Book Review: Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew

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About the book

Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew (Blurb)

My thoughts

Book Review of Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew on YouTube

Frankie lives next door to her bestie. Together they love to hang out in their tree house planning to take pictures of the moon. But, they don’t agree on everything. Her BFF is boy crazy, and Frankie finds it embarrassing.

There is an internship at the Planetarium and there’s a few hoops to jump through to get the role. Both girls decide to go for it. Frankie works hard on her essay and gets her science teacher to check it over and write her reference.

When she finds out her BFF sent an inappropriate photo to the science teacher instead of an essay, Frankie worries how their friendship will affect her reference. Her BFF knows she screwed up and is hurt that Frankie won’t stand by her side when she needs her most. The girls have a massive fight and are no longer friends.

To make matters worse, her now ex-BFF tells their mutual friends her version of what happened, and now Frankie is alone. Being alone enables Benjamin to get to know Frankie better. The pair get closer, and closer, and one thing leads to another.

The best feeling in the world, rapidly turns into a dirty secret. Someone knows the sordid details of what Frankie and Benjamin did that afternoon. And, now it’s all over the internet, one meme after another.

How can Frankie get the bullies to stop and who can she trust? This is a fast paced emotionally driven story of friendship, bullying, and first love. With an epic ending.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you want to buy this book you can get it from:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3eHxoeO

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[Kofi]

Book Review: Coral & Bone by Tiffany Duane

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About the book

My thoughts

This book held so much promise as it has everything I love. So, I was surprised when I struggled to enjoy it.

I had the audio version, and this was my first audio book. The story was very dialogue heavy, it was hard to know who was speaking at times.

For the first third of the book, the main character was confused and had no idea what was going on. The other characters would talk in riddles about what they couldn’t tell her. I found this annoying.

Eventually they started sharing with her about the worlds she never knew existed, and training her to control her powers. There was a lot of telling rather than showing.

The main character still had a lot of questions and towards the end of the book, everything she’d been told came into question. Then she was confused again. Everything she’d been told was a lie and turned out she still had no clue.

Sadly, I got to a point where I was determined to finish the book just to get it over with. I wonder if I’d have enjoyed this more if it hadn’t been an audio book. I don’t think audio is my thing. Sad to say, this book wasn’t for me.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Buy on Amazon

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I was surprised I didn’t love this book as it had all the ingredients I usually go crazy for. This leads me to believe the issue might have been that I had an audio version. My first ever audio book.

I found the narration very slow. A top tip I got from TheBrightSideGirl on Instagram was to increase the speed. This faster pace of narration was much more appealing for me. I hadn’t realised before that I could do this.

I know a lot of people love audio books and I’ve had requests for Ocean Heart to be made into an audio book. It’s expensive to do but one day I’d love an audio version of Ocean Heart for people that prefer it.

I feel it is important to have books available in different formats. People have different learning styles and this affects their preference for divulging information.

So, although audio books don’t work for me, I know they do for others. You can try audible for free, sample an audible chapter to see if you like it, and many libraries will lend out audio books.

NB: I am only posting my review here & on Goodreads (for my reading history). I think part of my disconnect with this book was the audio format. Usually I blast my reviews everywhere to help readers find and buy the book. But, I don’t feel it’s fair to the author due to this not being for me. I feel bad for not loving it as I really thought I would.

Reading Challenge: Red Blood by Kaitlyn Legaspi

About the challenge

The challenge was set by World Indie Warriors on Instagram. They created three #WIWBingo boards; YA, Romance, and Fantasy.

The aim is to read and review the books on Instagram and tag @worldindiewarriors

The goal is to get three in a line, and help indie books get seen.

I’m doing the challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on the board so I’ll be reposting them this month, and I’m hoping to read some new one too.

The Book Review

Here is my post of my old review for Red Blood by Kaitlyn Legaspi. I shortened it for social media.

[Kofi]

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Book Review: A Heart of Salt & Silver by Elexis Bell

I was so excited for this books release, I preordered it last year! I’m a slow reader but life has really got in my way of enjoying this book. But every time I found a moment to escape, this book was so, so, so, very good!

