“I’m 3” – Blogiversary celebrations with a giveaway

secret to a happy life tea in one hand books in another

Three years ago today I started my blog, I’ve shared my love of reading, crafting, food and tea.  Along the way I’ve tried to celebrate the joys of shopping with independent businesses and reading books by indie authors.

Since 22nd May 2016 to 22nd May 2017 I have read 116 books.  I always struggle choosing which are my favourite books but I have narrowed it down to five that I particularly enjoyed during this 12 month period:

  • Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann – This classic novel celebrated it’s 50th anniversary last summer and it was my first introduction to this read.  “Just as the young stars were drawn to drink and drugs I felt myself as a reader ‘drugged’ by the words on the pages. I couldn’t get enough. I was eager to know what happened next. On the one hand Valley of the Dolls was shocking, tragic and heart breaking BUT on the other it was also glamorous, sexy and very indulgent!”
  • Valentina by S.E. Lynes – “The story takes lots of twists and turns that keep you gripped and guessing to the end.  To read a book in a genre I don’t normally read and to be gripped by the complexities of the characters and storyline is the sign of a great author.  A very promising start for a debut author’s read.  I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone.”
  • The Wedding Girls by Kate Thompson – “A fabulous story that had me gripped.  I loved how the author, Kate Thompson, incorporated in her story a pivotal moment in East End history.  Fictional books really do bring history to life.  This was a story full of solidarity.  A story that doesn’t hide the ugliness of life.  A story bringing much hope.  A story to warm your heart.  Just brilliant.”
  • The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer – “This was such an epic story that sent my emotions soaring high and dramatically cascading low.  I was enchanted by the author Lesley Downer’s beautiful words describing a colourful world.  I felt instantly transported to a land far, far away to a time were legends and rituals were significant and paramount.  To a time when the unknown were feared.  A time when sacrifices had to be made  for the sake of the country’s survival.”
  • Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt – “This was a very poignant, engaging read that throws no punches and shows the raw side of people trying to survive a war that has shaken the world to it’s core.  Jason Hewitt manages to open your eyes and feel the hidden sights and sounds in a landscape torn apart.  Such a horrific time for all but humanity remained and the tender, heartrending moments felt more intense.  This is a story I won’t forget in a long time.”
  • A Warriner to Protect Her by Virginia Heath – “A gorgeous regency romance with swoon worthy male characters, all four brothers would set your heart a flutter.  A daring, dramatic, historical romance that is deliciously moreish.”

What is interesting about my five picks above is that they are by authors I haven’t read before or I have recently discovered, so go on try a new author today!

To celebrate my blogiversary I’ve purchased a few items from some independent businesses I’ve met along the way (a book buddy from Melvis Makes, a book mark from Bookbandz and some Yorkshire and Peak District inspired loose leaf tea from Birdhouse Tea Company).  To enter my giveaway please comment below and let me know which book has stood out for you this year.  (Please leave your twitter name in brackets after your comment so I can identify and contact you more easily).  I will pick a winner via randomizer Friday evening.  Unfortunately, the giveaway is UK only.

giveaway 3rd blogiversary

Lastly, I’d like to thank the blogging and book community for all the support you continue to give voluntarily, keeping the love of reading alive 🙂

 

Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff book review

not your average nurse

Not Your Average Nurse written by Maggie Groff, publisher Corgi/Transworld Digital is available NOW in ebook, paperback and audio download format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

‘Over time, I nursed victims of war, the posh, the poor, the famous and the infamous… Oh, the stories I can tell!’

To a young girl the life of a nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it’s never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks on her training at London’s King’s College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with a demanding career. It’s sink or swim.

From the watchful gaze of stern sisters and the trials of nursing on a poor south-east London housing estate, to the explosive dramas of staff health checks at sophisticated Selfridges, Maggie shares warm and witty stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.

Played out against the march of feminism and fashion, IRA bombings and the iconic music and movies of almost half a century ago, Not Your Average Nurse is a delightful romp through time.

NYAN BlogTour Poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Maggie Groff’s Not Your Average Nurse.  I don’t normally like biographies but Not Your Average Nurse was such an insightful, entertaining book that I am so pleased I have had the pleasure to read.

