27.5.16

Streets of Darkness by A A Dhand - a review

Streets of Darkness by A.A. Dhand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Wowser. This is not the sort of book I would usually choose to read but I was sent a proof copy in exchange for a review.

I was surprised to find myself gripped by the story! I loved the fact that the policeman in this tale is a Sikh, and that the various aspects of religion and race are dealt with throughout the story in both interesting and matter of fact ways. The story is British but just like Britain there are many multicultural issues too.

The characters are never monochrome but deeply shaded and nuanced. While like many police dramas the main character is that detective trope, the 'maverick with a dark secret', it is believable, after all, who wants a story of a 9-5 policeman with no surprises!

There is a great deal of blood. There are very gory scenes that could upset gentler readers (not me of course I'm made of sterner stuff). The story covers issues such as racism, loyalty, religion, friendship, family, sacrifice and how the dark past can affect one's future. An excellent read. Brilliantly written. Lot's of surprises and the plot often didn't go where I thought it would! So don't get all comfortable with who you assume will live or die - this is a messy story - much like life.

Grab a copy. You won't regret it.


View all my reviews

25.5.16

Wordy Wednesday with Margrét Helgadóttir

Hello Wordy Wednesday fans. Today I have great pleasure in introducing you to another new (to me) writer. Today it is the turn of Margrét Helgadóttir.

And so, sitting Margrét under the spotlight of interrogation in the comfy chair, let us ask her to tell us about herself:

I'm a Norwegian-Icelandic author and editor living in Copenhagen (Denmark). I love to write dark, weird and quirky stories, often set in the future, mostly within the speculative genres but not only. It’s more important to me to tell a good story than to restrict myself to one genre. I'm often influenced by Nordic culture, climate and folklore but being born in East Africa to both Norwegian and Icelandic parents, I’ve also written several blog posts about growing up crosscultural and several of my stories take place in Africa.
My stories have so far appeared in a number of both magazines and print anthologies such as In flight literary magazine, Gone Lawn, Luna Station Quarterly, Tales of Fox and Fae and Girl at the End of the World. My debut book "The Stars Seem So Far Away" was published by award-winning Fox Spirit Books in 2015. I am also co-editor for the anthologies European Monsters (2014) and African Monsters (2015) and editor for Asian Monsters (Dec 2016) and Winter Tales (February 2016).
Wow! Fascinating heritage and some awesome sounding books, I'm ver into reading futuristic sci-fi at the moment, and love folklore of other cultures too.

Do you have another job Margrét, or are you a full time author?
I currently have a job in Copenhagen in an international organization--which is busy but I like it--so writing is sadly only something that happens when I have time left. I'm on leave from my job in Oslo (Norway) so I'll return there at some point in the coming years.

When did you start writing?
I have written poems and stories since I learned to write as a little girl but it was only about three years ago that I felt confident enough to begin submitting fiction pieces for publication. In hindsight I think this renewed self confidence was closely connected to my turning 40 years old. I also decided to write in English, my second language.That's pretty awesome, I don't speak enough of any other language to even do much more than order beer, writing in another languge is impressive.

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
Cats, cats, cats

I couldn't resist this gratuitous cat picture after that comment! Copyright: tsekhmister / 123RF Stock Photo


Do you have any pets?
No, sadly not :( I lived in a house together with a cat a few years ago and I believe he helped me with my writing just by being there snoring or demanding attention. It made me calm enough to concentrate on the writing.

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
Such a difficult question. I don't have one, but several: Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Franz Kafka, Amy Tan, Haruki Murakami, and Nordic authors like Tove Jansson, Thore Hansen and Astrid Lindgren. I'm also drawn to the complex but beautiful writings of Victor Pelevin and China Mieville and the British classics like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I believe all of these influence me in some way in my writing--I strongly feel that all authors should read lots to be inspired by other authors' language and choice of words--but reading is also my favourite comfort thing to do. It’s more about what mood particular books/stories put me in, rather than who wrote them. I’m the same with movies. Fantasy and science fiction are always good choices when needing to escape real world and seek comfort.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I am reading several: the latest short story collection by Haruki Murakami (sadly not available in English yet), The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall and Whispered Echoes by Anne Michaud.

Where do you do most of your writing?
At my kitchen table.

Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
That would have to be Nora in The Stars Seem So Far Away, a girl who sails the tall northern sea plundering other ships, tough on the outside, softie on the inside.

What is your favourite biscuit?
This is a British thing isn't it? :) are you telling me there are no Nordic biscuits? I shall have to send you some chocolate digestives...

Tea or Coffee?
Coffee.

In the film of your life who would play you?
Ehm. Heh. Maybe Audrey Tautou from Amélie (and many other lovely films) - someone once said that Amélie reminded them of me. Go figure. Anyways it's one of my favourite films--I adore French films--and she's a talented actor.

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a frog pea, fairy tale style, but very small and very green...
Ha ha, I love that. Maybe a broccoli and a kangaroo. Something about a jumping green small tree make me laugh.

Find out more on Margrét's blog: Margrét Helgadóttir 
Her Facebook page: Margrét Helgadóttir 
Her Twitter: Margrét Helgadóttir (@MaHelgad) | Twitter 
and find her debutbook on Amazon: The Stars Seem So Far Away

Don't forget to like my Facebook page too, to keep up to date and comment on any of the posts you read here. Thanks for reading, until next week "Vi ses!"


24.5.16

Don't Piss on my Parade

typewriter displays the word blogger typed on parchment style paper
Copyright: alexskopje / 123RF Stock Photo
Ah bloggers. What are we like.

Well some of us are lovers and all nice and snuggly and supportive of each other, and some are snarky bitches (I'll let you decide which camp I fall into).

A recent semi-viral blog post suggests that all 'mummy bloggers' (and man oh man how I loathe that term) are 'fucking shit'. (and no I'm not linking to it) Don't hold back lady, tell it like it is. I mean obviously first you should use a paragraph or two to remind us that you made gazillions of dollars from your blog and had all the hits and were excellent and that, but then tear us all off a strip for being boring, parochial and tedious. No go ahead, we'll wait. Because you see, most of us don't care. We don't care what you think. You are one person, on the internet! and we all know what the internet is like, full of rude trolls hoping to get popular by being vile.

The honest truth is that blogs, bloggers and especially parent bloggers (we are not all mummies) vary. Some are good, some are boring (and even the great ones write the odd boring post) , some are hilarious. And loads of us write for ourselves. I've been writing this blog, with hardly any readers for over 10 years. When I first started it I had zero hits a week. Zero. But I didn't care because I'm fucking amazing (see we can all swear, ever though it's neither big nor clever) and my blog is about me, for me, by me. Guess what! It really is all about me! If someone wants to read about me or what I like or what I reviewed, good luck to them, I love to have them here, it's fab! (You still reading? yes you - I love you!) If someone wants to send me something to review even better. I don't make money from my blog, I have fun here.

Most parenting blogs are like that and that is great, it is what they are for! They share parenting worries, triumphs and funny stories, cute babies and tales of losing the cat in the dishwasher. We parents like to have a network of friends and when some parents are distanced from 'real life' friends by circumstance the club of parents online can really help. New parents can feel supported and relieved, older parents can feel that our knowledge isn't wasted, and we can laugh at some of our old mistakes being made again. Mummy and daddy blogs don't suck, they help.

I'm sorry that you, dear Ex-Mummy Blogger, are so bitter, twisted, and generally disillusioned with blogging that you felt the need to slag off everyone else rather than just quietly saying goodbye and walking away from blogging. It takes a special kind of mean to piss on someone else's fun because you are not having any. I assume you were the kid that took the ball home so no one else could play. That's sad. I hope you stop hating yourself, and stop hating everyone else too. Personally I shall continue to read mummy blogs (and daddy blogs) sometimes I will laugh, often I'll cry, or nod, or get advice; and sometimes I'll skim read (like I did most of your hideously unpleasant rant) but bloggers seem to me to be fairly awesome.

girl sulks with football
Copyright: coramueller / 123RF Stock Photo
Thank you if you read this ragey post and thank you if you are a blogger, keep doing what you do.

You can't comment here (Not even 'great post' :-)) as I switched off comments - so come chat On my Twitter or  Facebook page.

Thanks to Mummy in a Tutu who inspired this post - go and read her take on the whole kerfuffle. (she let's you comment - tell her it's a Great Post! she loves that :-)

Fizz puppy update after one week

I expect you are wondering how puppy life is going. Well here are two diary extracts from week one. The first written by me, the second by Fizz (she's clever like that) so you can get a feel for it all yourself

Week one of puppy life.