Setting

This book is set in a fantasy world where humans exist alongside demons, werewolves, and vampires. The fantasy world felt more medieval as there isn’t any electricity or tech, and people travelled by foot and live in villages, and there were knights.

Characters

Ness is the main character, although it is told from other view points along the way, it’s ultimately her story.

Ness is a demi-demon. This causes her a lot of internal conflict as she fights her demon instincts to destroy all lives, with her human side of empathy, and love. Ness blames herself for events in her past and tries to do the right thing. There are a lot of prejudices and hate towards her because of her demon side.

Elias is the human she rescues from a vampire attack. She takes pity on him and offers to heal him and help him travel through the woods. Ness soon discovers her past actions affected his life in a big negative way and feels she owes him. As they travel together, Elias falls in love with her.

Nolan is Ness’s ex that she never got over. She reminisces about him, longing to fix things but he doesn’t appear in the story until about the mid point. He’s very hot, and it’s easy to see why Ness is still longing for him.

My Review

It can be difficult to write a super powerful character but Elexis did it with Ness. Ness’ demi-demon nether magic is quick and deadly.

Ness is a fabulously complex character. I wish this was a series so I could have more Ness! But, Elexis does bring the book to a satisfying close – if you read the epilogue, you’ll be super happy.

Both the love interests, Elias and Nolan, were great characters and helped Ness discover what she needs. It was clear why one was “the one”.

The World building was immersive with just enough detail to bring the world to life. I loved all the drama and romance of a world where demons, werewolves, and vampires, exist.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

[kofi]

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Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

I love Cassidy. She has a big heart and its no surprise she writes romance. If you don’t follow her on social media you’re missing out.

Cassidy always says the perfect thing when someone needs picking up. She helped with my blurb and novel. I’ve never read romantic suspense before, but for her I wanted to.

If you don’t like spoilers, scroll quickly to my final thoughts.

About the Book

Beginning

Carter is an agent that got injured during the last mission. He’s now renting a cabin by the coast whilst recovering. In addition, he is hear broken over a colleague/lover that died. He has a lot of emotional stuff to process and doesn’t want a relationship. While he rests up, his best mate/colleague, Nate, let’s him stay at his beach holiday home.

Maddison writes articles about women in abusive relationships. It’s a topic very personal to her as she barely escaped her ex, Konrad, alive. Now she lives in fear he may one day find her. Maddie is renting the cabin next door to Nate’s, where Carter is staying.

Middle

Both characters are private people. Carter needs to maintain secrecy about who he is and what he does, and Maddison is constantly checking over her shoulder for her ex or one of his goons.

They enjoy running up and down the beach, and soon start doing this together. Carter is attracted to Maddie but doesn’t want to get involved woth anyone. He tries to manage his sexual urges with a few one night stands, careful to pick girls that won’t get close. The more time he spends with Maddison, the less effective his cold showers become.

Maddison has to visit her employers head office to collect her pay checks. Little does she know, but during this trip she is spotted by a goon. And despite her careful precautions, she’s now being followed back to the beach hut.

Carter’s leg has healed and he’s approved to return to duty. He’s to be an undercover agent to catch a sex and drug trafficking ring. Carter feels bad that he couldn’t say bye to Maddie and asks Nate to check on her.

Nate reports that Maddie has gone, and Carter accepts he is unlikely to ever see her again.

Carter is making progress fooling Konrad, the suspected boss of the ring he is investigating. Carter doesn’t know what to think when Konrad parades his girlfriend around his sleazy club, and Carter recognises her as Maddie.

End

There are lots of misunderstandings between the pair. Carter assumes that Maddie was helping Konrad get girls and after the bust, he wants nothing to do with her.

Fate causes the pair to cross paths again, it’s messy and they’ve a lot of baggage to unpack. But, there isa HEA and a very steamy sex scene .

Final Thoughts

This was a great read. It has some very steamy scenes but brought together with a strong plot. The characters are very complex, with rich back stories that feeds into who they are.

