Blog Tour | Nature Of The Witch by Helen T. Norwood

Nature of the Witch

Many years ago, magic prevailed in Britain. It was a time when chosen women followed a path forged by Mother Nature herself; a time of witchcraft, of the brotherhood of the Gwithiaz and of the terrifying Creatures.

This has all passed from memory a long time ago. But now, magic has returned. Kiera is the first witch the world has seen in centuries, while Jack must learn the ways of the Gwithiaz. They must not only master their crafts, but also overcome their differences and work together if they are to survive the dark enemy that lurks in the shadows.

In the rugged Cornish landscape where it first began, the two face the dreaded Kasadow: an ancient evil that has awakened and is ready to destroy them, and their magic, once and for all.

Purchase Linkhttps://t.co/tZGe3wZfY5

Author Bio – Helen lives in the UK with her husband, two children and one diva-like cat called Tiger. Helen, like many others, was captivated in her childhood by books from the likes of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and any books which took her to new worlds and showed her places of magic and mystery. She has enjoyed writing and creating her own magical worlds from a young age. She is currently writing the second book in the ‘Nature of the Witch’ trilogy which will be out soon.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThinkFitFoodFam

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17356433.Helen_T_Norwood

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Blog Tour | Andorra Pett and The Oort Cloud Cafe by Richard Dee

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Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café

Meet Andorra Pett; with her trusty sidekick, she’s taken over a derelict café. On a mining station. It just happens to be orbiting Saturn!

She’s hoping for a fresh start, away from all the drama of her old life. It’s a chance to relax and start again in a place where nobody knows anything about her or her past.

But the café holds a secret, and secrets have a habit of coming out; whether you want them to or not. And being accident prone doesn’t help. The more you try to pretend that you know what’s going on, the worse it gets.

Andorra’s plans for peace and quiet get lost amid the revelations and skulduggery and she soon realises that the fate of the whole station lies in her hapless hands.

In space, you can still trip over your feet; the question is, will you land upright?

Universal Purchase Link – https://www.books2read.com/u/4XoQ6e

My Thoughts

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe is definitely different to the books I normally read but it made a lovely change! Andorra is a fabulous character – quirky, funny and instantly likeable. Along with her sidekick Cy they make a fabulous team! The story was well written and creative from start to finish. This is definitely one to add to your To Read list.

Author Bio –

A native of Brixham in Devon, Richard Dee’s family left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986. Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, including Marine Insurance Surveyor and Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich. In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as H.M.S. Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority. Richard was offered part time working in 2010, which allowed him to return to live in Brixham, where he took up writing and blogging. He retired in 2015, when he set up and ran a successful Organic bakery, supplying local shops and cafés. The urge to write eventually overtook the urge to bake but Richard still makes bread for friends and family. Richard is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

He can be found at www.richarddeescifi.co.uk

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RichardDeeAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/@RichardDockett1

Blog Tour | Veronica’s Bird by Veronica Bird and Richard Newman

Veronica’s Bird: Thirty-five years inside as a female prison officer 

Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the 1950s, as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. Astonishingly, to her and her mother, she won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates. A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the re: he took over control of her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCSEs, so he could put her to work as a cheap option on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away and applied to the Prison Service, knowing it was the only safe place she could trust. This is the astonishing, and true story of Veronica Bird who rose to become a Governor of Armley prison. Given a ‘basket case’ in another prison, contrary to all expectations, she turned it around within a year, to become an example for others to match. During her life inside, her ‘bird’, she met many Home Secretaries, was honoured by the Queen and was asked to help improve conditions in Russian Prisons. A deeply poignant story of eventual triumph against a staggeringly high series of setbacks, her story is filled with humour and compassion for those inside.

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Author Spotlight

Retired perhaps, after spending thirty-five years behind bars, but as active today as she has ever been, Veronica Bird can look back on the extraordinary changes she has endured. Endured is, maybe, the wrong word, for she has never regretted her time, or her choice, to enter Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Encountered possibly might fit better, meeting some of the lowest and most dangerous criminals in her day to day routine. Enjoyed? Yes: the complete satisfaction of seeing a youth finding a job, and holding it, after being released…and not coming back to say goodbye. It was enough to see his cell remain empty.