This is a true story based on real life experiences of young Maggie, who at 17 decided she wanted to give up her studying at school and enrol as a Student Nurse.  The year is 1970 and the world was still struggling to cope with women in the workplace but Maggie didn’t have dreams of settling down and finding a husband, she had dreams of becoming a writer but in the meantime nursing would do.  Maggie’s stop-gap nursing career was to span nearly two decades.  The skills Maggie learnt from nursing were to put her in good stead for the new adventures she was to endure in her life.

This remarkable story was written with such honesty by Maggie Groff, she didn’t leave anything out and at times her anecdotes were shocking and uncharacteristically funny.  There were scenes that I couldn’t quite believe and I laughed so hard at them, life’s accidentally funny moments are just priceless!  Pure joy from the wonders of life and all it’s glorious array of people.  Sadly, as in real life Maggie faced many traumatic and gut wrenching moments and when tragedy stuck too close to home Maggie’s skills from nursing were now needed imperatively.  One minute I was crying with laughter, the next my heart was breaking and there were many tears of sadness.  Starting your career at the beginning of  a pivotal time with NHS reforms must have been quite difficult at times but also the hope of new beginnings and the solidarity of the workmanship must have felt very comforting.

A truly remarkable story of a young lady that took life and all it’s spoils and went with it.  An educating, entertaining read that captivated me.  5/5*

About the Author

Maggie Groff is an award-winning novelist, columnist and non-fiction writer living and working in Australia. As a young woman in England she trained as a state registered nurse at King’s College Hospital, London, and worked at several London hospitals before securing a position as an in-house nurse at Selfridges. From there Maggie went on to pursue a richly varied and, at times, unusual nursing career. Aware that her daughter had no knowledge of her working life prior to becoming an author, she was inspired to write this memoir.

The Butlin Girls by Elaine Everest blogtour/book review

butlin girls

The Butlin Girls written by Elaine Everest, publisher Pan, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

‘Molly Missons gazed around in awe. So this was Butlin’s. Whitewashed buildings, bordered by rhododendrons, gave a cheerful feeling to a world still recovering from six years of war. The Skegness holiday camp covered a vast area, much larger than Molly expected to see.

Molly Missons hasn’t had the best of times recently. Having lost her parents, now some dubious long-lost family have darkened her door – attempting to steal her home and livelihood…

After a horrendous ordeal, Molly applies for a job as a Butlin’s Aunty. When she receives news that she has got the job, she immediately leaves her small home town – in search of a new life in Skegness.

Molly finds true friendship in Freda, Bunty and Plum. But the biggest shock is discovering that star of the silver screen, Johnny Johnson, is working at Butlin’s as head of the entertainment team. Johnny takes an instant liking to Molly and she begins to shed the shackles of her recent traumas. Will Johnny be just the distraction Molly needs – or is he too good be to be true?

butlin girls tour poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Elaine Everest’s latest novel, The Butlin Girls.

This was a wonderful trip back in time to post war Erith, SE London and to Skegness in Lincolnshire.  A cosy romance novel filled with nostalgic charm, childhood idealisms, family saga, a time of new beginnings and hope for all after a country wreaked with war.  A time of renewed optimism and prosperity, a time when Billy Butlin opened his doors again at his flagship camp in Skegness bringing families and holiday makers together giving them a week of respite and good old fashioned fun and comfort.  This all sounds so cosy and lovely but our leading ladies in this novel escaped to work at Butlins to hide a traumatic time in their past.  However, the past anxieties weren’t too far away and Butlins wasn’t the protected haven for all.

Following the untimely death of her parents Molly was struggling with her grief and now she was facing a possibility of becoming homeless as a distant relative turns up laying claims to the inheritance.  The relatives also bring fear and danger of a different kind to Molly’s life and Butlins was the much needed escape for Molly.

Upon arriving at her new workplace and home Molly makes friends with her new roommates and fellow red coaters Bunty and Plum.  Unbeknown to each of the girls they are all hiding a secret heartache.  As their friendships blossom the girls gain strength within each other and “a problem shared is a problem halved” springs to mind.  Will the girls; Molly, Bunty and Plum cope with their new careers or will the past threaten their futures?