Day 1 Fizz is very cute and starting to get used to everyone in the house. She was a little wary of Mr TM to start with but is growing to like him too. She is not eating as much as I thought she would, but seems fine
Fizz border terrier puppy
Day 2, Fizz slept well in her crate, only whining a little bit at 4:15am. I hardened my heart and she stopped after 10 minutes. Crate was dry and poop free in the morning. Fizz spent the day playing with everyone
Fizz border terrier puppy
Day 3 , no whining at night, she was happy to pop into her crate at bedtime. I was off to work and DD off to school so Mr TM was in charge. Arrived home to find them snuggled up in the lounge listening to the radio. Fizz is a real lap dog and loves a cuddle.
Day 4, still fine at night, the odd accident in the house but nothing much. Fizz has become more confident and has started nipping during playtime. We are working on 'no biting'.
Fizz border terrier puppy
Day 5, Her true terrier nature has emerged now that she has properly settled in. Still fine at night, a whirlwind at playtime, all fun and sharp puppy teeth, I'm covered in puncture wounds and blood.
Day 6, Fizz went to the vet for her vaccinations. The vet and all the staff fussed over her. The vet warned the jabs may make her tired. They didn't. Teeth
Day 7 dear lord the teeth!!
dog toy lion
Day 8 trip to Pets at Home to buy a new toy, everyone admired Fizz, and Fizz chose a cuddly Lion as her new toy

Week one in my new home

Day 1 -We went in a car for 100 years and it was horrible and boring and I couldn't see or sleep. It is all very new, the lady that took me to her house seems nice, there is a smaller one like her who is nice too. A hairy faced person is scary, but he has a lap so I will probably be his friend
Fizz border terrier puppy sleeping
Day 2 at 4:15 am I was bored, I sung the song of my people (loudly), no one cared. Played, ate, tasted everything in the garden, slept.
Day 3 the hairy faced man and I were left together for the day, we played and snoozed, it was ace
Day 4 I love it here, it's all great, everyone is nice, I can do what I like!
Fizz border terrier puppy
Day 5 - the garden is huge and I can run fast fast fast. There are plants, I can tear them with my teeth, there are sticks and toys and I can bite bite bite. It is the best fun. I'm tired
Day 6 We went out and met some people who looked at me, one shone a light in my eyes and I DID NOT LIKE, but everyone else snuggled me so it was OK. Bite all the things! and I can growl. I am a tiger!
Fizz border terrier puppy sleeping
Day 7 plans include running and biting, fast fast fast. Also snuggles on laps.
Day 8 They took me out! The car was fast fast and I could look and see but not jump. There were people and they stroked me, I did not bite them. I bit a lion. He is my friend, we play rats together, he is the rat, I shake him dead.
Fizz border terrier puppy playing

23.5.16

A Great Gift for a Great Dad this Father's Day

Also an unusual gift for an unusual dad, a natural gift for a nature loving dad and a fashionable gift for a fashionable dad...what can I be talking about?

A Jord wooden watch of course! As you know I'm a long time fan of the wooden watch since I discovered them in May last year I'm still amazed that a wooden watch exists to be honest.

Of course I doubt the workings are wooden! But to all intents and purposes the watch, the casing, the strap, all is wood.
Delmar Bamboo and Black carbon Jord wooden watch
Delmar - Bamboo and Black Carbon

Wood has gorgeous colour variations, and so do the Jord range of watches, from the pale bamboo, to the dark red of the cherry, black ebony, and even the green of the sandalwood . Many of the watches in the range even mix and match the various wood shades, such as this gorgeously chunky 'Sully' which I am currently wearing.

A photo posted by tattooed_mummy (@tatmummy) on

Yes I know I'm not a dad! But the lovely sheen of the polished wood looks equally great on ladies and men. I am forever being complimented on my style. The watches are nice to wear too as wood is so light. The strap is so nice and light and doesn't catch your skin like a cheap expanding bracelet strap can. The clasp is simple to do up one handed too and I love the the feel of the wooden links.

Jord Wooden Watch - Zebra wood and Obsidian
Jord Wooden Watch - Zebra wood and Obsidian
Jord can size the watch for you if you let them know your wrist size at the time of order, but if you are not sure, or it's for a gift, the watch strap should be easy to adjust, I used my local cobbler and engraving shop and they removed a couple of links to fit the watch to my wrist, while I waited.