It’s only in recent years I’ve become aware of that domestic trafficking takes place. Cassidy sensitively deals with this topic. She shows how it has shapes Maddie and affected her life. The early chapters made me feel uneasy every time Maddie left the safety of her cabin. Carter also has complex issues to resolve. Their hesitation to get involved in a romantic relationship is very real.

There where times I wanted to knock Carter’s head but I think he was scared of the truth, as he was scared of getting close and losing someone again. I read the las chapters really fast as I loved when he starts to get over his fear and get honest with himself. He needs the truth, and he needs Maddie. Such a satisfying ending.

I’ve not read romantic suspense before. The suspense made me feel on edge and anxious. It was refreshing to try something different. I loved how developed the characters were, and obviously the way the steamy scenes made me feel.

[kofi]

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Behind the Book: Agent: Undone by Cassidy Reyne

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My Favourite Vegan Perfume

I am a big fan of Eden Perfumes in Brighton. One day I’d love to visit the store.

In store you can create your own perfume blend using vegan ingredients.

The Ugly Truth of High Street Perfumes

Regular high street perfumes have lots of peculiar things in them like:
  • Civet: Anal secretions from a cat like creature.
  • Ambergris: sperm whale secretion from the bile duct.
  • Musk: animal anal secretions.
  • Castoreum: beaver anal secretions (aka artificial vanilla).
  • Hyraceum: fossilised badger urine.

I don’t know about you but bile, urine, and anal secretions do not appeal. I discovered what these ingredients are whilst hunting for an organic perfume.

Welcome To Eden

Eden Perfumes are organic where possible, but 100% cruelty free and because they are vegan they don’t have any of those questionable ingredients above.

If like me you can’t get to the store they are able to recommend perfumes similar to a high street perfume you may already know. This makes buying online easier.

Chloe was my favorite perfume so the first thing I did was search for something similar. They recommended:

085: Chloey

It smells as good as the designer one, if not better. Since trying this, I haven’t looked back.

The price for all this goodness is very reasonable at only £18 for 30ml or £24 for 50ml.

If you’ve not checked them out I highly recommend you do.

They used to do mini bottles spray bottles which were perfect for trying a new scent or for travelling.I was disappointed to find they aren’t currently doing this as I thought it’d be fun to try something new.

Well, I managed to track some down on the associated shop for the Cruelty Free Beauty Box.

I bought:

015: Adore Women similar to J’Adore by Dior

017: Light Blue Woman similar to Light Blue Women’s by Dolce & Gabbana

These minis cost £7.50, full size is £18 at the associated shop for the Cruelty Free Beauty Box. They had more scents available too.

I’m a fan of both these designer fragrances so it was no surprise I liked the vegan equivalent at first whiff. It was tough to choose which to buy full size, but I went for 015 and treated my hubby to 151.

151: Light Blue Man similar to Light Blue Men’s by Dolce & Gabbana

I love Eden Perfumes and won’t buy high street again. I’m tempted to get get more minis so I have a variety.

My only complaint is that the bottles look identical so I can’t tell at a glance which scent is which.

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I got to tour Ingram Spark’s print facility

I helped myself to one of everything.  My bag was super heavy but I knew this was a very valuable opportunity and after hearing the talk I was invested in the idea of self publishing. 

The Tour

Then we got to have the grand tour! This was a real highlight. Our tour guide referred to it as the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory equivalent for Book lovers and he wasn’t wrong.

It was fascinating watching the machines churning out pages on printers that were bigger than me.  The ink cartridge was basically a massive barrel.  Huge rolls of paper were loaded into the machine and they fed into the printer, coming out on a roll full of print.  The pages were folded and chopped and moved along a conveyor belt to the next part of the production process. Another machine printed the covers to the specification requested. They then entered a machine where pages were bound and matched with the correct cover. The books continued on their conveyor belt until they reached a machine which trimmed the cover to size and sorted the books for distribution.  Massive mail bags that would rival Santa’s sacks were bursting as they awaited collection. 

