Fierce, Fearless and Free by Lari Don

Summary:

A brilliant, inclusive collection of traditional tales from around the world featuring amazing women and girls. Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince who – no, that’s not right!
Once upon a time, there were strong, fierce women who plotted, schemed, took action, showed kindness, used magic and trickery, and made their own destiny. From the long-haired Petrosinella who escaped the tower and broke the spell that the ogress had cast over her and Nana Miriam who beat a hippo using politeness and magic, to Kate Crackernuts who tried to save her stepsister from her mother’s curse, these are stories of girls doing it for themselves! With stories drawn from all over the world, including China, Scotland, Armenia, Italy and Nigeria, Lari Don presents heroine stories that don’t leave girls sitting around waiting to be saved by the handsome prince.

Information about the Book
Title: Fierce, Fearless and Free
Author: Lari Don
Release Date: 5 th March 2020
Genre: MG
Page Count: 160
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51097217-fierce-fearless-and-free

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fierce-Fearless-Free-legends-around/dp/1472967135

Author Information

Lari Don is an award-winning writer for young people of all ages. She loved Scottish traditional tales as a child, and now loves gathering myths, legends and folktales from all over the world to inspire her novels. Since becoming a full-time author, she has written more than 30 children’s books, from picture books and early readers to middle-grade adventure novels and a teen thriller. Lari is passionate about visiting schools and libraries to
share the traditional tales she loves, to show how those old stories can be used to inspire new stories, and to encourage young people to create their own adventures. Fierce, Fearless and Free is her fifth collection of traditional tales for Bloomsbury, returning to the theme of her first, the bestselling Girls, Goddesses and Giants. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two fierce, fearless and free daughters.
Website: www.laridon.co.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LariDonWriter

Book Review – The Magical Sunglasses by Nicole McGrath

What would you do if you had one day with magical powers? This fun, bouncy read captures
the imagination, and demonstrates the power of courage and self-belief. Inclusive book for
early school aged children. Message for everyone.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in return for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.

My Review –
The magical sunglasses is a wonderful story about how you have the ability inside of yourself if you only just believe.
Beautifully illustrated with bright fun images, the magical sunglasses follows the story of a class of children who have been given “magical sunglasses” by their teacher. They children find that they are now able to complete fetes they once thought unable by the power of these sunglasses only to find out at the end of the story that there was no magic after all, and the ability and “power” was inside them all along!
The story is easy to follow and teaches a great lesson to young children, with both of mine enjoying it immensely, I defiantly recommend this fun, colourful book to those which young children!

Information about the Book
Title: The Magical Sunglasses
Author: Nicole McGrath
Illustrator: Nick Roberts
Release Date: 26 th September 2019
Genre: Picture Book
Page Count: 20
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48248795-the-magical-sunglasses

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magical-Sunglasses-Nicole-McGrath-ebook/dp/B07VWD43FN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nicole McGrath is a paediatric occupational therapist from Melbourne, Australia. Personally
seeing the success of bringing self-belief into the lives of children with varying abilities
across the world; including Australia, Uganda, and the United Kingdom, Nicole McGrath
wrote ‘The Magical Sunglasses’ to help bring the powerful message of positive thinking out
of the therapy clinic and into family story time.
She currently works in a specialist centre for children with cerebral palsy in Cardiff, Wales;
and as part of the role, is being increasingly asked to present at national conferences on a
self-belief based therapy technique, where she is covering new grounds and educating
therapists internationally.
Being an avid traveller, surfer, snowboarder, and cyclist, Nicole is an adventurer with a ‘go
for it’ attitude… with the belief that the release of The Magical Sunglasses will provide the
biggest adventure yet.
Website: www.themagicalsunglasses.com
Twitter: twitter.com/NM_Sunglasses
Instagram: instagram.com/themagicalsunglasses

Mid-year update – How time flies!

Image of legs and feet wearing jeans and dark blue converse shoes, resting inside a hammock with closed fly net over the top. Trees can been seen through the top netting.
Chilling in a hammock in the woods 🙂

Well a lot can happen in six months that is for sure! Especially when you are a single mum, working on a degree, and living with fibromyalgia.

I finally finished my dissertation and presented it at a poster conference. Final exams were hard, stressful and caused about 5 million break downs, BUT! they are finally over, and passed, and now I can say I have completed my degree in Biomedical Science with an upper second class honours.
I am so happy, I put in a lot of hard work over the last four years. From leaving an abusive marriage during my access course and still coming away with full distinctions. To completing the full three years of my degree as a single parent and also battling fibromyalgia along the way. There have been many downs that is for sure but I made it through and I can’t wait for graduation next month!

