The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball Book Review

We received The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball by Scott Lauder & David Ross. This children’s quest fantasy is packed full of action and adventure!

The Three Hares -The Jade Dragonball by Scott Lauder and David Scott Ross

The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball

Sara Livingstone’s school trip to the Beijing Palace Museum takes a terrifying turn when an encounter with the ancient Qingming Scroll thrusts her a thousand years into China’s past. With secrets in the shadows and danger around every corner, Sara must take her place in a cosmic battle and find the courage to face an unworldly ancient magic.

Scott Lauder

Scott Lauder Author Picture

Scott Lauder was born in Ayrshire, Scotland. Having taught in Greece, Japan, and England, he now lives with his wife and four cats in the UAE where he teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and drinking good coffee. His other books include The Right Thing, A Single Shot, and The Boy-King Tutankhamun.

David Scott Ross

David Scott Ross has traveled and taught throughout Asia since he first moved there in 1987. He currently teaches in upstate NY, where he lives with his wife and two sons. When David is not writing or teaching, he dreams about becoming a chef, a rock star, maybe an actor, but probably not all at once. At present, he is wrapping up two projects: Pastimes, encounters with a Stone Age people, and Dim, a detective novel.

Eva’s Thoughts

I really enjoyed the book because it reminded me that we have forgotten how to make and build things without using machines to help us. When Sara Livingstone visited the museum she saw a vision of a strange person talking about the QingMing Scroll which I loved. When Sara visited ancient China she used her wits and Granny Tang’s stories to survive which was amazing! I think everyone will enjoy The Three Hares – The Jade Dragonball just as much as I have, it’s packed full of adventure and magic a bit like Harry Potter.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot By William Fagus

I received The Purple-Bellied Parrot By William Fagus to review as part of the Random Things Blog Tours. This children’s action and adventure book follows The Purple-Bellied Parrot on his quest to live his would-be life.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot by William Fagus

The Purple-Bellied Parrot

Discover…

The power of the ‘HhhuuuUUUUTTT!’

Ever feel you are living the wrong life?

Ever feel another life, your should-be life, is out there waiting for oi, if only you had the courage to…

Have you answered yes to any of those questions?

Then follow the Purple-Bellied Parrot on a rip-roaring globe-spanning adventure packed with unforgettable characters. His quest to live his should-be life.

It Begins: In the sterile apartment of a city executive with unruly nasal hair where the Purple-Bellied parrot cannot even do the very thing he was born to do.

It Ends: On the shores of a distant land after an epic journey which tests his courage, his ingenuity and the bonds of friendship – to the limit.

The Purple-Bellied Parrot Blurb

William Fagus

William Fagus Author Picture

The publicity-shy William Fagus live in a remote location in an upturned fishing smack with a parrot and sundry antique musical instruments and carpentry tools.

The redoubtable Mrs Lush, his cleaning lady and confidant, is his most frequent visitor.

Our Thoughts

Eva and I both read The Purple-Bellied Parrot and really enjoyed it. The Purple-Bellied Parrot finds himself remembering a time before being stuck in a cage looking up at nostril hair. He decides he needs to live his would be life and has quite an adventure doing so. You can’t help but laugh and cry while reading this book. Humour and sadness are weaved cleverly into this beautiful story as the Purple-Bellied Parrot learns about the world around him.

Overall we both think children from around 7 to 8 years and adults will love this book. It’s perfect for reading aloud to all the family. With characters such as the Spuggies, Sergeant Troggers and Millie, the Purple-Bellied Parrots adventure will have you hooked!

Brightening Clothes -#ACEWinterRefresh Challenge

We’ve been brightening clothes with Ace for colours as part of the Britmums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge. We took part in a previous ACE back to school challenge and loved their products so much we still use them.

Brightening Clothes #ACEWinterRefresh challenge

Brightening Clothes

We received 2 boxes of ACE for colours to help us with this challenge. The girls wear a lot of red and pinks thanks to their school uniform and it being their favourite colours so we decided to brighten some up.

We decided to test ACE for colours mainly on a red fluffy pyjama top that was a lovely bright red last winter but has slowly faded and a pair of light pink and black socks that were a little grubby and faded.

Easy To Use

ACE for colours is really easy to use, simply add the specified amount on the box along with your usual washing powder to refresh your clothes. You can find Ace for colours at your local Morrison’s store or online from Amazon.

ACE gently lifts stains helping you keep up with the never-ending school washing pile, keeping clothing bright, robust and clean. ACE is gentle enough you can add it to every wash keeping your clothing in the best condition possible.