Afterwards

We made the most of getting to meet up and Nicola (local to the area) took us to a beautiful pub for a drink. The sun was streaming and we kicked back and talked about writing. There is nothing better than being surrounded by like minded creatives who understand your crazy imagination. We took full advantage of the opportunity to connect on a more personal level offline.

I loved hanging out with them so much, I definitely want to meet up again. There have been whispering of another WIW meet at London Book Fair!  I just have to figure out childcare and travel etc.

My thoughts…

Seeing the books made, filled me with excitement.  My inner voice kept squealing, “That could be your book one day!”  I wish I could show you pictures or videos of the factory but they made me sign an NDA.  Seeing it come to life made me eager to get my manuscript ready for print so my ink and paper creation can go for a ride on their conveyor belt.

If you ever get the opportunity to go on their tour, do it.  If you are thinking about self publishing, definitely consider Ingram Spark. 


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My prize from [Stamp]tastic!

Just before the kids finished school I won this amazing prize. Everything was a little hectic so I forgot all about sharing it with you until… I had to label the new uniform for the new school year.

The Prize

I won a personalised Stamp and ink pad and a fabric pen.

I got to design the stamp myself. I wrote my son’s full name, choose the font and added an anchor icon.

I choose a black ink pad although there were other colours to choose from.

I also got to choose a fabric pen. I decided to go with white as Noah’s shoes often have a black sole and I figured I would probably need it to write in them.

The stamp

I hope my pictures help illustrate how the stamp works. It reminds me a lot of a high quality crafting stamp.

You push the stamp onto the ink pad, then onto the clothes label. The stamp is clear which enables to you see where you have placed it and that it is the correct way around. It dries pretty quick too!

The pen

I wasn’t excited about the pen but it has really impressed me. Noah has wore his cap all summer and the ink hasn’t rubbed off. It was easy to write with and stands out clearly on the black material.

Review

I would definitely buy these items again. They’ve made it easy to label everything.

I love how the stamp makes everything look so neat and perfect and how clear the pen is on dark colours.

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Pop-up books

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Great products for dealing with a teething baby

At about 8 weeks old, Aria was shoving her hands in her mouth and chewing anything she could reach. It was quite obvious that with the drool, she was teething.

Here are the products I bought and the stores I bought thm from:

I had a look online for some products to help her and found a lovely website called Amber Pumpkin. I bought the following products:

Lune Hand Puppet:  £15.47

I think this toy is cleverly thought out. It is a hand puppet whicd enables you to play with your baby. The material is super soft and the little bear has tags that babies like to fiddle with and explote. My little girl likes to chew his legs, arms and nose and finds it easy to hold.

Rooba Boo the Bunny – Natural Rubber Teething Toy:  £9.65

I was looking for a teether that is made from non-toxic materials, has plenty of textures for teething, easy for a baby to hold and not ghastly looking. This ticked all the boxes for me and I know my little girl loves it as one of the few times she stays in one spot is when she is busy chewing this.

Adjustable Unpolished Honey Amber And Rose Quartz Anklet / Bracelet:  £12.60

When ordering, I was unable to find a tape measure. So I went for the design that has a clasp and you can use this to adjust the length. Every anklet on the site has a warning that it is not suitable for children under 36 months so I messaged customer support. They confirmed this is true and that some sites don’t make this clear or purposefully mislead consumers. They explained that although care is taken to reduce the risk by knotting every bead individually there is still a risk a bead could come lose and that is a potential choking hazard.

Now, don’t judge me but I decided to take the risk because her legs are usually covered by tights or a sleepsuit making it difficult for her to get her anklet. I also check her anklet everytime she has a bath to make sure there is no wear or tear.

It’s taken a little adjustment to get the knack of putting her anklet on her wriggly leg and making sure it is tight enough she can’t rub it off.

Sadly, the bracket broke just before I got to take a picture for my blog. As you can see only one bead came loose. Luckily she was wearing tights so she never had an opportunity to get the bead. The day it broke was before her third jabs and she was more upset than usual. Now she is over her vaccinations she is back to normal so I’m not sure the braclet did much, or anything at all.

