book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Siren Song by Rebecca McKinney (Review)

Hello you lovely lot! I hope everyone is staying safe and well. Today I am on a Love Books Group Blog Tour for Siren Song by Rebecca McKinney. It’s available now and for the duration of the tour, it will be a bargain 99p on Kindle! I received a copy for free as part of the tour.

Siren Song is the first in a future series, it’s book One in Harrison Jones and Amy Bell Mysteries and not the usual type of thing I read as this one is a little bit different. Siren Song has a touch of the supernatural, the occult, the psychic, whatever you would prefer to call it.

Harrison Jones is a University Professor by day… but he’s also a Psychic Investigator, even if he tells himself he is not. One day, he sees Amy Bell on a bridge, and I mean… he really sees her. Harrison, also known as Harri – or Indiana to Amy has the ability to see in to people, to see imprints of feelings, thoughts and memories left by people on objects and in the air where people have been. Some people are more open to be read and in that moment, Amy’s body was screaming out for something, someone, anything! …and thus, they met.

What they didn’t bank on, was becoming a detective duo, investigating a case of a missing singer. After the incident on the bridge, Amy decided she had to look Harri up. She found out he worked at the uni and visited him. She expressed how she felt when they met on that bridge – she FELT him read her; only, she didn’t know what that feeling was at the time. He explained his ability to her, but she thought is was a load of nonsense and left, only to convince herself later that actually, maybe it was true and real. Meanwhile, a lady was seeking his help to find her daughter.

After some stuff happened (sorry! you’ll need to read the book for that!), Harri decides to let Amy help with the case he ended up unable to say no to. Set in Scotland, a little detective work and some psychic power shenanigans sent them all the way to Greece and they uncovered far more than they anticipated.

This book had me hooked! It’s so well written, the characters are absolutely fascinating and it’s interesting to see how the psychic abilities are able to help with the case. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it at first, but it really pulled me in after a while and I found myself really enjoying it. When I got to the end, I remember thinking that I hope there would be another tale of these two – I was thrilled to find out that it’s the plan! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It may be about something “supernatural” but it doesn’t feel fluffed or flimsy. It added a really nice element to the story that added to my intrigue. I’m really glad I took a chance with this one.

About the Book

A man who glimpses other people’s inner worlds, and a woman who can foresee death. Can they trace a missing girl before the worst happens?

Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.

Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…

audiobooks · book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Far from the Tree by Rob Parker (Audiobook Review)

Hello everyone! It’s another day in the middle of a pandemic, so I’m bringing you a slice of escape with a review of Rob Parker‘s latest offering, Far From The Tree, an Audible exclusive, as part of a blog tour. I got to hear the book for free before it’s release. There are two more installments to follow this one, which I am thrilled to hear. You may recognise Rob Parker’s name as he has been featured here several times previously. You can check out the tag to find my posts on some of his other works, but for now, let’s get in to Far From The Tree!

About the Book

Brendan Foley has worked to balance the responsibilities of a demanding job and a troublesome family. He’s managed to keep these two worlds separate, until the discovery of a mass grave sends them into a headlong collision. When one of the dead turns out to be a familiar face, he’s taken off the case. 

Iona Madison keeps everything under control. She works hard as a detective sergeant and trains harder as a boxer. But when her superior, DI Foley, is removed from the case, her certainties are tested like never before. 

With stories of the Warrington 27 plastered over the news, they set out to solve the crime before anyone else. The local constabulary is small and under-funded – Brendan knows they can’t crack this case alone, and he’s not letting a rival force take over. Not with the secrets he fears are lurking. Their investigations lead them into the murky underworlds of Manchester and Liverpool, where one more murder means little to drug-dealing gangs, desperate to control their power bases. 

But as Madison steps into the ring for the fight of her life, the criminals come to them. It’s no coincidence that the corpses have been buried in Foley’s hometown. The question is, why? Foley might not like the answer…. 

Introducing a gripping new crime thriller, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Ian Rankin and Line of Duty.

Far From The Tree is the latest offering from Rob Parker, an audible exclusive, performed by Warren Brown. I’ve not listened to a lot of audiobooks, and this is the first time that I’m reviewing one on my blog. I’m delighted that my first is one by Rob. I had really high expectations for it, and it didn’t let me down.

