Friday, 17 October 2014

Kindle Bargains #13

Bargain Books


The weeks are flying by at the moment and it's Kindle Bargains day once again.  I'm struggling with a Jeffrey Archer novel at the moment so looking to line up some amazing books for when I'm finished!  As always, these books are currently 99p or less.  If you see something you like, buy it quickly as the prices can go back up without warning.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

One day at a time

It's not forever, it's just for now


The past few week's have been some of the hardest ever.  Since deciding to split up a few weeks ago, Mr Melvis and I have cried more than I thought possible, worried, panicked, and cried some more.  Overall though, I feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted, now that we've been brave and done the hardest part, said the words out loud, made the decision. 

The next step is moving out.  We have our current house until 18 November when the initial tenancy ends.  I've been house hunting for weeks, have spotted a few potentials for myself and my portion of the furry babies.  Each time, something comes along to scupper my plans; unruly letting agents with obscene fees, someone else getting there before me (several times), and the main one being that the landlord won't accept pets.  House-hunting is tricky when you have a furry friend or two in tow.


Some of the houses I've viewed have been hideous! Awful! Potential death traps!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Review - A Christmas To Remember

A Christmas To Remember - Jenny Hale


A Christmas To Remember Review
A beautiful story about the magic of childhood Christmas memories, the strength of family and falling in love when you least expect it.

Everyone loves Christmas – don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing , the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss… single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

This is the first of Jenny Hale's novels that I have read, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm a bit of a romanticist when it comes to Christmas. I love Christmas, in the magical, make believe sense, where people wander through the snow whistling christmas tunes, never slipping on ice, buying umpteen gifts and throwing threepence at homeless rabbits … instead of watching A Muppets Christmas Carol whilst eating a tin of Roses to yourself. Anyhoo, I digress … what I'm trying to say is that I want to read a Christmas novel that will draw me into a magical world with perfect decorations, wonderfully wrapped gifts and a kiss under the mistletoe, leaving me all warm and fuzzy inside ...

Carrie has been a nanny for many years and she loves her job but being a full time, live in nanny leaves little time for romance and as she has now reached her thirties, she's decided it's time to stop looking after other people's children and attempt to create a life in which she can (hopefully, one day) care for her own family. Aiming for a fresh start in the new year, she takes on one last job for the Christmas holidays.

Adam is a hard working entrepreneur, with a successful brewery business but his dedication to his job has cost him his marriage. With his two young children coming to stay with him over Christmas, and his regular nanny no longer able to continue, he is in need of a new nanny at short notice and Carrie comes highly recommended.

Carrie soon discovers that the relationship between Adam and his Children is almost non existent, as he spends so much of his time working. With the entire Fletcher clan arriving for the holidays, and just a few short weeks until she leaves for good, will Carrie be able to help Adam and his children reconnect and have a wonderful family Christmas?

I loved Carrie, she's strong-willed, independent and speaks her mind, even at times when others would probably stay quiet – a wonderful leading lady. She appears to bring out the best of those around her, including Adam who has a host of unlikeable characteristics but is nothing short of dreamy when Carrie's around. I liked how further characters were added to the narrative gradually, like adding ingredients to a recipe, until by the end there's a whole mixture. Adam's family each have their own unique qualities, as well as a few secrets and Carrie has her work cut out in her attempts to make this a Merry Christmas for all, especially Adam's two young children. Despite only spending a matter of weeks in the lives of these characters, you can see each of them grow as the story develops.

There are festivities galore, which makes this book perfect for the upcoming season. There is a strong emphasis on Christmas being a time for family and for creating beautiful memories for children, as well as how it's the little things that count (and I do Love The Little Things!).

The story brings lots of laughter, a few heartwarming moments, a couple of surprises and a none too predictable finale. Whilst this book ticks all of the usual chick lit boxes, it steers away slightly from the standard boy-meets-girl story, which results in a unique tale that keeps you gripped until the very last page.

My Rating 4.5/5 - A great start to my festive reading, A Christmas To Remember is all about creating the perfect, magical Christmas whilst realising that families themselves aren't perfect.  A little bit of romance, a few laughs and a host of great characters make this a great book that will have you hooked.


