Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This is an incredibly accomplished debut novel – it made me think of the brilliant Isabel Allende in style and the plot is mythic and magical and marvellous. It’s no surprise this is a bestseller.

Isabella lives with her father, a master cartographer on an island governed by strict rules – an entire section of which is out of bounds.  When her father is arrested and her best friend goes missing, Isabella gathers her courage and the maps that decorate her home and sets out with the rescue mission. 

I don’t want to give away any of the island’s secrets so just go read this for yourself. 

My Little Friday Night Box

My Little Friday Night Box

This month’s My Little Box comes with the proviso “Do not open before Friday night” well I’ve always been a rebel. 

This box is all about your Friday night – whether you’re going out out or staying in. 

Party types
Great nights out – this pamphlet folds out and is full of ideas and tips for throwing a party or finding one.
Coasters & hair pin
Ingenious bra clip covering bow for backless dresses
This month’s beauty picks

Batiste Dry Shampoo – do I even need to say more. 

NailMatic Varnish in Biba 

My Little Beauty Back to Black Eye Pencil and Smudger – this is pretty long lasting. I tested it on the back of my hand, one tiny smudge as it’s very soft, and it won’t budge.

And finally a cocktail recipe – Dirty Dancing

Did you get this month’s box? What do you think of the contents. 

Book Tour: Trust Me – Gemma Metcalfe 

Book Tour: Trust Me – Gemma Metcalfe 

Today I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour for thriller Trust Me by Gemma Metcalfe. Read on for more. 

One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets.
Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam’s.

Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he’s too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger.

As time runs out both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never thought they would share.

When you’re about to die will your secrets even matter?
Find the book on Amazon and Goodreads

Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel ´Trust Me,´ is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where  she was never quite sure who would answer the phone…

Find Gemma on Twitter

Read on for an extract from the book and an exciting giveaway. 

Lana, 3.47 pm

‘Are you still there, Liam?’ I ask, realising he has been worryingly quiet while I have been telling my story. I begin to feel ridiculous, sat here complaining about such trivial things when his life has been shattered into a million pieces. But of course my story is still in its early stages. The things that came after were anything but trivial.

‘I’m here, Lana.’ His voice travels down the line flatly, like he has already given up.

I sigh, my eyes lifting up into my head as I contemplate how to proceed. I want to get to the bottom of what has happened to him, why he feels there is nothing left for him, but I am doubting my capabilities more and more. I’m not a counsellor. I don’t know how to unlock people’s demons.

‘Is it because the baby died?’ I ask through pursed lips, my face so tightly squished up I can barely see. I hold my breath, wondering if I have got to the bottom of why he wants to die.

He laughs. A laugh so cutting it sends chills down my spine.

‘That was years ago, Lana. It was heartbreaking, and a turning point for me and Jess. Our relationship never really recovered. I always blamed her deep down, but what was I to do? I was married to her and I was desperate to keep her son in my life. He is the single most important thing to me.’

I hear Liam’s voice fracture down the line. I have an urge to go to him, to pull him close to me and make it all all right. But I can’t. I can’t do that because I can’t even enter the UK.

‘So what then? If not the baby, what went so drastically wrong?’

To celebrate the release of Trust Me, here’s a little giveaway for you. 

UK only. One winner will receive a Boots voucher, a copy of Trust Me and some surprise Boots treats. 

Enter Here and don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour. 


 

Book Review: The Cruelty – Scott Bergstrom

Book Review: The Cruelty – Scott Bergstrom

I do love getting unexpected blogger mail like this rather fab book. The first in a new series of YA adventure, with a strong female protagonist and great supporting cast. 
Gwendolyn Bloom is a diplomat brat – she’s lived in a dozen countries and speaks several languages, some better than others. But now she and her dad are living in New York where she’s struggling to fit in at school and hanging out with the elderly couple downstairs. 

One day she comes home to find her dad has disappeared while at a meeting in Paris. After sniffing out a conspiracy, Gwendolyn realises she is the only person who can rescue her dad. 

The writing is sharp, the plot grips and zooms along at a pace which I really enjoyed. I love a good thriller and this is an excellent one. I cannot wait for book two. 

  

My Little Garden Box 

My Little Garden Box 

This is April’s box, the reason for the delay was because I wanted to take photos of my box in the wild – I don’t have a garden but the bonkers weather meant I couldn’t get a break to find some grass and take some snaps. Let’s dive in. 

This garden to table lists the vegetables and fruit in season for every month. Eating seasonally is something I try to do – it works out cheaper when there’s an abundance and you get the best of the crop, sweeter strawberries in June for example. 