The thing about audiobooks is that it isn’t just the story itself, but it’s the performance as a whole. If the voice actor is rubbish, it doesn’t let the book shine. I’m happy to say that Warren Brown did an excellent job, his voice really suited the content and it was really easy for me to get in to as his performance really lured me in to the story.

A small bit about the book. Far From The Tree is set in Warrington. It opens up with a group committing theft, right off the bat. I wondered where this was going… it becomes an important point later on. Roll on the next day and Brendan Foley is called to a case, what essentially is a mass grave has been discovered, by chance, in what would become a notorious case. That sure had me sit up a little straighter. What was all this about?

They started to work through the bodies and Foley was absolutely shocked to see a familiar face. Someone he cared about deeply and someone who didn’t fit the trend of the grave. With such a personal note, they wanted to pull Foley from the case, however, he made a strong case and they allowed him to stay on… for a while. Eventually they pulled him off the case but he continued to work on it with his colleague.

The book is punchy, quickly paced and tense throughout. I didn’t realise how long I’d been listening to it when my partner pulled my attention away. I’d tuned the world out and was wholly inside this dark, dramatic and gritty tale. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have aphantasia, I can’t really visualise things, though I’ve been doing things people suggest may help – anyway – there was plenty of description to get a good idea of the exact atmosphere that Rob was building, the grounds for this thrilling and intense, hard-boiled mystery with a fascinating cast of believable characters.

On numerous occasions, this book managed to surprise me. I don’t want to post spoilers, so I wont, but the ending of the book was.. *chef kiss* .. I loved it. The pace picked up along with the intensity. I found myself almost forgetting to breathe. I can’t wait for the next installment. What’s the equivalent of being unable to put a paperback down. I couldn’t stop listening? It doesn’t seem weighty enough. I was enthralled for the entire book, but the ending… Ooof. Damn. I loved this audiobook, and hopefully you will too. There’s a reason it very quickly shot up to best-seller status. I’d love to see it as a TV show!

Beauty · Health · Life · self-care · skincare · Uncategorized

Clean and Sweet Handcare Kit from LUSH

I was very interested to see that LUSH started to provide some new offerings. Now, it’s been quite a while since I’ve ordered from LUSH as their prices keep increasing and I can’t justify it, especially when I have all manner of lotions and potions to use up, but I thought that I’d treat myself. They released three handcare kit boxes that are small enough to fit through your letterbox, though I also ordered a Comforter bubble bar and body spray so I got mine delivered as usual rather than through the letterbox.

I opted for the Clean and Sweet Handcare Kit which contains four items and is the cheapest of the three boxes at £22. They also have Clean and Calm at £27 as well as Clean and Fresh As at £25.

The Clean and Sweet Handcare kit contains:-

  • Honey I Washed the Kids Soap (100g) (Currently £5)
  • Milky Bar Soap (120g) (Currently £5)
  • Helping Hands Hand Cream (45g) (Currently £9 per 100g)
  • Tiny Hands Solid Hand Cream (60g) (Currently unavailable outside of set)

The Honey I Washed the Kids Soap was one of my first forays into LUSH. It smells AMAZING and I actually have a cut block of it in my soap stash. Now, it’s shaped in to these individual bars which looks a little more presentable but I found the cut slices more presentable. Also, it was a lot cheaper… One reason I have so much of a soap stash is it was more like £3.40 a bar when I purchased them. I’m glad I wrapped them up in polypropylene and preserved them… I recently got a bar out from several Christmases ago and it smells as fresh as the day I got it.. but I digress!

This is a really nice little set. I won’t write a long review of the individual products. They’re as you’d expect from LUSH. The fragrances are mild and inoffensive, sweet and clean smelling – It feels like a nice treat and indulgent to use the products from the set. The serum can leave your hands feeling a bit greasy and it doesn’t sink in like the hand cream so that’s worth noting. Tiny Hands and Milky Bar are Vegan but the other two products contain Honey and are therefore not vegan.