Lots has gone on at home too. We moved into a lovely manor house near a woods, which is so peaceful (most of the time haha) and I am also the happiest I can ever remember being with someone now. It can be hard at times when you battle physical and mental health to remember all the wonderful things in life and what you have overcome. I have to remember to tell myself this more often.

I have a few exciting things to come, and the future is currently unknown but exciting. So please join me on my way as I find out what is to come living with fibromyalgia, and if you like a more day to day interaction please check out my newly renamed instagram: TheStubbornSpoonie !

Book Review – The Dream of the Tortoise By Nyako Nakar

picture of front cover of the book depicting a tortoise viewed from above

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in return for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.

Summary:
This is the story of a tortoise with very big dreams
.

MY REVIEW
The dream of the tortoise is a bit different from many children’s books I have read as it carries what feels like a deeper underlying meaning to the story. However this is neither overbearing nor do you need to really get it in order to enjoy the story. For the younger readers it is a quaint story about a tortoise following its dream to swim in the sea, and for the older ones it is a story about overcoming obstacles to achieve the things your heart desires.
Overall I thought it was a lovely story with wonderful illustrations that I will enjoy with my children time and time again 🙂

Information about the Book
Title: The Dream of the Tortoise
Author: Nyako Nakar
Release Date: 30 th April 2019
Genre: Picture Book
Page Count: 36
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Goodreads Link

Amazon Link

Author Information

picture of the author, male looking upwards wearing a striped top

When I was a child, I had many problems in school. I had a hard time concentrating and committing things to memory and was hyperactive – characteristics that would be recognised today as typical of someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I sat as far back as possible in the class and while the teacher talked and talked about things that I didn’t understand, I drew – though from a distance the teacher may have thought I was making notes on what he was saying. Quite often the teacher noticed and punished me or expelled me from class. I had a lot of imagination and that helped me to create many different stories. Later, after studying graphic design and working in advertising, I changed course and decided to dedicate myself to theatre and dance. I studied at the Theatre Institute of Barcelona and soon after I joined The Lindsay Kemp Company, where I worked for many years and in parallel created my own theatre company. In the 1990’s I left the theatre and immersed myself once again in graphic design, starting to work on 3D computer design programmes. I am also very interested in the world of meditation and healing and I travelled all over the world, getting to know other cultures and investigating Shamanism, especially in India and Mexico. I conducted many workshops in Spain on how to use silence to encourage creativity. Today I continue to love the world of drawing and children’s stories and I have many drawings and writings to edit in the future. Since 2017 I have lived in London and found the peace and tranquillity to work and to make my dreams come true.

Website: http://www.nyakonakar.com/start.html

Book Review – Ting-A-Ling: The Old Ambulance by Harry Goldstar

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in return for my book review. All views expressed by myself are my own and unbiased.

Image showing front cover of the book with the title Ting-a-ling in blue and a colourable outline of an old ambulance.

Summary:

Welcome to the world of Ting-a-Ling. The friendliest old ambulance there ever was. With line drawn illustrations for YOU to
colour in helping you to familiarise yourself personally, with Ting-a-Ling, his owner and restorer Alf, his mum, and Mr .Grimsby the
boss of the big ambulance station. Open the cover and jump into a whole NEW world of ambulance stories and adventures.
Designed in a quirky style encompassing story telling entertainment colouring and education suitable for both younger readers and adults alike. Truly an all in one compendium. Just like the filling in a sandwich, the best bit’s inside.

Simple and easy to read. The stories are written with a smattering of comical northern dialect in bite size chapters so as not to be taxing on the brain.
Have difficulty in reading? Written by a dyslexic who knows what a struggle it can be. This book really is here to help YOU!
If Ting-a-Ling had wings I would say welcome to the flying start. This book is the first in a series in the making where you will meet Ting-a-Ling and his friends.
TRY ME. If not for yourself. Think of someone else. Possibly a little person who the stories are written for.
You will love Ting-a-Ling. EVERYONE does!