Throughout this book, one can feel Veronica’s early life dictating her thoughts and reasons for the actions she took. The mind-numbing harshness of existence in Barnsley came within a whisker of throwing her on a heap labelled ‘forgotten’; only a good neighbour telling her one day she was ‘just a little slave,’ jolted her out of her terror and caused her to turn to the only place on earth she felt she could be safe. A prison.

It is an irony that her name is ‘Bird’, the very label which prisoners place upon their time in jail: ‘doing bird’ was as much for herself as the inmates of the prison in which she was working. But, once in the system she began to focus on being the best, in a world of men, as she started her career. At Head Office, the powers that be, began to recognise they had something special in this diminutive woman, only five feet six inches in her socks. How, they asked, was she able to turn around a ‘basket case’ of a prison in just a year when the entire organisation had failed to do so? And she did it without additional funds or help. Just hard work and rolling her sleeves up alongside her staff.

Something good in what she was doing must have been recognised for she was asked to go with a team to Russia to help sort out Putin’s prisons. What she saw there made her own prison operations seem like a vicar’s tea party, to coin a cliché, and put one member of her team, a hardened prison officer, in tears at what he witnessed.

The story of the two men in her life who never left her alone, as if she was their private chattel, stitches in and out of her career –  she could choose either the nightmare blackened face with the red staring eyes or the greedy immorality of the other – take your choice Veronica. Some choice.

In the month Veronica retired, Myra Hindley died: they had entered prison on the same day. One remained incarcerated for the entire period, thirty-five years. The prison Governor flowered into a highly skilled yet compassionate jailor. It is curious, is it not, how two people can take up such diverse paths in their lives yet, be flung together whether they wanted it or not?

There is a happy ending to this story. These days, Veronica shakes hands with A Prime Minister, A Royal Princess and Her Majesty the Queen. She walks through the corridors of Buckingham Palace as if she knows its layout well and bestrides the dais of a hundred speaking engagements…and makes peace with her long dysfunctional family.

As I say, it is a happy ending.

Veronica’s Bird Copyright © Richard Newman 2018    Authors Veronica Bird and Richard Newman. Published by Clink Street Publications 23rd January 2018

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Veronicas-Bird-Thirty-five-inside-officer-ebook/dp/B077NXT42X

Happy Christmas!

Happy 23rd December everybody!

I did have a whole plan of everything I wanted to put up in December – recipe guides, DIY gifts, homemade cards etc but once again my exam got in the way. I’m pleased to report though… *drumroll*

My exam is over! I have to wait another 6 weeks for the results but at least I’ve taken it and I think it went pretty well. I’ve also finally got my visa sorted, it’s only taken 2 and a half years… so next year I’ll be boarding a one way flight to the USA and I’ll be blogging about a whole load of new exciting things! (Including how to cross a street in America because they CONFUSE ME!)

So this is just a little message to say to all my followers and readers

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’ll be back next year hopefully in full blogging swing and I can’t wait to catch up with you all. Now I’m off to get some wrapping done and finally pick up a book that’s not a textbook!

Love Roxy xx

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Blog Tour | Tails of Friendship by Sally Grace

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A collection of beautiful black and white portraits illustrating the loving relationship between dogs and their owners. Each photograph is accompanied by a famous quote or by a quote from the dogs themselves.

Sally Grace is a professional photographer and specialises in working with children and dogs. Sally works from her photographic studio in Surrey.

Tails of Friendship

Usually dogs are my favourite things in the whole entire world – however my red setter is currently barking at me constantly whilst I try to study, and last night kept farting (very) loudly as if she’d devoured a whole bag of Brussels sprouts. It was gross. My chihuahua keeps trying to steal my socks… whilst they’re on my feet. But looking through this book reminded me how I couldn’t be without them! The pictures are lovely and the dogs are all so sweet! It’s laid out well and with lovely quotes too. My favourite is ‘You can say any foolish thing to a dog and the dog will give you a look that says “Wow, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that”‘.