I particularly loved Elaine Everest’s style of writing for this novel it literally felt like I was stepping back in time, the style was very different to modern romcoms and chicklits of today but that particular style of writing wouldn’t work at all for this period saga.  This was a wonderful heart warming in abundance family and friendship saga.  It was my first introduction to Elaine Everest’s work and after enjoying this novel I decided to invest in her debut novel, The Woolworths Girls.

To find out more about Elaine Everest and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.thewriteplace.org.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ElaineEverest

Spandex and the City by Jenny T. Colgan book review

spandex and the city

Spandex and the City written by Jenny T. Colgan, publisher Orbit (Little Brown UK) is available in ebook, paperback and audio download format from 18th May 2017.

To pre-order/buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET
Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

purple motorbike

I was first drawn to this novel by the author, I love all Jenny Colgan’s stories but I haven’t read any of her sci-fi romances however, the cover it’s purple so that’s a bonus in my eyes and the synopsis drew me in further.

During a night out with her friend Holly get’s caught up in a traumatic event but is rescued in a rather unladylike way by Ultimate Man.  Holly works at the Mayor’s Office in the city in the publicity department and her night out is soon all over the media in full technicolour.  Holly starts to build up a rapport with the masked man and her feelings become very confused.  Holly inadvertently becomes a target and her life becomes in peril again, the only person who can help is Ultimate Man.  Can Ultimate Man reach her in time?

This is unlike any other story I’ve read but I was drawn in by the outstanding wit and humour and the warmth from the characters that Jenny T. Colgan had radiated across the pages.  Also, I was starting to have a crush on a certain man in purple!  The story was like an updated version of Superman and you get to see all sides of the characters; the damsel in distress (aka Holly), the villain (aka Frederick Cecil) and the hero (aka Ultimate Man).  There’s a side to the story that is quite thought-provoking and I could appreciate why certain actions were taken.  My heart at one point was very much divided between good and evil in this story’s sense and I wanted to bang both their heads together to knock some sense into both our leading men.  I loved the action and the crazy, cool gadgets but amongst all this the author had cleverly interspersed these times with some very tender poignant moments leaving me quite emotional.

A fabulous story that was cool, geeky, fun and a little bit sexy.  5/5*

To find out more about Jenny T. Colgan please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.jennycolgan.com/books/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/jennycolganbooks

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/jennycolgan

Summer at the Little Wedding Shop by Jane Linfoot book review

summer at the little wedding shop

Summer at the Little Wedding Shop written by Jane Linfoot, publisher Harper Impulse, is available in ebook format from 18th May 2017 and in paperback on 29th June 2017.

To pre-order/buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

The third book in the bestselling series, ‘The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’.

When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?

Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy!

Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she?

Love is in the Cornish sea breeze this summer as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?

sweet pea bouquet

This is the third and final book in The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea series.  Each book can be read as a standalone but to fully appreciate all the characters and the storyline setting I would recommend reading them all in order as follows:

  • The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea (you can find my review here)
  • Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop (you can find my review here)
  • Summer at the Little Wedding Shop

Jane Linfoot has created the most delightful and delicious book series.  I have simply fallen in love with the characters in each story and have drooled over the delicious sounding cakes that Poppy makes.  The stories leave you with a warm glow of happiness, hope and belief.  You want to grab the creativity, spark, charisma and love from each individual character and bottle it up to be released when you are in need of book comfort.

This story focuses on Lily, whose left with no self-confidence and her belief in marriage is non-existent following her failed marriage.  However, she’s returned to the Brides by the Sea shop in St Aiden’s Bay, Cornwall, her former workplace as a florist, to attend the wedding of one of her friends and former colleagues.

Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day with loved up couples proposing live on air on the local radio station.  Lily gets a shock when she listens to one of the happy couples; her own mother has just been proposed to!  Lily is furious and upset, her father died years ago but she is still devastated to hear her mother is moving on.