A Christmas to Remember is published by Bookouture - the digital publisher of brilliant women's fiction.  I was provided with a free digital copy of the book in return for an honest review.  I have not been paid for my review and all opinions are my own.


Buy A Christmas To Remember by Jenny Hale for just £1.59!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Kindle Bargains #12

Boo! Bargains


Ah, the most wonderful day of the week is upon us again and a few of this week's Kindle Bargains are a little bit spooky, in preparation for Hallowe'en!

As always, these are all just 99p or less ... for now!

Kindle Bargains

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Love The Little Things Week 40

Back to Love


My favourite weekly link up - Love The Little Things is a weekly feature hosted by But Why Mummy Why, in which we take a moment to appreciate the little moments of joy we've experience over the past 7 days.

I'm so sorry I've missed the past two Sundays, things have been a little tough but it means I've appreciated the little things a little more than usual ...

Read


I'm currently reading Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer.  It's part of a #StressFreeReading kit I was kindly sent (more on that soon) and is a little different to what I would normally read, but I'm loving it so far!


Friday, 3 October 2014

Kindle Bargains #11

Bargains are Back


Apologies for the lack of Kindle Bargains last week, but I'm back now with a brand new batch!  As always, these are all currently 99p or less but be quick before the prices jump back up.



Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do ...

Goodbye Mr Melvis :(


On Saturday, Mr Melvis and I had "the talk".

The talk I now realise I'd been expecting but hoping would never arrive.

The talk that means I have to leave my best friend, start over in my mid 30's, live on my own and break up my furry family.

That instead of staying in a caravan during my week off work in October, I'll now be moving house.

I always thought breaking up involved arguments but I couldn't tell you the last time we argued as we rarely have.  I think that makes it harder.

Our hearts are breaking, our tears are endless.  I'm worried about myself, I'm worried about Mr M.


Aside from a few reviews I've already written, you probably won't hear from me for a few weeks whilst I sort everything out.  I have house viewings today, there's so much to pack and I have a list of things to buy as we don't have enough for two.

"Nobody said it was easy. It's such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard." - Coldplay

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Review: Pet Shop Bowl

Pet Treats


When Pet Shop Bowl got in touch recently and asked us to test some of their products, I first checked that the furry crew were up for it.

What would we have to do? they asked (in their usual meowing/barking kind of fashion).

Eat, I replied.

We're in!

Our parcel arrived a few days later (I say "our" parcel but it was actually addressed to Rude Boy, Izzy, Suki, Barley and Jager, which I thought was a nice touch) and we unpacked it to find a variety of food and treats.  It turned out that as well as eating, there would also be a bit of playing going on ... and I'd barely opened the box before Mr Melvis grabbed the Jolly Moggy Laser Cat Toy that had been included for our little feline ladies.  I had planned on taking photos of all of the products before they were used, but this is all I was left with as Mr M inserted the batteries in record time and proceeded to whip the cats up into a frenzy courtesy of a little red dot ...


Jolly Moggy Laser Cat Toy

Monday, 15 September 2014

Post Pals Christmas Schemes 2014

Send a Smile this Festive Season


You may have "heard" me mention Post Pals before.  It's a small charity that Izzy and I volunteer for regularly, with the aim of brightening the lives of both sick children and their siblings

Whilst Post Pals actively encourage the sending of letters, cards and small gifts to the "Pals" on their website throughout the year, in the run up to Christmas they launch two very special schemes.

The Reindeer Scheme


A Reindeer is someone who is assigned a Pal and their siblings and sends 9 cards during the month of December, one from each reindeer, talking from the reindeers perspective i.e. talking about the sleigh getting full, getting ready for the big night, loving carrots being left out etc. It is not only fun for the children receiving the cards, but also for the volunteers getting to do imaginative writing. In the past one girl believed the reindeer wrote to them as she helped look after her disabled brother. Another little boy was very relieved as Father Christmas definitely knew he was in hospital so wouldn’t be missed out.

