Monday, 19 August 2013

I know what you put in Room 101 last summer

Stickers, Stars and Smiles

I've been tagged by Charlotte, the Distressed Housewife, to think of three things that I would put into my own personal Room 101, as part of a meme started over at Stickers, Stars and Smiles.

If you want to join in, the rules are:
  • Pick three things/people/whatever that you would shove in a room never to see the light of day again (Room 101)
  • Explain why should they go in there
  • Tag three bloggers to carry the meme forward (if you want to).
  • Display the Room 101 badge (at the bottom of this post) so your readers can find all of the other posts in the meme.
Now there's no way my post is going to be half as funny as Charlotte's so instead, I've decided to base my Room 101 around horror films; hence the cunning title of this post!

In no particular order, here are my three:

Turn the lights on! Okay, this isn't exclusive to horror films but it drives me up the wall. If you're going to look around someone's house because you can't get in touch with them and/or think they've been killed, turn the bloody lights on! There's NO NEED for you to stumble around in the dark, trying to make sense of the shadows and guessing about the source of any strange noises. Seriously, it will be much easier to find out what's going on (and spot if there's anyone hiding behind a door/under the bed/in a wardrobe) if you just TURN THE LIGHTS ON!! 

Don't split up! If you and your friends are being picked off one by one by a madman, why oh why would you even consider splitting up at any point? It won't be quicker to find your missing friend/put the lights back on/obtain weapons or help if you take a task each and split up to do it, you'll just be DEAD!

If the lights unexpectedly go out, don't investigate to find out why! This applies even more when your torch is on the blink and/or you're wearing  unsuitable footwear. I refer you back to point 2 above; you know that you and your friends are being picked off by a psycho so why would you even contemplate going to find out why your house/office/other building was suddenly plunged into darkness? The rule of thumb in this situation is ALWAYS run away fast!

To carry on this meme, I am tagging Liz at Margot & Barbara, Avon (who incidentally wrote this fabulous guest post for me) and Mummy Plum. In fact, I'm going to break the rules and tag my sister Laura at Chez Mummy as well because I think she'll enjoy joining in with this.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Feature Friday: The quiet, everyday successes

Hi everyone! This is the last in my Feature Friday series of guestposts and whilst on one hand I feel quite sad that I won't have anymore to share with you, on the other, I really couldn't ask for a better post with which to bring this series to close. 

Tonight's post is courtesy of Avon, who blogs at Spider's Filthy Assistant. Out of all the guestposts, it's the one that's resonated with me the most; probably because if, when the idea for this series first came to me, you had asked me about the women that personally inspire me, I would have named Sarah Michelle Gellar and Milla Jovovich. However, as the series has progressed, what I've realised, and feel very strongly about, is that inspirational women are all around us. And that includes me and you. 

You probably have no idea of the impact you have on the lives of those around you but you do, so don't be afraid to embrace who you are. Be true to yourself and live your life with integrity.

Now over to Avon ...

When I first offered/asked to write this guest post I thought it would be so easy to think of some strong, fabulous, notable women who like totally inspire me, but that wasn't actually the case.

If you'd asked me about ten years ago I'd probably have said Frida Kahlo and Vivienne Westwood. Kahlo spent her life in considerable physical and emotional pain (thanks to a serious bus accident and a seriously messy love life) but produced such beautiful, powerful work and was so sure in her self. So confident. One of my mum's friends gave me her biography when I was about 16 and I devoured it. Vivienne Westwood was just so damn cool, you know. So creative and, again, so self-assured.

But I'm aware now that I wanted to be these women, not be like them. It was aspirational not inspirational. And it generally still is when I admire or envy someone in the public eye.

One of my favourite Grand Designs episodes is the one where the young interior designer builds a gorgeous Scandi style house in Cornwall. But it actually makes me feel worse about my life because what have I done? She's got a boyfriend who loves her and she's super talented and successful and then she builds this house that I would love to live in and does it under budget. No one is ever under budget on Grand Designs! In comparison, what have I done? Nothing much.

The women who truly inspire me are the women I know. My Mum who brought up two kids on her own. My aunt who has travelled extensively and who still works all over the world. My Grandma who was a city councillor in her retirement and only stopped last year, at the age of 85, because her body rebelled. My friend who is completely winning in her fight against agoraphobia and for whom every trip out of the house is a victory. Every single one of my peers who works a couple of shitty jobs to simply survive in this cruel economic climate.