Results

The red fluffy reindeer pyjama top came out surprisingly refreshed and looking much brighter than before. I had been thinking of replacing these but these results mean it will last Izzy most of this winter and still look bright and colourful. It was a little difficult to get a before and after photo but I am pleased with the results.

Reindeer pj top refreshed with ACE for colours

I was really shocked to see just how much dirt was removed from the socks and the pink is almost like new again! The black is looking much darker too rather than faded.

Before and After ACE for colours

Do you use any ACE products?

 *This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge, sponsored by ACE for Colours Powder. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper and pick up the range at your nearest Morrison’s store or buy online on Amazon.

Mess-Free Fun – Playfoam Pluffle Review

We’re enjoying mess-free fun with Playfoam Pluffle which we were kindly sent to review by Learning Resources UK in September. Pluffle is the mesmerising feel-good fluffy stuff which is mess-free meaning both children and parents will love it!

Playfoam Pluffle

Play Foam Pluffle

Playfoam Pluffle comes in packs of 2, 4 and 9 and suitable for children 5 years and up. We were kindly sent three 2-packs to review including Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Pink and Purple. Unlike similar products, this can’t dry out, can be mixed and is completely amazing to touch and watch. Several packs and colours are available to buy making Pluffle a flexible and fun product.

Playing with Playfoam Pluffle

Pluffle is a fantastic learning resource, squishing, squeezing a pinching develops hand strength and watching the lava-lamp like flow encourages concentration. This truly is mesmerising and we all found ourselves flipping over handfuls to watch it fall and flow.

Under the sea Playfoam Pluffle sensory play scene

Imaginative Sensory Play

Izzy was fascinated and couldn’t wait to let her imagination loose finding an assortment of toys to create play scenes. She loves the feeling and says it tickles her fingers! It really is super soft to the touch.

Izzy loves to mix things so she had most of the colours a little mixed in rather quickly too otherwise I could have added more photos’s.

Beach Playfoam Pluffle Scene

I love this beach scene Izzy created using the Blue and Yellow Pluffle though. She sat playing with this scene for quite some time, burying characters in ‘sand’, letting them swim in the ‘sea’ along with the sea creatures.

Our Thoughts

Overall we think Playfoam Pluffle is brilliant and a great SEN resource for children aged 5-10 years. Izzy really enjoys pulling out her tubs to play with. Even Eva had fun getting involved feeling Pluffle and setting up scenes.

Have you seen or heard of Playfoam Pluffle before?

The Birthday House By Jill Treseder

I received The Birthday House by Jill Treseder as part of the Random Things Blog Tours. This murder mystery is a fantastic read, set in 1955, based on a disturbing real-life crime.

The Birthday House By Jill Treseder

The Birthday House

A Friendship. A Murder. A life that will never be the same.

The year is 1955, the location picturesque Devon. In a house by the River Dart, schoolgirl Josephine Kennedy posts invitations to her twelfth birthday party a party that never takes place. Horrific violence is committed that night in the family home, leaving all of its occupants dead.

Based on a disturbing real-life crime, this compelling story explores Josephine’s fate through the prism of friends and family – the victims and survivors who unwittingly influenced the events that led up to the tragedy.

Josephine’s best friend, Susan, is haunted by the secrets of the birthday house. Can she ever find a way of making peace with her past?

Jill Treseder

Jill Treseder - Author of The Birthday House

Taken from www.jilltresederwriter.com:


I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.


Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.


This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.


All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book ‘The Wise Woman Within’ resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.


I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.


I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.

My Thoughts

I couldn’t wait to read Jill Treseder’s The Birthday House, I love crime novels and being based on a real-life crime made this even more enticing. Beginning with Mrs Harrison, the house keeper discovering the bodies to Josephine’s best friend Susan as she hears the news and later on in life discovers there is more to the story.

I really enjoyed reading from everyone’s perspective, it gives you a clearer picture of how these crimes affect everyone from housekeepers, best friends. It also gives you am understanding of the murders thought process and a good look at the emotions and grief felt by everyone both in the lead up to the murders and after.

I read The Birthday House in one sitting as it was such a compelling and convincing read. Whilst this is only a fiction based on a real-life crime, you get the feeling Jill is very close to the mark. I would definitely recommend this novella to crime fans.

The Lagotti Family Series By Leopold Borstinski

I received The Lagotti Family Series by Leopald Bostinski to review thanks to Damp Pebbles Blog Tours. This noir crime/crime thriller includes 4 books; The Heist, The Getaway, Powder and Mama’s Gone.

The Lagotti Family Series Books 1-4 Complete Collection Including The Heist, The Getaway, Powder and Mama's Gone.

The Lagotti Family Series

Two generations and four decades in the lives of Frank, Mary Lou and the rest of the gang.