I have joined in the reindeer scheme twice and it's lots of fun once your imagination is running wild.  Reindeer Games, Pin the Carrot on the Snowman, dancing to Jingle Bells, trial sleigh runs, polishing Rudolph's nose, wrapping presents ... there are lots of antics for the reindeer to get up to!  You can include reindeer jokes and poems

Reindeer Joke

If you would like to volunteer to be a reindeer please send an email to Maria (the "Head Reindeer"). 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Love The Little Things Week 37

Love Learning


My favourite weekly link up - Love The Little Things is a weekly feature hosted by But Why Mummy Why, in which we take a moment to appreciate the little moments of joy we've experience over the past 7 days.

Read


This week I read You're The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher.


I also received my subscription copies of Prima Magazine and Homemaker Magazine in the post and found the perfect Christmas cake to make this year!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Book Review: Ivy Lane Summer: Part 2

New Girl on the Plot


Ivy Lane Summer: Part 2 by Cathy Bramley

Ivy Lane Summer Review
Romance ripens at Ivy Lane...

Tilly Parker is feeling happier than she has done since her life completely changed a year ago, though she's still keeping some secrets to herself.

As she flourishes under the summer sun, she attracts the attention of not one, but two suitors. Excitement reaches fever pitch at Ivy Lane as a TV crew descends to capture life inside a modern-day allotment, bringing out the best (new wellies and lipstick) and the worst (parsnip rivalry) in them all.

The Annual Show marks the end of summer and the end of filming, but is Tilly ready for romance - and if so, who will be the pick of the bunch?


Back in the spring, Tilly arrived in a new town, escaping from her mysterious past. Following on from the initial instalment of Ivy Lane, the story continues as summer arrives, bringing with it warmth, growth ... and a TV crew.

The Ivy Lane allotments have been chosen to be featured in a Green Fingers documentary, and the director wants new girl on the plot, Tilly to be the star of the show. Tilly's not keen to be centre stage, as her past remains a mystery and she doesn't want it creeping up on her.

All of the characters from Spring are back and we learn more about each of them as the daily events on around the allotment are caught on camera throughout the summer months. Despite her messy hair and muddy knees, Tilly finds herself with not one, but two admirers but she's unsure if she's ready to move on.

As the Annual Show creeps closer, there is light, camera and lots of action. It's hard to believe just what Cathy Bramley can fit into 100 pages. Whilst there are some hints towards Tilly's big secret, we're left with another cliffhanger ending as we head into Autumn …

My Rating 5/5 - Filled with action, romance and secrets, Part 2 of Cathy Bramley's Ivy Lane series keeps you on your toes.  Tilly continues to be a fabulous leading lady, growing along with her crops and slowly letting her new friends into her life.  The ending guarantees you'll be rushing off to read Autumn straight away.

Ivy Lane is a serialized novel told in four parts - taking you from spring to summer, autumn to winter - which tell a charming, light-hearted and moving story you won't want to put down. 

Each of the books in the series are 99p or less (and I know how you love those Kindle Bargains!)
 




Autumn Review coming soon! x

Friday, 12 September 2014

Kindle Bargains #9

The Most Wonderful Time of the Week


Kindle Bargains Friday is upon us and I have a whole weekend of leg resting and reading ahead (hopefully).  All of these books are currently 99p or less, but be quick before the price jumps up!



Thursday, 11 September 2014

Months Old - The Quadruple Centenarian

Months of the Years


Yesterday, a girl at work was asked how old her daughter is.  15 months, she replied.

And I thought, Why don't you just say she's 1?

So I asked my friend why people age children in months as opposed to years and he said it's because of development, a 23 month old baby is further advanced that a 13 month old, despite them both being one year old.

And I thought, Well, I'm still developing ... I'm making a patchwork quilt, don't you know!

Then I wondered, when do we stop being aged in months?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Getting on my (trapped) nerve ...

Queen of Pain


Two weeks and six days ago, I had a bit of a pain in my leg.  I assumed I'd slept funny, or stepped funny and pulled something and it would sort itself out.  Unfortunately it didn't and almost three weeks later, I'm in agony despite some pretty strong painkillers from the doctor.

Small, every day tasks are now completely painful to undertake - filling the dog water bowl, going to the loo, standing up, picking up dog poop.  One morning last week, I walked around for half an hour with just one sock on.  It's safe to say my trapped nerve is getting on my nerves!

I have thankfully worked out a technique to completing one of these daily tasks in a pain free fashion.  I now fill the dog water bowl by pouring the water from a plastic bottle. No stooping for me, and Izzy gets her own personal waterfall which she thinks is amazing. Winner.