A lot of people are struggling with hand care in this pandemic, especially with further hand washing or drying out of hands from alcohol gel so this might be a nice gift for a loved one or yourself if your hands are going through the ringer. If you’re getting it for yourself and aren’t bothered about the hand serum, I’d just get the products individually and save a couple of quid. Because the box is small and thin, it fits through the letterbox which means you don’t have to worry about waiting in for the postie. The card box can be recycled and the packing peanuts dissolve in water. LUSH will also recycle the black pot – take back 5 when this pandemic is over and you can get a free fresh face mask!

Wash your hands with one of the soaps, use the moisturising cream afterwards and massage the solid serum in to your hands when they need some extra TLC.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a beauty post and I figured it was long overdue. I don’t often buy beauty products anymore but I have missed posting about them and a little TLC is good for us all!

I hope you are all safe and well!

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten (Review)

Hello! I hope you are all keeping safe and well. Today, I’m pleased to be closing off the blog tour for Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten – Out now in both Paperback and Kindle formats! You can pick it up for 99p for a limited time!

Dead Wrong is the second book in the Maggie Jamieson series from Noelle Holten. I read the first book (Dead Inside) previously, but this reads just fine without the knowledge from the previous book – however, I’d recommend picking it up anyway because the extra character context is always nice.

First of all, this book is set in my town, so that instantly won points with me. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have trouble imagining things, so having known the location, it really helped me get in to the book. Some locales are fictionalised, though I’m pretty sure I know where they’re supposed to be.

Maggie has returned to Stafford and is on quite a tricky case. Years prior, she had caught a serial killer, only, the victims are only now turning up. Had she put the wrong person behind bars?

Dead Wrong has a really enjoyable cast of characters that feel real and believable. Being with Maggie on a ride-a-long to get to the bottom if this case was incredibly enjoyable. There is mounting tension throughout and plenty of curiosity. A seed is planted – a thread of something else going on which has only served to make me anticipate the next book which I believe is coming out in October!

I read this book cover to cover. Honestly. I cared so much about the characters, especially Maggie (of course) but also Kate and Nathan – part of the cast that feature quite prominently throughout. The tension and suspense was mounting and the pages left in the book were dwindling, I never guessed the true conclusion (would that make me a terrible detective?!) though there was one thing I guessed correctly. I can’t really elaborate without a major spoiler!

Trust me, this is one to read if you want a thrilling crime-fiction book, with a strong female protagonist, that you can’t put down!

About the Book

The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…
 
They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…
 
But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.
 
Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl (Review)

Happy humpday! Today, I am delighted to be on the blog tour for Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl (Translated by Don Bartlett). It’s a Nordic Noir so I couldn’t say no, could I! I was gifted a copy of the book for review purposes.

About the Book

Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death.

Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run…

A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.

Review

Sister is the 8th book in the Oslo Detective series. This book was my first introduction to the series and reads perfectly well as a stand alone. It’s translated from Norwegian but reads perfectly well, you’d never guess it wasn’t in it’s native language. Very little gives it away as a translated version.

The characters are brilliantly written and it doesn’t seem to matter at all that I don’t have the previous books for extra context to their characters; though I’m sure I’d benefit from reading those too. The protagonist is excellent, with a lot of depth. He’s not just a straight up good guy, he has his demons, his own battles and this makes him a superbly interesting character.

Frank Frølich is working as private investigator. While away doing some work for a retailer who believes a staff member is skimming off the inventory, he decides to pop in to a quiet cafe and strikes up a conversation with the working staff member, Mathilde. They end up taking a liking to each other and begin a relationship. A short while after dating, Mathilde mentions she has a friend who’s seeking a PI. Unsure about how likely he is to be paid by the job, Frank agrees to at least talk to her friend Guri.

Guri explains that she is trying to assist an asylum seeker who came to Norway a few years after her sister. The young woman is now facing deportation and can’t seem to find her sister anywhere. She claims that returning to home country will likely result in her death. Frølich agrees to help and finds the sister pretty quickly, but things aren’t quite as they seem. An author visits him, questioning why Frank is investigating. Shortly after, the author turns up dead.

It doesn’t take long for Frank to find the woman. Supposedly, she doesn’t even have a sister. During the course of his investigation, he’s warned off the case and several people turn up dead and now he is under suspicion too. This only serves to egg him on to discover what is actually going on, stepping in to the dark truths about illegal immigrants in Norway. There are a whole lot of red flags and things that just aren’t quite right.