My Review

Ting-a-ling, the old ambulance is a fun and quirky book which focuses on the renovation and following love for an old forgotten ambulance. The book is split into two short stories, each with a couple of chapters allowing for ease of splitting at bedtime if needed (if you can stand to put it down that is!)
I love the quirky illustrations throughout the book which are left intentionally blank for YOU to colour! A much loved added bonus, especially for my eldest.
The style of writing is also lovely and has a wonderful tone that is fun and easy to read, with a smattering of northern phases leading to comical attempts at accents on my part (more fun for the kids eh!).
Overall I really enjoyed Ting-a-Ling and hope there are many more adventures to follow in the future x

Information about the Book

Title: Ting-A-Ling: The Old Ambulance
Author: Harry Goldstar
Release Date: 30 th April 2019
Genre: Picture Book
Page Count: 50
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Goodreads Link
Amazon Link


picture of the author holding a copy of the book.
Author Information
Born in Lincolnshire, the author draws on his northern roots with northern
colloquialisms throughout these stories. As a child, the author was diagnosed
with a life-threatening disease which he fought head on, however it has
affected every day of his life since. A keen lover of older vehicles and all
things transportation. The author has a practical, hands on approach, and
fascination of how they work along with a love of the tools required in
general. The author is an active supporting member of a prestigious living
historic steam railway run as a charity for the benefit of others. He is also a
volunteer trustee of a disability information service empowering the less able
to live better and fulfilling lives and trying to change the perception of
disability. He currently resides in King’s Lynn.
image depicting book cover with listing of blogs and book tour dates

Book Review – Super Nutrition by Terry McIlroy

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in return for a review. All comments made by myself are my own and unbiased.

Image of the book front cover. Large blue flower encompassing the whole behind with the words Super Nutrition written over the top in bold white text.

We have all uttered these phrases at one time
or another:
“Your health is your wealth.”
“You are what you eat.”
Deep down, we all know, that what we choose to eat and drink has a massive impact on our health.


Confused about your nutritional needs? Not anymore! With a clear focus on sourcing the right ingredients, including condiments, herbs, spices & organic produce, we can all take advantage of, and unlock the powerful nutrients within them, to try and ensure that we are not insufficient or deficient in any given vitamin, mineral, macro or micro-nutrient, whilst trying to reduce our toxic load, thus easing the burden on our body’s natural ability to detoxify itself and restore homeostasis/balance. This book gives you the tools and knowledge to structure your diet and help you strive towards optimal health, with totally unique, delicious, health giving recipes, so you can enjoy the ride.


Start your new journey to health and happiness here NOW! Grab a copy of Super Nutrition today and take control of your health once and for all, shed those unwanted pounds, balance your blood sugars and heal your gut with nutritional therapy Terry McIlroy has taken well-known, popular dishes and transformed them into nutrient dense powerhouse meals, just by making a few ingredient swaps with modern twists, such as his New Dehli Fritatta, Carrot Cake Smoothie, Mixed Mushroom, Almond & Tarragon Soup, Curried Quinoa Taboulleh Salad, Proper Spelt Bread, Southern Fried Chicken, Millionaires Shortbread and of course Fish ‘n’ Chips.

MY REVIEW


I am currently on a bit of a health kick, with a massive focus on weight loss this year, so this book came at an ideal time for myself.
The lovely bold and glossy front cover is inviting and professional and the images of the main book follow this theme. I adore the tactile feel of the pages making the whole experience pleasant and immediately gaining a sense of purpose and usefulness to the book. I found the writing informative and accessible with useful insights into the author himself and his journey to this point, making you feel at ease in his genuine care for your health needs.
This book is more than just recipes, it’s useful tips and insights into real nutrition and something I can see myself falling back on time and time again. I also love the template meal plan at the back of the book, both a useful tool and a cute addition.
Overall I found this book really good. I am looking forward to trying out many of the recipes and genuinely believe I will find this a great asset to my kitchen for years to come xx


Information about the Book


Title: Super Nutrition
Author: Terry McIlory
Release Date: 2 nd May 2019
Genre: Non-Ficton
Page Count: 216
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Amazon Goodreads

Author Information

Picture of the male author. Headshot of young male in white shirt looking forward.

Terry McIlroy is a Professional Chef with over 27 years experience
within the culinary industry. He is also a Nutritionist/Nutritional
Therapist, specializing in the field of Naturopathic Nutrition. He has
inspired many with his passion, knowledge, creativity and flair in
the kitchen, As an Executive Head Chef, whilst running several
businesses. During his clinical experience he transformed the lives
of all of his clients, giving them Nutritional, Supplemental and
Lifestyle protocols to follow, all of whom reported dramatic
improvements in their health and wellbeing, after implementing his
bespoke diet plans, and lifestyle changes.