Amber Pumpkin (the store)

I was really impressed by their customer service. They took their time to answer my questions and gave me information to make my own decision. I don’t feeel like they lied to make a sale.

After my purchase they sent me a code to share so my friends can get 10% of their purchases. In return, I earn money off future purchases. My friend also bought a bracket and they sent me some money off.

Here is my code so you can get 10% off and if you get a code too, you can share your code with your friends: http://amberpumpkin.refr.cc/alisonaldridge

Weleda Chamomilla Teething Granules:  £5.50

I also bought Weleda Teething Granuals from Naturismo. This can also be used to treat colic. It’s a really bizare product. The little granuals look like grains of salt and you give it to your baby on the tiny spoon provided or mix with cooled boiled water.

Like most babies, her tongure tries to push the granuals out but it does seem to calm her down when she gets really grizzly about her teeth. It either works or effectively distracts her from the pain. Either way, it’s a winner.

I’m annoyed that I lost my box as it had piece of paper inside saying I could request sample of their other baby products. I am already a fan of their baby facial moisturiser so I had intended to fill in the form and send it to them after Christmas. Hopefully, the form will be in the next box I purchase. 

Weleda Chamomile Baby Face Moisturiser

I ordered this as a treat for her after her injection. She had some redness on her face which I suspected was caused by the dribble and cold air but the Health Visitor and GP said it was normal.

I didn’t want anything harsh for her delicate skin or risk making it worse. So, I looked for a product with natural ingredients especially for babies.

I hadn’t expected it to have such a pretty smell but it is lovely. When she sees I am about to apply it, she gives me a lovely toothless grin. It think massaging her cheeks helps soothe the pain from teething as well as healing the baby acne. Very quickly her skin healed and I began recommending it to other mums.

Naturismo (the store)

This is one of my favourite online shops as it always has great deals of organic beauty products and free delivery with no minumum spend! There is also a wide range of samples to choose from.

Akamuti Petroleum Free Jelly

I bought this direct from Akamuti’s website. I love their organic products and this multi-tasker is a favourite.

I often use it for my son who gets chapped lips when he gets a cold. The extra saliva caused by teething also can result in a sore bum. Although Akamuti do a happy balm, I had this in my house and it cleared it up over night!

It’s like Vaseline but chemical free and allows the skin to breathe.

How is teething going?

Aria is now almost 6 months old and still has no teeth. She loves to chew stuff and doesn’t get too upset. She gets a little grizzly before bed and that is when her teeth bother her the most but if I give her Rooba, she is able to soothe herself.

My favourite products has been the Rooba natural rubber teether, the Weleda face moisturiser and Akamuti’s jelly. I did love the braclet until it broke and I might use my discount to get a new one but I’m not convinced it made a difference to teething.

What products have you found work for your little one?

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My best kept writing secret of last year (Happily Ever Author)

I discovered this group through a connection I made on Instragram. I am so pleased that I decided to check it out and join.

About Pagan Malcolm

She is a YA Fiction writer that has published several books. She is also the founder of Paperback Kingdom and Facebook group Happily Ever Author.

About the Facebook groups

Happily Ever Author is a group run by Pagan on Facebook. She posts prompts to get authors to socialise and share what they are working on and to set goals. She sometimes gives prizes (I got a YouTube guide) and sometimes she promotes her books and other group (Paperback Kingdom).

Paperback Kingdom is a Facebook group linked to services she offers such a course, 1:1 coaching, etc. I can’t tell you much more as I’ve not paid for the additional content.

About #NewYearNewNovel

Pagan set her Happily Ever Author group members a challenge in December to start doing the prep work for a new novel in 2019. This was supported with videos where she shared her tips and techniques for doing this, from how to come up with a story idea, outling, character development, etc. These were really useful and I would like to watch them again.

Although, all I have written is the opening to my story (Scarlet House), I do feel more prepared and clearer about what I will be writing. I can’t wait to finish my current editing project so I can start on a brand new novel for 2019.

Have you discovered any awesome writer groups online?

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