You can purchase the book using the links below! 🙂

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Tails-Friendship-Sally-Grace/dp/1912262495/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508268653&sr=1-1&keywords=tails+of+friendship

Barnes & Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tails-of-friendship-sally-grace/1127103728?ean=9781912262496

Author Spotlight

I am an English photographer living in a beautiful country village, an hour from London. I was brought up in an Irish family where we had a strict “open house “ethos. The door was always open and all were welcome into a warm and inviting atmosphere. My Irish Dad was a born entertainer and loved to tell stories and play funny tricks on every guest. He would photograph every moment and then disappear down the garden returning with beautiful black and white images of everyone. There would always be an eclectic mix of people – sometimes including very famous visitors. I used to spend hours with him watching those images appear and, as a child, it was always a magical experience. I often think how different this experience would be nowadays with photos of events usually being taken on a phone. So my love for photography was born. However, there were two other big loves that were also there from the beginning: tennis and dogs.

I was four years old when I began to play tennis and my dream was always to become a tennis player. I won the Nationals at the age of twelve and played for Great Britain as a teenager. I went everywhere with my tennis racket, but I always also took my camera; my love for photography increased every year. I am always fascinated by everyone’s photographs and love to create unusual images. I find photography exhibitions incredibly inspiring and feel so lucky when I can go out with my camera to create timeless photographs. I became a professional photographer twenty years ago, just after I got divorced, and have been running my own business ever since. I specialise in informal portraits of children, families and dogs. I am always delighted if a family has a dog as you know then that the photographs will contain a magic ingredient.

As much as I love tennis and photography, the biggest love of my life (apart from my children) is dogs. I have never lived without a dog or a camera so to create a photography book about dogs was always going to be an inevitable outcome in my life.

I am a single Mum of five children and have dedicated my book to my children – I have four beautiful grown up daughters – Francesca, Rebecca, Tessa and Ilana and then a gorgeous eleven year old son called Finn. We have two wonderful dogs – Archie and Twiggy, who both helped enormously with ideas for the book !In my book,  I have put together a collection of black and white photographs ( inspired by my late Dad !) and each photograph has a quote which is either written by the dogs themselves, or by a famous person. My favourite quote is, “Dogs are not our whole lives but they make our lives whole.”

In my experience people can disappoint but a dog will never let you down. I have to say at this point that I promised my beloved Twiggy that I wouldn’t mention the time she chewed up my new Mulberry handbag. She consequently wrote her own quote in the book …” good food, good shoes and a good book. Eat the food….eat the shoes…eat the book.” Again we decided not to mention the once beautiful handbag!

I am so happy to have produced a book that illustrates the loving relationship between dogs and their owners as my dogs have given me unconditional love and support throughout my life .I am hoping that my book will appeal to all dog lovers, of any age. As someone once said, the true test of whether your partner or your dog loves you more is to put them both in the boot of your car for two hours. When you open the boot you will see who is the happiest to see you !”

My favourite quote in the book is “Dogs are not our whole lives but they make our lives whole.” My life has certainly been enriched by my dogs and so I hope this book in turn makes people smile.

Love Roxy xx

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Blog Tour | Live Like You Give A F***!: Create The Life You Want Now Not Later by Nicola Findlay

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The No Nonsense Philosophy for Smart Girls who Want to Smash It!

Boss a bitch? Diet a hot mess? Broke after payday? Ghosted on tinder?

If life feels like a constant hangover why not take five f**king minutes for yourself to decide what you really want. Slam on the brakes, kick off your heels and unplug from the social media circus.

Stop Surviving – Start Thriving

Live Like You Give A F**K will show you how to create the future you want, not the one that’s been shoved down your throat. It will shake and wake you from the hypnosis of modern living. The triple shot of empowerment, confidence and motivation will unleash the badass in you.

Nicola Findlay is the straight-talking, bold, coaching diva who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. If you ask her advice about your lame partner she’ll give you a bitch slap, tell you to raise your standards and get rid of that loser.

She’s your best friend, your enemy, your punchbag and your cheerleader. Some people call her a diva, some people call her a badass bitch but whichever you decide you will get results.

WARNING: If you’re afraid of a few swear words on a page put this book down and go cry to your Mama. I’m not here to offend anyone.  I’m here to tell you how to rock your world, and because I’m so passionate about it I’ll be shouting and swearing from the rooftops.