Terry has combined his Culinary and Nutritional Expertise to
produce his inaugural Book ‘Super Nutrition’ which is set to inspire
and transform the lives of millions. He offers, (never before seen in
one piece of work) unique Health & Wellbeing Advice, Tips and
Recipes, Arming the reader with the tools to take control of their health, and live a vibrant, happy
life.
graphic describing the details of the super nutrition blog tour

Unibox – Unipocket Review

So a couple of years ago, this pretty cool looking subscription care package aimed at a university student, called Unibox started up, but whilst I had access to offers, I never actually got round to trying them out. As a skint student ironically it wasn’t top on my priorities with money.

Anyway, fast forward to now, and they recently launched a smaller version called Unipocket, doesn’t come in a nice box or with a magazine, but you get a selection of the goodies that are in the main Unibox, for half the price. Awesome I thought, I will finally give them a go!

Unfortunately thats pretty much where my enthusiasm ends. Whilst the arrival of the cute, shiny, blue pocket package on my doorstep valentines morning was a nice surprise, the contents left me substantially underwhelmed.

Photo of all contents from this months student unipocket spread on a pink tissue paper background
Unipocket and contents

The stationary feels cheap and thoughtless with a fairly basic notebook and cheap feeling multicolour pen, barely fitting with the theme of the month. I have to admit it just feels a little dull for a unicorn themed box.

Brown notebook with phrase be a unicorn, with a multicoloured pen lying on top
Notebook containing blank pages and multicoloured pen

Then, even though the website promises 100% vegan snacks on its pocket page banner, I was sent nuts with honey in. I found this useless for me and rather annoying.

Two snack packets, left is cashews with chilli and honey. Right is vegan organic candy
Snacks – including unsuitable nuts 🙁

The only thing I am happy with, is the very pretty unicorn themed glitter face-mask. Although I have yet to actually try this out, I am hoping that I will at least find that it is something worth having. However, with this retailing at under £4 online, coupled with the rest of the cheap contents, I do not in the slightest feel that the Unipocket was worth the amount I paid for it. As such I won’t be continuing the subscription any time soon.

Unicorn themed glitter face mask packet
Unicorn face-mask: at least this looks cool. Expensive way of getting it though!

In the packet you also get a sticker and an inspirational quote post card included, and whilst these are cute, they really aren’t enough to warrant the money or save the day.

Shiny blue student unipocket bag with inspiration al quote card and be a unicorn sticker
Shiny blue package of the Unipocket with inspirational quote card and sticker.

A quick instagram search brings up the full contents of this months student Unibox, and I have to say I am relieved that at least I didn’t purchase the larger package! The additional products certainly do not warrant the higher price tag in the slightest.

Overall I am completely disappointed with the Unipocket, but if you want to check it out yourselves then you are able to find it at: https://theunibox.com/pocket/ However, for a package aimed at a student, who by design are low on money, it really doesn’t seem like you are getting anywhere near value for it.

Disclaimer: All views are completely my own, and the items were purchased by myself.

Assessments and New Semesters

The last few weeks have been an insane bundle of writing, typing, reading and stress. As part of my condition I was awarded the option to sit alternative assessments instead of exams, due to the nature of fibro fog and flareups effecting my exam performance in the past. This means however, that for every exam I would have sat, instead I have to write a minimum of two essays with around 2500 plus words, during the 10 day exam period.

Caffeine fuelled essay writing is the only way 😉

Last semester I sat two modules and this resulted in 5 essays to write, two at 2500 words and three at 3000 words. Needless to say it was a very busy and very stressful time over those ten days!! But usually I do find this works better for me, and hopefully I will still manage to attain higher grades than my previous exams….jury is out on that for now, watch this space!

So I am glad to see the back of that process for the time being! Though of course I still have to go through it once more in May, but we’ll worry about that when it comes to it! For now, today makes the beginning of semester 2. The final semester of this degree! It feels like only yesterday we were all baby freshmen, embarking on this journey, and now here we are in the final leg. Scary and exciting, the final chapter of this begins.

Battling Fibro Fatigue

Today I am tired.

Today my body (and mind) are screaming at me to stay in bed and rest, but I have things to do. I am in the middle of an assessment period where I am multiple essays to write in a short period of time. I could stay in bed and work, I have the means to do so, but I also have packages to listen out for, a house that needs sorting and dishes to be washed.

This is the constant juggling act between listening to what my body wants me to do and trying to have some sort of normal life.

Living with fibro has been a constant battle that I have yet to find a compromise for, instead I just feel like I am constantly failing.