Lily loves being back with her friends at the wedding and her own woes of being single and now jobless are pushed to the back of her mind.  Lily soon catches the attention of two men; Fred a local builder and Kip one of the Penryn boys who she remembers from her childhood when the Penryn brothers spent each summer at their uncles’s mansion.  The Penryns were known as bad boys, unreliable with love them and leave them attitudes.  Kip was now living at his uncle’s mansion turning it into a wedding venue in direct opposition to her best friend Poppy’s venue of weddings at the farm with Rafe.

Lily if offered work as a stylist at the bridal emporium and she is soon in demand with weddings planned at both local venues.  With wedding wars amongst the brides to be and venue proprietors life gets a little complicated for Lily as she’s left working for both teams.  With mishaps and major bridezilla demands Lily and the girls at Brides by the Sea have just a few months to prepare and organise weddings for the summer season including their friend Immie and Lily’s mother.

This was such a gorgeously fun story.  I’d highly recommend this book series for all that love heart warming stories with lots of love and laughter.  The whole series read back to back would be a fantastic holiday treat.

To find out more about Jane Linfoot and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.janelinfoot.co.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/janelinfoot

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JaneLinfoot2

 

Catch Me if you Cannes by Lisa Dickenson blogtour/book review

Catch Me If You Cannes

Catch Me if you Cannes written by Lisa Dickenson, publisher Sphere, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Jess has decided it’s time to get out of her comfort zone and live a little. So when her best friend Bryony, a journalist on a gossip magazine, is sent to cover the Cannes Film Festival, Jess decides to seize the day and go along for the ride. Two weeks of sun, glamour and exclusive entry into celeb-filled parties is just the kind of adventure Jess needs.

Reality soon bites though when Jess and Bryony find they’re staying in a dingy hotel far away from all the action and Bryony’s expenses budget barely covers a glass of local wine. Undeterred, the two women are determined to live like the elite and enjoy one fancy night out to begin their holiday. So what if they have to tell a few white lies along the way? It’s just this once. No harm done . . . right?

Full of hilarious one-liners, sparkling blue seas and plenty of romantic moments, Catch Me If You Cannes is the story of two friends, a few white lies and one very sticky situation . . .

Catch Me if You Cannes Poster

Catch Me if you Cannes was previously released as an ebook mini series.  I am thrilled to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of the full story in paperback.

Catch Me if you Cannes is fabulously funny, gloriously girlie and I absolutely loved it!

Jess and Bryony are best friends but as Bryony is now a journalist for a gossip mag in London she doesn’t get much time to see her friend Jess who lives in Cornwall running her own café.  Jess feels like her life isn’t going anywhere, she’s lived and worked in the same village all her life so when Bryony’s job takes her to Cannes Film Festival Jess leaps at the chance to go with her.

The girls are soon star struck and gob smacked with Cannes.  The beauty of the coastal town, it’s opulent hotels, the designer stores, the rich and the famous are in abundance, the girls are literally left goggle-eyed.  They want these two weeks away in this wonderful place, full of amazing people to be an adventure.  Their limited budget takes them to a backstreet hotel but the girls don their glad rags and set out for a night out and charm their way into a fancy restaurant and soon make friends with a group of people who so happen to be stylists for the stars.

We follow the girls on their two week adventure living amongst the glitterati pretending to be one of them.  When Jess meets a gorgeous man who lives on a yacht Jess continues with her pretence of feeling at home with the rich.

How long can Jess go without revealing her true identity?  Can Bryony reveal the juiciest story from the festival?

I love Lisa Dickenson’s writing style she takes you on a wonderful romantic interlude with characters you instantly warm to.  I was swept away with the glamour of Cannes and loved discovering  it through the eyes of Jess and Bryony.  Fun and frolics galore with the girls escaping from many situations that went a little awry!

Lisa’s stories are a breath of fresh air, they are gloriously girlie with plenty of laugh out loud moments.  You are left with a satisfied smile and eagerly await the next novel from Lisa Dickenson 5/5*

To find out more about Lisa Dickenson and her books please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.lisadickenson.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/LisaWritesStuff

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/LisaWritesStuff/

Chai Kai Tea Company review

Chai-Kai-Logo

I was first introduced to Chai Kai Tea Company via the TeaTourist subscription box back in March and loved their sample of Turmeric Root Chai and it got me intrigued to find out more about the company.