Purchase from Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Live-Like-Give-Nicola-Findlay/dp/1912262231/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508170816&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=live+like+you+give+a+fuck

Purchase from Barnes & Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/live-like-you-give-a-f-k-nicola-findlay/1127151814?ean=9781912262236

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Extract

Introduction:

It is so freeing to learn the ability to say no to others that I really think they should teach it in schools. Saying no to others so you can say yes to yourself is an important tool you need to acquire to look after number one.

The Power of No:

Your gut will instantly tell you if you want to go to the party, or not, lend the money or help friends paint their house on your only day off, so listen to it. If you haven’t got the heart to say no to someone’s face on the spot, don’t give an answer straightaway. Use the delay tactic and postpone your refusal to a later time with a simple, ‘I’ll have to let you know later’, ‘I need to check with X’ or ‘check my diary’. That gives you a bit of breathing space if you need it. To be honest I use this one all the time so I have a chance to step away from the person and really decide for myself what I want to do.

Once you have decided: “No, I don’t want to go to your bullshit housewarming party because I‘ve had a draining week and I’d rather stay in, on the sofa in my pyjamas with a large glass of Merlot and get my Netflix on,” you can let them know. You don’t have to be brutally honest, let’s not hurt anyone’s feelings, but at the same time you DO NOT need to justify your decision making to other people, you are a grown ass adult, with your own mind. Some people feel so bad saying no to others they feel the need to over-explain or exaggerate why they are saying no. Don’t do that, it’s totally unnecessary and you end up with crappy excuses that sound like: “I really want to come, I’d love to, but my neighbours have gone on holiday and I’m looking after their dog and I have to walk it every two hours and it needs to eat my homework and I’ve got to clean up their place because it trashed their house and they’re back tomorrow.” Fucking liar, people can probably smell the bullshit coming out of your mouth. If it’s a no, just say NO. Let’s do this the dignified and refined way. A simple: “No I can’t make it but thank you for the invite,” will suffice, doing the thing that you really don’t want to while inwardly moaning like a bitch the whole time.

A ‘No’ to others means a ‘Yes’ to yourself.”

The more you learn to listen to your gut and say no, the easier and more natural it becomes. So I freaking dare you, the next time some schmuck asks you to help them again or attend some crappy event, or ask for a loan, stand in your truth, smile and just say ‘no’. This is a wonderful gift to yourself to ensure you are not being taken advantage of and are focusing on doing the things that are truly important to you.

What is something you want to say a big fat NO to?

How can you say no in a constructive way?

How will you feel once you’ve said no?

What do you gain by saying ‘no’?

Now you can say no to others you can also start saying no to yourself. You might think why the hell would I want to do that? I’m going to sound like my mother now but you’d do it for your own good. You might want to say no to using apps on your phone just before bed, you might want to say no to the lie-in you want so that you can be productive, or no to your negative self-talk. Whatever it is, use the same tactics above to point the finger at yourself and say ‘no’.

Now you can say no to others you can also start saying no to yourself. You might think why the hell would I want to do that? I’m going to sound like my mother now but you’d do it for your own good. You might want to say no to using apps on your phone just before bed, you might want to say no to the lie-in you want so that you can be productive, or no to your negative self-talk. Whatever it is, use the same tactics above to point the finger at yourself and say ‘no’.

I want to leave the cheekiness behind for a moment and get real serious with you. As well as being able to say no to the annoying stuff you don’t want to do, it is imperative that you have the confidence to assert your ‘no’ if you need to when it comes to sexual, physical and emotional relationships. It really angers and concerns me that people are in situations where they are being taken advantage of and I want you to own the skills to say no when you need to because it might help to protect you.

If someone is trying to encourage you to have sex and your gut is screaming out loud: “This doesn’t feel right,” that’s because it isn’t so please just say: “Stop and No!” It’s OK not to be ready. If you want to have sex and use a condom and he doesn’t, say: “I respect my health so you have two choices, wrap it up or fuck off!”