Oh, and I get Mr M to pick up the dog poop ... double winner!

My crafty cat, Suki (old and wise) has obviously noticed my decreased mobility and has made it her mission to torment me.  She now knocks things off the kitchen worktop down onto the floor.  Then sits, silently laughing in a feline fashion when I can't pick it up.  

Just look at those evil eyes!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Love The Little Things Week 36

Love Sundays


My favourite weekly link up - Love The Little Things is a weekly feature hosted by But Why Mummy Why, in which we take a moment to appreciate the little moments of joy we've experience over the past 7 days.

Read


This week I've worked 45 hours, had a doctors appointment, muchos pain in my leg and therefore found very little time to read (boo!) but I did start the latest installment of Ivy Lane (Part 3: Autumn) and it's only a teeny book so shouldn't take me long to finish.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Kindle Bargains #8

Reading Recovery


My poorly leg has gotten worse, so it's a doctors visit for me today no doubt followed by some excessive resting ... which means lots of reading, yippee!  If you're also due some reading time, why not check out this week's Kindle Bargains - these books are all 99p or less, for now! Be quick, as the prices can creep up without warning.

You can view all of this week's Kindle Bargains on one handy Amazon wish list

Kindle Bargains #8

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Guest Post & Giveaway - The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar

How Does a Novelist Simulate a Lost Religion?


Guest Post By Kim Rendfeld

One of my challenges in writing The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar was portraying the pagan religion my heroine, Leova, practiced in the eighth century. The Church, with aid from Charlemagne, did everything it could to obliterate something it considered devil worship. The Saxons themselves did not have a written language as we know it.

As much as I enjoy Wagner’s Ring Cycle and its Teutonic gods, the composer, like any artist, was more concerned with the storylines for his opera rather than remaining true to ancestral beliefs. The Norse gods, although similar, come from a different culture.

So what is a novelist to do? Search for clues.

Oddly enough, the Saxons’ enemies give us some hints. From Frankish sources, we learn that in 772 Charlemagne order the destruction of the Irminsul, a pillar sacred to the pagans. We don’t know what it was made of or if there was only one, but it was important enough to include in the royal annals.

Charlemagne’s first Saxon capitulary, written around 782, has more nuggets as it reveals what the Church did not want the new converts to do. Burning a dead body was a capital offense, as was killing a priest, refusing baptism, raping the daughter of a lord, setting fire to a church, human sacrifice, and cannibalism.

Much of what the capitulary specifies was a real cause for concern. Frankish annals constantly complain about Saxons breaking their baptismal oaths, burning churches, and killing indiscriminately.

Another source I turned to was Beowulf, created sometime between the seventh and 10th centuries by an anonymous poet of a similar ethnicity as the Continental Saxons. Although the monster Grendel and his nameless mother are descendants of Cain, the poem has many pagan references such as images of boars on warriors’ helmets and pyres and barrows for the dead. Because of the poem, I understood my characters’ deep desire to avenge the wrong done to them was not only personal but cultural.

In addition, I did some research on the gods the Anglo-Saxons worshipped, read folk tales, and consulted Jacob Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology.

What emerged in my mind was a pantheon of gods, among them Wodan, the war god to whom the Saxons sacrificed war captives; Mother Holle and her hall in the afterlife; Tiwaz, the god of justice; Erda, a goddess of fertility; and Donar and his storms.

Despite all my research, the decisions I made about how to portray the Continental Saxons’ religion amount to my best guess, as you will see in this excerpt from The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, when my heroine, Leova, is fleeing her home ahead of the Frankish invasion.

Leova and Sunwynn took three sheepskin cloaks from the pegs on the wall and picked up their sacks. For a moment, Leova hesitated and turned back for a last look at Derwine. Despite her terror, she did not want to leave him.

“Go!” Derwine yelled. “Leave now!”

Leova swallowed her tears and held her burden more tightly as she and Sunwynn stepped into the hot, dusty chaos of the road. Surrounded by screams and wails, Leova looked to her left and gazed down at the Irminsul, standing tall near the drought-shrunken Diemel River. As long as the oaken pillar stood with its treasure, the gods would favor the Saxon peoples. Leova made out the warriors kneeling before the Irminsul, vowing to sacrifice the first captives and booty they won in battle. Her gaze traveled up the pillar’s great length to the top, where it divided itself into two bent branches and the idol of Wodan stood.