Jord Wooden watches ship to the UK so you have no excuse not to look stylish, nor for your dad not to look stylish this Father's Day.

Father's Day is on June 19th 2016 in the UK
Jord Wooden Watch - Maple adnd rose gold
Jord Wooden Watch - Maple and Rose Gold

Jord wooden watches start at $129 (£88) with $20 shipping fees (don't forget to add the VAT of 20% on top of that) - and take 1-2 weeks to get to the UK (unless you select Express shipping and pay a wee bit extra)

Click here for a $25 discount code!! Limited Number - First come first served. Grab a code today! Treat your dad to a great Father's Day Gift  (and then you might just have to get yourself a watch too while you are ordering one for dad, isn't that rose gold face pretty!)

And because I have a puppy...I made a Watch Dog .... I'm not even ashamed of that terrible pun. Fizz models the Sully.

small puppy wearing a wooden watch as a collar

Disclosure I was sent a wooden watch for the purpose of this review.

22.5.16

Hotter Shoes for the Hotter weather (also featuring puppy)

I was lucky enough to be asked to attend and evening event at Hotter Comfort Concept Shoes in Horsham recently and as you know I love a pair of Hotter shoes so I was quick to say yes!

Hotter shoes are comfy and fashionable. They range from proper, solid looking 'comfortable shoes' to the more glamourous evening wear and summer sandals but they all have the same basic purpose, to keep your feet feeling fab, even after a day standing. Even the heels!

So here are my top picks from the (frankly gorgeous) summer range.

loafer with leopard print from Hotter shoes

I have ankle problems due to my CMT so I can't wear heels which is a shame as these beautiful wedges really would be perfect for summer.
Summer wedges in various colours from Hotter shoes

black and white floral wedges from Hotter shoes

But even those of us that need flats can still look stunning in the sun with some equally lovely flats.
flat colourful summer shoes from Hotter shoes

And a fun and funky lighter than light range called H92 for the sportier among us (they are so light you can barely feel them on!)
Hotter shoes H92 lighter than light sport range

Men are not left out either - as Hotter have shoes for the man in your life too. I rather like these canvas ones, and some colour is nice in the summer - I'm trying to tempt Mr TM to get a pair.
Mens canvas shoes blue green tan Hotter


So many colours and styles to choose from made choosing tricky, and let's not even start on the fact that some of the shoes have matching handbags!
various shoes on a table from Hotter shoes

I chose a fab comfy puppy walking pair. Sparkly, blue, summery shimmer, with laces for a puppy to like, flat and sensible for walks in town and country.
blue sparkly trainers from Hotter shoes

I asked Fizz to check them out and she liked them too. Maybe too much. Disclaimer - Hotter Shoes may not be puppy proof.
Puppy explores box and shoes from Hotter shoes

Puppy explores box and shoes from Hotter shoes

Puppy drags Hotter shoe across the floor

Puppy explores box and shoes from Hotter shoes

So scurry off to Hotter - they have a website too if there are no stores near you - and grab something wonderful for the summer (They don't sell puppies)

I even have a discount code for you! The code is PPATEN and terms and conditions are £10 off plus FREE delivery for first orders only. You are entitled to £10 off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products and accessories) plus FREE delivery. Minimum order value £25. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items or gift vouchers. Expires 30/6/16

Disclosure - I was given a pair of Hotter shoes for the purposes of  this review, so far they remain unchewed.

Find out about shoes to fall in love with by signing up to the Hotter newsletter at www.hotter.com. Keep up to date with the latest news and behind the scenes previews on the new Hotter blog ‘It’s A Shoe Thing’, visit www.hotter.com/blog to find out more.