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About The Author

Nicola Findlay, a former British Airways air stewardess, is a qualified neurolinguistic practitioner and accredited international coach with over a decade of experience. She runs personal group workshops, 1-2-1 coaching and corporate training working with companies such as Specsavers and Stella & Dot. Previously she managed the Brighton branch of Life Clubs where she ran weekly personal development workshops with different themes each week before starting her own company The Coaching Diva in 2015. In 2018 she is planning a series of live events in London and New York including; Attracting Mr Right and Live Like You Give A F**K! Nicola lives with her 7 year old daughter and husband in Surrey, England

Website – https://www.nicolafindlay.co.uk/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/nicolafindlaytcd/

Author Article!

Back in the day, my reading materials consisted of ‘OK’ and ‘Hello’ magazine, that was about it. I loved the trials and tribulations of the celebrity gossip world.

One day I got handed a self-development book, the first I’d ever seen. And was told on very good authority that it was quote; ‘Amazing’, at the time I thought; ‘Yeah, right!’. It spent a few days dumped in my bedside drawer, then one evening with a silent sigh and roll of my eyes I thought; ‘OK then, let’s see what all the fuss is about’. It had me at the first page and I was gripped. It was that cliched situation where I didn’t want to put it down, especially as these words were so new and inspiring to me. I was thinking; ‘Hold up, wait a minute. How come I’ve never read any of this kind of great stuff before?’. It blew my mind, hence I had to get another fix.

This first ‘self-development’ book led to another and another and quickly became the start of a new awesome journey. It was a journey where I learned to look at what was right instead of wrong. Where my expectations were high instead of low and a realisation that I was in control of my thoughts, actions, and behaviours which all had the potential to change the course of my life.

My journey continued and took in numerous other great classic books and then morphed like lighting speed into training courses, weekend seminars, studying neuro-linguistic programming and teaching weekly personal development workshops. After spending endless hours talking to girlfriends and clients alike about the problems they were having in their lives I realized that not everyone had caught the ‘positive’ bug like I had.

They didn’t seem to know that they should put themselves up not down and they didn’t know how to practically make things better or brighter, they just wished and hoped for change. The thing that astounded me the most was the utter lack of confidence in these beautiful women who on the surface seemed so strong and independent. But when I dug a little way down the confidence cracks were there and it would take a lot of work to restore them.

Boosting confidence in women is a must because men already have it in spades and us ladies need to catch up. Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In describing the research which found that; ‘men will overestimate their abilities but women routinely underestimate theirs even though our abilities are about the same’. These kinds of differences might start out as minor occurrences such as not putting your hand up in class but this eventually will lead to more men being in the boardroom, so the time to up our confidence game is now. I decided that I was going to write a book to address these issues and put the mojo back in motivation. It would be a modern day manual for the women who want to smash it but don’t know how. Hell Yeah! I want the pages within; ‘Live Like You Give A F**K!’ to reach the women who need the triple shot of confidence, motivation and empowerment so they can step up, shake their ass, and do their thang. I love that each person can customize the pages by working through the exercises in a way that’s relevant to them. So whether their boss is a bitch, their diet’s a hot mess or they’re getting ghosted on Tinder they can apply their own situations and then create the changes that will make a massive difference to their lives. Although a confidence theme runs throughout the book my particular favourite nuggets are those regarding gratefulness and self-love. For me, it all starts with gratefulness.

Why would you be rewarded with anything better if you’re not happy with what you’ve already got.? It’s so easy these days to fall into the ‘poor me’ syndrome but if you hit the pause button for a second and really open your eyes you’d be astounded by the things we have to be grateful for and I think until you can put that into practice you’ll never have a fulfilled life.

My book is a few weeks away from being published., two years on from the day I dared to make a bold decision to write. It has been a tough journey but one I can look back on with a feverish smile. It’s taught me patience, that you shouldn’t drink and write and that a writer will never think they’re work is complete. Success for me and the biggest motivation behind the book would be the power to inspire a stranger. Receiving an email from a woman who’d been motivated by my book to make an amazing change, would make me happier than a fat kid with cake.

Nicola Findlay Author of; ‘Live Like You Give A F**K!’

www.nicolafindlay.co.uk

Insta: nicolafindlaytcd

 

Blog Tour | Wide Awake Asleep by Louise Wise

Wide Awake Asleep Full Schedule

Description

Can you really be on the WRONG path in life?