An invading army would take the steep, winding dirt road connecting the river below to the fortress and village at the top of the high hill. Turning instead to their right, Leova and Sunwynn barreled out of their village, downhill past the fields of parched barley and rye toward the forest.

Lower lip trembling, Sunwynn asked, “The gods will protect us, won’t they?”

“Of course, they will.” Leova tried to keep her voice steady. “The gods protect their people.”

Kim Rendfeld is the author of The Cross and the Dragon (2012, Fireship Press) and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (August 28, 2014, Fireship Press). 

To read the first chapters of either novel or learn more about Kim, visit kimrendfeld.com

You’re also welcome to visit her blog Outtakes of a Historical Novelist, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or email her.

Can love triumph over war?  

772 AD: Charlemagne’s battles in Saxony have left Leova with nothing but her two children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. Her beloved husband died in combat. Her faith lies shattered in the ashes of Irminsul, the Pillar of Heaven. The relatives obligated to   defend her and her family sell them into slavery instead.   

In Francia, Leova is resolved to protect her son and daughter, even if it means sacrificing her own honor. Her determination only grows stronger as Sunwynn blossoms into a beautiful young woman attracting the lust of a cruel master, and Deorlaf becomes a headstrong man willing to brave starvation and demons to free   his family. Yet Leova’s most difficult dilemma comes in the form of a Frankish friend, Hugh. He saves Deorlaf from a fanatical Saxon and is Sunwynn’s champion - but he   is the warrior who slew Leova’s husband.  

Set against a backdrop of historic events, including the destruction of the Irminsul, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar explores faith, friendship, and justice. This companion to Kim Rendfeld’s acclaimed The Cross and the Dragon tells the story of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances.

Advance Praise for The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar

“Carolingian Europe comes alive in Kim Rendfeld’s sweeping story of family and hope, set against the Saxon Wars. Her transportive and triumphant novel immerses us in an eighth century world that feels both mystical and starkly real.”  - Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye

“A captivating historical filled with rich detail, compelling characters, and a well-paced plot that keeps the pages turning to its very satisfying end. A true delight for fans of historical fiction. I couldn’t put it down.” - Susan Spann, author of the Shinobi Mysteries

“The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar is refreshingly set in a less familiar medieval period – soon after Charlemagne has conquered a portion of today’s Germany and its people. The characters are refreshing also, common folk instead of the lords and ladies who are the usual inhabitants of historical novels, and how they adjust to their new condition is fascinating. Altogether, this book was absorbing from start to finish.” - Roberta Gellis, author of The Roselynde Chronicles.

 

Giveaway


For your chance to win a copy of The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar, simply complete the Rafflecopter below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Sewing: Doing as my Nanna (possibly) did

The Old Fashioned Way


This morning, having woken early with Mr M's alarm and before I had to go to work, I wrote a post about how I couldn't achieve what I wanted to due to a lack of funds.

It went something like this ...

Back in June, as a little birthday treat, I used my overtime money to buy myself a snazzy new sewing machine.  I had visions of sewing wonderful things, of becoming a gifted seamstress.  

Then came the point of deciding what to sew and there wasn't an awful lot that sprang to mind.  I made a few peg bags (only one for myself, there's still room on the line for clothes!), and a few little drawstring bags in practice for Christmas gift wrapping alternatives.  There wasn't really anything else I needed and I didn't really want to spend money on fabric and time on sewing things I didn't need.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Love The Little Things Week 35

Late Love


A little later than usual (other people will be writing their week 36 lists by now!), but we can't be perfect all of the time ;D

My favourite weekly link up - Love The Little Things is a weekly feature hosted by But Why Mummy Why, in which we take a moment to appreciate the little moments of joy we've experience over the past 7 days.

Read


This week I've been reading, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton after discovering her blog, Momastery earlier this week (someone shared Glennon's wonderful post Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt - Momastery and I was hooked).  The book is amazing and I'm loving reading it, but this episode of Friends keeps appearing in my head  ...