18.5.16

Wordy Wednesday with Emma Tofi


Welcome to this Wednesday's Wordy author! And she has warned me she really is wordy! Today it's the turn of Emma Tofi. First I asked Emma to tell us about herself and the books she writes...
Emma Tofi Author

I'm 33, single and I live in sunny Cornwall (well, it's sunny at the moment, anyway - fingers crossed it stays...). I'm an unashamed nerd - I have a Doctor Who tattoo and everything - and a lover of music, food and roller coasters (although I don't recommend indulging a love of food before a love of roller coasters :-P).
For as long as I can remember, I've written children's stories (since I was a child, myself!). In 2011, my first three children's books, Alana The Angry Alligator, Bertie Bullfrog And The Bullies and Charlie The Cheating Cheetah, were published by Thingley Press, under the umbrella title, The ABC Animals. In March 2015, I began challenging myself to write a new bedtime story for children every week, to be published on my blog each Wednesday night at 6pm GMT. I had so many ideas for children's books that weekly bedtime stories felt like the way to go! In October 2015, I dipped my toes into self-publishing, with the release of a collection of children's stories, called Seven Days With The Cherry Tree Gang. But, in amongst all this children's writing, I had always wanted to write a novel for adults and had been working on one for several years. In December 2015, Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections, my debut, semi-autobiographical adult novel, was self-published. The reaction has been amazing and has encouraged me to start working on my second novel, which I aim to have out by the end of this year!
I would say my adult novel(s) fit into the rather generic "women's fiction" category, but in reality, I just enjoy exploring human nature and relationships (of all kinds) in my stories.

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
Ooh, if only I could say I was an international spy! I'm a nursery nurse, which definitely helps with coming up with ideas for my weekly bedtime story feature, over on my blog. I do really enjoy it, although I find squeezing writing time in after an 8am-6pm shift looking after little ones can be tricky, especially if all I want to do is curl up with a chocolate bar and watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer all night! The dream is to write full time, but the day job is fun, so that's a bonus.

When did you start writing?
To be honest, almost as soon as I knew how to write, I was writing stories. That's not hyperbole, either! I used to tell my teachers at primary school that my exercise book was full up, so they'd give me a new one and I'd take it home and write stories in it. I think they did wonder how I got through quite so many exercise books... I became very serious about writing when I reached my late teens and I wrote a full-length children's novel, which I sent to every publisher I could think of, only to have it returned by every single one.

In my mid-twenties, I started my blog, The Rambling Curl, and began honing my skills, there. I figured I could practise my writing and have another go at getting published when I'd regained some confidence. A couple of years later, I was put in touch with Thingley Press, who were looking for a new children's writer and The ABC Animals books were born! I decided to throw myself at a writing career head first; gave up my job as a TA at a primary school and spent a year promoting the books and doing school visits etc. It was amazing fun, but as most of us know, you rarely get rich overnight in this game and so I found myself going back to a day-job in 2012.

Unfortunately, whilst all of this was going on, I was also escaping an emotionally abusive relationship and trying to piece my life back together again. It was in late 2012, whilst having a counselling session with my support worker from the amazing abuse charity who helped me, that I said: "Someone needs to write a novel that shows emotional abuse for what it is, whilst also showing how easy it is to fall for it." My support worker knew I was a writer and just said: "Go on, then." I started writing Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections that very night. It's the most personal thing I've ever written and I'm so proud of it!

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
My family, my friends and the general existence of Phil Lester (his YouTube videos are absolutely guaranteed to cheer me up if I'm feeling a bit "meh," plus he's a genuinely lovely guy and not exactly hard on the eye...).

Do you have any pets? If yes, what, and do they help or hinder the writing process?
I currently live with my parents (I know, I'm way too old to be saying that, but don't get me started on the cost of living in Cornwall, or the minimum wage...) and they have a four year old Labradoodle called Rusty. He's absolutely adorable, but also absolutely crazy. He's good for going to if I need a bit of down-time after writing an emotional scene, but he also has a habit of tapping on the back door with his paw, in an effort to distract me from writing and get me to go and play fetch instead! I'm weak-willed and I can't resist those puppy eyes...(having just got a puppy myself, which might explain the late posting of this weeks post, I can appreciate the way they waste your time! In the best possible way!)

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
In terms of children's writing, I am a massive fan of Jill Murphy. Her writing has been a big influence on my own and I would say that reading The Worst Witch is what inspired me to write for children.