The Heist. Book 1 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski

The Heist

After Leaving Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank’s get rich quick scheme to rob a bank requires his girlfriend, Mary Lou to sleep with an inside guy and for his gang to stay together long enough to take down the vault. Meanwhile Mary Lou falls for the inside man and can’t decide whether to go with him or Frank. If she chooses the wrong fella she’ll be penniless and wind up dead. How would you choose between a fool and a dreamer?

The Getaway. Book 2 of The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Bostinski

The Getaway

After ex-con Frank and his girlfriend Mary Lou rob a Baltimore Bank, they must flee across the country before the Feds find them and the mob ices them for stealing from an organised crime boss. As they dash to California, trust becomes the most important currency as Frank and Mary Lou grapple to decide whether love is enough to keep them together. And by the time they reach their goal, they must fight to the death to survive hired guns and trained police shooters. If they don’t kill everyone in their way then they will die themselves. Would you risk everything for a sack of greenbacks?

Powder. Book 3 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski

Powder

When Mary Lou takes the proceeds from a bank robbery to start her heroin dealing business, old enemies circle overhead and threaten the lives of her twins. How will she keep them safe in such a dangerous place and what is she prepared to do to secure her new venture?

Mama's Gone. Book 4 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Bostinski

Mama’s Gone

When Mary Lou makes some bad decisions, her twins and her husband must decide whether she’s losing her mind. If they an get that cleared up then all they have to worry about is their feud with the Russian mob. And then someone goes and ices the old lady. Who would have the cajones to murder the head of the Lagotti family?

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Bosrstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a philosphy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

My Thoughts

I was looking forward to the Lagotti Family Series, I love reading books like this. I felt there was a little too much sexual content that took over the main story line but outside of that this 4 book series is a great read. In the Heist, Mary Lou has to make some tough decisions regarding which man she truly wants to be with, or who has the most money. All four books are action-packed with car chases and violence which I really enjoyed. The characters are strong with a sense of humour and crudeness that will have you chuckling to yourself at times. Overall the series is great but a little too much sex for my liking. I quite enjoy romantic thrillers but this felt a little over the top.

The Scent Of Death By Simon Beckett

I received The Scent of Death by Simon Beckett to review by Damp Pebbles Blog Tours. This is the 6th book in the David Hunter, crime thriller series.

The Scent of Death By Simon Beckett

The Scent of Death

What began as a straightforward case is about to become a twisted nightmare…

Once a busy hospital, St Jude’s now stands derelict awaiting demolition. When a partially mummified corpse is found in the buildings cavernous loft, forensics expert Dr David Hunter is called in to take a look. He can’t say how long the body’s been there, but he is certain it’s that of a young woman. And that she was pregnant.

Then part of the attic floor collapses, revealing another of the hospital’s secrets: a bricked-up chamber with beds inside. And some of them are still occupied.

And it soon becomes clear that St Jude’s hasn’t claimed it’s last victim…

Simon Beckett - Author of The Scent of Death/

Simon Beckett

Simon Beckett is the No.1 international bestselling author of the David Hunter series. These include:

  • The Chemistry of Death
  • Written in Bone
  • Whispers of the Dead
  • The Calling of the Gave
  • The Restless Dead
  • The Scent of Death

His books have been translated into 29 languages, appeared in the Sunday Times top 10 bestseller lists and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. A former freelance journalist, he has written for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and Observer. The inspiration for the first David Hunter noel came after a visit to the world-renowned Body Farm in Tennessee introduced him to the work of forensic anthropologists.

Join-winner (with Arne Dahl) of Europe’s largest crime fiction prize – The Ripper Award 2018/19 – he has also won the Raymond Chandler Society’s Marlowe Award and been short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger, CWA Dagger in the Library and Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year awards. He is also the author of several stand-alone novels including Stone Bruises and Where There’s Smoke. Simon Beckett Lives in Sheffield.

My Thoughts

I was instantly hooked with The Scent of Death, it reminds me of Patricia Cornwall’s Kay Scarpetta novels which I love. You just know St Jude’s is going to open up a can of worms and it does just that! The detail when it comes to David Hunter doing the autopsies is incredibly impressive and had me totally sucked in. Beckett covers police procedures perfectly making this a fully believable piece of fiction. I genuinely need to read the other 5 books in this series asap, Simon Beckett is an amazing writer filling the story with macabre details and twists and turns everywhere, interesting characters, and dark secrets, keeping you hanging on to every word.