I have a larger version of this infuser bottle somewhere, pop your favourite fruits in the infuser core and fill the bottle with water. My favourite fruit combo is lime and watermelon – so refreshing. 

Recipe cards/magnetic shopping list – this has some of the MLB team’s favourite fruit based recipes and then pages to pop your shopping list on with a magnetic backing to stick neatly on the fridge. 

Ape Crunchy Coconut Bites – tasty little discs of crunchy coconut – yummy. 

A floral patterned green and blue square scarf which can be worn in a variety of ways – the last scarf MLB sent out is a firm favourite so this one will be too. 

This month’s beauty treats are all skincare savers. Mixa is a French skincare brand now available in Superdrug (home of many a beauty bargain). Suitable for sensitive skin (yay) this dermatologist tested paraben free moisturiser can be used all over – giving you soft summer skin. 

My Little Beauty Vitamin Shot Facial Scrub – made with bamboo extract, apricot seed powder and argan oil this twice weekly scrub will buff skin and leave you all shiny. 

My Little Beauty Easy Morning Skin Perfector – once you’ve rinsed off the scrub this moisturiser softens and smoothes skin with a subtle shimmer. Just remember to top with SPF! 

Milk alternatives for the lactose intolerant 

Milk alternatives for the lactose intolerant 

I can’t digest lactose – found in cow’s milk, properly. It causes havoc with my gut and makes me quite unwell. Overshare warning – I’m talking non-stop diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting. Also hives and a super sexy all over rash have featured. 

Now, I always say that life’s too short to never eat cheese or chocolate but I have to be very sensible. The mac and cheese I made last week was delicious but it had me in agony all night. Too much dairy. 

Lactose is a protein in milk – most people digest it pretty happily. It’s not found in sheep or goat’s milk fyi – but they tend to be much more expensive as you get less per animal. Though goat’s cheese is delicious. 

I have tried dozens of milk alternatives over the years – from soy milk to oat milk and most nut milks. 

Hazelnut milk is like drinking a milkshake – sweet and creamy, I drink this on its own. 

Almond milk is my preferred alternative – doesn’t have too strong a flavour, copes well in hot drinks, cereal, porridge, makes good smoothies and shakes. 

Coconut milk – I cook with this, bake with it, it goes pretty well in most dishes with lots of flavour – curries, casseroles, mac and cheese, cake. I also use coconut oil in baking. 

Cashew milk – this was very expensive (cashew nuts are pretty pricey) and was lumpy. No thanks. Shame as it didn’t taste too bad but I’m not straining pre-made nut milk every morning. 

Soy milk – my mum swears by this but I honestly can’t get along with it. To me it’s basically coloured water – no flavour, no creaminess like nut milk. 

Oat milk – I was really curious about this, would it be liquefied porridge? I bought a carton when it was on offer (free from being the most expensive thing out there apart from maybe caviar), and was utterly disappointed. It went all funny in my hot chocolate and made my cereal taste a bit odd. I know there are different varieties (mostly made by one company) including one designed specifically for hot drinks, but I want to be able to buy one milk for everything.  

Milk itself is a deeply weird thing – we don’t all keep drinking breast milk as we get older and cows milk is essentially breast milk for baby cows. Cows are kept in a perpetual pregnant/feeding loop to produce milk – no wonder they always look grumpy, and their babies are taken away from them. 

I’m not vegan, or even a very good vegetarian (sorry Mum) but milk is one of the things I find a bit weird. Who discovered you could drink it? Turn it into food stuffs (cheese, chocolate, yoghurt, ice cream, cream, custard etc etc). Who is that person?

Book Preview: Grrrls on the side – Carrie Pack

Book Preview: Grrrls on the side – Carrie Pack

I missed out on Riot Grrl in the 90s, this book is set in 1994, I was 8, loved Beauty & the Beast and had a Flower Fairy themed birthday party. 
I only read started listening to some of the music later on, and it’s a movement that I would have loved to belong to like Tabitha, the protagonist of Carrie Pack’s new book. 

Being a teenage girl is hard, and Tabitha is doing a lot of learning, about who she is and where she fits in. There’s also crushes, first love and plenty of moshing. 

And as someone who struggled with her weight and self confidence as a teenager, I found Tabitha’s journey to body acceptance (she’s fat) just as important and positive as the rest of the themes in the book. 

Grrrls to the Side is a great coming of age story full of self acceptance, punk, zines, hair dye and feminism. Definitely one for any former Riot Grrls and their little sisters. 

The book is out on the 8th of June, so pre-order yours now.