In terms of adult authors, I absolutely adore Roddy Doyle. His style is quite different to my own, but I love how he really gets into characters' heads and explores what makes them tick, in a very down-to-Earth manner. His novel, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, is probably my favourite book of all time and it was definitely something I thought a lot about when I was writing Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I am massively late to the party, but I'm reading Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl at the moment and loving it, so far! The characters are well drawn and I like the mystery of the storyline. I've managed to avoid any spoilers, so I'm really keen to find out what happens as I read. (I'm even later - I still haven't read it - I'm not sure I'd enjoy it. I've just become a bit addicted to audio books and am finding science fantasy a genre I'm getting back into)

In a pretty huge style contrast, I also keep a copy of Dan Howell and Phil Lester's The Amazing Book Is Not On Fire next to my bed, which I flick through if ever I need cheering up. I love them on YouTube and their book is just like an extension of their video channels - funny, silly and creative. Perfect for if you need a giggle!

Where do you do most of your writing?
I like to sit at the kitchen table. I can look out of the French doors into the garden, pop out and throw a ball to the dog for a bit if I need a screen break and I'm never too far away from the kettle! ;-) If it gets too noisy in there (I'm very easily distracted!), I'll go up to my room and sit on my bed with my laptop on my knees. There's something nice about not actually being at a desk and just being comfy and cosy, somewhere familiar. I don't like writing to feel like work.

Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
It probably sounds arrogant to say this, seeing as she's partly based on me, but I love Jenna in Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections. She's very warm and caring, yet she has much greater reserves of inner strength than she even realises.

From Seven Days With The Cherry Tree Gang, I have a soft spot for little Henry. He's the sensible, slightly nerdy member of the gang and I like that he doesn't necessarily feel a need to conform to being a stereotypical boy. I also like Flo from The Cherry Tree Gang, because she doesn't let being the smallest stop her from being heard! Considering I'm only five foot tall, I can empathise with that. ;-)

What is your favourite biscuit?
Oooh, I'm very partial to an Oreo. Especially the double-stuffed kind. They make me drool like Homer from The Simpsons!

Tea or Coffee?
Either! I like both. I start the day with a boiled water, which is exactly as disgusting as it sounds, but it's excellent for your digestive system. But I will happily drink a tea or a coffee. A good cup of tea is like a hug in liquid form, whereas a decent cup of coffee is like a pair of spark plugs directly to my brain. I get very wired if I drink too much of it...

In the film of your life who would play you? (why)
I'm told I look like Kristen Schaal and, being a big fan of Flight of The Conchords, I'd be more than happy to see her do it, if she could do a British accent! Alternatively, I also get told I look like Issy Suttie and she's brilliant, so she could have a go at being me!

That said, if I could choose anyone, I'd maybe choose Alex Kingston, because I'm a Whovian and River Song is just amazing. Plus, it would mean that I could meet Alex and ask her what it was like to kiss Matt Smith!

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)
Oooooh, fab question!! I'd cross a dog with a cauliflower, to create something even cuter than a bichon frise. It would serve very little purpose, but it would be aesthetically pleasing...
Cracked ,mirrors and torn reflections book cover


You can grab a copy of Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections from Amazon. Don't forget to leave a review if you do.

Seven Days With The Cherry Tree Gang is also available on Amazon

Emma's Blog is at: http://theramblingcurl.blogspot.co.uk/

And Emma's Twitter page: https://twitter.com/EmmaTofi

Thank you Emma for your great replies, and thanks to you dear blog reader, for reading, do pop over to twitter or Facebook to chat or ask any extra questions.

Until next week. Keep Reading.

16.5.16

New Puppy in the House!

In the dark and distant pass Mr TM and I got together, after many years we got married and we planned to be a unit, just us no children. As time passed I felt sad with nothing to 'mother' so we got a dog. Diesel, my very first Border Terrier, a breed I was to grow to love, as was Mr TM.

border terrier puppy
Diesel as a puppy , napping

When Diesel was 3 years old we decided to have a child after all. Fearful that my 'furbaby's nose would be fimly out of joint by this arrival, when I was 4 months pregnant we introduced Jeep another BT into the house. Diesel was suitably annoyed and they grew up together, doing terrier stuff as my daughter grew.

border terrier blue and tan
Jeep aged about 2 years

When Jeep got a brain tumour and after nearly a year of treatment to keep it at bay, we sadly said goodbye to her, Diesel was too old to introduce another young dog to. So our old grumpy fella lived out his last years alone. 3 years ago we said goodbye to him too. Being suddenly dog-less felt weird, but a mix of the new freedom and the grief of losing 2 much loved pets made us pause. We paused...and paused...DD wanted a puppy...soon I wanted a puppy too but Mr TM is the SAHD and he does the chores and the dog walking, and the dog-hair-vacuuming, so the final say was down to him.