Incredibly well written, well paced and pretty darn intense, Sister really gets you hooked. Just as soon as you think maybe you know what’s going on.. BAM! Curveball! I hate to use the trope “twists and turns” but it really does. So much comes under examination and if you blink, you’ll miss it. You really have to pay attention to this one. There is a lot going on. I felt like I was part of the investigation and had to figure out this case alongside Frank Frølich. Excellent for those who like to do their own share of the sleuthing while they’re reading!

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Beast by Matt Wesolowski (Review)

Happy Sunday! Today I am pleased to be on the Orenda Tour for Beast by Matt Wesolowski, out now in Paperback and Kindle formats. I received a copy of this for free as part of the tour.

Beast is the fourth book in the “Six Stories series.” I was interested in The Changeling and when I first heard of it, but never got the opportunity to read it, so I was pleased when I got the chance to read Beast and I’m happy to say that it reads perfectly fine as a standalone and you don’t need to have read the previous books.

The book has odd and interesting presentation. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it and it’s a little bit different from the way things are usually presented. It’s offered in a social-media sort of post, like a true-crime podcast over six episodes; the focus of this book being on what happened to vlogger Elizabeth Barton. The format suits the modern day need for everything to be via social-media somehow and it’s obsession with the challenges that go around, many of which are plain absurd or just downright dangerous. “Lizzie B” opts to try the DISD challenge – Dead In Six Days. It quite literally shouts “bad idea!” and yet, she does it anyway…

Online Journalist, Scott King picks up Elizabeth Barton’s story and speaks to 6 people who knew both the victim and perpetrators, uncovering a whole web of dark, frightening and grim that you don’t expect to come from “oh, so this vlogger did a dumb challenge” – oh no. It’s so much more than that. The blurb mentions a “vampire tower” so I wasn’t expecting what I read to feel so… real. Vampires are very much fiction. Or are they? They may not be in the conventional sense of horror and folklore, but there sure are monsters in the world.

The book is so well written – the locations feel very real and with the mention of the “beast from the east” which was an actual event that happened, it was really easy to fall in to this world and think it to be a very real environment. On top of being so immersive, the book itself was easy to read and to digest in chunks thanks to it’s format so it’s a great one for if you’re a busy person and are limited by what you can read at any one time – that’s not to say you wont want to sit and read it cover to cover though!

The very end of the book had me taken aback and it was painful to read. I wasn’t expecting the book to end on such a note. I was still like “woah” when I closed it. Without going in to the actual ending, it’s safe to say, we never really know what’s actually going on in the lives of the people who present themselves to us on social media. Often, they show us the shiniest, most polished and best parts of their lives – there’s a lot we don’t know about these people and they’re a lot more than the persona they portray online.

It’s pretty incredible how much Matt Wesolowski managed to put forward through this more unique format. The tension. Oof. I was on the fence about it and wanted to give it a try – I’m glad I did. Let’s just say, Changeling remains on my want to read list but now I’m putting Six Stories and Hydra up on there too.

About the Book

Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’
However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire…

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

body · book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

A Curious History of Sex by Kate Lister (Review)

Greetings and salutations! Yesterday was valentines and we all know adults tend to bonk, but what’s it like now compared in history? Well, I was curious to read about it, and so I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour! A Curious History of Sex by Kate Lister was released on February 6th 2020 in Hardback and will be available on February 20th 2020 in eBook format. I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes.

I used to always think history was boring. Friends from other cultures helped me realise maybe that wasn’t the case. A friend with a pretty great history podcast made me realise one of the reasons I thought it was boring in the past was because of the way it was presented to me. Now, I’ve enjoyed the tid-bits from the Whores of Yore twitter account for a while. Witty yet informative, so I figured, without the character limit, in a book? That should be very interesting indeed. Plus it’s sex. The topic of sex always manages to induce some winks and giggles so I was pretty confident that this book would entertain, inform and be enjoyable.