No one knew she was driving on that stretch of road. No one saw her car leave the highway and crash into a watery ditch. No one heard the car’s windscreen smash or saw the tree branch come through to impale her to her seat. No one heard her screams.

Julie Compton’s life should have come to an end that day, but instead, that moment was the beginning of her new life as she wakes, unharmed, back in 1972 and primed to relive her traumatic childhood all over again. One flaw. She’s in the body of a stranger.

Journey back to the 70s and 80s England where Julie is forced to jump through the eras, occupying and controlling other people’s bodies she knew as a child. She must work out which destiny path was the wrong one all while wondering if her body, back in 2016, was dying in her car.

With each momentous change, her memories transform and she realises she’s not only changing her future but of those around her. She’s finally ‘living’ but does that mean she must die?

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You can pick up a copy of this wonderful book using the links below!

Amazon.comhttps://www.amazon.com/Wide-Awake-Asleep-Travel-Romance-ebook/dp/B01N2QW3VX/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Wide-Awake-Asleep-Travel-Romance-ebook/dp/B01N2QW3VX/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

About The Author

Louise Wise is a British writer and has been weaving stories all her life—and for many years, she was a ‘closet writer’ with a cupboard is full of ageing manuscripts depicting fantastical romantic adventures!

Most of her books have an element of romance, but tend to cross over into other genres, giving them a unique edge.

Her debut novel is the best-selling sci-fi romance EDEN, which was followed by its sequel HUNTED in 2013.

A PROPER CHARLIE is a romantic comedy written purely for the chick lit market, but then she decided to unite her love of all things supernatural with romance and OH NO, I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE and WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP came along.

Her other works include SCRUFFY TRAINERS (a collection of short stories with a twist). She has written numerous short stories for women’s magazines including Women’s Own and Take a Break.

She loves hearing from her readers – the good, the bad and the ugly stuff they want to share!

Social Media Links –

Website: http://louisewise.website

Books: http://amzn.to/1Ne7KX0

Twitter: https://twitter.com/louise_wise

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Love Roxy xx

Blog Tour | A Recipe For Disaster – Stephen Phelps

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A Recipe for Disaster is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com .

It’s also the entertaining journey of an Englishman struggling with the ups and downs of living in rural Italy. After giving up a successful career in television, Stephen found himself dragged back into a world he had happily given up when his neighbour, Lia, persuaded him to listen to her Big Idea – making a TV cookery series. But Lia speaks no English.

And Stephen’s partner, Tam, can’t cook. So, much against Stephen’s better judgement, the three of them embarked on a six-part series set among the rolling hills of the little-known, but spectacularly beautiful, Italian region of Le Marche. In the Cookucina TV series Lia teaches Tam to cook alla Marchigiana, while Tam translates. A Recipe for Disaster follows their many encounters with the real Italy – a world away from the picture-book ideal of summer holidays in Tuscany.

As the team try to construct a professional series with no funding they come to rely on the generosity of the Marchigiana people, while attempting to overcome the constant difficulties thrown up by those whose stubborn adherence to their age-old way of life is rooted in their beloved fields and woods. A Recipe for Disaster is a goldmine of simple yet delicious recipes, while peeling back the veneer of television professionalism and opening the door to a world of Italian surprise and delight.

A Recipe for Disaster comes with unique access to Cookucina, the final six-part TV series, so you can see for yourself how the team cracked their problems and (just about) held it all together in a blistering heatwave. Experience this contradictory world of vendettas and kind hearts through the laughter and frustrations of Stephen and the team, as you follow A Recipe for Disaster slowly coming to its surprising fruition.

Purchase Links:

iBooks                     http://bit.ly/iRecDis

Kindle                     http://bit.ly/KdleRecipe

Paperback            http://bit.ly/RecDis

Goodreads           http://bit.ly/GoodRec

Smashwords        http://bit.ly/SmaRec

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Extract From A Recipe For Disaster

Shooting the Titles

A Title Sequence for a show like this goes according to a fairly standard recipe. Take lots of pretty shots, plenty of sunshine, a bit of food prep, sprinkle with some glorious shots of the finished dishes, add the smiling faces of your two presenters and mix with some bright, quintessentially Italian music. Then hand it all over to a graphic designer – along with a very large cheque. If you’ve taken the trouble to look at the Title Sequence of Cookucina you’ll know what I mean. It’s the first few shots, with Lia and Tam hitching a ride on the back of an Ape (one of those mini pick-up trucks), which drives away from camera to reveal the old town against the sun-drenched backdrop of the Sibillini mountains.