My statement of results at university is like a roadmap of times I was sicker and times my kids were sick. It’s a frustration of knowing that I have so much more potential but being completely unable to fulfil it due to circumstance.

My house is also a roadmap of the times I am sicker. Dishes piled up, bins to take out, general chores that come much lower down than taking care of myself and taking care of my kids needs. The latter always being my first priority.

Today I am tired, and I am losing the battle once again.

Butlins – a single parent review

Earlier this year an advert for Butlins at Christmas caught my eye. It had a cheap price, a low deposit and manageable payment scheme! So I decided to go for it 🙂

We’ve never really been on any holidays, except camping back when I was with the girls father, and certainly never since it’s been just the three of us. So this adventure would be a first, but it would also give us the much needed family time together that we seem to lack in our busy lives. Now in the last year of university it can be hard to switch off and actually spend quality time together, so getting away would be really good for us all.

Several months later and its finally xmas! And time for our family holiday, except one thing…..I have kept it a big surprise from the girls! They literally had no idea we were even going away, let alone where!

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Setting off! They still have no idea where we are going!

 

There were a lot of firsts and worries with this adventure, not only had I never taken the girls away, let alone by myself, I had also never driven so far! Only having passed my test 3 years ago, I had only once driven on a motorway and for only one turn off at that!

However I braved it and the journey was no where near as bad as I thought! Even with the unplanned stop in the middle for toilets and lunch, the wrong turn off and back road diversions, and arriving later than planned, we made it in one piece and checked into our home for the week.

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My bed was actually really comfortable, and even had its own tv in my room!

 

We had a Gold standard apartment for the week and went self catering as I just couldn’t afford the dining plans but actually it was really lovely. The apartment was a good size, well equipped and clean. We had a toaster, dishwasher and microwave to boot! Two of which I don’t even have at home lol!

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View from apartment window – lovely and quiet

 

Another plus was being so close to the main area, if we go again I will certainly be trying to book in the same area!

After settling in we decided to venture out for an explore. The whole place was decorated beautifully and the kids both loved all the lights!

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On our way to the skyline pavilion, so many pretty lights everywhere!

 

There was lots and lots to do, many free activities were included with the package such as tickets to the pantomime and every child gets to see Santa! (including a present as well!) You could book on to free activities such as arts and crafts, where the girls got to create lovely decorations to take home with them. There was also optional activities which incurred a small charge but I thought were definitely worth it, such as pottery painting, which the girls loved!

 

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Arts and Crafts activity included in the package

 

Every day and night there was something on, whether it be activities or shows, and they were plenty of places to visit including soft play which the girls loved.

As I mentioned before included with our package was tickets to the Christmas pantomime, which I was worried about coping with as a single parent. What if we loose are seats? What do I do when one needs the toilet? Will I ever be able to get drinks? As it turned out the whole experience was actually not too bad. We managed to get a nice little table for the three of us on the second level, which whilst not the most amazing close up view, we could still see and it wasn’t quite as crowded. It was also near the bar area which allowed me to pop up and get drinks/snacks whilst still being able to see the littlies at the table. Bonus.

Everyday there was also a Skyline “snowstorm” which involved a short little show, followed by the skyline being filled with confetti “snow”. Pretty cool I must say and again the kids loved it! Very pretty as well 🙂

 

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Skyline Snowstorm

 

The shows all went down really well with the girls, but especially the ones with the Skyline Gang! (whom I keep calling the Skyland gang for some reason oops!) So much so that they came away with a toy Rainbow (the dog mascot) and their very own skyline gang costumes! Another bonus was when we turned up for an included activity, it turned out to be run by the gang! Cue very happy girls indeed. Just wish I’d known beforehand to bring a coffee and book to chill for an hour!

 

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Christmas sing a long show with the Skyline Gang

 

To keep costs down we went self catering and I packed the car with a weeks worth of shopping, only buying butter and cheese on the resort (which were actually a decent price). If you do want to eat out, as we did for a treat, I highly recommend the Diner. Not only was it good prices, but the portions were huge and tasty as well! A meal for myself which left me stuffed, with a drink, plus two kids meals, which included both drink and dessert cost less than £25! I was happy with that.

Overall the experience was amazing, and I am so glad that I grabbed the opportunity to do it, even though it meant doing it all on my own. It is certainly manageable as a single parent, although I will say it does get very pricey as all the merchandise you will want to buy and there is also an arcade right in the centre of the skyline which you will no doubt want to play! (we did….a lot.)