Fannies, weenies, butts, boobies, a really dodgy looking oyster and some torturous looking objects, A Curious History of Sex comes with many historical photographs and illustrations to have a giggle at. I find myself feeling thankful for modern technology, but ultimately, our ancestors were just like we are currently in modern society. One thing hasn’t changed though it seems – people STILL shove random phallic shaped objects in places they’re not meant to go in search of the big O.

Yet, there were condom-type devices found, spanning back through history, even one in Tutankhamun’s tomb. It’s surprising that these very obvious and uncomfortable looking devices were used and yet people today seem reluctant to use them as they “affect sex” when they’re thinner than ever and made of much better materials. If men in history could wear sheaths made of intestines and other things, I can’t fathom why someone can’t cope with a condom that has been specifically design for the phallus. Just one of the many thought provoking things I came across while reading this book! Don’t get me started on their “pleasure devices”.. some look entirely terrifying!

I like to think I’m pretty “woke” on things these days, (woke, that’s the word the kids are using, right?) but looking back to how they were for our ancestors is amusing, entertaining and informative and gives me gratitude and insight for the modern day.

I’m pleased to say, A Curious History of Sex ticked all the right boxes. Innuendo unintended. Or was it? Engaging, witty and not a droll moment throughout. Of course, some parts interested me more than others, but it’s been a wholly fascinating experience. I think there is something that will interest anyone in this book, while also amusing. This is probably my favourite non-fiction read. Or it’s very high up there to say the least. I’ve read some great non-fiction books but I don’t think any top the balance of this one.

I absolutely love the way the information is put across and I wish all books on historical topics could be this entertaining. I mean, the topic being a (curious) history of sex can be considered entertaining in itself because “lols sex” but I think the author could make any topic as equally entertaining and interesting with her engaging writing and witty way of framing the content.

A fascinating read for sure, one that I would highly recommend.

About the Book

This is not a comprehensive study of every sexual quirk, kink and ritual across all
cultures throughout time, as that would entail writing an encyclopaedia.
Rather, this is a drop in the ocean, a paddle in the shallow end of sex
history, but I hope you will get pleasantly wet nonetheless.

The act of sex has not changed since people first worked out what went where, but the
ways in which society dictates how sex is culturally understood and performed
have varied significantly through the ages. Humans are the only creatures that
stigmatise particular sexual practices, and sex remains a deeply divisive issue
around the world. Attitudes will change and grow – hopefully for the better –
but sex will never be free of stigma or shame unless we acknowledge where it
has come from.

Drawing upon extensive research from Dr Kate Lister’s Whores
of Yore website and written with her distinctive humour and wit, A Curious
History of Sex
covers topics ranging from twentieth-century testicle thefts
to Victorian doctors massaging the pelvises of their female patients, from smutty
bread innuendos dating back to AD 79, to the new and controversial sex doll
brothels. It is peppered with surprising and informative historical slang and
illustrated by eye-opening, toe-curling and hilarious images.

In this fascinating book, Lister deftly debunks myths and stereotypes and gives unusual
sexual practices an historical framework, as she provides valuable context for
issues facing people today, including gender, sexual shame, beauty and
language.

About the Author

Dr Kate Lister is a lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, where she researches the history of sexuality and curates the online research project Whores of Yore. Kate is also a columnist for iNews, Vice and the Wellcome Trust where she writes about the history of sex. Kate won a Sexual Freedom Award for Publicist of the Year in 2017. She runs the popular @WhoresOfYore twitter account.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Till Morning is Nigh by Rob Parker (Review)

Bracken is back on a whole new adventure! I’m so pleased to be on the blog tour for “Till Morning Is Nigh” by Rob Parker, the latest Ben Bracken Thriller. Following The Penny Black, Bracken is set to get himself into a whole heap of trouble… again. Read on for my thoughts! Till Morning is Nigh is available now in eBook and Paperback formats and is available on Kindle Unlimited.

It’s no secret that Bracken is one of my favourite protagonists to date. He’s not your typical “hero” and he’s plenty flawed. In Rob Parker’s latest offering, Bracken has a chance at a whole new life. More.. legally this time, though all still very questionable. He’s not hiding off-the-grid. He’s been given a chance. He’s got a family now and a new job consulting with the NCA.