border terrier older dogs
Diesel and Jeep in old age

2 weeks ago he suddenly decided that a tiny dog we had seen at a local rescue, who we thought had been rehomed, but was unexpectedly available again, might be for us. As a family we went to the local rescue, filled in forms, answered questions, and were rejected. We were told that not only was the small dog we had wanted unsuitable for us (as she could not be left alone at all, ever, not even for ten minutes due to separation anxiety issues) but that there were no small dogs at all in the rescue that were suitable. We went sadly home, thinking we would just have to wait. But after a family conference we thought maybe a puppy was the right choice for us, it had worked in the past, a dog grows up to know all the routines, any habits a puppy gets tend to be your habits. And sadly while we have time to housetrain a puppy - we don't have the time or the skills to cope with a dog with deeper issues/problems.  And so I planned the longer (usually) search for a pedigree puppy ... a border terrier naturally - Mr TM had spoken!

I phoned around and as expected no pups were available without a long wait, I was offered a very young unchipped puppy form one breeder which I confess raised a red flag with me and then...in a strange complicated stroke of luck I spoke to a lady who not only had a puppy but she was ready to go to a new home! I met this wonder pup on Saturday and of course she is now ours.

I would like to introduce Fizz (Arizcrow Pizazz) the new TM wonder puppy. Already gaining in confidence and showing signs of extreme naughtiness cleverness.

border terrier puppy

border terrier puppy

border terrier puppy

border terrier puppy

border terrier puppy

border terrier puppy

border terrier puppy

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11.5.16

Wordy Wednesday - Interview with Avril Joy

Good Morning (or afternoon if you are late to the party) Wordy Wednesday Readers, today I'm introducing you to Avril Joy, author of  'Sometimes a Riversong' . I will let her introduce herself in her own words..

"I'm a writer on the loose after twenty five years in prison. It's true, and I really do still appreciate my days without bars and gates and keys. I'm also a mother of two grown ups, a failed artist, a Francophile, a southern girl living in exile in the frozen but beautiful North.
My novel Sometimes a River Song, is set in 1930s Arkansas and it’s the story of a young girl, Aiyana Weir, and her struggle to learn to read and to escape the brutal, masculine world of the river community in which she lives. The story is told in her voice and it has it origins in Eating Words, a short story I wrote which was shortlisted for the Manchester Prize for Fiction.
I write what is generally described as literary fiction, both short stories and novels. I'm interested in: landscape, the place we come from and how it shapes us, our dark past, life on the margins, childhood, women's struggle, the desire to escape. Whether I like it or not my books are always full of water - I grew up on a tidal creek in the Somerset Levels - and full of the women I met in prison."

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (surgeon? Chicken sexer?) what is it and do you like it?
I'm a full time author now but in my previous incarnation I worked in a women's prison in County Durham, first of all as a teacher, later as a senior manager.

Why did you start writing?
I started writing because a writer in residence, Wendy Robertson, was appointed to the prison and she worked a lot in my classroom. We hit it off instantly. She persuaded me to join a writing workshop she'd started for the staff, and that was the beginning. Until then I’d never thought of being a writer, although looking back I see how I was always writing as a child and reading, sometimes two books a day. Wendy told me she thought I was a writer. I didn't think too much about it at the time but a seed

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
The three things that make me smile are: my kids, a rainy day and a box set.
I'm currently watching House of Cards on Netflix but my favourite is probably Breaking Bad or the Sopranos. And last but nowhere near least, people watching on a market day in the Languedoc : cafe, notebook, glass of cold, cold, white and sun, all the way. I'm thinking that's more than 3 but I'll let it pass...

Do you have a secret never published (and never will be published) novel hidden somewhere?
If I did and it was a secret I wouldn't tell you would I? I'm thinking that's a yes then, though members of the jury, you should disregard this evidence.

Do you have any pets? If yes, what, and do they help or hinder the writing process?
No pets. We used to have a family cat, called Daisy. She was a rescue cat, the best cat ever and totally irreplaceable.