All pretty straightforward you might think. But you would be wrong. Apes are notoriously tricky to drive, unless, as we know, you are either fourteen or very old. So one of the home team would have to drive the thing. Sergio. Peter and I were busy shooting and directing, and Tam and Lia were being the stars. Sergio, though, is not old. Like all Italian youths he drove an Ape when he was fourteen, but that was a long time ago, and driving an Ape is emphatically NOT like riding a bike, as we were about to discover. From the moment he came lurching down the road towards our camera position it was clear that Sergio would need to learn this skill all over again. And he had about ten minutes to do it in. At least that’s what he told us to begin with.

“Give me ten minutes,” he said, “and it will all come back to me.”

Unfortunately, it turned out he needed the better part of half an hour before he had the thing even vaguely under control.

It is in the nature of schedules that they have to be re-written every now and again. I think that by the time we had finished shooting Cookucina we were on Version 11. That’s part of the fun of the thing, although it never seems quite like that at the time. Re-writing the schedule is a sure sign that things are not going to plan, and maybe the end product is better on those productions that are able to stick rigidly to Plan A. But I somehow doubt it. Chucking the whole thing up in the air and re-arranging it brings a sort of energy to a shoot that you can’t get any other way, and I think you feel it in the final programs. A living work of art, rather than painting by numbers. Our schedule for the day was falling apart by the minute.

We should have been finished with these shots an hour ago and off to lunch. But we had to hang on to get the job done because the sunlight bathing the town would disappear after lunch and our lovely backdrop of the steep walls of the centro storico would be in shadow. So all we could do was wait. Until Sergio had tamed the Ape. Which wasn’t happening quickly. Every few minutes or so he would come kangarooing down the road gesticulating that he was almost there. Or possibly blaming everything on the Ape, it was never quite clear. So we waited. In the open. In temperatures that were still climbing towards the heat of the day. There was no shelter as far as the eye could see, and Sergio kept weaving past us making signs to suggest he would be ready next time round. The talent was slowly coming to the boil, in more ways that one. It was difficult enough for Peter and I to maintain our good humor, but Tam and Lia had to somehow try to look morning-fresh once we finally got to shoot.

Suddenly, just as Sergio came back into view, something else appeared right behind him – a police car. On a “professional” shoot this morning’s exercise would have been planned and organised weeks in advance. Not over a glass of wine the previous evening, which was when Sergio had arranged the loan of the Ape. Those weeks would have been spent hiring the vehicle from a company specializing in film transport, arranging for it to be shipped from Rome, or wherever the right vehicle could be found, and, crucially, arranging insurance. All of this went through my head as the police car pulled up right behind Sergio, whose jerky braking did nothing to indicate he was fully in charge of his vehicle. Not only did we not have proper insurance for the shoot, we didn’t have a permit to film on roads that, though quiet, were definitely public. Perhaps the whole thing was about to go down the gurgler before we’d really got going.

But this is Italy. And small-town Italy at that. And these were the Vigili Urbani, the local police. If you’re keen on becoming a policeman, Italy is the place for you. They have more kinds of police here than you can shake a stick at. And they all have great uniforms, of course. And nice cars too. We were pleased to see that these guys were the Vigili Urbani, the local police. We know them well. One of them actually went to school with Sergio. So instead of carting us off to chokey, they just apologised that they weren’t able to stay and watch. Presumably they had a coffee to go to.

Once Sergio had brought the Ape to a (reasonably smooth) stop, Tam refused to sit on the tailgate. The fruit and veg she was carrying, coming as it did straight from the land, brought a lot of the land with it. And Tam was wearing a white skirt. Which needed to stay white. Ten more minutes went by while Sergio lurched off in search of a rug they could sit on. I say lurched because he seemed to be getting worse again, not better. Then when I called “Action” for the first take, Sergio let out the clutch a bit sharply and both women fell off the back as the Ape took off down the road. Actually that makes it sound a lot worse than it was. In fact the back of the Ape is so small and low down that it was more like them standing up as the Ape drove away from underneath them.