Chai Kai first started out as a Tea House in Cambridgeshire by two brothers, the pairing up of looseleaf tea and Indian inspired street food was a perfect partnership.  The Chai Kai tea family expanded with a Mrs Chai Kai and a little Chai Kai.  The Tea House closed down and after a year long break the company has been relaunch with gusto.  The company now sell their quality loose leaf teas online.  Below is a quote from their website regarding their Chai Kai Tea Loose Leaf collection.

We are immensely proud of our premium quality loose leaf tea collection. I would say what makes our tea so popular with our customers is the care and inspiration behind our flavours.  Each blend has been carefully crafted, inspired by the colours and culture of South Asia that delivers delicate teas full of taste and quality.

All the loose leaf teas are hand picked from the finest tea gardens around the world, from the lush valleys of the Himalayas to the tea farms of South Africa.  The teas and ingredients are also ethically sourced and then hand blended right here in the UK.

Chai Kai currently has 16 blends of black, green and herbal teas available to purchase on their website.  They also offer a subscription service with two options; a Monthly Loose Leaf Tea Subscription which includes 4 x 20g of tea delivered to your door as a one off offer or as a regular subscription; the other option available (which is very tempting) is a Tea and Nankhatai Subscription which includes one pack of tea and handmade indian shortbread delivered to your door as a buy it now or regular subscription.  Both sound ideal tea lover gift ideas.

To purchase online teas, subscriptions and teaware please visit Chai Kai here:

https://www.chaikaitea.com/

Following two orders from the company I am now a fan of their tea.  I’ve had the pleasure to taste four of their blends.

Apple and Cinnamon Green Teaapple and cinammon tea

Purchase link:  https://www.chaikaitea.com/product/apple-and-cinnamon/

This is a wonderfully aromatic green tea that’s been blended with cinnamon, apple pieces and natural flavouring.  It’s a very comforting cuppa that takes you back to days of homemade apple pies and crumbles.  It’s a delicious, warming cuppa that has just the right amount of sweetness, a calorie-free cuppa.

chai kai darjeelingBombay Breakfast black tea

Purchase link:  https://www.chaikaitea.com/product/bombay-breakfast/

The aroma of the dried leaves is quite intoxicating, there’s a slight musky floral aroma. Once steeped the colour is a rich, dark amber. The taste is like an Earl Grey blended with a Darjeeling with an added oomph! Full flavoured and delicious and not just for breakfast!

darjeeling chai kai1st Flush Darjeeling

Purchase link:  https://www.chaikaitea.com/product/first-flush-darjeeling/

I’m loving Darjeeling tea more and more, it’s a lovely blend to drink in the afternoons with it’s gentle taste.  This blend by Chai Kai is full flavoured but still compliments the wonderful mellow tones of this tea.

chai kai earl greyEarl Grey

Purchase link:  https://www.chaikaitea.com/product/earl-grey/

This was quite an unusual Earl Grey but it still had a wonderful aroma from the bergamot but upon tasting there was something more, I can’t quite figure out what but the brew was quite warming and comforting and once drunk I proceeded to make another cupful! A gorgeous warming Earl Grey with Jasmine blossom and Safflower petals.

enamelware

The company also offer a range of teaware and I’m particularly loving their enamelware.

Purchase links:  https://www.chaikaitea.com/product/hand-painted-mug/

https://www.chaikaitea.com/product/tea-caddy-small/

Giving Back – MakeLunch

Chai Kai Tea are one of the official partners in 2017 for the MakeLunch charity.  MakeLunch is a charity that tackles child poverty in the UK building a network of churches and community groups who work together to fill the holiday hunger gap.  For every tea sold in 2017 Chai Kai will make a donation towards the MakeLunch charity.  To find out more about MakeLunch please visit www.makelunch.org.uk

To connect with Chai Kai Tea Co online please visit the following links:

Website:  http://www.chaikaitea.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/chaikaitea/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/chaikaiteaco

Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/chaikaitea/