It's so easy to get caught in hero worship and a little bit of lifestyle envy. Sure, Caitlin Moran is great and Lauren Laverne seems to have a perfect life and Angelina Jolie is powerfully self-assured. But the women you should truly be inspired by are the ones with the quiet, everyday successes. The woman who lives on your street in a shitty bedsit because she's finally had the courage to leave her abusive husband. The girl you see at the gym who works two jobs to pay for her degree. Your best friend who has sat through every single breakup you've had without complaint but always with wine. These are the women who should be inspiring you. Because, to me, the quiet, everyday successes are the truly inspirational ones.

"I'm Avon, I'm 27 and I live in glorious Edinburgh. I have a cat called Selina, too many books, black & white hair and a (probably unhealthy) obsession with post-it notes and the colour grey. I can normally be found tweeting a lot of nonsense at @avonwy".

Monday, 12 August 2013

How to make a swing for a child's cuddly toy

Just lately, I've found myself having to spontaneously make things for the boys and one that I impressed myself with, and thought I'd share with you, is a simple swing for a child's cuddly toy.

Each of my boys has a special toy, which they take pretty much everywhere with them and they loved being able to pretend play that their toys were going to the park and having fun on the swings!

Here are the basic supplies that you'll need:

* A cardboard cereal box; the bigger the toy the bigger the box!
* Some wool
* Scissors

Here's how you make it:

1. Cut about 2/3rds off the front of your cereal box
2. Cut two evenly spaced holes in the remaining 1/3rd of the front of your cereal box; your cuddly toy's legs will poke through these.
3. Sit the cuddly toy in the cereal box. If there is a lot of space between the top of the cuddly toy and the top of the cereal box, cut some of this away.
4. Use your scissors to pierce 4 holes in the cereal box - one on the left, one on the right and one in each corner of the back of the box.
5. Take your wool and cut two long pieces. Thread each end of each piece of wool through one of the holes, tying a knot in it so that it doesn't come free. To make it more secure, you can always put a bit of sellotape over each end.
6.  Gather the wool in the middle and hook it over something so that the swing has room to swing. I made sure that the pieces of wool I used were quite long so that when I gathered the wool in the middle and pegged our swing to the washing line, it hung low enough that my eldest could reach to push it.

Although we didn't spend any time decorating our swing, there's no reason why you couldn't get the paint out, cover it in glitter or stickers, or anything else that takes your child's fancy. This activity really can be as quick or as focused as the situation demands.

If you do make your own swing and you post any photos, let me know in the comments so I can come take a look!

Have fun!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Feature Friday: My Gran is a Hell of a Woman

Welcome to my third Feature Friday.

Charlotte, who blogs at the Distressed Housewife, has written today's guest post and I'm really pleased she agreed to do so. I first got to know her through twitter, as she had a knack for appearing with words of wisdom and comfort whenever I was in a bad place, and from there, I discovered her blog and realised she has a way of writing, full of honesty and humour, that I can really connect with.

I think Charlotte's post, like Jodie's (Happy Birthday Mum), reinforces that being an inspiration isn't reserved for those who have big dreams, grand adventures and lots of money. You can inspire someone simply by spending time together, doing "simple" "everyday" things and building memories. I really think that's an important message for us all to remember.

Now over to Charlotte ...

My Gran Is a Hell of a Woman   

My ninety-one year old Gran is a hell of a woman and I love her to bits. When I was
Younger, she taught me how to bake and delicious smells always wafted from her kitchen.  
Gran's was the place to go for amazing home-cooked food, the spinning armchair and a  
Roaring fire...whatever the time of year. When we stayed overnight, my brother, cousin and I  
All slept in the same room as my Gran and Grandad, my cousin and I top-to-toeing in our cosy camp-bed.
Never one to complain, my Gran would work tirelessly, cooking and cleaning the house until  
It was spotless. She saved me word searches from the newspaper and came to every 
Sports Day, cheering us on from the side-lines. I could chat to Gran about anything and she was,  
And still is, brutally honest but very fair. I used to go down town with her every week and  
Help her with her shopping; she introduced me to all her friends as her 'little helper' and  
Everyone knew and liked her. We would walk round shops and markets, my Gran willing her arthritic  
Legs to go faster but always staying cheerful and positive. They took the three of us on holiday to  
Little family-run B&Bs in Blackpool and Morecambe and we'd walk along the promenade or take a ride  
On a tram, always with a tasty treat in our hands. My Gran and Grandad took us on picnics,  
For paddles in the river, for country walks. We've sat playing Dominoes, she taught me how to knit, she was
Always there for me. I've sat crying with laughter with my Gran, like the time she patched my uncle's old jeans...  
With a patch accidentally cut from his new ones. My Gran has a wicked sense of humour and a surprisingly
Open mind for someone of her generation. My Dad tells the tale of when she used to work in a  
Munitions factory and resigned when they started making parts for guns because it went against her principles. She's  
A hell of a woman, my Gran. She's weaker now; she's lost her lust for life and wants to die. When she does, I know I'll  
Never forget her. My husband says I'm like her. I hope so. If I'm even half the woman she is, I'll count myself lucky. 