We got the shot in the end though, as you will see from the opening of the show. The girls are smiling, the basket is overflowing with lovely fresh fruit and vegetables and the town behind them is bathed in sunshine. But one thing you will certainly not be able to see is the way those smiles disappeared as soon as it was over, Tam and Lia striding off towards town vowing never to do anything like that ever again. “Neither will I!”, I shouted after them, my voice disappearing on the afternoon breeze.

Fancy Cooking? Let’s try the Baked Trout with Vegetables recipe!

Roxy Starr - Baked Trout With Vegetables

You will need

  • Two trout of approx. 800g each
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 4 courgettes
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic

Method

Sprinkle the opened trout with salt, pepper, rosemary, crushed garlic.  Place the trout on a layer of sliced potatoes in a pan on greaseproof paper. Halve the tomatoes, cut courgettes into sticks.

Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes.

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Love Roxy xx

Book Review | See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

See What I Have Done

About The Borden Family

This book is based on true events that took place in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892. Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother in a brutal axe attack which took place in their own home. Lizzie was tried but then acquitted and over 100 years later there’s still speculation over who committed the murders. These days the very home the murders took place in has been turned in to a Bed & Breakfast / Museum. Tours are run daily to learn about the history of the house and there’s even ghost cams you can watch on the website! Check out the wikipedia page and the B&B website for more information on the family.

The Book

This one took me quite a while to get around to reading but I’m glad I got there eventually (Sorry – blame the very long TBR list!). It’s set mostly over a 3 day period – the day before, day of and day after the murders. It started off quite slow and a little confusing because of Lizzie’s narration. She seems confused as to what’s happening in reality and what’s going on in her head so it jumps around a little. It wasn’t until the last half of the book that I got in to it and really couldn’t put it down. Who did it?! Why would someone do it? How did someone get in and out of the house, or were they in it the whole time? So many questions! I really wish we knew the answer but I’m not sure we’re ever really going to find out! Reading this book has put Fall River and a trip to the Lizzie Borden house on my to do list when I move to the States though.

Thank you to Netgalley and Atlantic Monthly Press for letting me read and review this book. You can pick up a copy here and it’s well worth the read.

Love Roxy xx

 

Blog Tour | The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts

Blog tour banner - Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop

Description

Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites.

From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.

With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.

The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart?

Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop cover

I’m having a fabulous time getting festive already with the number of Christmas books I’m reading recently. I’ve even got the corner ready for putting my tree up as well as finding some adorable new Primark Disney baubles! (I know it’s only November – don’t judge me!). This book is cute and Christmassy before you even open the front page – look how adorable the cover is. Plus it’s blue, my favourite cover. Christmas, a cute dog and a cute man – what more could you want from a story (or from real life… hint hint Santa). A lovely story that leaves you with a warm feeling but also needing chocolate.

If you’ve got the chocolate craving too why don’t you try the recipe below? Let me know how it goes! Or send me some… I don’t mind 😉

Emma’s Boozy Truffles

(Makes approx. 36) Ingredients:

125ml double cream

250g of good quality (at least 70%) dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons whisky, Irish Cream, brandy or rum To decorate, 150g dark, milk or white chocolate

Method:

  1. Bring the cream just to the boil in a small pan.

Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and the mix is thick and smooth.

  1. Stir in your chosen liqueur. Pour into a bowl and chill until firm (in a fridge for around 4 hours).
  2. Scoop out a teaspoon of mixture and roll into a ball between your palms, and place on to a tray lined with greaseproof paper; repeat.
  3. Melt the decorating chocolate gently in a bowl over hot water. (White chocolate goes well with the Baileys Irish Cream, dark with whisky, but choose your own preferences.) Using a fork or cocktail sticks, dip the truffle balls into the melted chocolate to coat. If it slides off the truffle centre just allow to cool and thicken a little more first.
  1. Transfer to greaseproof paper to set.

As these boozy truffles are made with cream, store in a fridge and eat within one week.

I hope you enjoy these truffles! Ideal to share with friends and family, or as gifts.

Love Roxy xx