreak, SEA SPRAY follows a modern family on the adventure of a lifetime as they navigate their way through the exciting and often dangerous world of Lindbergh, Gershwin, and Fitzgerald.

Readers’ Advisory: Sea Spray is the third novel in a five-part family saga that spans several decades. While some storylines are resolved, others are not. They will be addressed in subsequent books.

Sea Spray is the third book in the Time Box series. You may see my 5 star reviews of book 1 The Lane Betrayal and book 2 The Fair.

Events in the previous book see The Lane family moving on again from 1893 Chicago., but this time with a new family member, Jessie wife of eldest son Jordan. They all head to a beach in East Hampton, New York and then use a Time Box to travel to 1927. Will they be able to put down roots this time?

Meanwhile Mark Lane’s ex-business partner billionaire Robert Devereaux in the 21st century is still after revenge. He wants the Time Boxes back and the Lanes eliminated. His inner team are searching records and photos for clues as to when and where to dispatch hit-man Silas Bain.

Can the Lanes’ close friend Randy Taylor put a spanner in Devereaux’s plans?

The Lanes bond with neighbouring family, the Prices who seem to have secrets of their own. Throw romance, fun, friendship and heartbreak into the mix.

As per usual, John Heldt has done painstaking research into the period, weaving prohibition, aviator Charles Lindbergh, composer George Gershwin, baseball players Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig plus references to F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby into the storyline.

Not being familiar with the geography of the area around East Hampton, I did have to resort to Google Maps to see where the harbour and island mentioned in the book were situated.

I couldn’t put this fantastic page turner down. There were so many great twists and turns.

Sea Spray is available on Amazon, in Kindle format and paperback. Once again another brilliant read from John Heldt which I highly recommend. I can’t wait for the next title in the series.

And you may be interested to see my reviews of some of John Heldt’s other titles.
Firstly all of The Carson Chronicles series.
River Rising
The Memory Tree
Indian Paintbrush
Caitlin’s Song
Camp Lake

Plus some of his earlier titles.
The Mine
Indiana Belle
Hannah’s Moon

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Baron of Blasphemy 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 Baron of Blasphemy by Tammy Andresen to review.

Baron of Blasphemy by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

An arranged marriage gone wrong.

What does an impoverished baron with a reputation for trouble do when he needs an infusion of coin? He marries. Quickly. The problem? His new wife isn’t entirely certain she likes anything about him. And it turns out, Abigail Carrington might be the only person in England with a will stronger than his own. If he can’t strong arm, cajole, or reason her into his bed to consummate their marriage, he’s only got one option left. Seduction…

Baron of Blasphemy is book 12 in the Lords of Scandal series.

The story starts with Abigail being told that a marriage has been arranged for her. This is to Chad, the Baron of Blackwater, an impoverished rake known as the Baron of Blasphemy. She tries to say no as she wants to marry for love, but her reputation is in tatters due to a case of mistaken identity and she doesn’t really have a choice in the match.

However she hopes on having choices within the marriage. Cue tears. Is it doomed before it begins? Where do they go from here?

Although far into a series, this story also works well as a stand-alone read.

Baron of Blasphemy is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback. Once again a nice light short romantic story from Tammy.


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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A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia – ARC book review

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

I have received a free advance copy of the book A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

A Sitting in St James by Rita Williams-Garcia

Here is the book blurb.

A tour-de-force from three-time National Book Award finalist Rita Williams-Garcia, this story of an antebellum plantation—and the enduring legacies of slavery upon every person who lives there—is essential reading for both teens and adults grappling with the long history of American racism.

1860, Louisiana. After serving as mistress of Le Petit Cottage for more than six decades, Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided, in spite of her family’s objections, to sit for a portrait.

While Madame plots her last hurrah, stories that span generations—from the big house to out in the fields—of routine horrors, secrets buried as deep as the family fortune, and the tangled bonds of descendants and enslaved.

This astonishing novel from award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia about the interwoven lives of those bound to a plantation in antebellum America is an epic masterwork—empathetic, brutal, and entirely human.

The story is set in 1860 Louisiana on a sugarcane plantation shortly before the American Civil War.

This diverse read packs in a lot of topics including LGBTQ+ but the main focus is slavery, racism and white privilege.

The way that the mistress, 80 year old Madame Sylvie Guilbert and her son Lucien treat their black slaves is truly horrific and appalling, but to them, they view it as their entitlement and right. I would describe them both as brutal, cruel and as for Lucien, even evil.