It's a cliché but being a mum is the best thing I ever did and my greatest achievement.  My children make me laugh, drive me to distraction and melt my heart into a puddle of goo every day.

Charlotte, aka the Distressed Housewife, is an ex-English teacher, freelance writer, blogger, wife, mum of three boys (8, 4 and 2), lover of exercise, wine, films, reading and music (not necessarily in that order). She has a sarcastic, quite wicked sense of humour which is (hopefully) conveyed through her blog.  She loves to laugh and socialise, walk the dog (preferably on her own) and go out for lovely meals (preferably without the children) ;)

To find out more about Charlotte, you can:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Review: Only Lycans Need Apply by Michele Bardsley

ONLY LYCANS NEED APPLY (Broken Heart Series)
By Michele Bardsley


PUBLISHED: 8 August 2013

GENRE: Fiction / Paranormal Romance

When I found the ancient tomb of the two most powerful vampires in history, I knew I was in for a lot of trouble ...

But archaeologists like me, Moira Jameson, are ready for trouble. Okay, maybe not human-species-threatening trouble. Or the kind of trouble that arrives in the form of a sexy werewolf named Drake. Yeah. Werewolf. And I thought ancient curses and walking corpses were a joke. Um ... not so much.

'Cause a walking corpse named Karn wants to reveal vampires, and all of parakind, to the humans. And everyone else thinks that's a bad idea. Then a pyramid mysteriously appears in Broken Heart, Oklahoma, and I'm appointed to get inside, survive booby traps, and awaken two very old, very hungry vampires. Luckily, Drake has my back (and my front). Unfortunately, archaeology sometimes reveals some very nasty surprises. And I'll have to decide between saving myself ... and saving the world.


After a run of  "serious" fantasy /paranormal romance books, it was so much FUN to read Only Lycans Need Apply. A lighthearted and entertaining read, I raced through it in a day and enjoyed every moment!

The main characters, Moira and her assistant Dove, are sarcastic, feisty and full of attitude and amusing conversational exchanges.

I gasped, and Dove followed my line of sight, and gasped, too.
"Is that real?" asked Dove in a reverent voice. "Because that's the biggest dick I've ever seen."
"He can hear you," I whispered harshly. Then in a lower voice, I added "Don't you even think about taking dibs, you bitch."
"Riiiight," she whispered back. "You want me to call ahead to the hospital, tell them to expect you and your injured vagina?"

Extra points to the author for her use of vagina!

Then there's Moira's love interest, Drake - sexy and a werewolf ... no other credentials required! I loved the way they flirted with each other; they seemed like a natural fit.

When he reached the stone door, he hesitated.
"Did you miss your Hieroglyphs 101 class?" I asked sweetly.
"I was too busy taking Advanced Kick Your Ass courses," he replied. He spent useless seconds staring at the images he could not possibly interpret, and then sighed. He stepped aside and gestured eloquently. "My lady."

There's a host of other characters as well; like Patsy, the Vampire Queen, Ax, survivor of the covert experiments carried out by the Ethics and Technology Assessment Commission, Doriana, the middle-aged Academic and secret Mermaid, and Karn, the bad guy!, to name but a few. They're all full of life and colour and really add to the book's energy.

Lighthearted it may be, but it's also part of a rich and well thought out paranormal history and mythology that the author first introduced in I'm the Vampire, That's Why (Book 1 of the Broken Heart series). I love that the World she's created has a believable history but that the books don't get bogged down in this.

I think Michele Bardsley has just pinched the top spot in my not-serious-but-cracking-great-fun genre from Mary Janice Davidson! But if you could keep that last bit between us, I'd appreciate it!

Review: Haunted Moon by Yasmine Galenorn

HAUNTED MOON (The Otherworld Series)
By Yasmine Galenorn


PUBLISHED: 16 May 2013 

GENRE: Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy, half-human, half-Fae ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Delilah is a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. My sister Menolly is a vampire married to a werepuma. And me? I'm Camille, a wicked-good witch with three sexy husbands. I'm a priestess of the Moon Mother, and I'm training under the Queen of Shadow and Night. Unfortunately, playing in the dark means that sometimes you stumble over secrets better left buried ...