He’s now part of a team, something different to what we’re used to from this lone wolf. However, will he play the part or will he go off and do what he wants? Does his new family effect his decisions? He has a newborn son with his partner, Carolyn, whom already has two children from her previous relationship. That’s a whole interesting story there, but it’s a spoiler for previous books, so if you’ve not read them, I’d recommend you do. 😉 It’s noticeably softened Bracken but you’ll have to find out for yourself what it means for his adventure.

A race against time with a topical, political theme, Till Morning Is Nigh is unsettling and tense throughout as Bracken goes above and beyond – as per usual, gets himself to a whole heap of trouble – as usual and puts himself firmly amongst the grey.

A little slower of a pace than his other books, this is an excellent thriller with well-built tension that had me genuinely unable to put it down – I wasn’t kidding when I say it’s unsettling and tense. While a work of fiction, the topical theme hits close to home with the current political tensions and the threats of extremism and only led to a more immersive read. I had to follow it through to the end for my own sanity. The ending didn’t fully sit with me, some of the action elements didn’t feel totally believable but I put it down to adrenaline and went with it, I’m totally fine with that, that’s literally my only criticism and it’s barely a criticism. I really enjoyed the book as a whole and I can’t get enough of Bracken. So I am pleased to say this is yet another excellent offering from Rob Parker.

About the Book

Dragged half dead from a river, Ben Bracken, fugitive ex-soldier, is in a bad way.

But, too valuable to discard and too dangerous to set free, an old friend offers him a choice: abandon his identity and become a desk-bound advisor to the National Crime Agency, or go back to the prison he broke out of – a place where he is extremely unpopular.

Bracken is forced to accept – and he’s becoming a different man.

But all this changes when, days before Christmas, an undercover narcotics officer is murdered in horrific circumstances, and only Bracken has the inside track on the key suspect. Throwing himself into the fray, Bracken finds himself in a very present-day ideological conflict, uncovering a plot which has huge implications for both Manchester’s political, socio-economic landscape, and the nation at large – coming to an explosive conclusion amidst the twinkling fairy lights and frost-tipped boughs of Christmas Eve…

disability · home · Life · Recipies · Uncategorized

Easy Spaghetti Bolognese – No Chopping!*

Spaghetti Bolognese or… spag bol as we affectionately call it in the UK, is a classic dish. If you somehow don’t know what this is, it’s spaghetti with minced meat in a tomato sauce, with herbs and such. A lot of people throw in other things like onion, red wine, peppers, garlic or mushroom.

Because of my poor health and dexterity, cooking can be a challenge and the fewer ingredients I have to contend with, the better, but that comes at the sacrifice of flavour… or does it? It doesn’t have to, thanks to Schwartz seasoning mix. They have a bunch of different seasoning mixes as well as the herbs and spices and other seasonings they’re known for. I always have a bunch in my cupboard. So with the help of the Spaghetti Bolognese Seasoning Mix, I decided to try making spag bol with minimal ingredients and report back with how it went!

Ingredients (serves up to four persons)

Brown the mince in a frying pan for a few minutes. The great thing about mince is it’s really easy to see when it’s cooked!

Add the Schwartz sachet contents as well as the tomatoes and give it a good stir.

Cover the pan and allow it to simmer for around 15 minutes.

…Now, there are two ways you can serve up spag bol – all of it all mixed together, or a neat pile of saucy mince on top of your spaghetti. I used to prefer the latter; not sure why! I was a strange child. My partner prefers it all mixed in, which is apparently normal, so that’s what I opted for, it also means no cold spaghetti or portion measuring. So, add the spaghetti into the pan and stir it all together.

Dish up and serve, topped with parmesan cheese if you’d like! Yummy. 😀 As this recipe serves up to four, there were leftovers that I put into a container. Once it cooled, I put it in the freezer for another day. Perfect! I love it when I can make my meals go further.

I was really impressed by how much flavour the Schwartz Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe Mix added to the tomato, without the need for extra ingredients. Of course, you can add more in if you’d like to, but I’m all about that easy life, and chopping food is a hazard! So, I would definitely recommend giving it a go for a delicious, home-cooked meal. Both myself and my fussy partner really enjoyed it. I’ll be trying out their other mixes for sure! With supervision from my partner (because of using the stove), this was a nice and easy make, with plenty of flavour!