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
There are just too many authors I love to single one out. But authors I love or have loved include (straight from the bookshelf behind me) : Thomas Hardy, Martin Amis, Helen Dunmore, Alice Munroe, Alice Hoffman, T C Boyle, Simone de Beauvoir, Michele Roberts, Bob Dylan, Ken Kesey, Rose Tremain, Ian McEwan, Bruce Chatwin, Raymond Carver, Siri Hustvedt, Lawrence Durrell, Robert Hass, Esther Morgan, Kathleen Jamie, Sharon Olds... (As you can tell from this list my bookshelves are totally disorganised - likewise my Kindle)

I think all these writers and many more influence what I write and the way I write it. Reading seeps in. You have to love reading to write. Since I started writing whenever I read anything I love I'm always asking how did she/he do that? How can I do that?

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I've just finished reading We Are Called to Rise, by Laura McBride. Wow! It's fabulous and I wish I'd written it for all kinds of reasons which I've posted about on my blog. I'm also reading a raft of books on Georgian England. I've got a feeling my next novel might be set in London 1756 - but we'll see.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I write anywhere, everywhere: in my room, cafes, hotels, hospitals, waiting rooms etc. But I guess all the serious work is done in my writing room which is on the second floor of the house, it has open views of gardens and trees and the hills beyond. I like to write in the light by a window. Windows are really important to me, probably because in the prison all the windows, including those in the offices, had small cloudy panes of toughened glass and, of course, bars. There was never enough light or fresh air.

Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
My favourite character is Isa, Millie's sister in my Costa winning short story Millie and Bird. She's sixteen and life is tough, even though she's just fallen in love. She's a child carer of sorts. I know her very well.

What is your favourite biscuit?
Favourite biscuits - Rich Tea. Once upon a time it would have been Custard Creams but I had to wean myself off them, too many calories. hmm sounds like are lying to yourself, calories or not I'm taking custard creams as your favourite, rich tea may just be what you eat most!

Tea or Coffee?
Mostly tea but I'm useless without my morning coffee hit. aren't we all 

Could you survive in a technology-free world?
My instinct is to say yes, I sometimes dream of escaping to the wilds, and I think there's a me that could survive there, but then I'm really thinking more about what technology carries with it eg social media - this! I sometimes wish it would all go away. Others I love it. I think we all have something of a love hate relationship with it, or maybe not, maybe it's me. I don't do Facebook - I can't bear to live my life out like that but I love the Internet and I can't see me living without it. I love blogging, quite enjoy my phone and my ipad. Although I write in a notebook first then transcribe, there is no way I could write novels without technology.

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that something bad happens to my children.

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a cranberry hummingbird - glistening red as it juicily buzzes among the flowers
As mangoes are the only fruit I would have to go for - a mangocat curled up in the sun under a bodie tree.
avril joy sometimes a riversong novel book author

Avril Joy’s novel Sometimes A River Song is published by Linen Press

It is also available on Kindle

She blogs about writing and books at www.avriljoy.com

You can sign up for her weekly newsletter here http://www.avriljoy.com/newsletter/

Thank you so much Avril for taking part in Wordy Wednesday - as always readers are encouraged to join in chat on my twitter (hashtag #wordywednesday ) or on Facebook



8.5.16

Asda Cakes!

A quick blog post - DD and I just popped into Asda, she wanted to get a birthday card for a friend, and I needed cava (can you imagine, I ran out!) so after the initial horror of seeing this


I was able to calm down enough to realise that there was other cava, 75p more than my usual but hey, I'm nothing if not posh, so I grabbed a bottle. The lady next to me in the wine aisle definitely sniggered as I exclaimed "No Cava! Don't they know who I am!!" anyway, we moved on to look for cards and found ourselves in the cake aisle.

asda animal cakes

Now DD and I stared in amazement, cakes have improved immensely since she was small! We nearly bought a cake for her even though it is months until her birthday. She caved in and bought a tiny cake for her friend, it is SO cute and only £3.50. I have bought Asda cakes before and they have always been nice, so while I won't get to try it I'm sure it will be good.

No one paid me to tell you all this by the way, I just felt you needed to know, the pug cake, the mini pug and even little pug cupcakes! So cute.

pug mini birthday cake


pug cupcakes

Never mind the gay joy of Unicorn and Rainbow cakes.

grumpy gay unicorn cake rainbow pinata

And...well I'll just leave this here, but suffice to say I misread it as a Vajazzle Cake.....



(sorry for the blurred phone photography)