There's a new Fae sorcerer in town - Bran, the son of Raven Mother and the Black Unicorn - and I'm the unwilling liaison between him and our new Earthside OIA. With cemeteries being ransacked and spirits being harvested by a sinister, otherworldly force, Aeval sends us to rescue the missing wife of a prominent member of the Fae nobility. Our search leads us to the mysterious Aleksais Psychic Network and, ultimately, to face the Lord of Ghosts. There, Morio and I must undergo a ritual that will plunge us directly into the realm of the dead.


This is my second venture into Galenorn's Otherworld series; I read the previous book in the series, Shadow Rising, earlier this year (my review is here) and I was excited to jump back into the World and find out what was going to happen with the characters next.

Told from Camille's point of view, I realised I much prefer her over Menolly (although I'm looking forwards to reading Delilah's point of view most) and I love her relationship with each of her husbands. I'd been a bit sceptical about the whole 3 husbands thing when I read the last book and thought it was a bit far-fetched, but in Haunted Moon, I gained a much better understanding and appreciation of the dynamics between them all. Plus the sex scenes are ridiculously hot!

I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone but like last time, a lot happens! I thought the storyline was really strong and the events flowed together much better and more naturally than they did in Shadow Rising. The book may end on a high but there are still lots of loose ends, as well as the main bad guy, that need dealing with so there's PLENTY of story left in this series. I will definitely be reading the next book, Autumn Whispers, when it comes out later this year.

Call me a bit of a troublemaker but what I'd like to see next is some disruption and tension between the sisters and their significant others. I want to see Trillian becoming resentful of Morio now that he has an Alpha role in relation to Camille's magic. Maybe even a pregnancy for Camille - now that would really throw the cat amongst the otherworldy pidgeons - and a falling out with Roman and Blood Wyne. Ha! Anyone would think they don't have enough to deal with already!!

Overall, this was another solid entry in the Otherworld series; great story, great characters and it will leave you wanting to read more!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Three Good Things (Week 4) including How to Make an Egg Box Monster

When I started writing today's Three Good Things post, I was sceptical about whether I'd be able to write it in the spirit in which it's intended. You see, I'm still poorly and with it, VERY grumpy (as you probably realised from my previous rant!). However, it only took a few minutes of editing my photos ready for this post and the better side of my mood started to emerge. It just goes to show that little things really can make a difference to our everyday lives.


I recently happened across a series of blog posts about everyday make up essentials, which really struck a chord with me. I do find that I feel more confident in myself when my skin tone looks even, my eyes are accentuated and my lips have a little colour; however, for some reason (a lack of taking time just for myself) I very rarely wear make up anymore and actually own very little. I wish I could remember whose blog it was because it inspired me to invest in the following few basics from Superdrug:

Beauty UK Blush & Brush No.4 (Rustic Peach), which is a revelation, as I've never really used blusher before and am amazed at the difference a little makes!

Make Up Academy Intense Glitter Eye Liner in Malt Chocolate, which is quick and easy to apply, and really enhances my green eyes.

Make Up Academy Lipstick Shade 2, which I picked for everyday use, as it enriches my natural lip colour.

Make Up Academy Lipstick Shade 3, which is a fabulous bright pink, perfect for day or night, and really suits my cool skin tone.

And it all added up to the bargain price of £5.99! Bonus!


This week we've made Egg Box Monsters! To make your own you'll need:

* A cardboard egg box
* Some googly eyes
* Glue
* Any other crafting bits and pieces that you have to hand, like paint, glitter, foam, card etc

We painted our egg boxes, glued googly eyes to the front, cut out pointy teeth and glued them to the inside of the box and then covered the top of the boxes with glitter.

When you make yours, you could add a big tongue that sticks out of your egg box, or you could glue wool or pipe cleaners to the top of the box for hair!

Whatever you do, have fun doing it!


I read the most INCREDIBLE book! Okay, I know I've mentioned it a couple of times on here already but it was seriously THAT GOOD!

Nameless : A Tale of Beauty and Madness
By Lili St Crow

Don't be put off by the fact it's a reimagining of Snow White or that it's primarily aimed at the Young Adult market. It's dark, evocative, full of suspense and beautifully written.

You can read my review here but I'd rather you just READ IT!!

Now you've read my Three Good Things, do pop over to Margot and Barbara and read Liz's post. And if you join in, don't forget to let me know in the comments so I can visit and read all about yours.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

What I hate about being poorly

Image Credit: Alamy

I am ill. It's nothing serious; just a virus that has wiped me out for the last couple of days.

But what I hate the most about it is not that my nose is constantly running, the sneezing, the body aches and the fact my temperature has ratcheted up a few notches. Nope.