Schwartz have gifted me (this product), but all views are my own.

Bookish · Life · Uncategorized

One? Writing the book and tips for aspiring authors – A guest post by Jennifer L Cahill

Hello, hello! Happy Monday! Today I have a guest post from Jennifer L Cahill about writing her book, One?. It’s out now in Paperback and Kindle formats.

Why I wrote ‘One?’.


I had a very interesting experience when writing my first book. I didn’t ‘want to write a book’, I literally just sat down and started writing and the book flowed from there. A confluence of events set up the circumstances for me to start to write. From the minute I started the first sentence, the writing process was almost addictive. The story came tumbling out onto the pages.  It felt like life went from black and white to technicolour, as everything and anything could spark inspiration or add depth to the characters or the plot. It was also very much one of those ‘aha’ moments when you realise what you are supposed to be when you grow up. 

How I picked the title

I had another title for the book but as the story developed, and it rapidly turned into a trilogy, the title(s) changed. One night while I was just about to fall asleep, inspiration struck and I knew that the book needed to be called ‘One?’. It’s a very bold title, it’s a sentence, a question, a word and a number. I doubt I would have had the courage to call it that if it wasn’t for the dramatic way in which the title came to me. When inspiration strikes like that, you know that it’s going to stick. 

My writing process

I’ve outlined my writing process for my first book, the book almost wrote itself. The trilogy is trickling along in the same manner, and the second book ‘Two?’ will be out in 2020. I talk a lot about my writing process on my YouTube channel, but I can’t stress enough the importance of the magic combination of space and time to write. When you are writing you can’t do anything else so it’s important to plan and to structure your life so that you can write. Space is also very important, as books are big and messy. My writing room looked like a paper volcano had erupted by the time I had finished the final edit. It’s also really important to have a physical desk, there is only so much you can do on a laptop. When writing a book it gets to the point where you need a lot of space and you don’t want to be confined to a laptop in a coffee shop. 

My more recent projects are more planned out. I’ve been through the process once, so I know what to expect, and how much time I need for the subsequent books. 

Advice for aspiring authors

I have a writer’s tips playlist on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvrlsV9Ru8qEWuRp5UQUHh8lShQvsiHDv) with advice for aspiring authors, but my main advice is to simply write. It’s not a spectator’s sport. I don’t understand the concept of ‘I want to write a book’ if someone isn’t actually writing anything. It’s good to start off writing shorter things. A book can be a little overwhelming so my advice would be to start with short stories, poems or even non-fiction.

Julia Cameron’s book – the artist’s way (https://amzn.to/2X2XESL) is a must-read for any aspiring author or creative of any kind. We all get blocked sometimes, often without realising it, and this book will definitely unblock you. 

What’s next

Two?’ will be out in 2020, and ‘Three’ will follow in 2021. I’m also working on a book about where I’m living at the moment, the story is extraordinary, I’m very excited about. As a contemporary fiction writer, my aim is to capture the essence of a place and time, and I’m living in a very exciting place, at a very exciting time. 


About Jennifer L Cahill

I write contemporary fiction and try to capture the essence of a place and time in my books. Above all, my aim is to make you laugh, and hopefully learn a little, as you recognise yourself, your friends and your exes in my books. I love hearing from my readers, and you can contact me via my website, or @JLCAuthor on Twitter.

My first book ‘One?’ is about Life, Love and London, and most importantly about finding the one in the most innovative period in living history. It’s set in London with a sprinkling of Paris and New York for good measure :). It is the first book in a trilogy.

About One?

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi, and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.

Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual.

Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At 28 she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming.

Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness.

Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future. 

Jennifer’s social media links:

Twitter @JLCAuthor
Instagram @jlcauthor
www.JenniferLCahill.com
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18085530.Jennifer_L_Cahill
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMo65VpfqU4p1lFG68f2txA?view_as=subscriber

Book tube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvrlsV9Ru8qFLPawjOpaCPk_lAADbrFHE

Amazon links: 
https://amzn.to/2uZ9lOp
https://amzn.to/2VwKBJf