Meanwhile the story also revolves around 6 young people. Firstly 16 year old Thisbe, a slave who has been Madame’s personal servant since she was 6 years old. She has to do everything for Madame including wiping her bum, whilst maintaining a silent invisible presence.

Then there is 17 year old Rosalie, Lucien’s daughter of slave Camille, who has just returned from 6 years boarding at the Sisters of Mercy school. Madame will not even acknowledge her due to her quarter Black blood. And Lucien of course has plans for Rosalie for his own gain.

And on the privileged side there is Lucien’s son and heir Byron, a West Point cadet, his fiancée Eugenie and his secret lover, fellow cadet Robinson Pearce.

Finally there is Jane, abandoned white daughter from a neighbouring plantation, who defies social convention entirely. She just wants to be herself.

A Sitting in St. James is available for pre-order on Amazon in Kindle format, audiobook or hardback. A powerful compelling read, which I would recommend adding to Black Lives Matter booklists. However I would suggest suitable for age 16+ due to some of the subject matter.

Note does include rape, abuse and child murder.

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Malamander by Thomas Taylor – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Malamander by Thomas Taylor. To find out more about the author you may visit his website. I discovered there that he illustrated the original cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Here is the book blurb.

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

This is the first book in the Eerie-on-Sea series.

When you open the book, there is a map of Eerie-on-Sea, a seaside town, which I kept referring back to as I read the story. I do love a map to illustrate a tale.

The story draws you in with fabulous descriptive language right from the start as we get introduced to young Herbie, who is the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. His usual remit is lost luggage but the mysterious girl Violet Parma comes especially to see him, declaring she is lost and wants to be found, although obviously not by the scary Boathook Man from whom she hides.

Mystery, adventure detective story, myth, legend, monster, fantasy – this book has it all. The characters and settings are all portrayed wonderfully.

Malamander is a great book, targeted at readers from about age 9-12. A captivating read. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out what happens in Gargantis, book 2 at Eerie-on-Sea. And the author is currently writing the third title Shadowghast, which will be published later this year.

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How To Be A Boss At Ageing by Anniki Sommerville – book review

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

I have received a free e-copy of the book How To Be A Boss At Ageing by Anniki Sommerville to review via NetGalley. You may find out more about the author on her website.

How to be a boss at ageing by Anniki Sommerville

Here is the book blurb.

Do you find yourself fighting the urge to go to bed at 8pm? Do you look at your laughter lines and wonder what was ever so funny? Do you listen to the charts and not have a clue who’s singing? Do images of celebrities over forty in swimsuits just make you want to drink more wine?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then this is the book for you.

Funny, honest, and packed with advice, this is a must-read for any woman experiencing – and not particularly relishing – the effects of ageing. Anniki Sommerville shares her own experiences with those of other women as well as advice from experts – Sali Hughes, Cariad Lloyd, Meg Mathews, Emma Gannon and Dr Karen Gurney among others – to help you navigate this journey including:

Demystifying the menopause and how to deal with fluctuating moods and hormones.

Breaking the taboo of cosmetic surgery and why we need to start having honest conversations about ageing and beauty.

Exploring the reality of fertility treatment and motherhood including what happens when you’re peri-menopausal and parenting small kids.

How feeling bad about our bodies can often be a barrier to feeling good about sex and tips on how you can change that.

Why ambition is not a dirty word in middle age and how to stop feeling invisible in the workplace.

How to deal with grief and losing loved ones as we age.

How to be a Boss at Ageing will show you how not to give up when ageing creeps up. It’s time to rip up the rule book on what it means to grow older as a woman and embrace midlife. There’s no need to retire into cardigans and comfy slacks just yet.

This isn’t one of my usual genres to read but the blurb made it sound so fun, that I decided to give it a try.

Anniki crams plenty of topics into this book including physical ageing, tiredness, infertility, older parent, work, Botox, moods, menopause, anxiety, booze, sex, grief, social media.

She compares her views at age 18 versus now at age 47 plus predicted view at age 85. Also internal voice 1 talking at odds with internal voice 2. And plenty of fab lists like 10 things to do before you’re 50 plus a great alphabet of ageing.

This book was written during the Coronavirus pandemic, so of course that gets a mention too.

How To Be A Boss At Ageing is available on Amazon in paperback, audiobook or Kindle format. A really fun read, but with good advice as well. I must check out Anniki’s podcast next.

The hashtag for this title is #HowtoBeaBossatAgeing

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