Nor is it having to keep on top of being "the mum" and managing the house even though my head is full of fog and my body doesn't feel like my own. Nope not that either.

What I hate the most is having to tell my manager that I'm ill and I need to leave work. It honestly feels like facing the inquisition and only if you can prove that you're genuinely ill and not just making it up because you can't be bothered to do your job, can you go home.

I'm already aware that I'm not as valued as full-time employees and while I'm sure there are some people out there that do abuse their employer's sickness policy, I'm not one of them so the very rare times when I do feel I need to go home to focus on getting better, and my reasons are immediately treated with suspicion, it makes me feel really resentful. It just doesn't make for a good working relationship.

I've spent the last 14 years working for the same Company - it was my first "proper" job - but I can't help but feel that this chapter of my working life needs to come to an end, that it's time to move on. That's a scary thought and I'm not sure I'm ready to face it yet.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 (two) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title and author so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can decide whether to add your book to their TBR list. 
I've got 2 very different teasers to share with you today. The first is from Haunted Moon by Yasmine Galenorn and the second is from Only Lycans Need Apply by Michele Bardsley:

Shade hollered as he tried to pull her back. Yanking, he tumbled back, and she came with him, but the moment we saw what had happened to her, I wished he'd let her go. I stared at her in horror.

"It only let two of us inside," he said. "Why?"
"Well, I'm the chosen," I said with mock haughtiness. "So you're probably screwed."

What did I say, they're very different! Look out for my review of each book, coming soon.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Feature Friday is on a break

Okay, I confess, I totally forgot to prep this week's guest post ready for today. So rather than doing a rush job, I'm postponing this week's Feature Friday until next week.

See you then!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Review: Nameless: A Tale of Beauty and Madness by Lili St Crow

NAMELESS: A Tale of Beauty and Madness
By Lili St Crow

Publisher: Razorbill

Published: 8 August 2013

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Young Adult Fantasy

A battered child is found alone in the snow by the godfather of the Seven - the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Pap Vultusino adopts the girl, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now sixteen, Camille keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform. She opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellis, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino princess, she knows that she is not really Family. She is merely mortal, with a buried, uneasy past. And it's not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth - and of the mysterious white-robed woman who calls from beneath New Haven's twisted streets ...


I absolutely jumped for joy when I received this book to review. I am a MASSIVE fan of Lilith Saintcrow and I couldn't wait to devour every page! And devour it I did - in a couple of sittings! It's INCREDIBLE!

Nameless is totally upfront about the fact that it's a reimagining of Snow White but you'd never guess that from the opening:

Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Papa Vultosino's long black limousine.

The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all. There was the alley, close and dark and foul. The reason that I ran, I know, was a rat with a loathsome plated tail and beady little eyes. For years I remembered nothing before the rat, which was probably a mercy.

It's dark, atmospheric and subtle and not once is the name "Snow White" mentioned. All the clues are there though.

I didn't have any grumbles about the characters. I loved them all, especially Camille's relationships with Papa Vultusino and Nico. I also can't believe how slow on the uptake I was about which fairytale character Ellie is based on!

I thought the story was well-paced. Saintcrow doesn't rush to reveal Camille's past. She takes her time weaving the story and then creating tension so that you find yourself asking the same questions that Cami does. The reveals are spread out and you can feel everything building but have no idea how it's going to end.

"Little girl," someone rasped.

It was the man with the tan trench coat and the stained red baseball cap. He was gaunt, unshaven, and his dark hair was matted into grizzled dreadlocks. A pair of feverish dark gleams for eyes and a scar-stubbled jaw; his hand bit her upper arm, fingers clamping with surprising, scary strength. Cami flinched.

"I know you, little girl." He slurred as if his tongue was too big for his mouth. He inhaled sharply, his breath whistling.

She had time to be surprised that he didn't smell bad - he reeked, in fact, only of fresh lumber, sap and sawdust - before he leaned close to her face and yelled, the whiskey on his breath burning her nose. "I know you! You were dead!".

Saintcrow has a knack for creating rich, vivid alternative Worlds, which you're dropped straight into without explanations. You piece together the information you're given about Ellie, Ruby, New Haven, the Families, Jacks, the Twists and much more, and because it hasn't been spoonfed to you by the author, it all feels much more personal in your head, if that makes any sense at all!

Don't be put off by the Young Adult tag - I'm *ahem* a bit older than the target age range and I seriously recommend this book! I don't do that often!

Without doubt, I'll be reading the next book in the Tales of Beauty and Madness series, Wayfarer and honestly, you should DO THE SAME!

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