Justice Gone By N. Lombardi Jr. Blog Tour

I received Justice Gone By N. Lombardi Jr. to review thanks to Damp Pebbles Book Tours.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

Justice Gone is a legal thriller and the winner of three awards including:

  • 2019 American Fiction Award
  • National Indie Excellency Award – Best Legal Thriller of 2019
  • Silver Medal Winner 2019 Reader’s Favourites Awards

The book was also chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers.

***Trigger Warning – This book touches on subjects that may be triggering for some. ***

Justice Gone

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counsellor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets of to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

N. Lombardi Jr.

N. Lombardi Jr.

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nichola, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visitibg Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on the The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotion culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone as inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police. Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

My Thoughts

Justice Gone is everything you want in a legal thriller. It is filled with so much courtroom detail it is honestly astounding! Starting off with a gruesome beating of an innocent war veteran by cops. Lombardi pulls you into a complex story line full of twists and turns.

Lombardi explores the plight of war veterans from homelessness, police brutality, political cover ups and PTSD through Justice Gone. These are very real and serious issues making this novel extremely believable. My favourite character was the rather flamboyant and wise lawyer. Nathaniel Bodine uses his blindness in such a clever way without overdoing it to make his plans work. But can he help Donald escape the lethal injection?

Damp Pebbles Blog Tours

Hire Idiots by Professor I.M. Nemo – Blog Tour

I received Hire Idiots by Professor I.M. Nemo to review as part of the Damp Pebbles blog tour. Hire Idiots is a murder mystery published by Fox Spirit Books.

Hire Idiots Book Cover

Hire Idiots

Academia can be murder…

Prominent professor stabbed to death on the Kingsley College campus.

Untimely death strikes the comfortable college community. Unfortunately, the esteemed academic’s demise may get lost in the confusion of vice presidents, marketers, focus groups, assessors and protesters as the new administration tries to ‘modernise’ the campus. There’s no time for mystery!

Professor Clarence Van Dyke finds himself bewildered by the changes to the institution but determined to get to the bottom of things. He wants his friend rest in peace—or perhaps he just wants to spend more time with the attractive Detective Riordan. But isn’t he the prime suspect?

My Thoughts

Hire Idiots is a great read if you love a murder mystery mixed in with a bit of politics. With a lot of changes, a murder and the campus theatre being occupied by someone with a private security firm standing guard, and a budding romance, this book has a little bit of everything.

Usually a murder mysteries main focus would of course be on the murder however Professor I.M Nemo really shakes this up. With a good chunk of the book focused on the university politics it’s a fantastic but different style of murder mystery.

I really enjoyed Professor Professor Clarence Van-Dyke’s sense of humour, it is quite dark and rather satirical throughout the book.

If you love a murder mystery with a difference, then this is definitely the book for you!

Magnificent Women And Their Revolutionary Machines

I received Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines by Henrietta Heald to review. The lost story of Britain’s, trailblazing, boundary-breaking women engineers starting in the 1800’s. Published in time to mark the centenary of the Women’s Engineering society, this really is a must read!

Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines

Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines

In 1919, in the wake of the First World War, a group of extraordinary women came together to create the Women s Engineering Society. They were trailblazers, pioneers and boundary breakers, but many of their stories have been lost to history. To mark the centenary of the society’s creation, Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines brings them back to life.

Their leaders were Katharine and Rachel Parsons, wife and daughter of the engineering genius Charles Parsons, and Caroline Haslett, a self-taught electrical engineer who campaigned to free women from domestic drudgery and became the most powerful professional woman of her age. Also featured are Eleanor Shelley-Rolls, sister of car magnate Charles Rolls; Viscountess Rhondda, a director of thirty-three companies who founded and edited the revolutionary Time and Tide magazine; and Laura Willson, a suffragette and labour rights activist from Halifax, who was twice imprisoned for her political activities.

This is not just the story of the women themselves, but also the era in which they lived. Beginning at the moment when women in Britain were allowed to vote for the first time, and to stand for Parliament and when several professions were opened up to them Magnificent Women charts the changing attitudes towards women in society and in the workplace.

Henrietta Heald Author Photo

Henrietta Heald

Henrietta is the author of William Armstrong: Magician of the North, which was shortlisted for the H, W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize and the Portico Prize for non-fiction. She was chief editor of Chronicle of Britain and Ireland and Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Britain’s Coast. Her other books include Coastal Living, La Vie est Belle, and a National Trust guide to Cragside, Northumberland.

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines, it truly is an eye-opener! Henrietta Heald gives a fantastic account of the achievements from these magnificent women from the Women’s Engineering Society, alongside the social pressures they faced. The collection of photographs throughout the book really help you picture these women as you read about their extraordinary lives.

Do you know much about the Women’s Engineering Society and it’s members?